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Fletcher, John William (1852-1913)

Fletcher, John William (1852-1913)

American clairvoyant and trance medium. His mother possessed the gift of second sight. As a boy he was a puzzle to his teachers; instead of the lesson he would recite a paper presented to him in a vision. When barely 17 he was known and sought out as a trance speaker.

As a young man he married Susie Willis, who was a clairvoyant and had been a public lecturer since age 15. In 1873 both embarked on professional mediumship at the Lake Pleasant camp meeting. Fletcher's control was an Indian girl, "Winona," and some of her sitters claimed to have seen her materialized.

In 1877 Fletcher visited London. Because of the Henry Slade trial, American mediums were not popular there at the time. At James Burns 's Spiritual Institution he was coldly received. Although The Spiritualist newspaper never ceased to attack him, Fletcher continued his tour and gave test sittings at the house of Agnes Guppy-Volckman, at the British National Association of Spiritualists, and at the Dalston Association. In Cavendish Rooms and in Steinway Hall he delivered many platform addresses on the religion and philosophy of Spiritualism and instituted Sunday class meetings on the plan of the Children's Lyceums of America.

In 1881 the Fletchers were overtaken by disaster. Mrs. Fletcher was sentenced to 12 months' hard labor for obtaining, by undue influence, the property of Mrs. Hart Davies. Her defense was that she was sheltering the woman, who appealed to her for refuge and protection, and only reluctantly consented to take charge of her property as long as Davies desired it, since she and her husband were paying Davies's expenses while she stayed in their home. At the time of his wife's trial Fletcher was addressing an audience of three thousand in Boston. He never went back to England, fearing the same fate that befell his wife.

In his later years Fletcher practiced as a palmist in New York. In June 1913 the police made a sudden raid with a warrant for his arrest. He collapsed and died from heart failure.

Sources:

Gay, Susan E. John William Fletcher, Clairvoyant. London, 1883.

Marryat, Florence. There is No Death. New York: John W. Lovell, 1891. Reprint, New York: Causeway Books, 1973.

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Russell, William Fletcher

William Fletcher Russell, 1890–1956, American educator, b. Delhi, N.Y., grad. Cornell, 1910, Ph.D. Columbia, 1914; son of James Earl Russell. He was dean (1917–23) of the College of Education, State Univ. of Iowa, and professor of education (1923–54) and associate director of the International Institute (1923–27) at Teachers College, Columbia. In 1927 he succeeded his father as dean of Teachers College, and he was later appointed (1949) president of the school. He retired in 1954. Russell wrote Economy in Secondary Education (1916), Education in the United States (1917), and The Meaning of Democracy (with T. H. Briggs, 1941) and edited The Rise of a University (Vol. I, 1937).

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