Arthur Ford: Wikis


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Arthur Ford (January 8, 1897 – January 4, 1971) was an American psychic spiritual medium, clairaudient and in 1955 founded the Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship.


Biographical problems

Biographer Allen Spraggett called him American Spiritualism's near pope and society's clairvoyant, comparable with the 19th century medium Daniel Dunglas Home. After a sitting, William McDougall, then psychologist at Harvard University and the 1920 president of the American Society for Psychical Research, said Ford had supernormal powers on page 2 of Spraggett's book, but then later Ford informs the author on page 226, when Ford "communicated" McDougall the first names of his parents, McDougall said he "was not duly impressed." The American Society for Psychical Research library does not contain any record of Ford and McDougall sittings in its past journals, newsletters, or cross-references. The biographies of Ford offer many inconsistencies. Ford was known as a marvelous teller of tales when it came to his life. He enjoyed rearranging his life to suit himself. Each time Ford told a story it was a little different than the last. One of his friends said, "I don't think he knew what was fact and what wasn't." As with the McDougall story, as shown, the biographer Allen Spraggett also changes and stretches details. This makes critical history extremely difficult to impossible.[1]

Early life

Arthur Ford was born on January 8, 1897 at 10:30 a.m. local time in the small town of Titusville, Florida he studied Christianity and was offered a ministerial scholarship in 1917 to Transylvania College, a Disciples of Christ school in Lexington, Kentucky. He was ordained as a Disciples minister, and served a church in Barbourville, Kentucky until 1924 when he began touring.

Arthur Ford claimed that during the First World War while serving in the Army that he did not serve outside the States with his company and then later while serving in France[1] he would "hear" the names of fellow soldiers who were going to die of the 1918 Spanish flu. Later he began to hear the names soldiers who within the next days would appear on the casualty lists. Their names were in exactly the same sequential order on the list as Ford had previously recorded the day before.[2] Ford claimed that sometime before 1932 when he visited India, he had already learned methods of conscious (astral)? projection from the Hindu religious teacher Swami Paramahansa Yogananda[2] and was constantly in touch with him. In Yogananda's 1946 Autobiography of a Yogi Arthur Ford is not mentioned. Ford stated he was called David by the Hindus, which he said meant "Door to Heaven."[1]

After the war he researched purported psychic phenomena and became a Spiritualist around 1921. In 1924 Ford toured the New England States appearing between the acts of the S.S. Henry's illusion production. The Sphinx, a conjuring periodical stated on August 1924 "he gave one of the finest talks on magic ever heard" in Athol, Massachusetts. He lost his interest in magic and became fascinated with the occult. He became a professional "hot and cold reader" and "billet reader," reading sealed messages given to him by members of his audience. This type of mentalism entertainment was very popular in the 1920s[3] and still is today if the performer has charisma, skill, talent and originality in this fine art. Ford claimed he could read minds.[2]

Fletcher, the spirit guide

Soon Ford became a trance medium. One day in 1924 a deceased control began to speak from Ford's mouth. Words were delivered slow and deliberately, unlike Ford who spoke rapidly and slurred his words. In a voice sounding very similar to Ford's the control announced himself as Fletcher. Fletcher often ended questions with "no?". This proved to sitters he was French-Canadian. He became Ford's personal guide to the dead in the spirit world for the next three years.[1]

Ford and others were very curious about Fletcher's past life. As was common with Ford he gave a variety of answers that didn't match.[1]

Ford traveled to Britain in 1927 and did a public demonstration of his abilities for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who the next day in the London Express, or possibly the Sunday Express, wrote, "One of the most amazing things I have ever seen in 41 years of psychic experience was the demonstration of Arthur Ford."[2]

