Charles Frederick Holder.

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part for irrigation, would multiply
many times the productiveness of the
soil, permit great diversity of crops,
compel subdivision and settlement of
large tracts now held by absentee
owners, prevent exhaustion of fer-
tility, and furnish means for the rapid
growth of villages, towns, and cities.
The chief obstacles in the way of
irrigation are ignorance, prejudice,
and inertia. People accustomed to
farming without water are apt to
think there is no better way. But
the man who has farmed with irriga-
tion knows there is no other way of
agriculture so productive and secure.
He prefers control of water-supply to
reliance upon rainfall, with its at-
tendant risks and anxieties.






IN the September, 1892, issue of the
Californian Magazine, Dr. Elliot
Coues presents an interesting
essay under the caption " Can Ghosts
be Photographed?" After consider-
able circumlocution about the nature
of ghosts, the various ideas enter-
tained regarding them, and the sev-
eral means that have been devised
to evoke and hold intercourse with
them, he says: "Among the means
used to take ghosts in the very act
of their ghostlings is photography."
He affirms that he has examined
hundreds of alleged spirit photo-
graphs, but is not yet committed to
the theory that they are real pictures
of decarnated spirits. " If I do not
believe it," says Dr. Coues, "neither
do I disbelieve it; I neither affirm
nor deny it. I am simply agnostic;
I do not know. I do not deny the
possibility of spirit photography.
Direct and demonstrable evidence in
my own person I lack. I have been
shown many ghost pictures which
were said, and fully believed by the

* The portraits above are taken from life.
The subsequent "spirit photographs" bear
a striking resemblance to them.


sayer, to be genuine. But I have
yet to see one which, when I had
ascertained all the facts in the case,
did not prove to be bogus — a mere
sham ; a trick of the operator — in a
word, a fraud." After making this
forcible declaration, the doctor miti-
gates it somewhat by saying: "Yet
the reader must not be misled into
hastily assuming on the strength of
this that spirit photography is all a
delusion and spirit photographs all
fraudulent." A fair and candid con-
cession surely, but as the writer de-
votes the greater part of his article
to exposing the " shams" he has seen,
his witness seems to the average
reader to be substantially on the
negative side of this question.

Although the evidence presented
in this case is all second-hand, and
therefore would be ruled out of a
court of justice, yet " the fraud" is
apparent on the face of much of it, and
the honest truth-seeker should thank
him for this showing-up of those
shameless impostors who have coun-
terfeited what hundreds of intelligent
investigators know to be a reality,
by rigid personal experiment.




The question: "Can ghosts be
photographed?" is not an idle one;
it has a profound significance. Its
affirmative demonstration scientifi-
cally settles another, the most mo-
mentous ever asked, viz., "If a man
die shall he live again?" "To be,
or not to be," is no longer a question
with those who are sure they have
obtained genuine spirit photographs.
But as there are comparatively so
few people who have been thus
blessed, and as there is so much of
bogus material extant, it becomes
necessary to present very positive
proof to reasonable doubters that all
are not such as Dr. Coues has so
amply illustrated.

Fortunately, among many others
whose testimony he has personally
received, the writer of this article
has had opportunities to test this
matter by careful experiments, which
will be detailed after adducing other
important testimony.

Dr. Coues cited what he admitted
to be strong testimony in support of
the reality of spirit photography from
the distinguished naturalist, A. R.
Wallace, F.R.S., but he gently hints
that Professor Wallace's test evi-
dences of genuineness are not invul-
nerable. In fact, he questions the
validity of all by sa)>'ing: " I am con-
vinced that every so-called 'test' of
genuineness can be fraudulently imi-
tated to perfection." After making
this sweeping declaration he quotes
Professor Wallace from the Arena as
saying: " At all events, it will be ad-
mitted that an experienced photog-
rapher who supplies the plates and
sees the whole of the operations per-
formed, or even performs them him-
self, cannot be so deceived. This
test has been applied over and over

