“The State Supreme Court of Connecticut, on August 12, agreed with a lower court that it had been right in ruling against a will that would have awarded a $150,000 estate to a ‘ghost.'”
That is from the beginning of a 1958 Parapsychology Foundation newsletter article titled: No $150,000 for “Ghost”. A woman named Mrs. Helen Dow Peck of Bethel, CT, had left most of her estate to John Gale Forbes, a name of a dead person that she had gotten from a Ouija Board. Her will stated that a thorough search must be made for Forbes and if he couldn’t be found the money was to be used to research telepathy instead.
What I haven’t found out yet is, after Forbes couldn’t be found did the money go to telepathy research? Oh wait, the article said that six nieces and three nephews contested the will on the grounds that Forbes was “the product of mental delusion,” and this was confirmed by the Supreme Court. I’m guessing that if the decision was made that the will written by someone who was incapacitated they weren’t bound to any of it? I have to say I agree with the court’s decision. I mean, even if she believed John Gale Forbes once lived, what was the point of leaving money to someone who was dead? It doesn’t make sense.
Ouija Boards kept coming up while I was doing my research and I was just fascinated by them. Mostly because so often the messages were malicious and the personalities coming through malignant and never mind the implications of that, people continued to consult them even when the whole experience was frightening and not at all helpful. Although I guess it’s not so surprising that people are drawn to what frightens them.
John Palmer published a very interesting survey he did of them: “A Mail Survey of Ouija Board Users in North America,” International Journal of Parapsychology, Volume 12, Number 2, 2001.
And, I just found a great 1983 article about them written by James P. Johnson for American Heritage Magazine.
The picture is of an early desk of ESP cards that I scanned while I was down in Durham.
5 thoughts on “Ouija Boards”
“I mean, even if she believed John Gale Forbes once lived, what was the point of leaving money to someone who was dead?”
If something is left to a deceased person it would go to his legal heirs. On the other hand, if Helen Peck was not in her right mind she might not have made the connection that a ghost was dead in which case the Judge made the right decision.
I think one would have to look at the wording of her will and also see if there was other evidence given to show Helen was not of sound mind in addition to the single fact that she left her estate to a deceased person.
Apart from the possibility of someone trying to dupe her for their own financial gain, I wonder why, if Mrs. Peck felt it reasonable to leave money to someone dead, would she not instead leave it to her own ghost once she herself was dead?
Ha. Good question.
Love the blog, and I must pick up your book! Sounds wonderful. I just finished Mitch Horowitz’s OCCULT AMERICA. Read it?
In our upcoming issue, we (PARABOLA magazine) run a piece by Mitch on the history of Ouija…
Peep it if you like: http://www.parabola.org/the-future
All the best,
Oh yeah, feel free to write to the editorial [at] parabola [dot] org address if wanna talk mystery. Peace!