The Squaw Hollow Sensation: Part 9 – Dr. Von Herbst Concludes; Additional Articles

“Mountain Democrat,” July 26, 1879 (continued)


“And now for my promise, and I release you to rest. Come when you will, and grasping both my hands in yours, make a magnetic circle. Then, as I begin to show the effect of your attention, bend your look, earnest, long, grave and full of deep wishing upon my eyes, through their depths into my soul, and at times gently stroke my forehead from the brows outward and backward with an intense soul-effort. And, if you fail to-day, try to-morrow, and whatever force you gain to-day, store up for to-morrow, and eventually the full effect will come. Then thoughts will pass from one to another, and our minds will be as clear as crystal waters. Wish questions, and I shall know them, and my answers shall be such as I would speak, and language will no longer be necessary for us.”  *  *

“The Aztec, on this my first perfect communication, was perfectly intelligible, and it did not seem necessary for me to put the thoughts in words, for they shaped themselves to my understanding. What was stranger still, when Sethos spoke of being tired, I felt fatigue. When he saw the emigrants coming across the plains, I was first overjoyed and then I despaired with him. My feelings followed his, mirroring all his changing temper. When he spoke of my boyhood and of his influence over my mind when I was so young, I seemed to see myself as a little boy, with the figure of Sethos always by my side. My childhood passed before me like a pictured series and I could see when I was delivered from threatening dangers, and when I learned truths that shaped my mind up to my present circumstances. And here a most remarkable thing was proved to me. Looking over my life, each incident showed its bearing on some other, and when I stopped to consider what I was, and what I might have been, I saw a thousand roads branching off, turning, twisting, but I saw that when sometimes I had halted, and hesitated at some seemingly unimportant turning point, a slight tendency was toward one out of the many, and this one was, I could now see, the only one that opened up the way to where I now am, and all the others would have led me off to other thoughts and other pursuits. Yet in the picture the Aztec presence by my side pressed me onward ever on the right path, and toward his body sleeping in the hills.

“And this soul-sense, or psychic telegraphy, I believe in for I have felt it and communicated by it, and so have you, all of you, to a greater or less extent, and now it is my purpose to teach you all, and reveal to you a purer and more perfect vehicle for thoughts.

“Sethos has given me many communications, and in addition is making most interesting comparisons between our civilization and that of the ancient dwellers in these hills. The inventions with which I had thought most to surprise him, have only excited him with amusement. It seems that he is to be most valuable to us in Science, and in correcting our methods in the Arts. I prefer having him learn the ways and manners of people, though, in Europe, where he will be surrounded by scientists, and where his peculiar mind can be thoroughly studied. His suggestions, too, must all be tested by practiced workers, and his psychic theories will be the wonder, I know, of our Royal Society (Note: The “Royal Society” that he mentions, is the R. S. B., or Royal Society of Berlin, of which there is no record of its existence). The daily communications of course are disjointed, and would not prove interesting unless all carefully written up and revised. And speaking of revision, I was trying to write up the foregoing statement the other night, after Sethos had sunk to sleep. I was in doubt about one point, and finally made one misstatement. Reading the revelation over again, I ‘felt’ the eyes of the invalid upon me. Looking up, I saw that he was not asleep, but wished to speak to me, and placing my hand upon his head I had my former mistake corrected, and he was satisfied. I asked him, “Is this correct? Shall I tell it from you?” And his eyed answered, ‘Speak the tidings to all!’

“And now, Mr. Editor, I must thank you for giving so much space in your excellent journal to writings which, being in advance of public opinions, must necessarily seem strange to your good people. I thank you, besides, for your kindness throughout my stay in your country, and I shall ever gratefully remember the aid you gave me when I first thought of trying my experiments here.

“This will probably be my last printed word in America, but when my book appears I shall take the great pleasure of forwarding it first of all to you.

“Respectfully, L. Von Herbst, R. S. B.

When the “Mountain Democrat” printed the story of Dr. Loerder Von Herbst and his revived Aztec mummy, Sethos, there was one other article in the newspaper regarding the event. It said it came from the “Carson Tribune” (a real newspaper of the period also known as the “Daily Nevada Tribune”) in Carson City, Nevada and was printed in the “Mountain Democrat” on August 19, 1879, at the same time the “Squaw Hollow Sensation” was running. It read:

“Squaw Hollow Sensation”

“An occasional frequenter of the sidewalks of the main streets of Carson City can be amused these dull days if he will halt now and then where some of those limber-tongued old stiffs who were among the early settlers of El Dorado county, California, sit in squads spinning out to an almost unsupportable length, sometimes, their narratives of incidents, notorieties, etc., that variegated the early and good told times of Placerville, Coloma and other interesting localities in the days of yore. These jolly old cane carriers are here by the dozens, and the least and most insignificant occurrence reaching their ears relating directly or remotely to “Old El Dorado” will as rapidly bring together squads of these harmless old creatures, each to take a twist at the occurrence by overhauling every feature of it with his own peculiar phraseology, as the prospect of an enjoyable treat of gossip would cluster together a circle of animated ladies. We were more than ordinarily amused yesterday evening while listening to the tongues of the old codgers elaborately dissecting the late Ed Dorado Squaw Hollow sensation created by the eccentric experiments of Professor Von Herbst. Some were inclined to express a disbelief of the stated fact that Sethos had been made to breathe, toddle and coo after having laid in a comatoes (sic) state for several centuries, while others were somewhat careful in asserting their disbelief of anything that they could hear as coming from that famous locality, Sqaw (sic) Hollow. Some suggested that perhaps Sethos was the same notorious dried-up Indian squaw that the Coroner of El Dorado carted from one locality of the county to another, for the accumulation of fees for holding inquests in the good old Democratic days of El Dorado.”

About what happened to Doctor Loerder Von Herbst little is known, other than the following very strange article which was printed in the “Mountain Democrat” on November 29, 1879, a few months following the conclusion of the “Squaw Hollow Sensation.”

“More about the ‘Missing Link.’

“Some time ago the papers contained notices of the discovery, in certain ancient mounds of Japan, of certain fossil remains of a creature existent in the pre-historic age, that seemed to be identical with Darwin’s hypothetical ‘missing link’ between the man and monkey. From our old friend, Dr. Von Herbst, who immediately hastened to the scene of the reported explorations, we have received an interesting account (in German, of course) of additional discoveries.

“In the same mound with the ‘missing link’ were found several large sections of tan-bark, on the inner surface of which were rude sketches, evidently rough scratchings by a member of the genus Canis, which afford a very good clue to the appearance and habits of the being whose remains have attracted some much interest. One of these sketches assures us that the creature wore a plug hat and ambrosial (Note: “worthy of the gods”) side-whiskers, and had lower extremities that were longer from the ankle-joint outward than from that joint to the junction with the body. Another sketch represents the creature with a goose-quill in one hand, while with the other he waves a nether garment that seems all covered with gouts of gore, from which is drawn the inference that he must have edited a prehistoric ‘Stalwart’ newspaper. Another sketch represents him as feathered, cackling like an old hen over an old Indian mortar, as though he had found a veritable ‘mare’s nest,’ and making a crazy attempt to scratch up a fossil joke.

“From all of which the old Doctor concludes that the ‘missing link’ is simply a link of the outside of a prehistoric string of sausages, not essentially different from a similar link that may be seen on our streets any day of the week.”

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