In his able " Defence of Modern
Spiritualism," page 41, Professor
Wallace further says: "The test of
clearly recognizable likenesses of de-
ceased friends has often been ob-
tained. Mr. Wm. Howitt, who went
without previous notice, obtained

likenesses of two sons, many years
dead, and of the very existence of
one of which even the friend who
accompanied Mr. Howitt was igno-
rant. The likenesses were instantly
recognized by Mrs. Howitt; and Mr.
H. declared them to be 'perfect and
unmistakable. ' Dr. Thompson, of
Clifton, England, obtained a photo-
graph of himself, accompanied by
that of a lady he did not know. He
sent it to his uncle in Scotland,
simply asking if he recognized a re-
semblance to any of the family de-
ceased. The reply was that it was
the likeness of Dr. Thompson's own
mother, who died at his birth; and
there being no picture of her in ex-
istence, he had no idea of what she
was like. Many other instances of
recognition have occurred, but I will
only add my personal testimony. A
few weeks back I myself went to a
photographer and obtained a most
unmistakable likeness of a deceased
relative." What more conclusive
"test" could Professor Wallace or
Dr. Coues ask than the above? If
Dr. Coues had read this positive
proof of genuineness from Professor
Wallace, no wonder that it gave his
sense of the amenities of hospitality
a twinge to say " it can be fraudu-
lently imitated to perfection."

In his extensive travels as a lec-
turer through thirty-two of the
United States, the writer has learned
of many cases of spirit forms appear-
ing, sporadically as it were, on the
negatives or plates of artists who
knew nothing of and believed nothing
in spirit photography till such forms
unaccountably appeared. In two
cases of this sort, where these forms
persisted in appearing against every
effort to prevent, the artists, who
were educated in superstitions, aban-
doned their business, believing that
"the devil was in it," as they said.
Prof. W. D. Gunning, a distin-
guished lecturer on geolog) 7 , relates
an instance coming under his obser-
vation in 1867, where a spirit hand
appeared on the photograph of a




young girl. He says: " While sitting
before the camera she was smitten
with partial blindness. She spoke
of it to the artist, who told her to
'wink and sit still.' In developing
the plate he noticed an imperfection,
but did not observe it closely. He
posed the girl again and took a sheet
of eight tintypes. She felt no blur
over her eyes and there was none on
the pictures.

" The artist now examined the first
sheet, and found hands on the face
and neck of every tintype, eight in
all ! I have examined four of these,
and find the hands in precisely the
same position on each picture. Now
the artist affirms that no human being
but himself and the girl was in the
room. He has no theory. What,
then, shall we say? The theory that
the plate was an old one and the
hand had been photographed there
before is absurd. As well talk of
making an Iliad by throwing down a
ton of t3 T pe at random !" Other ex-
planations he rejects as equally un-
satisfactory, and says: "The best
part of my life has been spent in the
study and interpretation of science;
and, in all humility, I should be able
to weigh and interpret facts so simple
as these. . . . Our loved ones now
and then lift the veil and reach forth
a hand from out that world of light
and beauty — from that world a hand
clothed with the elements of this;
and art, in her new era, ministers
again to our hope of immortality."

Thus positive was Professor Gun-
ning of the reality of spirit photog-

Among the frauds in spirit photog-
raphy, Dr. Coues classes W. H.
Mumler, of Boston (now in spirit
life), saying: "Mumler seems to
have been the pioneer in this kind of
fraud," etc., and characterizes his
work as "very stupid impostures
which should deceive no one." He
further states that in 1869 he was
arrested in New York and tried for
swindling "on the charge of obtain-
ing money under false pretences, but

got off by some means." That Dr.
Coues has " counted without his host"
of evidence to convict Mumler of his
charges we shall now proceed to show.
Mr. Epes Sargent, a distinguished
litterateur of Boston, once formed a
similar "snap" judgment concerning
Mumler and his work, so we will
quote what he says in his " Proof
Palpable," page 221 : "In the second
edition of 'Planchette' I expressed
some doubt of the genuineness of the
spirit photographs obtained through
Mr. Mumler. . . . Having satisfied
myself by abundant testimony that
Mr. Mumler has been instrumental
in producing genuine spirit photo-
graphs, I stated the fact, and in a
third edition of ' Planchette' withdrew
the charge of fraud. Renewed in-
vestigation has satisfied me that many
genuine spirit photographs have been
produced through his mediumship,
and I am happy to have my opin-
ion confirmed by Mr. Gurney, the
experienced photographer of New
York." He cites a conversation of
Mr. Gurney with Dr. Eugene Crowell,
of Brooklyn, N. Y., who says: "Mr.
Gurney took clean plates and exam-
ined them with closest scrutiny, and
prepared them for the camera. The
camera itself he took apart, examined
the interior, the object-glass, etc.,
and when all was prepared for taking
the picture — a friend of Mr. Gurney
being in the chair — Mr. Mumler
placed his hand upon the camera, the
lens was uncovered, and in a minute
or two the photograph was taken.
Upon proving the negative, a spirit
form was visible beside the likeness
of the sitter. The process was re-
peated with like results, Mr. Gurney
managing everything from beginning
to end, Mr. M. not touching an arti-
cle, excepting when he placed his
hand upon the camera at the moment
of taking the picture.

