Smead, Mrs. (ca. 1902)
Pseudonym of Mrs. Willis M. Cleveland, wife of an American
preacher to whom James H. Hyslop’s attention was invited in
December 1901. Smead had occasionally practiced planchette
writing from her childhood and began systematic experiments
in 1895. Records were kept of the communications received
and put at Hyslop’s disposal. He was impressed with both Willis
Cleveland and Mrs. Smead as honest, conscientious people.
The communicators claimed to be the deceased children of the
couple and a deceased brother of Willis Cleveland’s. Their
identities were very plausible.
A curious feature of Smead’s mediumship began to develop
when in August 1895 several references were made to the planets
Mars and Jupiter. A short time before, an article by Percival
Lowell was published in the Atlantic Monthly that referred to the
canals of the planet Mars. This article may have had something
to do with Smead’s new variety of phenomena in which Jupiter
played an additional but minor part.
A crude map of Jupiter’s surface was given, and the planet
was said to be the ‘‘babies’ heaven.’’ At the next sitting, the map
of Mars was drawn, the different zones were named in Martian,
and several communications were given about the inhabitants
and the canals.
There followed then an incubation period of five years during
which no Martian revelations were granted. In September
1900, the communications returned in a developed state. Men,
boats, houses, and flowers were drawn, named in Martian, and
written in hieroglyphic characters. Some of the sketches, such
as one of a self-winding double clock, were very ingenious; others,
like a Martian airship, were peculiar but unconvincing. A
curious coincidence existed with Hélène Smith, the French
medium studied by Theodore Flournoy, who also produced
Martian drawings.
In general, according to Flournoy’s review in Spiritism and
Psychology, ‘‘the Martian revelations of Mrs. Smead present the
same character of puerility and naive imagination as those of
Mlle. Smith.’’ He could only think that the psychological explanation
was at basis the same. Flournoy’s book was actually in the
house, but it was carefully kept from the medium.
The number of Martian scripts continued to increase until
a new personality, calling himself ‘‘Harrison Clark,’’ abruptly
came on the scene and shut out all other communicators. He
showed great facility in inverted and mirror writing and gave
his autobiography. When he was confronted by Hyslop with the
findings of his investigation, he began ‘‘a battle of intellectual
sparring and defiance which perhaps has hardly its equal in the
annals of secondary personality.’’
For a considerable period, Hyslop attributed all the communications
to a secondary personality. In this view Hyslop was
confirmed by the controls of the medium Leonora Piper. They
sent a message to Hyslop that he should be wary. ‘‘The socalled
light as seen by us is not a light given from our world at
all, but the conditions are hypocritic and fanciful.’’
Later, however, the mediumship improved, scraps and bits
of paranormal information came through, and, although at
first Hyslop only classified the case as an intermediate one between
Smith and Piper, he later surrendered his hesitations
and admitted the existence of genuinely paranormal phenomena
beyond question.

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