December 29, 1885: Dr. Rothermel and Mr. Powell

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December 29th, 1885.       

There was a meeting of The Seybert Commission this evening, at the house of Mr. Furness, on Washington Square, to investigate some Materializations promised by the Mediums, Dr. Rothermel and Mr. Powell

There were present Mr. Furness, Dr. Leidy, Professor Thompson, Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, Dr. White, Dr. Knerr, Mr. Fullerton, Colonel Kase, Mr. Frank Furness, Mrs. J. Dundas Lippincott, Mrs. Dr. Pepper, Mrs. A. L. Wister, and a number of others.

The Mediums arrived with quite a bundle of apparatus, and stretched their curtain where Mr. Keeler had his, across the corner of the parlor, from the door leading into the hall to the edge of the window. The curtain was similar to that of Mr. Keeler in its general character, and,


as in that case, the whole corner was draped in black. The shape of the Cabinet was triangular.

The Mediums said it was impossible to produce materialized forms as they had expected, and proceeded to give much the same sort of a seance as Mr. Keeler's -- in this case, however, the hands of the Medium covered by the curtain being fastened with tape, instead of being held. The arrangement of the curtain, positions of the Mediums, and the positions of the spectators were as indicated.

X Dr. Rothermel -- a curtain at his back and one in front of him, his head through a hole in the upper part of the outer flap of the double curtain.

Y Mr. Powell.

* * * Spectators.

On table (2) was a music-box, and on table (1), within the Cabinet, bells, a zither, etc.

The lights were all extinguished but one, and that one was prevented from throwing light on the Medium by a shade placed upon one side of it -- it was turned low. The light was not so good as during Mr. Keeler's seance.

Before the lights were put out. Dr. White was asked to tie the Medium, and Mrs. Lippincott to sew the ends of the ribbon and tape with which he was tied.

A ribbon was tied around each leg above the knee, and the ends sewed to his trousers. A bit of black tape was then passed under the ribbon and tied around the wrist, the ends being knotted and sewed together by Mrs. Lippincott. His right hand was thus fastened


to his right leg, and his left hand to his left leg; though he still had some freedom of motion, and could easily reach one hand with the other.

Dr. Rothermel was then placed as indicated, behind the outer curtain, and the lights extinguished as described.

He asked for a drink of water, which was given him by Mr. Powell, who stood directly in front of him while he drank it, and hid him from the audience.

Then the zither played, a cap was thrown out over the curtain, a hand (to the right of the Medium) was shown over the curtain.

Bells were rung, papers thrown out, a drum accompaniment to the piano played, as by Mr. Keeler, and the drum-sticks thrown out.

Mr. Powell wet in a glass some handkerchiefs with water, and passed them over the curtain, they were passed out with a message written on them in indelible ink. This could easily have been done with an indelible pencil. (The small table within the curtain was within easy reach of the right hand of the Medium, had it been free, and could have been used for such work.)

The music-box on table (2) was set off -- was rattled several times. (It could have been done by the Medium's left hand if it were free.) The person, to whom each of the above-mentioned handkerchiefs was to be returned, was indicated by raps from the Spirit. (The Spirit was in error in returning handkerchiefs to Dr. Mitchell and Mr. Fullerton.)

The zither was put out at the right and left hand lower corners of the curtain. (It could have been done by the Medium, were his hands free.)

The Medium professed to be then controlled by the Spirit of a young Girl -- Emma Hirsch. He spoke in an unnatural and squeaky voice, but occasionally lapsed into his natural voice. The Spirit declared the Medium unconscious, but refused to allow any medical examination of his condition.

The Mediums were then asked to allow Dr. Rothermel's hands to be examined. After a little delay, the curtain was folded back and the hands exposed.

Mr. Fullerton was permitted to examine them by the light of a match only, and very hastily. They did not allow a candle, which had been lighted, to be brought near. As Mr. Fullerton approached to examine the knots, Mr. Powell came close and seemed very much afraid they would be touched. He kept reiterating, "Don't touch them!" "Don't touch them!" "It would be very dangerous!" The examination was hasty and unsatisfactory, as Mr. Powell and Dr. Rothermel both said


that he (the latter) could endure it only a moment. Hasty as it was, it showed that the knots, which had been on top of the wrists, were now underneath; the tapes, as is mentioned later, were, at the end of the seance, found cut close to the knots.

Whether the tapes were really in their former state, and not already cut, could only be known by examining them all around, and such an examination was not allowed.

It should be stated that before this, and after some of the manifestations, the Medium, with some convulsive movement, as if pulled and pushed by Spirits, came out from under the curtain, and stood with his hands on his legs, as if tied there, but it was too dark to see whether he was really tied, or merely held his hands there, and no examination was made.

Soon after, the Medium declared that the Spirits were cutting him loose, and when the curtain was removed and lights brought, the tapes which had bound his wrists were found to be cut through close to the knots. Whether this was done at the beginning of the seance, leaving the Medium's hands free from the beginning, or at the time indicated by the Medium, there was no means of proving. The cutting of the tapes made the tying and sewing tests quite valueless.

(Taken from notes made during the seance and immediately after.)


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