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The Story of Lily Dale Spiritualist Church,

The Healing Temple, Louis S. Vosburgh, Sr., and Dr. and Mrs. Alexander James McIvor-Tyndall

1956 healing temple 


 In November 1893 the National Spiritualist Association of the United States of America was chartered in Washington DC as a Class 2, Religious Society.  On October 21, 1895, the incorporation papers were amended to specify the term of the incorporation to be for 1000 years as a Class 1 Religious Society, whose object is “the particular business as benevolent, charitable, educational, scientific, religious and missionary with its purpose to promote religion and morality, provide for the erection of temples and lecture halls or other suitable places of worship, where the religion of Spiritualism may be taught, and to provide for the education and licensing of proper persons as authorized lecturers or preachers of the said religion.”


In 1896 the New York State Association was formed under the NSA charter and so when the Lily Dale Church was founded in 1916, it joined the NSA through the New York State Association which was also a chartered auxiliary of the NSA.  On September 3, 1917 the Minutes of the Lily Dale Assembly board meeting of that date read; “The trustees of the Lily Dale Church have permission to hold Sunday Services and weekly meetings and entertainments they may deem use for the benefit of the Church, in Library Hall for the remainder of 1917 to the beginning of camp season 1918.”  These events mark the earliest beginnings of the Lily Dale Spiritualist Church as we know it today. 

Church services held on September 7, 1919 began with a crowded house.  Harold Lanman Bradford was retained as Pastor to have charge of the lectures and class work, and Mary Webb Baker, a noted speaker and clairvoyant in the New York area, often served the church as speaker and message bearer. 

The first Lily Dale Spiritual Church Day conducted as part of Lily Dale’s Summer Program was held on Tuesday, August 24, 1920, with morning exercises conducted by the Pastor and other officers of the church.  Messages were given by Mrs. Inez Wagner, who also conducted a sťance in the evening.  Another Lily Dale Spiritual Church Day was held on Thursday, August 30, 1923 with an address given by the Pastor, and “Moving Pictures” shown in the evening. 

During these early years, due to issues of weather and the lack of heated buildings, church meetings were held in various locations throughout the Dale.     Library Hall was often used, with services held outdoors at Inspiration Stump and lakeside when the weather was favorable.     

(As an aside, it is interesting to note that according to the 75th Anniversary of the Lily Dale Assembly – 1979-1954, construction of Library Hall was begun in the spring of 1888 by Mr. J. W. Dennis and Mr. J. E. Innis.  The building, now known as the Assembly Hall, was constructed to serve as a library and lecture hall.  It was determined that the building would be paid for by rental of the hall and subscriptions to the library.  The books collected and organized by Marion H. Skidmore and friends were kept on shelves in the large front room on the second floor.  The first floor was used as a lecture and meeting room, and also served the needs of the LDSC and the Children’s Lyceum which was at the direction of the LDSC.  In 1924 the collection of books was moved to its present location in the Memorial Building at 5-6 Cottage Row, that building having been designed and constructed by the Lily Dale Library Association Inc. in 1923 to house the Marion H. Skidmore Library.)

Throughout the fall and winter season of 1925/26, services continued to be conducted regularly. During the coldest months of January and February services were held at the home of Mrs. Virgil Tremaine, Church President.  It was noted that Mrs. Laura McIvor-Tyndall was Church Pastor at the time but spent the winter in Florida with her husband, Dr. Alexander James McIvor-Tyndall where both contributed to the activities at Cassadaga Camp.

 The first meeting of the 1926/27 winter season was held on October 1, 1926 in the woods at the “old stump” with many good mediums present.  Subsequently through the fall and winter season, church meeting were held at the home of the Church President, Mrs. V. W. Tremaine at 7 Library Street.  It was noted that Rev. Laura McIvor-Tyndall had accepted the pastorship of the Church for another year, and that happily her ordination had been favorably passed upon by the NSA.  Once again she and her husband spent the winter in Florida.  It appears that at the same time that his wife was Pastor of the Lily Dale Church, Dr. McIvor-Tyndall was Pastor of the First Spiritualist Church in Syracuse, NY, having been ordained as an NSA Minister in 1923.  Dr. McIvor-Tyndall was the author of many books including “Revelations of the Hand: A Scientific Study of the Shape and Markings of the Hand,” and “Power of Persuasion: Personal Magnetism.”  (See article below on Dr. and Mrs. Alexander James McIvor-Tyndall.)


