« Lore

Episode 105: Layers


We love to simplify things. Easy is better than complex, after all, and simple things are easy to understand. Sadly, though, the people around us are far from simple; they are complex and layered, with deep, hidden stories just waiting to be discovered.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
William sat in the center of the dimly lit room watching the stranger reclined on a small bed. He was waiting for a sign some kind of message or display that would answer his questions and his heart was beating rapidly with the anticipation. The man on the bed was young. not even out of his teenage years, but he was already a star. His name was Frank heard and his reputation as a powerful medium had already spread far and wide across England and to William who had lost his beloved brother, Philip just a year before her. Presented hope, burn exhaled along low breath, and then the shadows in the room seemed to darken, as if the law,
from the single lamp were being pushed back and then, as WWW watched, a pale face, appeared overheard body, not just any face I know this was the face he recognised all too well. It was Philip Next few moments, volume and Phillip had a conversation. He would later claim that the faces tone of voice and choice of words instantly convinced him. They originated from his dead brother's spirit. It was everything he had dreamed of for the previous year and it moved into tears it also filled him with curiosity, William, was scientist after all and our curiosity was part of his core essence. So when the science was complete and Hearn had left, he sat down and began to plan a Frank Hearn could open a connection between this world and the one beyond William
two to know how it was a mission that would consume the rest of his life. He would go on to steady Hearn, but also a whole assortment of other prominent mediums, Kate Fox Daniel Home, Charles Williams and Mary Marshall, all became subjects of his experiments ass. He looked for answers that satisfied his curiosity. None of them, however, left him, and ah they were impressive for sure, but he felt as if there had to be something more He was a cautious scientist and was very Unbiased in his conclusions after years, studied all he would admit publicly was that these mediums warranted further study made, might be frauds or this
peace in a widespread delusion or completely and utterly authentic. He just couldn't say for sure, but that caution disappeared in eighteen. Seventy four, when William met his match, much like Frank Hearn, she too had been a young star. Far more talented than her age might have suggested she could levitate. Objects like Daniel home, communicate with the dead, like Kate, Fox and even materialise, faces like Frank heard, but unlike them, she could do more if the stories are true Trust me. There are a lot of well documented stories about her. She could
in sum, in a complete spirit, fully visible from head to toe and present it to the people who attended her Sciences and William crooks was about to discover how I'm Aaron Monkey, and this is lore Florence. Was born and EAST London. In eighteen. Fifty six one of four daughters raised in a working class, home and Hackney, her father worked in dean and managed to earn enough to elevate his family to that frustrating level right between the lower and middle class. They had a sir
and in the house and a good reputation, but they were far from wealthy or part of the elite in eighteen. Seventy one Florence was just fourteen years old. She began to suffer from symptoms, the left, her family, worried and helpless. She would frequently slip into a deep sleep, often without warning, and when she was awake, she claimed that she went through life in a sort of days. Billing, heavy and sleepy doctors were no help in solving the issues, though, saw her family began to explore less traditional options. One of those options was a local medium. We don't know the details of that visit, but we do know that they connected with Florence enough that she could home and began to experiment on her own, sometimes with family and other times with friends from school. According to those Round her, she showed Natural gift for the world of spiritualism, a gift that they encouraged and nurtured.
