Thayer, M(ary) B(aker) (ca. 1887)

views updated

Thayer, M(ary) B(aker) (ca. 1887)

Well-known professional apport and slate-writing medium of Boston, who chiefly produced flowers and fruits, sometimes live birds. In the Banner of Light (1875) there is an account of a canary apport in answer to a mental request. In the report of the Seybert Commission, a slate-writing séance attended by one Professor Fullerton was considered a failure. There was a description of another séance, at which 30 people were present. The Seybert Commission was represented by Drs. Koenig and Leidy.

According to the Leidy's account:

" sounds were heard of objects dropping on the table, and from time to time matches were lit and exposed, strewn before the company, cut plants and flowers. These were all of the kind sold at this season by the florists, consisting of a pine bough, fronds of ferns, roses, pinks, tulips, lilies, callas and smilax. At one time there fell on the table a heavy body, which proved to be a living terrapin, at another time there appeared a pigeon which flew about the room. The proprietor of the house declared that the flowers and the other objects brought to view in the séance were not previously in the room, and their appearance could not be explained unless through spiritual agency."

In a footnote to his translation of Adolphe d'Assier's book Posthumous Humanity (1887) Henry S. Olcott writes:

"While she [Mrs. Thayer] was enclosed in a large bag, sealed closely at her neck, and all possibility of trickery guarded against, I have seen a long table, quite covered with vines, plants and flowers, dropped out of space. I marked a certain leaf of a rare plant in the garden without her knowledge, and the same evening, in response to my mental request, it dropped upon the back of my hand, with which I was at the moment holding the medium's two hands. The above occurred in the dark; but once a tree branch was brought me in full daylight, through her mediumship, in the house of a gentleman whose guest I was."

Due to the nature of her work with apports and slate writing and the fact that her only support came from people such as Olcott, who was never known for his critical approach to such phenomena, Thayer is considered likely to be one of the fraudulent mediums of the era.