Notes from early 1928 indicate that church and lyceum activities were held at 15 North St., a location which was referred to as the “Lyceum”, and in September of that year, Mrs. Ella Royal Williams was elected Church President with Rev. Laura McIvor-Tyndall continuing to serve as Pastor and Secretary through the summer of 1932.

In 1932 the New York State Conference dissolved their association from the National Spiritualist Association and became an independent organization. At Lily Dale’s Annual Membership Meeting (AMM) held August 8th that same year, the Membership was determined not to affiliate with any other Spiritualist organization and voted unanimously to stay with the National organization, Following the vote, a Direct Camp Charter from the National Spiritualist Association (NSA) was presented by Thomas Grimshaw, Vice President of the NSA to the Lily Dale Assembly President, Esther Humphrey.

The members of the Lily Dale Spiritualist Church also voted to stay with the National organization, and so Thomas Grimshaw presented an NSA Charter to the Lily Dale Spiritualist Church.  The Charter, dated October 15, 1932, was presented to Rev. Louise B. Arisman, who was now Pastor of the newly organized church, as well as President of the newly formed Lily Dale Medium’s League.  “We are very proud of our National Charter.  Mr. Dascomb, one of our members from Westfield, New York, made a handsome frame for it, which we greatly appreciate.”

It appears that Rev. Arisman served as President and Pastor of the church from November, 1932 until her death in 1952.  She is buried beside her husband Herman in Lot 487 of the Evergreen Cemetery, Est. 1818, in Sinclairville, NY.  After her death no services were held for several months but in the fall of 1953 the Lily Dale Spiritualist Church began having services again with Karl Kline as President.  Later at the Annual Members Meeting held on August 9, 1954, Lily Dale President, William A. Johnson, stated: "The Lily Dale Church secured its charter back from the NSA of Churches at Kansas City last fall.  The wonderful growth and strength of this church is a proof that things can be done, accomplished, when people with aid of spirit - God, work together

On October 23, 1954 the LDA Board gave permission for the LDSC to use Andrew Jackson Davis Memorial Building for the Sunday Morning Lyceum during the winter months. Previously the Children’s Lyceum Group originally organized in 1881 had been housed in a series of shelters, including a large canvas tent, the Library Building (now called the Assembly Hall) constructed in 1888, and the old Band Cottage at 10 First Street which had been restored in 1914. Now Lyceum would be available to children during the winter months.  More than 40 children were enrolled in the winter program, and events included special services, dinners, parties, children’s choir and other activities that children love.

To step back in time a little, it was at the AMM held on August 14, 1950 that the first public discussion about a healing center took place.  Assembly President Mr. Robert J. Macdonald introduced the possibility of such a center, and a collection was taken which amounted to $465.58.

Other interesting events were taking place in the 1950s.  Assembly Member Robert Zagora relates the following story about his step-father, T. John Kelly, and Kelly’s collaboration with Louis S. Vosburgh Sr., a man of pronounced financial standing, as well as numerous business and philanthropic successes.      


Recollection of the events concerning the origin and erection of the Healing Temple

by Robert Zagora


“Early in the 1950s Rev. Kelly’s teachers advised us that they were working to add healing to the Trance and Independent Voice phase of Mediumship usually displayed publicly, while the medium was blindfolded reading sealed billets.

Early in the season of 1953 an incident occurred which perhaps more than anything else became the genesis of the Healing Temple. After completing a message service at the auditorium, Rev. Kelly walked out the back door with my mother at his side.  He was approached by a lady wearing sunglasses, walking on the arm of her husband while using a cane in the other hand.  She said, “I did so want a message today but did not receive one.”  As Rev. Kelly was about to give his stock answer, “I’m sorry, but once out of a trance I can’t tell you a thing!” his teacher, who could be heard speaking through the solar plexus of the medium, interrupted to say, “Have her sit down, we want to work on her eyes.”  She did as she was directed, sitting on a bench outside the auditorium, where Rev. Kelly worked on her eyes and after a few minutes she exclaimed that her sight was returning.   (Some weeks later we were able to question one of Rev. Kelly’s teachers in class concerning this incident and the teacher told us; “We were able to discern that there was a break in the optic nerve and by concentrating the healing power at that point, fuse the break together.”)

Needless to say this caused quite a furor among people in the area who witnessed the healing.  One of those who took notice was Louis T. Vosburgh, who operated a bookstore on the present site of the Lily Dale office, and served as Lily Dale President in 1955/6.  He spoke at length about his belief that there should be a special temple set aside to accommodate the highest form of mediumship. 