" Mr. Gurney, some time afterward,
providing himself with plates and
chemicals of his own, visited Boston
again, went through the process,
using his own materials, with similar



results. He spent some hours in
scrutinizing everything about the
room and everything pertaining to
the process, and he was perfectly
satisfied there was no deception. "

It would seem that such testimony
as this from the oldest photographer
in this country ought to give Dr.
Coues another " twinge" for his hasty
judgment of Mr. Mumler! In addi-
tion to this, the writer had the person-
al testimony of Mr. Gurney, whom he
met at his gallery on Fifth Avenue,
New York, in 1873. During a two-
hours' conversation regarding this
subject, Mr. Gurney told him that at
the time of Mr. Mumler's trial he,
together with five other experts in
photography, prepared everything in
readiness for taking a picture in Mr.
G. 's own gallery. Then they led Mr.
Mumler into it with his arms folded,
and while he stood thus beside the
camera, touching nothing, they ob-
tained spirit photographs of persons
that were unmistakably recognized;
and it was these photographs, pre-
sented to the judge, which caused
him to dismiss the case from the
court. Right here it may be well to
introduce Mr. Mumler's sworn state-
ment made in court.

It is as follows: "In 1861, in the
city of Boston, while engaged in
business as an engraver, I was in
the habit of visiting a young man
who was employed in a photographic
gallery kept by a Mrs. Stewart in
Washington Street. Occasionally I
would experiment with the instru-
ment and chemicals. One Sunday,
when entirely alone in the gallery, I
attempted to get a picture of myself,
and then it was that I first discovered,
while developing it, that a second
form appeared on the plate. At this
time I had never heard of spirit pic-
tures, although I had been somewhat
interested in the doctrine of spiritu-
alism. At first I labored under what
is now the general impression, that
the plate upon which the picture was
taken could not have been clean,
and that the form which showed itself

beside my own must have been left
on the glass, and so I stated to my
employers and others. Subsequent
attempts, however, made under cir-
cumstances which preclude such a
possibility, have confirmed me in the
belief that the power by which these
forms are produced is beyond human
control, and the experts that have
been called by the people have failed
to produce a picture made in that
manner. I wish to state that at the
time I developed the shadow or form
above alluded to, I was a complete
novice in the art of photography and
had no experience whatever in the
composition of chemicals used in the
business, and that my use of them in
my experiments at that time was
simply in conformity to what I had
seen my friend do while himself en-
gaged in the business. After getting
the form on the plate, at the sugges-
tion of several friends to whom I
showed it I made other attempts, and
generally with most remarkable re-
sults. I then determined to leave
my business and devote myself to
photography. Before long the sub-
ject of spirit photography, and par-
ticularly of my success, became the
theme of every tongue, and I was
overrun with people of inquiring
minds, and obliged to go through,
over and over again, for their pleas-
ure, the routine of taking and de-
veloping the pictures. For a long time
I never refused any one who came to
investigate ; it soon became apparent,
however, that I must either stop it
or cease to support myself, for, as a
general thing, these savants, while
greedy themselves for intellectual
food, seemed entirely oblivious of
the fact that I myself was a material
body. However, I can truly say
that I have never refused intention-
ally any person who desired to have
.a picture taken from making every
examination or inquiry they chose to
make, and had I been in this exam-
ination allowed to have produced
evidence from abroad, I could have
shown by scientific men whose names

8 5 6


would have satisfied every one that
the most careful and minute exam-
inations have been made in all the
details of my business while I have
been engaged in taking pictures. I
solemnly assert here that I have now
but comparatively little knowledge
of photography, or chemicals, or sci-


ence of any kind, further than is
needed to take ordinary photographic
pictures. I positively assert that in
taking the pictures on which these
forms appear I have never used any
trick or device, or availed myself of
any deception or fraud in producing
them ; that these forms have appeared
in each and every instance when they
have been presented, without any
effort, except my will power to pro-
duce them."

