Peebles, J(ames) M(artin) (1822–1922)
Prominent American Spiritualist, author, and lecturer. He
was born on March 23, 1822, in a log cabin in Whittingham,
Vermont. He studied at Oxford Academy, New York, graduating
with a Ph.D. and LL.D.; he subsequently practiced as a physician.
He was also ordained as a minister and preached in parishes
in Kellogsville, Elmira, New York and Baltimore.
After preaching a sermon in Kellogsville, he was invited by
one of his parishioners to attend a séance in Auburn, New York,
where he first heard spirit rapping. Soon afterwards he heard
a trance lecture delivered by an uneducated boy; the subject
was chosen by Peebles ‘‘The Philosophical Influence of the Nations
of Antiquity Upon the Civilization and Sciences of Modern
Europe and America.’’ As Dr. Peebles described the event
‘‘The boy at once stepped forward and commenced, and for
one hour and three-quarters one continual stream of history
and philosophy fell from his lips.’’ When Peebles preached on
‘‘The Spiritual Gifts’’ in his own church, the deacons and congregation
protested; Peebles resigned in disgust to follow a secular
career and continue his investigation of Spiritualism. He
wrote and lectured for more than eighty years, mainly in the
cause of Spiritualism. He was also one of the earliest temperance
workers and joined the abolition movement together with
John Brown and William Lloyd Garrison.
In 1866 Peebles became western editor of the Spiritualist
journal Banner of Light. His brilliant editorials greatly extended
circulation. He became editor-in-chief of The Spiritual Universe,
a journal devoted to Freethought and Spiritualism, which frequently
joined in common causes in the nineteenth century. He
subsequently became editor-in-chief of The American Spiritualist,
published in Cleveland. In addition to his editorial and other
newspaper contributions, he also published many books and
pamphlets on Spiritualism.
Peebles was an advocate of Spiritualism, and traveled
around the world five times in its behalf. He died February 15,
1922, in Los Angeles, California.
Barrett, J. O. The Spiritual Pilgrim A Biography of James M.
Peebles. Boston William White, 1872.
Peebles, James M. Around the World or, Travels in Polynesia,
China, India, Arabia, Egypt, Syria. Boston Colby & Rich, 1875.
———. Celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of Modern Spiritualism
at Its Birthplace. Battle Creek, Mich. The Author, 1898.
———. The Demonism of the Ages, Spirit Obsessions So Common
in Spiritism, Oriental and Occidental Occultism. Battle Creek,
Mich. Peebles Medical Institute, 1904.
———. Five Journeys around the World or, Travels in the Pacific
Islands, New Zealand, Australia, Ceylon, India, Egypt and Other Oriental
Countries. Los Angeles Peebles Publishing, 1910.
———. Seers of the Ages. 1869. Reprint, Chicago Progressive
Thinker, 1905.
Peebles, James M., Helen Densmore, and W. J. Colville. Reincarnation;
or the Doctrine of ‘‘Soul’s’’ Successive Embodiment. Battle
Creek, Mich. Peebles Medical Institute, 1904.