While Mr. Vosburgh started making plans for the erection of the Healing Temple, Rev. Kelly held Healing Services at the Auditorium on Sunday evenings during the 1953 and 1954 summer seasons.  Further questioning of the woman whose sight was restored elicited the information that she had lost about 90 percent of her sight after being involved in an auto accident in which her head had hit the windshield.  The prognosis from doctors just before her healing was that it was not certain that her sight would ever return.  

Mr. Vosburgh acted as his own contractor and using subcontractors, supervised the erection of the Healing Temple, to the best of my knowledge with his own money (between 25 and 30 thousand dollars.)  It was erected for Rev. Kelly’s exclusive use and dedicated on July 3, 1955, but after 1957 it was turned over to the Dale Assembly by Mr. Vosburgh.  Ironically, Mr. Vosburgh erected the Healing Temple (the only public building erected in the Dale in the last 66 years) not only without the aid of the Dale Assembly, but almost in spite of their total lack of cooperation.  This accounts somewhat for the lack of knowledge concerning its origin.” 

The minutes of the LDA Board Meetings do not exactly mirror some of Mr. Zagora's recollections as you will see below.    However, the Healing Temple was built and dedicated at the beginning of the 1955 summer season.

Three years later at the LDA Board meeting held on September 1, 1958, Lily Dale Assembly gave the Lily Dale Spiritualist Church permission to use the Healing Temple for its winter services.  According to notes compiled by Joyce La Judice, in return the Church had to assume the remaining mortgage on the building of about $8000, and maintain the upkeep of the building, a debt which was fully repaid in 1969.  From that date until today, the LDSC continues to hold its fall, winter and spring services in the Healing Temple.  At the NSA Convention held in 1961, the name of the organization was changed from the National Spiritualist Association (NSA) to the National Spiritualist Association of Churches (NSAC).  As a result of this name change, and the implementation of the US Government- Uniform Charter Act, a new charter was issued to the Lily Dale Spiritualist Church dated the 22nd day of October, 1963.

The building remains largely the same as it was originally constructed in 1955, an organ and wood paneling having been added over the years.  In 1997 Robert Shatzel, a gifted craftsman, Registered Medium, long time summer resident of Lily Dale, and member of LDSC, approached the Church Board, stating that the building needed “a little life” and offered to construct stained glass windows for the Temple if $400, the cost of the materials, could be raised for each window.  Following the announcement at the next Sunday service, all the windows were ‘sold’ within a week and a half.  Each window took about 60 hours to construct, and if Bob had charged for his time, each window would have been worth $3000.  In addition to constructing the windows, Bob prepared Plexiglas inserts to be installed on the outside of each window to protect it from breakage.  Bob made the windows but he needed someone to install them.  Long time church member Donald Raupp cleaned and prepared all the frames, and installed all the stained glass.  These magnificent windows continue to contribute to the beauty, peace and serenity of the Healing Temple.  The plaques beside each window indicate the donors are as follows:

            In Memory of Rev. Harre C. Millesi

The Lily Dale Healing Association

            Thelma and Ted Carman

Ethel and Donald Raupp

In Memory of the Colmes and Stickland Families

Lillian A. Farnham

In Memory of Loved Ones by Lorraine

Hiney and Dean & Lorraine Coursen

Lily Dale Assembly

Donated by Anna Spohn in memory of  William Spohn

Fellowships of the Spirit


Today Lily Dale Spiritualist Church, NSAC continues to hold all services and instructional classes from September to June at the Healing Temple. During the months of July and August, due to the large number of individuals in attendance, services are held every other Sunday in the Lily Dale Assembly Auditorium, alternating Sundays with the Church of the Living Spirit.

During the Summer Season, twice daily services are held in Lily Dale’s Healing Temple which is dedicated to the principles of Spiritual Healing. When one walks into the Temple, a feeling of peace and renewal can be felt, and it has remained a place of peace for all those who come to renew their energies through healing or quiet meditation and prayer. Those who have chaired the Healing Temple over the years since the time of T. John Kelly include Louis Arbogast, Hannah Yoder, James Brynes, Harry Fogel, Paul Knox, Muriel Lemieux, Thelma Carmen, and Barbara Sanson. 


Louis S. Vosburgh, Sr.


Born approx 1896, Louis S. Vosburg, Sr. was a Member of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc.  The following biography is taken from the Horatio Alger website:

Louis S. Vosburgh
Chairman of the Board
Lincoln Extension Institute
Class Year: 1965

"I read Horatio Alger's books when I was a boy and took them to heart."

