Zita Johann (1904–1993), best known for her role in The Mummy (1932) starring Boris Karloff, lived for many years in Rockland County. The latest episode of Crossroads of Rockland History explores a new book on the actor by local author Tom Stratford, Along Came Zita (BookBaby, 2023). [Read more…] about Zita Johann: Rockland County’s Classic Movie Star
Laura Smith Ellsworth: Devoted Spiritualist
These days clairvoyant is not a term that is often used in describing a doctor’s ability to diagnose disease. Yet, in the last half of the 1800s it was not uncommon to seek out a “clairvoyant physician” when a person was concerned about changes in their health.
Laura Smith Ellsworth, a self-proclaimed spiritualist, medium and clairvoyant physician who would devote her life to spiritualism, grew up in Charlton, in Saratoga County, NY. The daughter of Henry and Jane Smith, the youngest of their three children, Laura was born in 1862 and baptized in September of the same year at the Charlton Freehold Presbyterian Church. [Read more…] about Laura Smith Ellsworth: Devoted Spiritualist
New Documentary About NY’s Burned Over District In The Works
A new documentary film about the religious history of 19th century Western New York is in production.
Burned Over, a reference to the region’s nickname, “The Burned-over District,” focuses on the history of the Oneida Community, a commune led by John Humphrey Noyes, and the Fox sisters, the two girls from outside Rochester that launched the phenomenon of spiritualism.
The film was halted by the pandemic, but now a new fundraising campaign on Kickstarter has been launched and a new teaser has been released. [Read more…] about New Documentary About NY’s Burned Over District In The Works
Spiritualism, Temperance, the Grange and More (Historians Podcast)
This week on The Historians Podcast, town historian Todd Langworthy on how Lily Dale in the Town of Pomfret in Western New York became a center for spiritualism. Pomfret also was the place where the Women’s Christian Temperance Union began and where the first farmers’ Grange was founded. And the town is home to the village of Fredonia and the SUNY College at Fredonia. [Read more…] about Spiritualism, Temperance, the Grange and More (Historians Podcast)
Speaking with the Dead in Early America
Death is one of the few universals in life. Everyone who is born, will die.
How do the living make peace with death?
While different cultures make peace with death in different ways, Erik Seeman, author of the award-winning book, Speaking with the Dead in Early America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019), joins the Ben Franklin’s World podcast to investigate how white, American Protestants made their peace with death during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries.
Meredith B. Little: Leading Glens Falls Spiritualist
Getting the vote was just one of the issues suffragettes encountered in the late 19th century.
They also faced the premise of some theologians who contended the afterlife was restricted to an exclusive old boy’s club.
“A benignant looking, white-bearded patriarch,” who distributed candy to local children annually on Christmas Eve, debunked the theory in a Sunday afternoon debate in 1894 at Psychical Hall.
No — not Santa Claus. [Read more…] about Meredith B. Little: Leading Glens Falls Spiritualist
Upstate Cauldron: Eccentric Spiritual Movements in Early NYS
Joscelyn Godwin’s Upstate Cauldron: Eccentric Spiritual Movements in Early New York State (SUNY Press, 2015) is an outstanding guide to the phenomenal crop of prophets, mediums, sects, cults, utopian communities, and spiritual leaders that arose in Upstate New York from 1776 to 1914.
Along with the best known of these, such as the Shakers, Mormons, and Spiritualists, Upstate Cauldron explores more than forty other spiritual leaders or groups, some of them virtually unknown. [Read more…] about Upstate Cauldron: Eccentric Spiritual Movements in Early NYS