Widow Robbed by Spiritualists

A young couple by the name of McCarthy came to Los Angeles in 1890, and quickly made money in the real estate game. As luck would have it, one year later, Mr. McCarthy fell ill and died.  His widow, a healthy, handsome woman, was left a well appointed house on Temple street, but she proved unable to overcome her grief at the loss of her husband.  She shut herself in her second story parlor, and refused her friends invitations and entreaties to re-enter society.  Desperate to console her, they suggested she seek out spiritual support, and referred her to Mrs. Rich, a trance-medium of some local renown. After the widow had been visiting the medium for several weeks, friends noticed a definite change in her behavior.  When they called on her in her rooms they found her greatly agitated, crouched down in one corner of her room, clutching paper and pencil, which she used, she explained, to record messages from her dead husband.  The messages allegedly emanated from all corners and quarters of the room, and were sometimes delivered by a little girl named “Dewdrop.”

Mrs. McCarthy’s friends tried to calm her, and seemingly succeeded.  But soon thereafter the widow disappeared from her house on Temple street. Ten days later a police officer apprehended a raving woman, unsteady on her feet, in a hallway  near the corner of Sixth and Main streets. Her face was covered in red welts, and her tongue badly swollen. The officer suspected she was intoxicated, but soon discovered that she was bereft of reason. He was about to take the poor woman to the city prison, when a gentleman happened to recognize her as his neighbor, Mrs. McCarthy. He delivered her to her friends from Temple street, who took her into their home to convalesce.  Gradually, she recovered her wits and told them her story. 

Mrs. McCarthy had come to believe that if she strictly obeyed Mrs. Rich, the trance medium, in every regard, then she would, in time, be allowed to communicate with her dead husband.  At the medium’s instruction, Mrs. McCarthy gave Mrs. Rich all but 300 dollars of her personal fortune. The medium then promptly fled the city with her haul.  Distraught, Mrs. McCarthy sought out another clairvoyant, a Mrs. Coy, who plied her trade as a magnetic healer. Mrs. Coy, assisted by an unidentified man, took the half-demented widow into her house, drugged her, and shut her in a dark room for days.  They persuaded the widow to write checks for all of her remaining funds, and to give up her fur-trimmed cloak and her fine dress, for only if she were to renounce all wordly possessions, they claimed, would “the spirit of her dead husband see fit to address her.” On her way home to change she was intercepted by the police officer.

Mrs. McCarthy was unable to recover her lost savings.  Mrs. Coy claimed it was the widow’s idea to give up her money and her clothing, as she “wanted to do penance,” and that she merely assisted Mrs. McCarthy in her spiritual quest.

“Professor” Alexander J. McIvor-Tyndall rides again!

Peter LaFleur managed to win a championship blindfolded in the film “Dodgeball,” so how hard could it possibly be to drive a horse-drawn carriage at a breakneck pace through the streets of downtown Los Angeles while likewise deprived of sight? That was the challenge mind-reader, mystic and clairvoyant Professor J. McIvor Tyndall faced on November 18th, 1895. As a crowd of onlookers blocked traffic and sidewalks in front of the Hotel Ramona, the blindfolded Professor Tyndall took the driver’s seat in an open barouche, accompanied by his passengers, including the Chief of Police, the city clerk, and the Professor’s partner in adventure, Dr. K.D. Wise. Tyndall took up the reins and whip in left hand, while with the other he grasped Dr. Wise’s hand, who sat beside him. Not only did Tyndall aspire to drive the horses blindfolded through the city, he also aimed to find an unknown object hidden by the members of his entourage somewhere in the vicinity of the hotel. Somehow, no doubt due to his heightened mental sensitivity and muscle-reading powers, Tyndall managed to lead the horses on a wild dash down Spring Street, missing by mere inches streetcars, trucks, carriages and terrified pedestrians. He whirled up Fourth, turned on Broadway to Second, and then eastward on Second where he pulled the horses up short at the side entrance of the Hollenbeck Hotel. Still blindfolded, and still grasping the hand of his friend and accomplice Dr. Wise, Tyndall felt along the fa├žade of the stair entrance to the Hotel, where he quickly found a feather duster hanging from a nail above his head. He grabbed the duster,  re-embarked into the carriage along with his amanuensis, Dr. Wise,, and drove pell-mell back along the route he’d come. Astonishment ensued among the crowd when the carriage arrived at the steps of the Hotel Ramona, although a few onlookers observed that in previous years Tyndall had performed the exact same feat, and that on these occasions the object had been hidden in the exact same spot.

Tyndall’s ambitions did not end with mind-reading. He also aspired to cheat death. In December of 1985 he announced plans to place himself in a hypnotic trance, be buried alive in an airtight ten foot deep grave, and then be disinterred and resurrected at the end of thirty days. Taking his cue from Hindu fakirs, Tyndall’s method also required that he be coated in clarified butter. However, when his assistants learned that to bury a human being intentionally, even with his or her consent, constituted a felony, they declined to follow through on their end of the bargain. While they educated themselves about the law, Tyndall lay in a cataleptic state for 32 hours, until he was finally awakened by these words, “Professor! Professor! Without quotation marks! Here’s the bold bad Times reporter and he says he will never put quotation marks around your title again if you’ll only wake up!”

Tyndall continued his mystic exhibitions, lectures and experiments for years in the LA area, eventually graduating from “Professor” to “Dr.”, and establishing an institute of psychic science at Grand Avenue and 15th streets. The founder of his own movement, the International New Thought Fellowship,Tyndall is also the author of a number of books, including Cosmic Consciousness, or the Man-God Whom We Await, How Thought Can Kill, and The Spiritual Function of Sex. After a lifetime investigating the land of Spookdom, Dr. Alexander J. McIvor-Tyndall died for good in 1940.