Louis Vosburgh started life in a humble log cabin farmhouse in a wooded area of northern Michigan. Hard farm work under a stern father and economic hardship marked his early life. His formal education was largely acquired in a one-room country school. His mother died when he was 14. Vosburgh attended high school for only a few short months and then took a correspondence course in electrical engineering. He worked as an electrician for $1.50 a day, until his tools were stolen and he decided to change careers. Vosburgh entered the field of home-study education as a sales representative and advanced to district supervisor and general field superintendent. He founded the Lincoln Extension Institute in 1922, just before he turned 27. He was the cofounder and organizer of the National Home Study Council in 1926.   He was also a founding member of the National Council of Profit Sharing Industries established in 1948. In 1958, President Eisenhower cited him for his contributions to the President's Committee on ‘Education Beyond the High School.’


On August 18, 1950, Louis Summer Vosburgh of Westlake, Ohio was accepted by the LDA Board as a member of Lily Dale Assembly, Inc.   His wife, Sue Emma Vosburgh was accepted to membership a month later at the meeting held on September 30. At  that same meeting, consent was granted to the assignment of leases 4,5,6, Ridgeway Circle, Lots A,B,C,D,E, The Boulevard, and Lots 43 and 44 The Boulevard to Louis and his wife, and they subsequently built the large home which can be seen there today. 

On January 6, 1951 the lease of lot 16 Erie St was also transferred to the Vosburghs.  At the same meeting permission was given to the Vosburghs to "build extension of Library and chapel building on lots 1, 2, & 3 Ridgeway as they see fit, and as is found agreeable to the present lease holder Bessie H. Johnson."  The Board also agreed to "deposit in its bank account a check from Louis A. Vosburgh for $3000, same to be subject to withdrawal upon Mr. Vosburgh's orders, the sum to be used to buy property, transport books etc.”  For whatever reason the extension of the Library and chapel building did not happen, and on October 27, 1951 consent was granted to the Vosburghs to lease lots 4 and 5 Melrose Park.


On the 6th of September, 1952, Louis and his wife were admitted as Life Members to the LDA.

On April 25, 1953 permission was given for Vosburgh to operate a book shop in Melrose Park from June 1, 1953 to June 1, 1954 with the privilege of renewing same for another year.  The booklet “75th Anniversary of the Lily Dale Assembly, Lily Dale, NY; 1979-1954” indicated that "After remodeling the building so that it would accommodate his rare collection of books, it was claimed in 1954 that there were many thousands of books in the “Louis S. Vosburgh Library.” 

The books were classified by Mrs. Myrtle Maltby, who was the Librarian for the Marion H. Skidmore Library that year.  Vosburgh stated:  “The broad purpose of the Library is to help man increase his awareness of himself; to expand in soul consciousness, and gradually unfold the great possibilities and creative powers that lie deep within his being.” Mr. Vosburgh also operated the Lily Dale Book Shop in the same building."   It appears that all Vosburgh’s efforts in life were directed toward education, not only in Lily Dale, but in all of his endeavors as will be seen.

At the LDA Board meeting of July 24th, 1953, it was noted that Mr. Vosburgh had donated $441.00 to replace the floor in the Cafeteria.  Also at that meeting the minutes state:  "A letter from Mr. Vosburgh was read and discussed in which he stated his willingness to spend $10,000 for a healing temple for Lily Dale.  At the September 5th meeting of the same year, the President appointed a committee to talk with Mr. Vosburgh concerning this project and at the September 15th meeting:  "Motion was made by May Hurd, seconded by Fred English that the Board of Directors enter into a contract with Mr. Louis Vosburgh giving him the right to build a Healing Temple (to be used by Jack Kelly and his assistants) on property on East Street belonging to the LDA."

The building was built at the direction of John Kelly and his guides, Kelly being appointed by Vosburgh as the chief practitioner of the new temple.  The building was dedicated at the beginning of the 1955 Summer Season, and the following inscription can be found above the inside doorway of the Temple:


I, a sower, cast forth a seed upon this

plot of earth, and leave it to

the watchful care of the Supreme.

Louis S. Vosburgh


The inscription is written inside a triangle.  At the top of the triangle is the Egyptian Crux Ansata ( cross5) (also called ankh and looped cross) a symbol which goes back some 5,000 years. It is said to represent life and eternal life.  There is an anecdotal story that the Star of David and a Christian Cross were originally inscribed in the corners at the bottom of the triangle but have since been removed or covered over.  