In one of her home seances Florence apparently channel the Spirit who dictated the name and address of an individual in London who could help her. When the family looked into the information, they discovered the person to be the secretary Hurry of a near by organisation known as the Dalstan Spiritualist Association. So they set up an appointment and took Florence in to meet some of the members. After a few initial visits that impress the members their Florence was why come in and made part of the group soon enough. She was making public appearances, were her skills were put on display for eager supporters of the spiritualist movement. As she pushed deeper into this free expression of her natural abilities. Those elements that had begun at all slowly began to disappear. Instead of feeling trapped. She now felt relief and not just relief Florence had to be feeling a good amount of pride as well compared to
their mediums of her day she seemed to be an exceptional talent, someone with abilities the far outstripped her peers eighteen. Seventy one at the young age of just fifteen, she was demonstrate, in skills and abilities that matched mediums who work twice her age. We know about spirit, beings from stories about folks like the Fox sisters, spirit to communicated with the law by creating knocking, sounds that the mediums would interpret in Florence could do that. There's, show the ability to levitate objects or even themselves during group sciences. At again, Florence showed the same abilities
but some mediums of the day had achieved more. There were some who could produce a gauzy spiritual substance known as actual plasma, while others like Frank Hearn, actually manifest the face of the Spirit. Who is communicating and then display that face for others to see, and Florence could already do all of those things expertly. But she took it all one step further. She could call entire spirits into existence and stand them before her audience. Full bodied materialisation of the dead, as if their bodies were back in the land of the living and Florence called upon one Spirit, in particular a ghost of a dead woman. She referred to as Katy King. It would be a partnership that would change for, his life. I think we also need to step aside for a moment and talk about the practical elements of these meetings. All of the medium soup form, these amazing feats tended to use a similar environments,
They relied on something they referred to as a Spirit cabinet, which was often an actual cabinet or wooden booth mediums would step inside others, though, used entire rooms as their cabinet. They would hold their sciences in the homes of wealthy families and take over to adjoining rooms in and they would place the chairs for the audience and then hang a curtain in the doorway that led into the next room. And that was where mediums like Florence sit on a chair or lay on a sofa while they entered a trance and controlled their spiritual displays Florence no was different. I won't say he was unique because at least one other medium in London at the time claimed to be able to do the same thing. But she was the youngest who could had a very fast learner, and people were lining up to see those powers with their own eyes.
Most of the time when they got was an incredible, an unbelievable performance that left them and on a glimpse at an actual spirit pulled through the veil. But in this world and the next by a talented medium at the beginning of a storied career and most of those audience, members were content to watch and soak it all in all of them, except for one and when he cross the line everyone got more than they bargain for before we get to the incidents we need to back up just a bit. It was eight Seventy two and Florence had gone through much in the two years since she knocked on the door of the Dalstan Spiritualist Association. She was sixteen years old now Anne had
behind the darkness of those frustrating and troublesome symptoms- but there was more in the fall of eighteen. Seventy one she took a teaching position at a local school run by a woman named Eliza Cliff, but all the while her reputation as a medium was growing. Florence found herself on the front page of prominent spiritualist newspaper alongside other star mediums like Agnes Guffey and Charles Williams, but while that sort of station was a good thing inside the spiritualist community. It didn't sit well with the parents of the children she taught at school by January of eighteen. Seventy two she'd been fired what a sense of urgency into her mind. I think Florence was sitting at that very same crime roads. Many of us have been before her passion didn't pay. The bills are working to earn a living took time away from the things she truly loved. Thankfully, there was another option available to her
patronage. You see there were a number of wealthy individuals across England who, so enamoured with the powers of mediums like Florence that they paid them regular support it allowed the mediums too their thing without the hindrances day job and it gave these prominent backers something to brag about. So after being kicked out of her teaching position Florence set her sights on Charles Blackburn, a wealthy man from Manchester, whom also happened to provide financial support for Frank Hearn, but he would need to be impressed. To that point, all she had managed to do with some in the image of Katy king in front of the audience, usually visible job, inside the slight opening in the curtains that supper to the sitting room from wherever she was to earn Blackburn's patronage. She knew she would have to do more.
