An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural
Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies
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Home, Daniel Dunglas (1833-1886) His middle name, Dunglas, was an invented affectation, obviously an attempt to dignify his name by association with Scottish royalty; it does not appear on his birth certificate.
Home (pronounced Hume) was born in Scotland. He was adopted at age one by an aunt and they moved to the United States. Thrown out of school for treating his fellow students to demonstrations of “poltergeist” activity, which had just become internationally popular through the efforts of the Fox sisters in New York State, he developed a reputation as a spirit medium. At age twenty-two, Home went traveling to the United Kingdom, then to France, Italy, and Russia, performing as a spirit medium.
In 1858 in Russia, he married his first wife, a wealthy socialite. She died in 1862, but Home found that due to interference from her suspicious family, he could not inherit her fortune. Shortly after that, in the United Kingdom, he met Mrs. Jane Lyon, a very rich widow who was promptly advised by the spirit of her husband (through the mediumship of Home) to adopt Home as her son and to give him huge sums of money. This arrangement went on for some time, but it all backfired on Home when an English court convicted him of “improper influence” and ordered him to return the money.
D. D. Home had, and still has, the reputation of never having been exposed as a fake. Since he carefully controlled all aspects of his séance performances, never admitting those persons who might not behave themselves, and since accounts by witnesses of his feats vary greatly, this reputation would not be surprising. He actually was discovered cheating several times, though these events were not made public.
One of the features of his act was the playing of an accordion which was locked in a cage located beneath the table at which he sat. An “accordion,” in that day, was not what is usually pictured today; it was a concertina, a rather small bellows affair with a simple keyboard at one end. When Home produced music, it was said to be very thin and faint, in character with its purportedly etherial origins. But another possible origin is to be considered. Since a number of tiny one-octave mouth organs were found among Home's belongings when he died, and he wore a very full “soup-strainer” style mustache, it might be suspected that he was able to play the music by means of such an instrument hidden in his mouth. That suspicion is further supported by the observation that the only two identifiable songs reported to be played at a Home séance were, “The Last Rose of Summer” and “Home, Sweet Home,” the latter just possibly a pun on the part of the spirits or of the medium himself. Both tunes are limited to a range of nine notes, and both can be played on the small one-octave mouth organs.
The accordion-in-a-cage that played celestial music when influenced by Daniel Dunglas Home. His left hand, as shown, grasped the instrument by one end, and thus held, it apparently was still able to play, though the keyboard was at the far end.
The eminent British scientist Sir William Crookes declared Home to be genuine in 1871, but his own accounts show how careless his investigation was. He was also an intimate friend of Home.
The books Incidents in My Life (two volumes, 1863 and 1872) and Lights and Shadows of Spiritualism (1877) have been credited to Home, though it is now generally accepted that these books were written for him by his lawyer, W. M. Wilkinson, who later testified that he was the actual author.
D. D. Home appears to have suffered most of his life from tuberculosis, and he died at the age of fifty-three.
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