Colby, George P. (1848-1933)

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Colby, George P. (1848-1933)

George P. Colby, the founder of the Spiritualist camp at Cassadaga, Florida, was born to Baptist parents in Pike, New York, on January 6, 1848. Eight years later, the family moved to Minnesota. At the age of 12, young George was baptized, an event that became life changing, but in a most unexpected manner. It seemed to catalyze his psychic abilities. One of the first events was his reception of a message that he would one day found a Spiritualist camp in the southern United States. In the meantime, he became known locally for his healing and clairvoyant abilities. In 1867 he formally left the church and became an itinerant medium visiting various Spiritualist centers. He made his living through the pubic demonstration of his mediumistic skills. Like many mediums, he had acquired a set of spirit guides; among them was a Native American who called himself Seneca.

In 1875 Seneca directed Colby to go to Wisconsin where he would meet T. D. Giddings, another medium. Together they would travel by rail to Jacksonville, Florida, then the end of the railroad line, and search out a location that Seneca had described. Traveling inland, they finally found the spot, notable for its seven small hills. Colby settled in the area, but continued to travel the country as a medium. Finally, in 1880 he filed for a homestead grant and in 1884 was awarded 145 acres. However, the fulfillment of the original message would wait until after the formation of the National Spiritualist Association (now the National Spiritualist Association of Churches ) in 1893. Colby attended the initial meeting and the following year, assisted by people from Lily Dale, the Spiritualist camp in New York, organized the Southern Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp Meeting Association. Colby donated 35 of his acres (later adding 20), and the initial meeting of the association was held in his home.

Colby subsequently became one of the resident mediums and lecturers, but still continued to travel during the off-season. He also enjoyed some prosperous years, and having never married, he adopted several orphan boys and saw to their education. However, in his later years, as his health failed, he lost all of the little he had accumulated and at the time of his death, July 27, 1933, he was bankrupt. He had no family, and the association had to give money to see to his remains.

Sources:

Henderson, Janie. The Story of Cassadaga. Cassadaga, Fla.: Pisces Publishing, 1996.

Karcher, Janet, and John Hutchinson. This Way to Cassadaga, Deltona, Fla.: John Hutchinson Productions, 1980.