She would have to summon a spirit that walked and taught if she could do that she can make a star of herself and attract someone wealthy to support her work. She did it not too long after losing her teaching job. Florence performed another science. This time producing, being England had never seen before she said
in a chair in the dark, tied and bound to prevent movement, while the audience waited in the next room, a figure that witnesses described as a tall woman dressed in White stepped out from the curtain and into full view. Her efforts paid off, quite literally, actually Charles Blackburn offered his patronage and Florence toured through the homes of various wealthy individuals performing all sorts of spiritualist road shows. Across England. She had gone from the very bottom of the middle class, the sitting at the table with nobles and politicians, but with all of that attention aims something else suspicion the higher Florence rose and prominence the more questions there were about her authenticity and you really can't
Lane people the girl, was claiming to manifest walking talking spirits after all to most people. It was pure nonsense as well as fraud. Just waiting to be exposed to all of her seances were conducted in very controlled conditions. Guests were vetted before being invited and tickets were never sold. Gentle in, like Charles Blackburn, who had money invested in the success of mediums like Florence, became extremely guarded. Opening up their performance is to only the most trusted audience members in December of eighteen. Seventy three, those strict boundaries were tested. Florence held a say on that was attended by Blackburn and the Earl of greatness, along with a few other respected spiritualist, including William Vulcan, and a ship's officer, name Algae Corner Lawrence was tied to her chair as usual, and then hot wax was poured over the knots to seal them as a finishing touch. The Earl himself
asked his signet ring into the hot wax before it all began. The rules were laid out as they always were. No touching was allowed when floor. Some in the Spirit of Katy King and produced a full materialisation of her body for all to see. No one is allowed to touch without permission. A reason they claim was that touching the spirit could inflict horrible pain and suffering on the medium. It made sense to those in the room and they all agreed all. At one William Vulcan sat in his chair and watched as the pale beautiful form of Katy King stepped into the aisle down the center of the audience ass. She approached Various people around him whispered and awe murmured their disbelief. Vulcan had a different reaction. He jumped out of his chair, rushed toward her and tried to tackle her Algae corner and another member of the audience rushed to the spirits aid wrestling,
Going off of her and dragging him away as they did Screams erupted from the other room behind the curtain, where Florence sat bound and sealed in her chair a moment later, Haiti King disappeared and the scuffle was over. Algae and the others held onto Baldwin long enough to make sure Florence was all right and then asked him why he did it. You responded that he was a friend of mine, Guffey, an older medium who was extremely jealous of Florence is rise to fame and he had wanted to disprove her. And it wasn't alone in that sentiment there were More and more people convinced that Florence was a fraud and people wanted answers. She as real as she claimed to be. Blackburn. Any others knew the doubts would be bad for business and for spiritualism as a whole, so they decided to put Florence through a series of rigorous tests. These tests, however, would be carried out by a man of science and unbiased observation.
someone who had already studied a number of other prominent mediums and performed his job admirably. It was time to bring in William crooks William crooks had a bit of an unfortunate name. He had made his work to study and test various individuals who had claimed to possess unexplainable powers, the general public suspected each and every one of them is a fraud, a crook even and he had made his work to see. If that was true will, Jim crooks. A man of science and reason was looking for crooks.
Years earlier. He had align himself with the dolphin Spiritualist Association there in London and had helped them experiment with a number of other prominent mediums. Charles Williams, Frank, Hearn and Daniel Home are three that many might recognize, So when the invitation was extended to come and examined the abilities of Florence Cook, he took it and had spent many days in physical distress after the encounter with Balkan. who saw her said she appeared nervous and sick, but when asked She would be willing to hold one more seance for William Crooks and a few others. She agreed this time, though things would be handled differently, William and his wife Ellen worked hard to make sure no fraudulent activity could take place. Florence was tied to a chair again and the ropes were sealed with wax. Then crooks secured the doors in and out of the room with wire through the keyholes, which he then sealed as well, and
and even examined Florence privately to look for tools or devices that might aid in her performance. When the seance begin crooks was given his first opportunity to see Katy king in person even later describe how the spirits face resembled tat of Florence Cook enough to make him wonder if it wasn't just the medium in a costume, but he could still hear her sobbing quietly through the curtain. It was enough to interest, looks in further study over the next five months from January to May of eighteen. Seventy four Florence paid the crooks. Multiple visits Oftentime stained with them in their home and submitting herself to a number of scientific tests. Crooks took a detailed notes and kept a record of his findings, much of which was eventually published in a book and tie researchers in the phenomena of spiritualism. Used all manner of tools to test Florence disabilities. He would extinguish the gas lights in the house.