In 1965, Ford said,

  • "When Fletcher comes, I am totally unconscious. That proves its complete detachment. I can't remember anything. It isn't merely hypnosis. Fletcher is using words through me, using my voice. Naturally, they don't use words over there. Words are physical sounds. He has to interpret thoughts and ideas, that sort of thing, and put them into words." [1]
  • "If we ask a discarnate to manifest on earth for even a moment, he has to have an instrument or vehicle suitable for that, so he borrows either the mind or any of the senses that he needs of a human being, In my case, I go to sleep because I was trained by a yoga, In this state of unconsciousness in which my objective mind is pushed aside there is a personality called Fletcher comes through." [2]

Fletcher discloses the unknown

Ford had an aversion for having his messages verbally recorded. It seems that completely detailed notes were avoided. There is also some question of their accuracy.[1] Ford claimed that it was Fletcher who spoke to the living revealing information that was completely unknown. The following are some examples of dialogue: "You come from part of the country." "I see you have just flown in from the west coast." "You seem to be quite a traveler." "Another preacher tonight." "The worried man in the corner." "The woman with a pencil." "The name is Harry, Henry. No, it is Harrall". "You had a relative who died in World War I."[2]

In a typical sitting with Ford the communications were rambling, disjointed, only infrequently smooth-flowing. There was a lot of groping for the proper phrase, expression or a name. Often Fletcher would make one try at getting some evidential fact straight, then back up and run at it again. Here is an interesting example:

"Anyone here called Melton-Jane Melton?" A hand goes up.

"Your brother Albert is here."

"No, I never had a brother Albert."

"Oh yes, you had."


"Think again."

Yet out of the meandering, sometimes seemingly random, process emerged-exact names, odd details, exceedingly private trivia-which hit the sitter with dazzling force.

"Oh, I'm sorry. Of course, little Bertie who died young."[1]

Ford claimed he had seen every miracle performed by Jesus duplicated; except the raising of the dead.[1]

The Three Houdini Messages and others

Joseph Dunninger said,"There is one primary rule in the fakery of spirit mediumship. That is to concentrate upon persons who have suffered a bereavement."[4]

Message No. 1

Bess wrote a letter dated December 16, 1926 to Arthur Conan Doyle. She told about Harry's restless nights as he awoke with "Mama, are you here?" on his lips. She said he never stopped hoping to hear the word "FORGIVE" from his mother. When Ford visited England in 1927 he talked to Doyle a number of times, Did Doyle mention the key word or show the letter to Ford?[5]

A year before the "FORGIVE" message was heard from Houdini's deceased mother and disclosed in a letter by Arthur Ford to Bess Houdini, Arthur Conan Doyle mentioned in a 1930 article that Bess had disclosed the word to a Brooklyn Eagle reporter on March 13, 1927. Bess was quoted as saying that any authentic communication from Mrs. Weiss would have to include the word "FORGIVE". Doyle believed Ford when he said he knew nothing about it.[5] Houdini's mother only called him Erick, never Harry, as Ford delivered in this message. She also never wrote or spoke in English. She wrote and spoke in five other languages. Ford delivered her message in English.[6]

Message no.2

"ROSEBELLE" was not relayed to Bess by Ford in the Houdini code. Inside the wide gold wedding ring Bess wore were the words of this song, with a miniature likeness of Harry. Bess had shown this unusual inscription to many people. This was hardly a secret. Before Bess sang Rosebelle in delirium, Ford had asked her to remove her wedding ring. Did he know what was engraved inside?[3]

Message no.3

On page 105 of Houdini: His Life-Story by Harold Kellock, from the recollections and documents of Beatrice Houdini, Harcourt, Brace Co., June, 1928, are disclosed the associated 10 letters, 10 key numbers and key words of the Houdini code as it was used in performance by Harry Houdini and wife Bess. Every letter of B E L I E V E, this secret message from beyond the grave communicated by Arthur Ford to Bess Houdini on January 7 1929, had been available to the general public for a period of six to seven months if one recognized how to use it. In a statement Bess made to the January 9, 1929 World, Bess said, "I had no idea what combination of words Harry would use and when he sent "BELIEVE" it was a surprise".[5] There is no mention of Kellock and Bess Houdini's public disclosure of the code letters in The Secret Life of Houdini by William Kalush and Larry Sloman.

