Newbrough, John Ballou (1828–1891)
A New York dentist who was clairvoyant and clairaudient
from childhood and who, through automatic writing (on a
typewriter), produced ‘‘Oahspe’’ (1881), a channeled volume
published as a new bible. He was born on June 5, 1828, near
Springfield, Ohio, the son of a schoolteacher. He was educated
in the local schoolhouse, and from the age of 16 continued to
educate himself. He attended the Cincinnati Medical College
and practiced both medicine and dentistry.
He migrated to California in 1849 and was fortunate in becoming
a gold miner. Several years later, he married Rachel
Turnbull, the sister of his partner John Turnbull. They moved
to New York, where Newbrough resumed his dental and medical
practice. He associated himself with the emerging Spiritualist
movement, and became a trustee of the New York Spiritualist
Association. Eventually his Spiritualist interests led to
disagreements with his wife, and some years later they divorced.
His own psychic gifts were remarkable. He could paint in
total darkness with both hands at once. It was claimed that, by
closing his eyes, he could read printed pages of any book in any
library, that he could bring back recollections of astral travels
(or astral projections), and that under control he could lift
enormous weight, even a ton, without apparent effort. However,
bored with the commonplace messages that dominated
Spiritualist spirit contact, he was anxious to utilize the spirits’
time for more metaphysical information.
Thus he initiated the events that culminated in his production
of Oahspe A Kosmon Bible in the Words of Jehovah and his
Angel Ambassadors. He described these events in a letter dated
January 21, 1883, to the editor of the Banner of Light
‘‘I was crying for the light of Heaven. I did not desire communication
for friends or relatives or information about earthly
things; I wished to learn something about the spirit world; what
the angels did, how they travelled, and the general plan of the
universe. . . . I was directed to get a typewriter which writes by
keys, like a piano. This I did and I applied myself industriously
to learn it, but with only indifferent success. For two years more
the angels propounded to me questions relative to heaven and
earth, which no mortal could answer very intelligently. . . .
‘‘One morning the light struck both hands on the back, and
they went for the typewriter for some fifteen minutes very vigorously.
I was told not to read what was printed, and I have
worked myself into such a religious fear of losing this new
power that I obeyed reverently. The next morning, also before
sunrise the same power came and wrote (or printed rather)
again. Again I laid the matter away very religiously, saying little
about it to anybody. One morning I accidentally (seemed accidental
to me) looked out of the window and beheld the line of
light that rested on my hands extending heavenward like a telegraph
wire towards the sky. Over my head were three pairs of
hands, fully materialised; behind me stood another angel with
her hands on my shoulders. My looking did not disturb the
scene, my hands kept right on printing . . . printing. For 50
weeks this continued, every morning, half an hour or so before
sunrise, and then it ceased, and I was told to read and publish
the book ‘Oahspe.’ The peculiar drawings in Oahspe were
made with pencil in the same way.’’
He claimed that ‘‘Oahspe’’ came from the higher heavens,
and was ‘‘directed and looked over by God, the creator’s chief
representative in the heavens of this earth.’’
A group formed around Newbrough’s revelations, and in
1883 they gave themselves the name ‘‘Faithists of the Seed of
Abraham’’ (a term used in ‘‘Oahspe’’). They moved to Las Cruces,
New Mexico, and established Sholam, a community to implement
the ‘‘Oahspe’’ injunction to care for foundlings and
orphans.
Newbrough married again, choosing a companion from the
community. By 1891, a residential home had been completed,
housing some 50 children, but in the following year an outbreak
of influenza devastated the area, and Newbrough himself
was struck down, dying that year. For a time, his associate Andrew
M. Howland continued the community, but it soon disintegrated.
However, Newbrough’s very dispersed and decentralized
followers continued under such names as the ‘‘Essenes of
Kosmon’’ or ‘‘Universal Faithists’’ and are still active today.
‘‘Oahspe’’ is kept in print through the Universal Faithists of
Kosmon (Box 664, Salt Lake City, UT 84110), and a journal,
The Faithist Journal, is published at 2324 Suffock Ave., Kingman,
AZ 86401.
Sources
Denton, Jim. Dr. Newbrough and Oahspe. Kingman, Ariz.
Faithist Journal, 1975.
———. The Oahspe Story. Kingman, Ariz. Faithist Journal,
1975.
Miller, Timothy. American Communes, 1860–1960 A Bibliography.
New York Garland Publishing, 1990.
Stowes, K. D. The Land of Shalam Children’s Land. Evansville,
Ind. Frank Molinet Print Shop, n.d.

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