and only use of phosphorus lamp. He would leave his wife Ellen inside the Cabinet room of Florence, while he watched Katy King walk around in front of the audience even swapped out the ropes for electrical wire in Florence, his own body to complete a circuit that would register movement and attempts to escape in Florence passed all of the tests throughout. All of this Katy continued to appear during the sciences and not only that, but she was becoming more interactive on one occasion Katy, Van broke, her own touching rule when she took crooks by the arm and walked across the room with him. According to him, There was nothing spirit like about Katie's form. She felt like any other lady foreign stay just as busy during time she even got married next spring, her husband, he was algae, corner the man. who had helped capture and remove volkmar from that dramatic seance months earlier many of Florence is fellow
Dalstan Associates, attended the wedding and one of them heard algae claim that at times it felt as if he were married to two women, not one, and that was honestly what was on everyone's mine. Were Florence and Katy separate individuals, or were they one and the same to some observers? Both women, the spirits and the medium seemed have the same face. But there was a lot of evidence to suggest that was incorrect. For example, Katy had pierced ears, while Florence did not the spirit had auburn hair, while the mediums hair was black and some been observed, both women in the same room. At the same time, crooks took his scientific curious any further by bringing in camera equipment to take pictures of the medium and spirit at work. Five cameras were set around the audience and during the seance crooks, took forty four photos. He was unhappy with the results, though, claiming that Katy
king was a lot more beautiful and charming in person. Then she appeared in the images. Today, a handful of those images still exist, but there are very confusing it's never clear which woman the camera had been pointed at, leaving us to make gases as to which ones were Florence and which ones were of Katy. Some that doesn't help the case in believing the medium truly had the power to manifest in actual spirits in the room. For others, though, just having the images is proof enough for crooks and the dolphin spiritualist Association. Those five months of experiments and tests has proven their case. They could see back out into the world of confidence. Knowing that Florence had undergone a strict assessment and passed with flying colours, Charles Blackburn could breathe easy in his investment into the young. Medium had been worth it. Even Florence herself felt vindicated In a letter she later wrote to Blackburn she mentioned Agnes Guffey Thee
or Medium who Vulcan then tried to support through his attack on her Missus Guffey will be surprised when she sees the papers she wrote, it will stop her nonsense, but all of this evidence and confidence would prove to be nothing more than a tower built of ice longer. Florence was out there performing seances and entertaining guests the more attention and time in the spotlight she was subjected to and everything was about to melt. crooks, wasn't the only person to ride up their eyewitness accounts of Florence Cook inaction, another follower of spiritualism, a woman. Named Florence: Mariette recorded her own observations, publishing them to do
aids. Later in eighteen. Ninety two under the title there is no death in the book. She revealed some interesting details that add more confusion to the debate. On one hand, Florence. The medium, not the writer, seems to have only allowed a single lamp inside the rooms where her seances took place. Critics are quick to point out that any performance that must be conducted in the shadows is certainly suspicious misdirection, an illusion benefit from obscurity and the darkness helped with that. But at the same time, Mary, I also reported in encountered that called these ideas into question. At one say, I'd see, attended Katy king stepped out through the curtain between the cabinet room in the audience and moved among those gathered there. Some one in the crowd called out for more light an amazingly the spirit agreed to the test according to marry, the Spirit stood against one of the walls and at all of the gas
in the room, were red lights and turned up is bright as they could go. We're a heartbeat every one in the room saw Katy more clearly, but seconds later her form began to melt away solving into the wall like soft wax. When she was gone, only a pile of white cloth was left on the drawing room floor. Maybe it was that final experiment, or perhaps it was just time where it all to come to an end, whatever the reason in May of eighteen. Seventy four, after five months of tests and Sciences, Katy King told Florence and the others that it was time for her to depart and for return, a final seance was planned for May twenty. First, in a crowd gathered to the mediums final performance. Florence, with a large basket of flowers which she placed at her feet before slipping into her trance to summon Katy. For the last time when the spirit appeared
