March 26, 1884: Mr. Fred Briggs

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March 26, 1884      

The Commission met on Wednesday, March 26th, at 7.80 P.M., at 1117 Callowhill Street.

Present: Dr. Leidy, Mr. Furness, Mr. Fullerton and Mr. T. R. Hazard. The Medium was Mr. Fred. Briggs.

The Medium gave the following answers to Dr. Leidy's questions:

  1. Has been a Medium since seven years of age. Now 22 years old.

  2. Before seven years of age could see visions, etc., but did not communicate with Spirits.

  3. Was born in Boston. Lived there when not on journeys.

  4. His parents had no such powers.

  5. His grandfather was a West India importer, his father had no business.

  6. Educated in Middleboro and Bridgewater, Mass.

  7. His family, Baptists.

  8. He can communicate with Spirits best

    1. At night, or in the evening.

    2. In cold or snowy weather.

    3. In dry weather.

    4. When in a healthy condition.

  9. When in communication with Spirits feels nervous, but cannot describe the feeling.

The Medium had on the table two single slates which could be laid upon each other. The table was about three and a-half feet square, and covered with a cloth.


The light was kept rather dim.

(The Medium explained later in the evening that writing is best produced in the dark, because dark is negative, light positive, and negative conditions are most favorable to communication.)

Mr. Furness had brought two folding slates, which could be fastened with a screw.

Dr. Leidy and Mr. Furness and the Medium each held a double slate under the table.

Mr. Fullerton asked a question as requested, but received no answer from the Spirits.

Some scratching was now heard under the table.

The Medium took the slate held by Mr. Furness (one not screwed or fastened by hinges), and it was held under the table by Mr. Furness, Mr. Hazard and Mr. Briggs.

The Medium seemed much excited, spoke rapidly, etc., and was so much overcome that he dropped the slate (one brought by Mr. Furness) which he was holding under the table with his left hand, and left it lying on the floor under the table.

At 8 o'clock Dr. Koenig came in. The slate held by the Medium, Mr. Furness and Mr. Hazard, was held in Mr. Hazard's lap, and some taps were heard. (Mr. Furness afterwards produced taps precisely similar by rubbing the side of his finger slowly along the side of the slate.)

No writing having been obtained, the Medium declared that he alone would hold the slate, as the magnetism of Mr. Furness was injurious.

Again we were invited to ask questions. Dr. Leidy asked: 'When and where did you die?' No answer.

The Medium asked Mr. Furness if his name were not Furness. (Mr. Hazard had seen the Medium before, and informed him that the Commission was coming.)

Mr. Furness now put his hand under the table on the hand of the Medium, which was pressing the double slate (not the screwed one) up against the table.

Mr. Furness declared that he heard a certain buzzing noise. The slate being taken out, there was found written on the inside of the under slate:

I will help
 you all
 R. Dale Owen.

and something that looked like "Henry Furness is here,"


The slate on the floor being examined, there was found on the outside (it was a screw-slate)
I am here with you
 I will help you
 R. Dale Owen

Some other illegible marks were found on the slate.

Nothing was obtained on the inside of either screw-slate.

The handwriting on the two slates, purporting to be from R. Dale Owen, was much alike.

The Medium now took hold of Mr. Hazard's hand, and went into trance, personating Esther Hazard, a deceased daughter of Mr. Hazard. He (the Medium) made convulsive motions, trembled, etc., and while in this state predicted that Mr. Fullerton would receive a very pleasing letter on Saturday next -- said that he should come to the Medium for advice. [No such letter was received on that date by Mr. Fullerton.]

He also declared that Dr. Koenig had brought with him a Spirit named August.

He declared Ponto, White-feather, Bed Jacket and Thomas Paine to be present.

(The Medium called "White-feather" he, Mr. Hazard objecting that White-feather was a woman.)

The light was then turned out, and all hands laid upon the table. Mr. Furness laid one of his hands upon one of the Medium's and upon one of Mr. Hazard's. (The Medium afterwards asserted that Mr. Furness had held both his hands. But Mr. Furness was positive that he held only one.) Mr. Hazard was touched several times about the face. Mr. Furness was touched on the cheek and on his ear-trumpet and Mr. Fullerton was struck on the head by a paper thrown from the other side of the table, and touched once on the back of his left hand by what felt like human fingers.

There were no more manifestations.

The Committee adjourned to Dr. Leidy's house for conference. The above notes were read and approved.


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