Medium Elizabeth J Compton

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 Elizabeth J Compton Medium


A profile of Elizabeth J. Compton, was a medium working as a washerwoman in New York, she was presented to friends in the Spiritualist circles who found at the age of 45, she was a powerful Physical Medium. She was investigated by Colonel Henry Steel Olcott, who founded the Theosophical Society with Madame Helena Blavatsky.

During a seance while she was closed up inside the cabinet, her Spirit Guide Katie Brink appeared outside the cabinet.

During another seance 'Katie Brink,' the Spirit of the Medium Elizabeth J. Compton, a sitter Richard Cross from Montreal asked if he was allowed to cut a piece of the dress of the Spirit forms dress. The request was allowed by the Spirit but only on the condition that he would buy a new dress for the Medium, for a corresponding hole would appear on the Mediums skirt. The cut piece was fine, gossamer-like material. The Medium's dress was black alpaca, and much coarser. The cut piece fitted the hole in the Medium's dress exactly.



Compton, Elizabeth J. (1829- ?)

A washerwoman of Havanah, New York, and mother of nine children who in 1875, at age 45, was discovered to be a powerful Medium. Henry S. Olcott, one of the founders of the Theosophical Society, in his People from the Other World (1875) describes remarkable seances with Compton that produced surprising discoveries.

Olcott removed the Medium's earrings, passed sewing thread through the perforation in her ears, and sealed the ends to the back of her chair. He impressed his private signet on the seals, fastened her chair to the floor with thread and wax, and left the cabinet, firmly convinced that the slightest movement of the Medium would be sufficient to snap the threads.

A young girl who called herself ‘Katie Brink’ soon stepped out of the cabinet. Her weight varied between 52 and 77 pounds (the Medium weighed 121); she sat on Olcott's knee, caressed him, and gave him permission to go into the cabinet while she was outside. Her only condition was that he should not touch the chair in which the Medium was sitting. Olcott went in, found the chair, but both the Medium and the fastenings had disappeared.

After the appearance and departure of another phantom, an Indian warrior, Olcott went in again. He wrote in his book:

‘I went inside with a lamp and found the medium just as I left her at the beginning of the seance, with every thread unbroken and every seal undisturbed. She sat there with her head leaning against the wall, her flesh as pale as marble, her eyeballs turned up beneath the lids, her forehead covered with a deathlike dampness, no breath coming from the lungs, and no pulse at her wrist. When every person had examined the threads and seals, I cut the flimsy bonds with a pair of scissors and, lifting the chair by its back and seat, carried the cataleptic woman out into the open air of the chamber. She lay thus inanimate for eighteen minutes, life gradually coming back to her body, until respiration and pulse and the temperature of her skin became normal.’

Given the present perspective on such materialization occurrences and Olcott's own incompetence as an investigator, in spite of the presence of 11 other people at the seance, there was every reason to believe that he had simply been unable to detect the fraud. A skeptical view would be that Compton relied on confederates, both to impersonate Spirit Forms and to move her and the chair in and out of the cabinet without breaking the seals, using a duplicate empty chair to suggest that the Medium had been transformed.

Observers were somewhat confounded by events during the seances. It seemed as impossible to duplicate what they saw in a mundane manner as it was for a Spirit to accomplish the task. The body of the Spirit seemed to be Compton's. However, a transfiguration involved complete change of stature and bulk. She was variously elongated, compressed, became thin and then corpulent, and her impersonation of the departed was so perfect that the presence of the Spirit was accepted, especially since she had intimate knowledge of personal circumstances in every such case.


Now and again, in an attempt at exposure, she was seized. In such cases she seemed to resolve into her original form, and became Elizabeth Compton again in a second of time. Such seizures, however, were always followed by her collapse.

Later, Dr. John Ballou Newbrough, a Spiritualist Medium himself, reported on a seance. He used shoemaker's wax-end in fastening Compton to the chair and nailed the ends to the wall and her dress to the floor. The Medium, dress, and nails disappeared during the materialization of a phantom outside. When she was discovered in her chair again, careful measurements revealed that the nails were in new places, the knots had been changed or untied, and the had been seals removed and returned to their places.


Olcott, Henry S. People from the Other World. Hartford, Conn.: American Publishing, 1875.


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