she gathered some of those flowers and crafted bookcase, which she handed out to a few of the guests. After speaking, briefly, with a few of the audience, members Katy slipped back through the curtain into the cabinet, but allowed crooks to follow, he later wrote about what he witnessed in that room of how Katy Florence up and helped her to stand out once she saw the Spirit Florence collapsed in tears how, when she and crooks looked up moments later, Katy was gone now have been the end of the road for Florence. Without a spirit partner to help her with her seances, she was a car without an engine, but she didn't say months later, she reemerged with a new spirit. Another woman. This one called Lila Florence Performed- few more seances with Lila as her showpiece, but it was a partnership that wouldn't last long
early one. Seventy five Florence revealed a third spirit. Helper, this time named Marie, while the first to spirits had been mostly quiet Come Marie was apparently a bit of a show, boats, often dancing and singing for the gathered audience, which was odd, because Florence could apparently do neither of those things Lawrence was becoming more and more bold, but it was also a bit too tempting for people who wanted to prove that she had been a fraud all along and at a seance in front of the members of the National British Association of spiritualist those pieces all fell into place with tragic results. There was another attack. This time. Instead of William Vulcan, the man who rushed toward the manifested spirit was a young Oxford student named George sit well. This time, though there were no hero. In the audience. No one was willing to jump up, and then Marie against the attack. No one dry sit well away and interrogated him. Instead, he dragged the pale
You're of Marie over to the curtain separating the audience from Florence is location and then toward them open, the lights were turned up and the secret was laid bare for all to see. A cabinet was empty, Marie had been Florence in disguise all along Florence, and the rest of her life wrestling with the stigma that came with that discovery. She El retreated to Wales and she gave up work as a medium entirely. She later told the free, that if she had to do it all over again, she wouldn't no amount of wealth or fame was worth the suffering she endured for the rest of her life. I can't help but see Florence as another icarus. She crafted a story to give herself wings and make herself look more powerful than she really was. In the end, though, she flew a bit too close to the sun.
I think it's safe to say that most of us like to feel confident about the world around us. We want to feel put it in our job security or our ability to rise to the challenge and succeed relation ships are based on trust and confidence in our partners and friends, and when that confidence is shaken, we waiver and falter for a long time. Folks were confidence in the powers of Florence Cook and then it all fell apart and They get that we're talking about a person who claim to be able to manifest a full body spirit in a room full of observers. So it's easy to here about her later fraud and dump the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. But there was nothing
to suggest that her earlier performances were anything but authentic. So it's not as simple as just calling her a fake and then moving on M crooks, subjected her to all manner of scientific tests. Multiple witnesses claim to have seen both Florence and Eddie king in the same room. At the same time, it's enough to make some people wonder if perhaps sit had all been real, but the power to do those things, left her when Katy said farewell asking you to believe her merely suggesting that according The stories in records we have today Florence was a layered individual. Yes, she said the visions of the singing and Dancing Marie Anne. Yes, she had a strong additive nature that might have driven her to one up her peers, but the evidence suggests that there was more to her than just that one,
M crooks response to the evaporation of Florence is reputation, was complete and utter silence. He moved on and worked with. Other mediums testing their abilities and using science to try and understand how they manage to communicate with the world beyond the veil. To be honest, it seems to have been a bit of an obsession. Perhaps that was because of the loss of his brother fill up years earlier, maybe he was looking for a way to reach out and connect with those he lost. We know that was one the biggest underline reasons behind the entire spiritualist movements, but crooks also had scientific reasons for doing so, because he felt it offered new potential for communication technology. He would work at it for the rest of his life, but it would be hard to shake the stigma that came with publicly supporting a person who turned out to be a fraud. Others managed to move on as well remember William Vulcan, the man who try to tackle Florence is spirit. Helper Katy King
He would later go onto Mary, Agnes Cuppy there, I say medium. He had been claiming to support, there was one other wedding of importance that I need to mention. Florence is was ruined by the exposure of her fraud and she spent the rest of her life in part dying in nineteen o four, at the age of forty eight, but after her death, her husband picked up the pieces and tried to move on eventually remarried, I meant that, because the woman he married was yet another spiritualist medium one. Had won the financial support of that wealthy patron Charles Blackburn, and this new wife was Florence Cooks, sister, a sister who looked just like her a sister named Kate.
