Mr De Witt Hough

 Medium Mr De Witt Hough

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Medium Mr De Witt Hough

I landed at New York on Sunday, December 25th 1904 and attended a seance the same evening at the house of Mr. De Witt Hough. He then lived at 203 W. 38th Street with a partner, Mrs. Conklin, who is a good clairvoyante. I talked with Hough for half-an-hour before the seance commenced. He was in a stupid, dazed state, and very taciturn. It was impossible that he, or his partner, or any of his sitters, could have known anything about me.

There were seven sitters, besides Mrs. Conklin, who attended near the cabinet to find out the names of the various spirits. We sat in a semi-circle on chairs and sofaís, comfortably at our ease. The sitter furthest away from the cabinet was about sixteen feet from it; the room was about twenty-two feet by fifteen feet, with a cabinet four feet square at one end. On a table outside of the latter were placed two bells, some writing paper, two harmonicas, and a paper tube. Before the gas was extinguished, Mrs. Conklin said to me "Have you a relative called Elizabeth? I do not know if she is alive or dead, but I see that name in connection with you." (I have two relatives of that name, one alive and one dead; the latter is a near relative of mine and of Iola). After the gas was put out, we sat for half-an-hour in the dark, during which time Dr. Baker, one of the controls, spoke in the direct voice. Phantoms were seen by one or two clairvoyants who were present, gliding about the room, one near me. I could see nothing, but I sensed a presence between me and my neighbour, and heard some sighs. Raps were heard in and about the cabinet, and tunes were well played on the harmonica, accompanied by bells. We sang, and at intervals called for tunes to be played by the Spirits in the cabinet, which were all renders as requested. The melody they got out of the ten-cent harmonicas was wonderful.

After half-an-hour of darkness, a little cripple control "Star-Eyes" who had been in evidence some minutes, talking and laughing in the cabinet, asked for a light to be lit. Mrs Conklin lit an oil-lamp in a corner of the room opposite to the cabinet. It was shaded with a blue screen, and covered with a shutter which communicated by a string with the cabinet; this enabled the controls to regulate the light at will. The light throughout the seance was enough to allow of a white-faced watch being read, and it was possible to distinguish the spirit-forms of men from those of women. I could only make out the features of the male spirits occasionally; the women were veiled, and their robes gathered at the waist.

(2) Fifteen or sixteen Spirits materialised full length, and were recognised either as friends or habitues of the cabinet. About half-way through, the cabinet curtains opened, and a small, slight form, below the medium height of females was seen. Mrs. Conklin called out the earth name of Iola. I rose in my seat, and the woman came out towards me for a distance of some ten feet, took my hands, and drew me back to the cabinet. She was in a state of intense vibration. I asked, "Have you any message?" "Yes!---Yes!" she said, "I will write". She took up a pencil, knelt down, and wrote upon the paper in the table. After writing a few words, she rose and went behind the curtain, apparently to gather strength; then came out again and finished the message. This she gave into my hands. She then came back with me to my seat, and said "Sit!---Sit!"---kneeled down by my side, and whispered "I am so glad you have come." At this time I had the form completely


in my power, she holding both of my hands in hers. Presently she rose slowly and withdrew into the cabinet with a natural, easy gait. After saying "God bless you," she disappeared.

At the end of the seance I looked at the writing, and found it was a somewhat commonplace expression of pleasure at our meeting, signed with the proper Christian name, but not in the handwriting of Iola. The height and figure were quite correct; the arms (which were bare) those of a woman; the hands a little larger than was right, and rather brown; the feet very small, in keeping with the figure.

Hough is about five feet seven inches in height, broad-shouldered and somewhat stout. It would be impossible for him to simulate a form five feet on inches in height, and slight in build. Any attempt to diminish his height, and walk about on bended knees, would be detected at once. I sat with Hough for materialisation several times; once alone. Iola came three times. It was noticeable that if some common name was called out, such as "Mary," and the wrong person approached the cabinet to claim the phantom, it would disappear; none of those spirits would take the hand of a stranger. The controls were alleged to be a Colonel Baker, who was killed in the War of Secession, Dr. Baker and a little spirit called Star-Eyes. Colonel Baker did not often materialise, but I have seen him in uniform. Star-Eyes kept up a running conversation throughout every seance, and generally materialised once or twice. If I went up to her, she would touch my hand softly; she had the appearance of a small cripple. There were many materialisationís and dematerializations outside the cabinet.

Perhaps the most interesting feature in all the seances was the visit of a woman we used to call the "Roman lace-worker." She came sometimes from the cabinet, and at others from the floor outside it. She would borrow a handkerchief from me or some other sitter, and, shaking it out, evolve yards of drapery, which she would throw in turn over each individual member of the circle. I have held it in my hands; it was of firm texture, and apparently as mundane as anything bought from a shop. She would then retire, laying it along the floor towards the cabinet; it would dematerialise from the latter outwards. When the sitter from whom the handkerchief had been borrowed naturally asked for his property to be returned, she would come out into the Circle and pull it out from my back, or shirt-front, or the top of my head, and throw it to its owner. I have seen this spirit materialise a handkerchief from the carpet. She would bend down and scratch away until a small white substance appeared; this would get larger and larger, until it assumed the dimensions of a handkerchief.

