Colby, George P. (1848–1933)
George P. Colby, the founder of the Spiritualist camp at
Cassadaga, Florida, was born to Baptist parents in Pike, New
York, on January 6, 1848. Eight years later, the family moved
to Minnesota. At the age of 12, young George was baptized, an
event that became life changing, but in a most unexpected
manner. It seemed to catalyze his psychic abilities. One of the
first events was his reception of a message that he would one
day found a Spiritualist camp in the southern United States. In
the meantime, he became known locally for his healing and
clairvoyant abilities. In 1867 he formally left the church and became
an itinerant medium visiting various Spiritualist centers.
He made his living through the pubic demonstration of his mediumistic
skills. Like many mediums, he had acquired a set of
spirit guides; among them was a Native American who called
himself Seneca.
In 1875 Seneca directed Colby to go to Wisconsin where he
would meet T. D. Giddings, another medium. Together they
would travel by rail to Jacksonville, Florida, then the end of the
railroad line, and search out a location that Seneca had described.
Traveling inland, they finally found the spot, notable
for its seven small hills. Colby settled in the area, but continued
to travel the country as a medium. Finally, in 1880 he filed for
a homestead grant and in 1884 was awarded 145 acres. However,
the fulfillment of the original message would wait until after
the formation of the National Spiritualist Association (now the
National Spiritualist Association of Churches) in 1893. Colby
attended the initial meeting and the following year, assisted by
people from Lily Dale, the Spiritualist camp in New York, organized
the Southern Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp Meeting Association.
Colby donated 35 of his acres (later adding 20), and the
initial meeting of the association was held in his home.
Colby subsequently became one of the resident mediums
and lecturers, but still continued to travel during the offseason.
He also enjoyed some prosperous years, and having
never married, he adopted several orphan boys and saw to
their education. However, in his later years, as his health failed,
he lost all of the little he had accumulated and at the time of
his death, July 27, 1933, he was bankrupt. He had no family,
and the association had to give money to see to his remains.
Henderson, Janie. The Story of Cassadaga. Cassadaga, Fla.
Pisces Publishing, 1996.
Karcher, Janet, and John Hutchinson. This Way to Cassadaga,
Deltona, Fla. John Hutchinson Productions, 1980.

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