In 1869 a klatch of free-thinking transcendentalists gathered somewhere in America -- and apparently they had access to one incredibly talented medium. The result is a remarkable document, "Strange Visitors" -- a full-length book which is a free ebook download available here: Visitors
It's a collection of "original papers" which are messages channeled from the dead, but not just any of the dearly departed. This ambitious project goes for the cream of the crop. They seek contact with luminaries from the world of science and literature, philosophy and government, art and poetry, and more.
Such VIP Dead as Lord Byron, Nathaniel Hawthorn, Napoleon Bonaparte, Edgar Allen Poe and William Thackeray are contacted and queried for their impressions of what it is like to die and what the `The Other Side' is like.
Also, people who were famous at the time, but more or less forgotten today, are tapped for after-death reports.
For example, there is a session with Lady Blessington, who was born to poverty in late 18th Century Ireland as Margaret Power. She suffered through a bad marriage to a drunken sea captain (which ended with his death in debtor's prison), until she finally married into the aristocracy, landing Charles Gardiner, the 1st Earl of Blessington. Upon her elevation into high society, Lady Blessington became something of a celebrated literary figure across Europe and among elite, over-educated Americans.
A Minnesota Connection?
But who is Henry J. Horn, the editor of this document?
I've done considerable sleuthing, and the best candidate might be a lawyer who spent most of his life here in Minnesota. Today, the "Horn House" at 50 Irvine Park in St. Paul is a prominent landmark listed with the National Register of Historic Places by Minnesota's State Historic Preservation office.
Born in Philadelphia in 1821, Henry J. Horn passed the bar in Pennsylvania and moved to the Twin Cities area in 1855. He purchased the Horn House in 1881. The home was built by Dr. Jacob Stewart in 1874 and designed by the German-American architect August Gauger. Henry J. Horn died in 1902.
Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any connection between Mr. Horn and spiritualist groups, mediums and séances -- but is it likely that a high-profile, respected Minnesota attorney would lend his name to such an arcane publication?
It's a mystery.
An even bigger mystery is the identity of the medium himself/herself. Who was this remarkable person who contacted these disincarnate souls, and via "automatic writing," produced reports an array of richly divergent writings (and poetry) from beyond the veil?
What's even more amazing is that these manuscripts are much more than musings about the afterlife -- for example, an entire Gothic novel is presented, purportedly written by the ghost of Charlotte Brontë herself!
There are also political ravings by Napoleon -- clearly still a megalomaniac-imperialist in the hereafter. A dirge by Edgar Allen Poe reveals that he remains a bleak, dreary, haunted poet despite having cast off the agony of the flesh!
The examples of Napoleon, Brontë and Poe might lead one to believe that these missives are not so much after-death communications, but rather, impressions of a creative medium with a literary bent -- except that the majority of these works read like "authentic" contact with the dead.
Here's what I mean:
In recent decades an interest in mediumship has experienced a resurgence. It all goes hand-in-hand with the rise of all things "New Age," but interest in the idea that "no one truly dies" has also received a boost from medical types, such as Dr. Raymond Moody and his groundbreaking book "Life After Life," and Elisabeth Kübler-Ross with "On Death and Dying."
Others have since have gone much further with talking-to-the-dead kinds of books -- consider the likes of psychologist Michael Newton and psychiatrist Brian Weiss who use hypnotic regression to document volumes of intense information from people's past lives, but also from deceased loved ones.
Then there's a whole string of folks from all walks of like who are either channeling the dead or reporting intense experiences in the Afterlife --books I've read recently (some reviewed here) along these lines include those by Natalie Sudman, Erika Hayasaki, Julia Assante Ph.D., Dr. Eben Alexander, Dr. Allan Botkin, Bill Guggenheim, Dr. Don Miguel Ruiz, Dr. Pim van Lommel-- and many more.
The point is: the descriptions these modern explorers report about the after-death environment are remarkably similar the writings presented almost 150 years ago in Strange Visitors -- which suggests a certain authenticity to these works.
That makes this obscure gem published in 1869 a document of considerable significance and interest.