Vibrations in the room were maintained by an ordinary musical box. Occasionally we sang. None of the forms that appeared were of a build resembling that of Hough except Dr. Baker and Colonel Baker; but in the case of these two habitues the faces were visible, and could not be mistaken for that of the Medium. I was told that Hough was occasionally the victim of that most perplexing of phenomena, transfiguration ---when a medium is brought out of the cabinet, and so to speak, built upon and made to resemble some departed friend of a sitter; but I must say that I never saw any form which reminded me of the Medium.

Since those sittings seven years ago I have heard that Hough has been detected in fraud during a materialisation seance. The allegations related to me are so circumstantial that I cannot disbelieve them. He adds another name to the long list of psychics who try to help out a waning power by cheating. I have taken this into consideration when drawing up the above account, and have omitted some details which might have possibly been due to trickery, and only related those which I believe fully were genuine manifestations.

(3) The morning after my first seance with Hough I had a sitting with Mrs. Conklin, the clairvoyant. Iola appeared to her soon after we had sat down. The description was good, and she answered correctly the following questions: "By what name did I call you?" "Where did you die?" (country only given) "What is the name of your sister?" "By what name did she call you?" "What is your relationship to me?" Then my father manifested to the clairvoyant, and gave his Christian names. Some details were added by Iola which effectually settled her identity as far as I was concerned.

(4) The next morning, December 27th, I sat with Hough and Mrs. Conklin. A card was before us, marked with the letters of the alphabet inconsecutively. Hough took my right hand in his and used his own forefinger to stamp the letters of the words which formed the replies to my


spoken questions. I closed my eyes until I felt him dig at the square than contained the letter he desired to indicate. In this manner the following inquiries of Iola were answered with accuracy: "Give the names of those of your family you have met in spirit life"; "Give the name of the last who passed over"; What was the name of your husband?" "Please give your full name" (two Christian names and the surname were given correctly. "Give my full name" (answer William Usborne Moore); "Give he name of the town where you died (given correctly, and it was a place which I am sure the Medium had never heard of).

The delight of Hough when he found out that he had given the correct answers was immense. He uttered cries like those of a child, especially when my second Christian name and the name of the town came out. Having ascertained that my father was present, I wrote on a piece of paper which Hough did not see, "Where did my eldest brother die?" The reply was correct. Hough bellowed with delight.

Remember, up to this moment neither Hough his partner knew anything of me whatever except that I was and Englishman; this was known to Mrs. Conklin, as it came out the previous day. At the lowest estimate of this sitting it was an instance of excellent "thought reading". I am inclined to give it a far higher significance. It is rare that thoughts can be read so accurately, for the names were difficult to an American. I think it more probable that Iola and my father were present and directly impressed the medium.

(5) On December 28th I visited Mrs. Conklin again, and obtained some good tests with a packet of photographs. Iola was asked the following question: "How many children have I got?" The reply was "I see a boy and two girls. One of the girls has the name Harriet. Your son has the same name as yourself, ĎUsborneí. There are several Usbornes in the family. It is your name and your sonís name. Your children are not young and not old. One of the girls is about eighteen years old. I can only see three." (This is all correct. I had one son and two daughters at home at this time. My youngest daughterís name is Harriet and she was eighteen years of age; my sonís second name is that same as my own, and there are others of that name in the family).

On December 29 I sat again with Hough and his partner. Hough and I sat at two tables nine feet apart. I wrote a message and doubled it up so that he could not open it under my observation, then gave it to him. He put it to his forehead. Mrs. Conklin came and sat by my side after he had received the note. He wrote answers with feverish haste, which he gave to me. The answers were in general terms, but such as showed that he had in some way become acquainted with the contents of my messages. As evidence of identity they did not count for much. Here is one specimen: (Q) "Iola why would you not speak to me last night here?" (A). W., I did try to do so, but conditions were not just right for me; and then again to materialise is very difficult. I shall be with you, and shall help and aid you all I can---Iola." The handwriting was that of the Medium. After a time we agreed to try the alphabet as on the previous occasion. Iola gave my wifeís working name correctly: and when my father was asked, "Of what disease did my eldest brother die?" The reply was "Diphtheria." I said, "Please repeat the last word and "diphtheria" was spelt out (this was correct).

(6) I will conclude my record of Hough with the account of an incident that much impressed me at the time. One of the members of the Circle of the last seance I attended was a stalwart young German, over six feet in height, apparently in sound health. He was a perfect stranger to the medium. When Dr. Baker came out from the cabinet, he advanced ten feet into the room and beckoned this gentleman to him, turned him round with his hands, and made several passes across his back at the waist. I happened to leave the house with this young man and asked him of Bakerís action had any significance. "Much," he replied; "I have been suffering from acute kidney trouble for three months."


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