In August of 1955, at the Annual Meeting of Members, Vosburgh was elected by the membership as a Director on the Assembly’s Board of Directors.  At the Organizational Meeting held by the Directors immediately following the AMM, Vosburgh was urged by the other members of the Board to accept the position of President – he reluctantly agreed to do so, and became the 13th President of the Lily Dale Assembly.

In June of the same year, Vosburgh had been elected as the 7th President of Distance Education and Training Council at their 29th Annual Conference held at the Hotel Commodore in New York City.  He held this position until June of 1958.   This was a busy time for Mr. Vosburgh.  Not only was he President of his own company, Lincoln Extension Institute, he was now President of both Lily Dale Assembly, Inc. and the Distance Education and Training Council.  This perhaps explains why Vosburgh was reluctant to accept the Presidency of the LD Assembly at this time in his life.

On the 2nd of May, 1956, the Vosburghs donated "the lot at 16 Erie St. for park purposes for the remainder of the lease."  This lot is currently the site of Mother's Garden, established by two sisters, Mrs. Frank (Michele) Takei and Danielle Lang in memory of their mother. 

At the next AMM held on August 13th, 1956 it appears that a lively discussion regarding the Healing Temple took place.  Anecdotal stories indicate that Mr. Vosburgh may have been a Rosicrucian and used Rosicrucian symbols in the Temple, and this may have caused some dissention.  In his President's Report, Vosburgh stated his intention to continue as President of the Assembly if the membership supported it, and “if the new Board be supportive.”  However the next entry of note is a letter from Vosburgh resigning from the Board, the letter being dated August 13, 1956, the same date as the AMM. 

The following month, in a letter dated Sept. 3rd, Vosburgh resigned his membership in the Assembly, stating "other demands for my time."  In contradiction to this, Mr. Vosburgh was shown on the membership list of 1963, so it appears he withdrew his letter of resignation and continued his membership with the Assembly.  On Sept. 22, 1956, Vosburgh's holdings of Lots 4,5,6 Ridgeway Circle, A,B,C,D,E the Boulevard, and Lots 43 & 44 The Boulevard were transferred to William F. Johnson and Barbara Jayne Johnson.

On October 27, 1956, LDA board member William Johnson, citing the recommendation of the Assembly's Attorney, moved that President Robert Mcdonald be authorized to negotiate a loan of $5000 at 4% interest from the NSAC to pay off a ‘moral’ obligation owing for the Louis S. Vosburg Healing Temple.  The motion was carried, and revised on November 23rd to read:  "That the President Robert Mcdonald be authorized and empowered to make a settlement of the claim of Louis S. Vosburgh for excess over $10,000 advanced in the construction of the Healing Temple in the agreed amount of $5000 with the approval of the Assembly Counsel.”  The money was held in trust pending approval by the membership at the AMM in August, 1956, and the following year, on February 16, 1957, the transfer of ownership of the Louis S. Vosburgh Healing Temple to Lily Dale Assembly, Inc. was completed. 

On May 11, 1957 Mr. Vosburgh requested and was paid $100 for items in the Healing Temple he had personally paid for; i.e. 2 pair of lined drapes, 2 inside loud speakers and 1 large outside speaker. 

On September 28, 1957, Vosburgh met with the LD Board to ask if the Board would like to consider purchasing the books, and take over the bookstore.  The Board declined his offer, and at the meeting of December 6, 1958 a letter was read from Vosburgh donating his leasehold at 5 Melrose Park to the LDA for an Administration Building.  The gift was valued at $12,000, and it appears from the minutes of that date that Vosburgh was hoping the building would be named the “Vosburgh Administration Building.”

Sometime between the meeting held on the 13th day of December, 1958 and the meeting of May 18, 1959, the Assembly offices were moved from the Memorial Building on Cottage Row to the former ‘Louis S. Vosburgh Library’ and ‘Lily Dale Book Shop’, both housed at 5 Melrose Park.  At the July 22, 1960 meeting, the LDA Board authorized the payment of $400 to Vosburgh for payment of shelving, drapes, venetian blinds and other equipment left in the Administration Building.


From ‘The Lake Beneath the Rocks:’ “There is no doubt that Vosburgh was impatient, often egocentric, perhaps without sufficient regard for the philosophical tenets upon which the Assembly had developed.  But the hand of God moves in mysterious ways and Lily Dale, by summer and winter, continues to this day to benefit from his generosity.  He left behind him, languishing in a dim cellar, a monumental collection of books of a broad philosophical nature – occult and arcane arts, comparative religion, spiritual philosophy, cabalistic and Rosicrucian philosophy and many other subjects - books which would have brought tears of rejoicing to the early Free Thinkers who founded this colony.”  Books stamped “The Louis S. Vosburgh Collection” are now located in the Marion H. Skidmore Library, a valuable part of the history of Lily Dale Assembly.”

