March 30, 1886: Mr. Fred Briggs

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March 30th, 1886.       

The Seybert Commission met this evening at the house of Dr. Pepper, to investigate Spiritistic phenomena produced through the Mediumship of Mr. Briggs (for an account of Mr. Briggs see a previous report).

There were present. Dr. Pepper, Dr. Leidy, Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, Professor Koenig, Dr. White, Dr. Knerr, Mr. Fullerton and two friends of Dr. Pepper, Mr. Charles G. Smith and Mr. Robert S. Davis; also the Medium, Mr. Fred Briggs.

The seance was in Dr. Pepper's office; a square table (about 3½ feet square) was placed in the room near the centre, and was supplemented by an oblong table (about 4 feet by 3) placed with one end touching the side of the former, upon the Medium's declaring the former too small. Seats were taken around the tables.

A banjo, a musical box, a zither, a couple of slates and a fan were on the tables.

The Medium insisted that there should be total darkness, and a shawl was hung over the window to exclude all light.

At first hands were joined around the table. Then the Medium suggested breaking the circle. His hands were then quite free. Draughts of air were felt (possibly the fan); the Medium kept making noises, blowing and breathing hard, talking, etc.; the slates on the table were moved, the guitar was twanged, the music-box played. During all this the Medium asked that the hands of all present be kept on the table.

The Medium stated that Mr. Seybert was present. He declared that Mr. Seybert expressed himself as satisfied with the efforts of the Commission to make a fair investigation.

When the Medium stated that some message had been written on one of the slates by Mr. Seybert, the gas was lit, and we found on one slate " I am here." No one present was able to declare it Mr. Seybert's handwriting, as none were familiar with his writing.

The light was then turned low. Mr. Smith was asked to sit in the place of Dr. Mitchell. He held, as directed, one slate up under the


table, and the Medium held the other under the table over his own knee. After some conversation the Medium drew out his slate, and the light being turned up we found on it:

"I am with you.

John Pepper."      

It was too dark to watch the Medium during this last occurrence. The conversation, which was general, would have prevented writing from being heard.

Light turned up -- both slates held by the Medium under the table -- no result.

The light was then turned low. Dr. Leidy was asked to sit next the Medium. Some noise and confusion resulted from making the change. Then the Medium asked Dr. Leidy to put his hand also upon a slate which the Medium was holding up under the table. Attention was then called to a scratching sound, which might have been writing. The slate was taken out by Dr. Leidy, and the light turned up. The following was written on it;

"John Smith is with you like a young son.

John Leidy."      

It was, of course, possible that the writing was done before Dr. Leidy put his hand on it, as the slate was not then examined.

The Medium suggested that we ask mental questions; several did so, without result.

The light was then turned up. Hands were joined. Some feeble raps were heard; they apparently issued from under the table.

Slates were held under the table, but without result.

The light was then turned low. A slate was held under the table by the Medium. He breathed hard, and made no little noise for some time. Then Dr. Koenig was asked to put his hand on the slate. A scratching was heard. When the light was turned up the slate contained the message:

"I will help you all.

Dr. Benj. Rush."      

With this the seance ended.

(Copied from notes taken during the seance. Written out the day after.)


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