Spiritualism in Our Own Backyard
by Penny Swartz
Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 7:00 p.m.
Library of Michigan - 702 W. Kalamazoo
The Historical Society of Greater Lansing is hosting a program, “Spiritualism in Our Own Backyard,” by retired clergy person Penelope Swartz at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 15, at the Library of Michigan, 702 W. Kalamazoo, Lansing. The program is free and open to the public.
The American socio-religious movement which started in upstate New York in 1848 spread like wildfire across the United States arriving in the Lansing area in 1882 when Lucretia Shaw opened a spiritualism camp at Pine Lake, now Lake Lansing. Spiritualists believed it was possible to communicate with the dead. Even the parents of R.E. Olds, Pliny and Sarah Olds and were among the founders of the Namoka Spiritualist Camp Meeting Association which evolved into the Haslett Spiritualist Camp when James Haslett bought the camp in 1887 and began attracting thousands of campers each summer.
The camp operated for six weeks during the summer, until about 1910, when Haslett’s spouse could no longer operate the camp profitably. In its heyday, the camp owners had erected an auditorium holding 2000 and a dining hall for 250 on a 100 acre piece of land. In addition, a special building for mediums and medium training was built with 16 private rooms.
In addition to spiritualist programs, campers had a vibrant range of other activities including dances and lectures which were also open to the public. To accommodate the public, rooming houses and a hotel cropped up nearby serviced by a trolley and a train which brought a steady stream of spiritualists and curiosity seekers.
The spiritualist movement attracted some notable international and U.S. personalities including Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens and Mary Todd Lincoln. Locally, the Mason area Meads, Mary Jeannete and George, were spiritualists. The movement also attracted the attention of famed magician Harry Houdini who was instrumental in debunking spiritualists and mediums.
Mrs. Mead, a practicing medium, went by the professional name of “Lady” and was assisted by Yunundeo and Yokie.
Mediums were early adopters of emerging technology such as the telegraph, telephone, electricity and photography. Michigan also had an association of mediums which issued certificates certifying mediums to be a “trusted medium” and exhibiting “spotless purity.”
In addition to the Pine Lake spiritualism camp, Grand Ledge also hosted summer camps that delved into similar aspects of the movement. As late as 1948 the Lansing City Directory listed eight spiritualist churches in Lansing.
Today, the infamous Ouija Board continues the tradition of certain mediums who used the talking writing technique of allegedly communicating with the dead.
Growing (Up In) Lansing's Catholic Church
by Rev. Msgr. George C. Michalek
Wednesday, March 21 – 6:30 p.m.
St. Mary Cathedral - 219 Seymour
The first recorded Catholic activity in Lansing dates to 1853, with construction of the first church beginning in 1859. The name St. Mary was attached to the community. At the time, Lansing was regularly visited by the priest from Corunna, who moved to Lansing in 1966. New parishes were established in the “Roaring Twenties” and again in the post-WWII boom. Now there are nine worship sites in Lansing and East Lansing.
Join Monsignor George C. Michalek, archivist of the diocese of Lansing since 1979, who will explore the development of the Catholic parishes, the establishment of the diocese in 1937, and what it meant to grow-up Catholic in the greater Lansing area. The talk will be given at St. Mary Cathedral. Following his presentation attendees will have the opportunity to visit the small museum at the Cathedral dedicated to the history of the Lansing diocese.