Many more testimonials from pho-
tographers and other scientific people
who experimented with Mumler

could be added by the writer, but
want of space forbids, so he will now
state his own experience.

In the autumn of 1871 I went to
170 West Springfield Street, Boston,
where I found Mr. Mumler, and
asked the privilege to test his powers
to produce a spirit photograph for
me. He readily consented to try,
saying he could warrant nothing.
He had no gallery, but used his par-
lor. I requested him to allow an
examination of his instruments and
to be permitted to see the entire proc-
ess. He consented. I had him cut
a new sheet of glass for the negative,


and I watched with eagle eyes every
motion from beginning to end.
Hoping to get a picture of my moth-
er, if any, I fixed my thought upon
her as I took my seat. But just as
Mumler uncapped his instrument,
the name. Angeline was as vividly
impressed upon my mind, as though


spoken audibly, three successive
times. I followed Mumler into his
closet and saw him develop the nega-
tive, and as soon as washed he held
it up to the light and I recognized
at first sight my cousin Angeline's
likeness, as shown in plate.

She never had a picture of any
kind taken of herself, but her family
and all acquaintances have recog-
nized it as correct.

On the following week, accompa-
nied by Mr. John J. Glover, of Quincy,
Mass., with whom I was stopping for
a rest from public labor, I again
visited Mr. Mumler, and he cheerfully
allowed us to make a crucial exam-
ination of the room, apparatus, and
all appurtenances. We then had
him cut a new sheet of glass for the
negatives, and, as I had done before,
we both watched critically the entire
process. I sat for my picture first,



and while the negative was dripping
with water Mumler showed it to us,
and I was overjoyed to see on it a
clear likeness of my mother, who had
been in spirit life about nine years.
The only picture of her at that time
was a daguerreotype in the possession
of my father, in Vermont, one hun-
dred and fifty miles away. That has
since been photographed, and the
reader can here see a copy of it by the
side of the spirit photograph.

The artist then prepared another
negative under our inspection, and
Mr. Glover sat for his picture. Fol-
lowing him at every step, we saw
the negative developed, and Mr. G.
at first view recognized on it a per-
fect likeness of his mother as she
appeared just before her demise, at
over eighty years of age. On arrival
at his home he gave me a photo-
graph of his mother, taken just be-

8 5 8


fore her death, and I saw it was a
facsimile of the spirit photograph
Mumler had just taken. A repro-
duction of this will be found on page

After Mr. Glover had had his sit-
ting I requested Mumler to let me sit
again, to see if he could not get a
more distinct picture of my mother.
He assented. When the negative
was developed, much to the surprise
and chagrin of the artist, but greatly
to my surprise and pleasure, a picture
of an Indian instead of my mother
was found on it. This was as great
a test to me as though my mother
had appeared again; for more than
a score of clairvoyants in various
parts of the country had described
such a spirit as one of my guardians,
and for seventeen years I had felt his
healing magnetism, and often had
been psychologically controlled by
him to speak his language. One
year afterward, in New York City, I
met an educated Indian woman and
was controlled by him to talk with
her, before about fifty people, for
over an hour. She interpreted what
both had spoken, and informed me
that it was the dialect of " the Dela-
ware Indians." The reader can see
this likeness on page 856. It is need-
less to say that when not under this
spirit's control I know nothing of
the language. The oaty verification
I have of its correctness is the recog-
nition of many clairvoyants who have
seen both the spirit and the photo-
graph, and also my own strong im-
pressions from the spirit himself,
which, of course, are not proof to

After getting the negative of the
Indian, Mr. Mumler, who had been
so flustrated and disgusted at his ap-
pearance, proposed that I should sit
again, to see if my mother would not
appear, as he was desirous that I
should have complete satisfaction.
Another negative was prepared, and
when developed, instead of another
picture of my mother, a beautiful
hand was seen above my head, hold-

ing a large rose over my forehead.
This was another disappointment,
but not so much so as the accident
that soon followed, when, as Mumler
was drying it by a lamp, it flew into
pieces and was lost entirely. I shall
always carry a memory of it, how-
ever, for a few years afterward I
revisited my nativity, and one da5%
going to the grave of my cousin
whose spirit photograph I had ob-
tained, I found on her grave-stone a
carved hand and rose exactly like the
one shadowed on that negative. I
had seen it years before, but had
entirely forgotten it.