As mentioned previously, Mr. Vosburgh was still shown as a member of the Assembly on the Membership List of 1963, though his wife was not. His last known address was at 12506 Edgewater Dr., Lake Shore Hotel, Lakewood, OH.  It appears that Vosburgh died in 1965, but his wife Sue E. Vosburgh (nee Cambron) lived until 1996.  Mr. Vosburgh’s son Louis S. Vosburgh, Jr., born in 1921, died in Ohio on April 2, 1989 at age 68.



DETC Hall of Fame


The Distance Education Hall of Fame includes outstanding personalities whose contributions and accomplishments merit permanent recognition. The names of recipients are engraved on a permanent plaque that hangs in the DETC offices:  L. S. VOSBURGH, SR., Lincoln Extension Institute, Inc., 1964 


 Morris Pratt Institute Correspondence Course on Modern Spiritualism

 Lily Dale Assembly website

“The Lake Beneath the Rocks:  The Life and Legends of Lily Dale 1879-1979” by Blue Ox.

“Recollection of events concerning the origin and erection of the Healing Temple” by Robert Zagora

“75th Anniversary of the Lily Dale Assembly, Lily Dale, N.Y.; 1979-1954” compiled and edited by Merle Williams Hersey.

The Centennial Book: 1893-1993 N.S.A.C.

Telephone interview with Bob Shatzel in January 2010

Minutes of the LDA Board Meetings

      The History of the Distance Education and Training Council Website.

      Historical notes by  Joyce La Judice

      History of Evergreen Cemetery website


Booklet compiled by T. Lynne Forget, March 2010 




Rev. Dr. Alexander James McIvor-Tyndall and Rev. Mrs. Laura McIvor-Tyndall

Laura Hudson Wray and Dr. Alexander J. McIvor-Tyndall were married on June 13, 1917 in Crown Point, Indiana.  In 1925, Laura became the Pastor of Lily Dale Spiritual Church in Lily Dale, NY, a position which she held until the fall of 1932.  She was a well known medium who was ordained as a Minister of the National Spiritualist Association in 1926.  We do not know too much about Mrs. McIvor-Tyndall.  She was purported to have been an actress at one time, and it appears that Laura’s daughter, Irene Hughes lived with her grandmother, Emily Hughes (Laura’s mother) in Denver Colorado

Laura’s husband Dr. Alexander James McIvor-Tyndall was a colorful gentleman, noted to be “one of the most astounding workers ever to appear on the platform.  His exhibition of mind-reading was spectacular.  As a lecturer he has had few equals.”  He and his wife both served the church in Lily Dale.  It appears that at the same time his wife was Pastor of the Lily Dale Church, Dr. McIvor-Tyndall was Pastor of the First Spiritualist Church in Syracuse, NY, having been ordained by the National Spiritualist Association in 1923.  Mr. and Mrs. McIvor-Tyndall often traveled to Florida during the winter months to serve Cassadaga Camp. 

The McIvor-Tyndall’s owned a home at 9 Buffalo St. and it was reported that he died in Lily Dale, NY on December 10, 1940.

The following article is from

McIVOR-TYNDALL, Alexander James (?-1940)


  • Swastika Magazine, Ed. 1906-11
  • Denver Post, writer 1906-07


Born Leicestershire, son of Dr. Alexander Tyndall and his wife Agnes Stuart Sampson McIvor. Educ. English public schools, Wellingborough, Market Harborough and private tutors in Edinburgh, Scotland. Studied medicine and attained his M.D. from St. Bartholomew's Hospital in 1888. Moved to the USA, 1889 and became a US citizen, 1893. Began lecturing on Theosophy in Canada, 1890. Married 1st, 3 Sept. 1896, Margaret Logan. Married 2nd, 13 June 1917, Laura Hudson Wray. They had 2 daughters. Founded the California International Psychic Science Alliance, 1903. Elected President of the International New Thought Fellowship, 1912. Lectured on psychology, metaphysics and spiritualism in the US, Canada, and England, 1919-38. Ordained minister of National Spiritualist Association, 1923. Appointed Prelate of General Assembly of Spiritualists the same year and was made Dean of the Los Angeles Scientific Psychical Research Society in 1937-40. Author of several books on spiritualism. Died 10 Dec. 1940.