Messages no. 2 and no. 3

Mentalist Joseph Dunninger, a close friend of the Houdini family, told reporters Nurse Sophie Rosenblatt, who attended Houdni in his last hours, heard him murmur Rosebelle-Believe to Bess. This information may have found its way to Arthur Ford. He also pointed out Houdini's old mindreading code was in the Harold Kellock and Beatrice Houdini book.[7] There were other tests devised by Houdini to protect his wife from psychic fakers, one was the opening up a huge pair of handcuffs.[8] Bess Houdini told reporters her husband planned to send messages to Arthur Conan Doyle and Remigius Weiss (Weiss had worked with Houdini to expose psychic fraud.) Both men said they had not planned any messages with Houdini.[3] Bess told the press the only copies of the three messages were locked up in her safety deposit box at the Manufacturers Banks on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York City. B.M.L. Ernst, Bess Houdini's attorney, told historian Milbourne Christopher that these documents existed only in her imagination.[3]

The Pike Messages

He gained national attention when he claimed to have contacted the dead son of Bishop Pike in 1967 on network TV.

The Sun Myung Moon Sittings

In his book Unknown But Known Ford had recounted two lengthy seances undertaken on behalf of Sun Myung Moon, then an obscure Korean evangelist. The accounts were removed from later editions of the book.

In a sitting on November 1964, Ford said Fletcher mentioned Pieter Alexander, who had learned about Sun Myung Moon's ideas on spiritual growth. According to Alexander (in the seance), Moon denied the theory of reincarnation but taught,

"Spirits on this side progress, but their progression is helped or hindered by things done or undone on the earth plane. ... Practically everyone on the earth plane is in some fashion being used, either as a means of helping someone here to progress, or to help someone on the earth plane to speak the Word or do the thing that is necessary." [3]

Ford's Hidden Archives

After Arthur Ford's death, Ford's close friend and supporter William V. Rauscher [4] and author Allen Spraggrett discovered Ford's collection of obituaries, newspaper clippings, Who's Who articles, etc. that Ford had hidden away. They were disguised as bound poetry books. Ford read his poetry before giving a reading. There was enough information to indicate that much of the famous Pike messages and others were fraudulent.[9] There were many other things that Ford ordered his secretary to burn before his death that are lost. Ford and his secretary parted company due to a falling out. Ford's secretary claimed Ford had no psychic abilities. The book Arthur Ford: The Man Who Talked with the Dead by Allen Spraggett with William V. Rauscher, New American Library, Inc.,1973 gives the whole story and is the primary source used in Alcock's book.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Arthur Ford: The Man Who Talked with the Dead by Allen Spraggett with William V. Rauscher, New American Library, Inc.,1973
  2. ^ a b c d e Nothing So Strange: The Autobiography of Arthur Ford by Arthur Ford in collaboration with Margueritte Harmon Bro, Harper & Row, 1958.
  3. ^ a b c d Mediums, Mystics, and the Occult by Milbourne Christopher, Thomas Y. Crowell, Co., 1975
  4. ^ The Secret Life of Houdini by William Kalush and Larry Sloman, Atria Books, 2006.
  5. ^ a b c Houdini: The Untold Story by Milbourne Christopher, Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1969
  6. ^ The Secret Life of Houdini by Willam Kalush and Larry Sloman, Atria books, 2006, Chapter 20, Saul Among the Prophets
  7. ^ Houdini: The Man Who Walked Through Walls by William L. Gresham, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1959
  8. ^ Sixty Years of Psychical Research by Joseph F. Rinn, Truth Seeker Co., 1950
  9. ^ Arthur Ford: The Man Who Talked with the Dead by Allen Spraggett with William V. Rauscher, New American Library, Inc., 1973
  • Alcock, James (1991), Parapsychology: Science or Magic? A Psychological Perspective, Pergamon Press, ISBN 0-08-025772-0


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