Thursday, March 17, 2011

That's the "Spirit"! (Civil War Ghosts) - Part II - A Soldier in the Spirit Land

As a follow-up to my previous post on "Civil War Ghosts" (here) I am pleased to share a summary of another rare 19th-century Spiritualist booklet/pamphlet in my collection, this one a bit more serious in its content and origin.

The relatively short (90 pages) monograph, published in 1885, is Interior Sight of the Spirit World as I See It.

Robbins is said to be a New Jersey soldier, mortally wounded at the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862.

The book – in 32 short “chapters” – is a chronicle of “communications” from Robbins to one of his kin, Benjamin Rulon, through Sarah E. Patterson from January to June 1885, and covers topics relating to the Civil War, emancipation, archaeology, criticism of the Bible, and – in the main – life in the Spirit World as “experienced” by Robbins.

Patterson was a NJ/Philly medium who was the subject of investigation by the Seybert Commission for her purported talent in “tablet/spirit writing.”

It is actually an interesting “conceit” – Spiritualist publications such as the Banner of Light published purported “messages” from fallen soldiers, but – as it turns out – the names/identities were not authentic. In this case, Vanroom Robbins was a real man, and soldier. Indeed, I have also been in touch with a descendant of Vanroom Robbins and have seen a period photo of the young man who gave his life at Fredericksburg.

It does indeed seem to be a rare pamphlet; e.g., I do not see a listing for it in WorldCat, and an admittedly quick Google search did not find it in another collections.

It also has a twist of Lincolnia, as the book is heartily endorsed by Abraham Lincoln (via his spirit in a message to Sarah Patterson!).

I have had a preliminary discussion with a publisher in regards to publishing an edited version of the book...I do think it would be a contribution to modern studies on 19th-century Spiritualism.

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