Sources of the following article:  Chicago Tribune, Dec. 11, 1911; June 16, 1917; Aug. 29, 1917; several undated clippings.

The Hypnotist

Alexander McIvor-Tyndall, the hypnotist from London who offered to hypnotize Luetgert, was previously the subject of several articles by Theodore Dreiser, when the author was reporting for the St. Louis Republic in 1893.

In his memoir Newspaper Days, Dreiser recalls an episode when the "mind reader" McIvor-Tyndall visited St. Louis. He asked the Republic to bring together some people to ride with him as he drove a carriage through the city blindfolded, supposedly guiding his route by reading the thoughts of the man next to him.

“And, amusingly enough, I was ordered to get up the committee, -- Dick, Peter, Rodenberger and myself -- and sit on the seat and do the thinking while he, blindfolded, raced in and out between cars and wagons, turning sharp corners, escaping huge trucks by a hair only, to finally end up at Dick's door, as my thoughts directed him. ... When written up as true, which it was, it made a very good story indeed."

Dreiser said the experience prompted him and his friends to "enter upon experiments of our own with hypnotists, spiritualists and the like."


When he was in Chicago in 1897, at the time of the Luetgert trial, McIvor-Tyndall claimed to have used his powers of hypnotism to solve other criminal cases. He said he had been involved in the Hensen case in Minneapolis and the Dawson case in Los Angeles.


In 1900, McIvor-Tyndall wrote a book on palm-reading, Revelations of the Hand. He adopted the pseudonym Ali Nomad for a 1913 book on his mystical philosophy, Cosmic Consciousness: The Man-God Whom We Await, and a 1916 book, Sex, the Unknown Quantity.

alinomadMcIvor-Tyndall, described by the Chicago Tribune as a "doctor of new thought and psychic researcher," gave a lecture in Chicago on "The Language of the Future." He called human speech a noise nuisance that caused countless nervous breakdowns.

The cure? He urged people to use telepathy, "the language of silence."

"Think of the time when the human race will be able to communicate without making a noise," he said. "Noise is what we all wish to get away from. All have the faculty of telepathy, whether it be latent or active. Some say it is a lost faculty of the human mind and soul. I will say it is both lost and developing by evolution. It is the universal language of the future."

In another lecture about the way in which people possess each other, McIvor-Tyndall said: "We don't own each other. Neither parents their children; nor wives their husbands; nor husbands their wives; nor employers their employees. Let us drop the prolific use of the possessive pronoun 'my.' "

The Tribune described him as a charismatic speaker:

Dr. Tyndall is a tall, handsome dark-eyed man, with long hair and an oratorical voice. ... At the Whitney Opera House every Sunday afternoon he spoke to crowded houses, and daily he held classes at the Masonic Temple. His followers were numbered in the thousands. He and Mrs. Tyndall are each over six feet tall and interesting.

His wife, Margaret, said the "doctor" possessed the "sixth sense."

"Once we were walking along the streets of Los Angeles and he stopped suddenly. He turned into a store, saying, 'I've got to go in.' It was a book store Thousands of books were on the shelves. He went straight back and picked out a book. He didn't look at any other one or touch any other one. And in it was a picture of his own hand."

She explained that a famous palmist in London had read McIvor-Tyndall's hand.

The palmist predicted that a woman would come into McIvor-Tyndall's life when he was 35. That woman wasn't Margaret; it turned out to be a new paramour, an actress named Laura Hudson (or Laura Hudson Wray or Laura Hughes, according to various reports). Margaret seemed resigned to the fact that her husband would fall in love with the other woman.

"Is there any chance for me to fight against fate?" she said. "It is the Cosmic Law, the Cosmic Urge."


In 1911, Margaret was arrested on charges that she had stolen $800 worth of diamonds from her husband's lover. Margaret told the story in an interview with the Tribune:

"The woman is an actress and a lovely girl. She is pretty and amiable. She used to be in Hackett's company, but lately hasn't acted. Why, I wrote a vaudeville sketch for her and my husband, thinking they might as well make a good living for themselves and be happy, but they never got a hearing, so the piece was not produced.

"Yes, I took the diamonds, but I did not steal them. I didn't want to say anything until the doctor came back from New York, but in justice to myself I might explain a few things. Ten years ago my husband fell in love with this girl, whose mother lives in Denver, where he then lived, and he seemed to be simply crazy over her. Neither he nor I had believed in anything but mental mates, for we were certainly that, but evidently there is something else in life.

