Mapes, James Jay (1806-1866)

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Mapes, James Jay (1806-1866)

Professor of agricultural chemistry, member of various learned societies, and one of the early American converts to Spiritualism. Mapes was born on May 29, 1806, in New York City. After leaving school he worked as a chemist's clerk before entering business for himself. He invented a system of sugar refining in 1831, a machine for manufacturing sugar from cane, and a process for making sugar from West Indian molasses. He also invented a method of tanning hides, as well as improvements in distilling, dyeing, color making, and other industrial innovations. For his contributions, he received an honorary A.M. degree from Williams University in 1840. He was also a colonel in the New York state militia.

His conversion to Spiritualism was the result of an investigation he initiated in order to save his friends from "running to imbecility." Cora L. V. Richmond produced for him phenomena he could not explain. Then his wife, a woman of advanced age with no talent for art, developed an automatic drawing and painting mediumship. She executed in a marvelously rapid manner several thousand watercolor drawings, which met with praise. His daughter became a writing medium.

One of the early messages that came through his daughter purported to emanate from Mapes's father. It asked Mapes to look up an encyclopedia, stored in a packing case 27 years before, and there on page 120 he would find his father's name written. This was found true. With increasing interest Mapes investigated Katie Fox (of the Fox sisters ) and the Davenport brothers, with whom he heard the first direct voice phenomena, and the manifestations of "John King." He followed every new psychic discovery with keen interest. He died January, 10, 1866.