I will here say that previous to the
two visits to Mr. Mumler, already
described, I had met him but once,
and he knew nothing of my family

Mr. Glover also informed me that
Mr. M. had no likeness of his mother,
and even if he had one, our visit was
unexpected and he could have made
no preparation to deceive us. Be-
sides, we gave him no opportunity
whatever to do so had he been so
inclined. If such evidence as we
then obtained does not overwhelm-
ingly prove the genuineness of spirit
photography, none has ever been
given. We were both familiar with
the various methods by which coun-
terfeits are produced, and took special
precautions that Mumler should have
no opportunity to use them if so dis-
posed ; but it is simply justice to him
to say he cheerfully gave us every
opportunity to detect any attempt at
deception we desired. For his sake,
I trust this evidence will give the
conscience of so eminent a man as
Dr. Coues just enough of " a twinge"
to cause him to acknowledge that his
condemnation was just a little " too
previous." Doubtless no one will be
more glad than he to have spirit
photography thus demonstrated.

In 1863 Andrew Jackson Davis,
the great seer, while editing the
Herald of Progress, engaged Mr.
Wm. Guay, a practical photographer,
to test Mr. Mumler, and here follows



the result as
own words :

given in Mr. Guay's

" Having been permitted by Mr. Mumler
every facility, I went through the whole pro-
cess of selecting, preparing, coating, silver-
ing, and putting into the shield the glass
upon which Mr. M. proposed that a spirit
form should be imparted, never taking off my
eyes and not allowing Mr. M. to touch the
glass until it had gone through the whole
of the operation. The result was that there
came upon the glass a picture of myself,
and to my utter astonishment, having pre-
viously examined and scrutinized every
crack and corner, plate-holder, camera,
box, tube, and inside the bath, etc., another
portrait. Having since continued, on sev-
eral occasions, my investigations as de-
scribed above, and received even more per-
fect results than on the first trial, I have
been obliged to indorse its legitimacy.

"Wm. Guay."

Another photographer, Mr. H.
Weston, 31 Providence Street, Bos-
ton, gives similar testimony. In fact,
such evidence is cumulative ad libitum.
While in Boston, after obtaining my
spirit photographs, I called on Mr.
Moses A. Dow, editor of the Waverley
Magazine, and he showed me a spirit
picture he had obtained of an adopted
daughter by the name of Mabel
Warren. She communicated to him
through a medium requesting him to
go to Mr. Mumler and she would en-
deavor to give him her picture. He
went as directed, giving his name to
Mr. M. as Mr. Johnson. The result
I will give by copying a letter he
sent to Mr. Mumler:

"Boston, Jan. 20th, 1871.
11 Mr. Mumler :— On Saturday last I found
a packet from you in the post-office in which
was inclosed the proof of my negative. It
is perfectly satisfactory as regards a like-
ness of my friend. She told me at 12 o'clock
last Thursday, through a medium, that she
would stand by my side, with her arm on
my shoulder and a flower in her hand. If
you will look over my left shoulder you
will see faintly the impress of her hand with
a flower.

" I will drop the name of Johnson and give
you my true name. With much esteem,
"Moses A. Dow."

Mr. Dow informed me that he ob-
tained the spirit photograph in half
an hour after he got the message.
The writer has been informed that
unmistakable spirit photographs have
been taken by one of the .leading
photographers in San Jose* but a few
months since. The photographer
first tried to conceal the fact. Simi-
lar reports are made of a photographer
in San Diego, and very recently the
Spiritual Press is giving reports of
this wonderful phenomenon taking

Online LibraryCharles Frederick HolderThe Californian (Volume 4) → online text (page 114 of 120)