Researchers

Hamlin Garland

Hamlin Garland

1860-1940


     THE PULITZER Prize-winning author of 52 books, Hamlin Garland was intimately involved with major literary, social, and artistic movements in American culture. He was awarded honorary doctorate degrees by the University of Wisconsin, Beloit College, Northwestern University, and the University of Southern California. The latter institution now houses the Hamlin Garland collection in its Doheny Memorial Library. The Hamlin Garland Society exists today to disseminate information on Garland’s literary works, and his early home in West Salem, Wisconsin is a national historic landmark and museum.

Garland was one of the early members of the American Psychical Society (APS) - a group in Boston, Mass. that was unhappy with the way Richard Hodgson was conducting the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR) and which decided to form its own organization. In his 1936 book, Forty Years of Psychic Research, Garland states that he was an agnostic and a student of Darwin and Herbert Spencer when he was asked, primarily because of his scepticism, to serve as an investigator for the APS. Over his 40-plus years of research, Garland came to believe in the reality of psychic phenomena, although he struggled with accepting it as proof of life after death. He saw it all as some strange manifestation of the subconscious. In Forty Years, he wrote:

"I concede the possibility of their (spirits’) persistence, especially when their voices carry, movingly, characteristic tones and their messages are startlingly intimate. At such times, they seem souls of the dead veritably reimbodied. They jest with me about their occupations. They laugh at my doubts, quite in character. They touch me with their hands."

But, Garland continued, he could come to no conclusions as to the cause or the origin of the phenomena as he simply could not comprehend a “fourth dimension.”

Following the publication of Forty Years, Garland began investigating a mystery which he documented in his final book, The Mystery of the Buried Crosses, published in 1939. Garland had been given some 1,500 crosses and other artefacts allegedly unearthed by Gregory and Violet Parent between 1914 and 1924. He was told that Mrs. Parent began communicating with “dead souls” in 1914, just after she recovered from a serious illness. The communicating spirits directed her to buried treasures and artefacts all over southern and central California. They were said to be buried by North American Indians during the missionary period of California. Through a direct-voice medium, Sophia Williams, Garland then communicated with the deceased Violet Parent, as well as long deceased missionary priests and was led to additional crosses and artefacts buried around California and Mexico. Among the other spirits communicating with Garland through Williams were Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir William Crookes, Dr. William James, and Dr. Gustave Geley, all psychical researchers who said they were there to help Garland in his search.

Garland concluded Buried Crosses more convinced that the communication was coming from spirits than from the subconscious of the medium, but still couldn’t bring himself to say that he accepted it as proof of life after death.

Source: Michael E. Tymn, editor of The Academy of Religion & Psychical Research Bulletin.

 

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