"Well, they corresponded and stayed in love it seems. We came to Chicago last June and this girl came through here, saw my husband, and then she went to New York and wrote him to come to her. He went. It wasn't so long ago that I went to New York, too. I realized that these two couldn't live apart and I was sensible about it. We all three lived in the same house. She and I both had to have money and the doctor was so in love that his work suffered and consequently he was not well off financially. Then one day the girl said to him that he might have her two diamond rings any time he wanted them to pawn. She wrote it, too, and he has the letter. He didn't pawn the rings, however, and gave them back to her.

"I wasn't well in New York. I was nervous and, of course, it was more or less of a strain to live there with them, knowing that they loved each other, though I wasn't jealous, and I knew that it must be all right. I made up my mind one day that I would let them have each other and that I would get out. I didn't quarrel with either of them, for I had no hard feelings. I am fond of them both.

"I didn't have any money to get to my home in California, but the doctor told me what the girl had told him about her rings. I made up my mind that I would get them and pawn them. She was away when I took them out of her trunk, but I thought she would be glad that I had gone, and I knew that the doctor's word was good.

"When I got to Chicago I was broken down from a bad case of nerves. Friends of mine came to see me, and they wired the doctor that I was ill, and, of course, as I was his wife, he came to me at once. What else could he do? We stayed here five weeks. He told the actress that he would hurry back. Well, I guess she was angry because he didn't back sooner, and so she suddenly refused to answer his letters. He sent letters and telegrams by the hundred, telling her that he couldn't live without her, but she wouldn't answer them. He figured that she had committed suicide and worried himself to death about her.

"The next thing I knew I was informed on last Saturday that I was under indictment in New York for stealing diamonds valued at $800.

"She didn't want her mother in Denver to know, and she must know that this arrest is going to make everything public.

"She wrote my husband and said, 'Tell Mag not to worry about the diamonds. I hope that she will soon be well.' Then she had me arrested. I don't know whether she thought the doctor was going to remain with me or not."

Mrs. Tyndall held up a big ring suddenly and said, "It is this — I tell you it is this ring!"

It was an Egyptian scarab, set in ... gold snakes.

"It is the hoodoo. I haven't had a streak of good luck for so long I don't know what good luck is. I believe this ring is accountable for it. I have suspected before that it is a hoodoo, and I believe I shall discard it this very night."


Six years later, the unconventional trio was still together. McIvor-Tyndall married Laura Hudson, making her his sixth wife. Now his ex-wife, Margaret remained a close friend, though she referred to herself as the "cosmic goat" in the whole affair. McIvor-Tyndall actually married Hudson twice. In the first ceremony in Crown Point, Indiana, McIvor-Tyndall's name was misspelled on the marriage certificate, so the ceremony was performed over again in Chicago. The Tribune reported:

Today at the Raleigh hotel, 648 North Dearborn Street, the three still are celebrating, eating ice cream in a world peopled by nomads and tadpoles and Philistines, blissful in their own company and new-thoughtfully scornful of carping jeerers. It is a strangely contented triangle.

Margaret did not attend the wedding, however. "You know, I couldn't bear to witness the ceremony," she said. "Of course, we have always vibrated in harmony, but I was afraid my superself would not react. My refusal to brand as immoral the woman who has taken my husband from me; my decision to retain the friendship, which was the foundation of my association with Dr. Tyndall for twelve years, is unusual only because the average human being is undeveloped, selfish and lacking any normal view of life."

Wife No. 6 smiled, saying, "Isn't it cosmic? ... We have proved that harmony among three people is possible; that true understanding is simple. If all three of us had not attained to our high plane of mentality serious consequences might have resulted from this great love affair."

The Tribune noted, "The great lover, wearing his Bhakti Yogi aura, said nothing."

The scandals did not end with the wedding ceremony. McIvor-Tyndall's new wife had a daughter, Irene Hughes, whose age was reported as sixteen or eighteen.

Even though the girl was living with her grandmother, Emily Hughes, in Denver, her new stepfather was supposedly having a weird effect on her. The grandmother sought criminal charges against McIvor-Tyndall, claiming that he was hypnotizing the girl by sending "thought waves" from Chicago to Denver, putting her under a spell.

"Neighbors declared the girl acted strangely and talked constantly of Tyndall," the Tribune reported.

The district attorney, however, said he had no jurisdiction to charge the Chicago hypnotist.

Picture of McIvor-Tyndall: Chicago Times-Herald, Oct. 4, 1897.

Chicago Tribune, Dec. 11, 1911; June 16, 1917; Aug. 29, 1917; several undated clippings.