The story of Florence cooks rise to fame and her eventual demise off fascinating glimpse into the world of Victorian England spiritualist. But she wasn't the Only person in the story with layers of potential and influence stick around after this short sponsor break, to learn something amazing about her investigator, William Crooks. This episode was made possible by staff stock. Come if you're a small businesses you're busy enough as it is either have time to deal with the hassle of going to the post office with stamps dot com. You can skip the trip never waste another dollar or minute steps that come with you print official postage right from your computer. So you can spend less time at post office and more time running your business simply put stamps dot. Com saves time, money and stress for more than twenty years stamps that come here. An indispensable for over one million businesses giving you access.
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William crooks wasn't slouch when it came to science. I know it's easy, you're, a story about a guy performing tests on a spiritual, medium and want to use massive air quotes around the word scientist but most of us would have had a hard time keeping up with him. If we were given the chance. Even in the middle of his tests on Florence Cook, he was working in other, less supernatural fields. it no less mysterious to the scientists of his day. In fact, on April ten, a second of eighteen. Seventy four, just a month before Florence is Spirit Guide, Katy King vanished, forever crooks their presentation at the royal society in it he Having stated that objects placed into a vacuum could still be influenced by radiation. He also created glass tubes that could produce heat and light over the years followed. He added new achievements to his resume disk
bird and measured the atomic weight for the element thallium and helped identify the first sample of helium in eighteen. Ninety five so high The next time you buy a helium balloon for a birthday party, be sure to thank William crooks for helping make their past in England were sure thankful for his contributions. He was now in eighteen. Ninety, seven and nine. In ten, he received the order of merit for all of his contributions to the scientific community. Yes, he tested ECHO plasma and full body apparitions, but he also move humanity forward into a better understanding of the natural world. Just like Florence Cook, William Crooks was a person with many layers, and I have to think it will be hard for us to say anything different about ourselves. People are complex and nothing is ever black and white and all of this started because William Crooks wanted to communicate with the world beyond our own, his glass tubes items he called crooks tubes.
but would one day be known as cathode ray tubes would be seen as impressive, but wouldn't truly find a use for another few decades, specifically crooks work, put the pieces in place for a device that could display ghostly shapes and images, even voices from their place and time. It could evoke emotional responses and offer comfort and was best used in We lit room with the curtains drawn it would even be saddled with terms. He would have recognised like channels and the tube that device. The television
This episode of Lore was written and produced by me, Erin Mangy, with research by Marcel Cross. It and Karl Nellis the music by Chad Lawson more is much more than just a podcast there's a book series in bookstores around the. Tree and online, and this can seize and of the Amazon Prime TV show came out in October. Two thousand eatin check in both out You want more lore in your life. They also make two other upon guests, airmail, His cabinet of curiosities and unobserved- and I think you'd enjoy both of them each and explores other areas of our dark history, ranging from bite sized episodes. to season long dives into a single topic. You can learn about both of those shows and everything. what's going on all over in one central place: thou world of lower down come slash now
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Transcript generated on 2022-03-12.