Thursday 26 Mrs Solomon & Mrs Willard Lothrop spent
the afternoon here. Willard & Abby Torrey
came this evening He went into a trance
and preached told Abby she was a sympathetic
medium Mother & self had a nice quiet
time in the forenoon Mrs Witherell
came in awhile Altered some dickeys
After a quiet morning of sewing, Evelina and her mother were entertained at the end of the day by an unusual event in the Ames parlor. Willard Lothrop, self-proclaimed Spiritualist, visited at the Ames home where he “went into a trance and preached.” If it wasn’t a seance, it was close. Lothrop believed he could communicate with the departed. Was there a particular person from the past – a Gilmore relative, for instance – whom Lothrop was trying to reach?
According to historian William Chaffin, “modern Spiritualism” developed in upstate New York around 1848, and spread from there. As noted previously, Easton produced its own adherents who “displayed mediumistic powers,” including Willard Lothrop. “Circles were held. There were knockings and table-tippings and experiments in the production of musical sounds, etc. It was not found necessary to import trance speakers, for native talent in that direction was soon developed.”** Abby Torrey, Evelina’s twenty-one year old niece, was in the parlor, too, for this session. Lothrop reached out to her, believing that she had a gift for spiritual telepathy.
Meanwhile, the previous day’s thaw “turnd cold last night + froze the ground up rough”* Carts, wagons and carriages had bumpy roads to traverse.
*Oliver Ames, Journal, Stonehill College Archives, Arnold Tofias Collection
** William L. Chaffin, History of Easton, Massachusetts, 1866, p. 370
2 thoughts on “February 26, 1852”
Evelina seems rather matter of fact about the Willard Lothrop event, but yet she did mention it … ???
Agree, Tad – Willard Lothrop’s trance in the parlor was unusual enough to get recorded, but Evelina never offers a strong opinion one way or the other about Spiritualism. There are one or two more incidents with Willard Lothrop, after which the subject disappears. My guess is that Evelina was ambivalent – understandably curious and undeniably entertained, but ultimately, she was too practical to give much credence to the practice. I wish I knew what Old Oliver had had to say about it!