The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

In Their Own Words
The thinking of the populists, spiritualists and freethinkers of Southern Oregon. See also the Dean diary and notes.

TALENT, Ore., Nov. 30th, 1887.
    EDITOR REVIEW:--When living in Iowa I was a subscriber of your paper for several years and since coming to this state I still have been a reader of it through the courtesy of Mr. R. Waters of your county who sends the Review to his daughter, Miss Waters, who is a member of my family. Of all county papers the Review has always been my favorite, because the spirit of liberality and fairness pervaded its columns. Many times when I read one of your advanced articles I have said "Hurrah for Burdick; he is making the world better,"
    But, when you write on anarchy must say I do not agree with your definition; you simply give the definition of all government worshipers which is not correct. The true meaning of anarchy is self-government; to do without law; because you are not in need of law, you do right for right's sake.
    Do you, Mr. Editor, believe the law makes people better? If you do you ought to be in favor of prohibition. Almost all governmentalists contend that we have a right to punish an individual for its effect on some other individual as a deterrent of crime. The prohibitory liquor laws, for instance, are enacted and men are punished for selling liquor, not because liquor selling is of itself a crime, but to prevent, crimes that are supposed to follow the drinking of liquor.
    You say, "Anarchy is the law of mob violence and force and means only the survival of the strongest." Not true. An anarchist cannot steal the property of another, for the moment he attempts to do so he repudiates his anarchism and becomes a believer in government. No laws are needed to restrain or punish the anarchist. The restraint is for archist, not anarchist. When you say "Anarchy is only the survival of the strongest, without regard to law or justice," I say your god, "majority," is nothing but despotism. You must admit that it is not the majority that always or generally needs protection. Where the minority, the individual, tramples once upon the rights of the many the many trample a thousand times upon the rights of the minority, the rights of the individual. History confronts us on every side with the proof that the majority on all questions of reform was mistaken. Read the life of Jesus, Luther and the hero of our revolutionary war, John Brown, who [was] hung for an unpopular cause by the majority. It is the few always who are more nearly right and whose shoulders push slowly forward the car of progress.
    Now, in regard to those seven condemned and murdered Chicago anarchists, which caused yon to write the article, I would say: They died for the emancipation of "wage slavery," as much as John Brown died for the emancipation of "chattel slavery." It was a battle between an unscrupulous, monopolistic press against anarchy. On one side, wealth, religion and respectability; on the other, the dissatisfied working men of the country. The real issue, if those men were guilty or not of the crime of throwing bombs, was lost sight of. The court decided you are guilty, because Wealth said hang them, that our property may be secure. Religion said, hang them, they are infidels. Respectability said, hang them, because we want no agitation, we want no change. In five years from now the people will look on the execution of these anarchists as a judicial murder.
    In conclusion I would say, anarchy stands for liberty in its fullest, broadest sense. If you cannot live a moral life without a political idol, anarchy does not take your political gods away from you; simply do like those people who worship theological idols, pay for the fun out of your own pockets and do not force us to support your political idols and we will not object to your unsocial amusement.
Yours for liberty,
    WM. H. BREESE.
Postville Review, Postville, Iowa, December 17, 1887, page 2

Elmina's Dime Roll of Honor.
Number of dimes previously acknowledged, forty-six $4.60
Herman C. Stock 1.00
Samuel Colver, M. S. Booth, 50¢ each 1.00
W. H. Breese, Mrs. Eliz. Breese, W. J. Dean, N. D. Brophy, Chas. Terrill, "I Endorse the Above," "So Do I," 25¢ each 1.75
James Morrison .20
Mrs. Lucie Terrill, Mrs. Hannah Robinson, 15¢ each .30
Master Henry W. Breese, Miss Rosetta Waters, Mrs. Ursula Dean, Miss Winnie Crosby, Miss Effie Terrill, Mrs. Mary Robinson, Mrs. M. C. Beeson, John Robinson, C. H. Terrill, Joseph Robinson, James Purves, Mrs. A. M. Purves, Master James Briner, Samuel Robinson, Willie Beeson, Emmett Beeson, Boyd Robinson, Chas. Sherman, W. Gifford, 10¢ each 1.90
Lucifer the Light Bearer, Valley Falls, Kansas, March 2, 1888, page 2  The "Lucifer" in the name of this free-thought newspaper refers to light and enlightenment, not Satan.

A Voice from Oregon.
    M. HARMAN, Dear Friend:--The following resolution was passed at the 41st anniversary of Modern Spiritualism by the First Spiritualist Society of Southern Oregon in their meeting on March 31st, 1889.
    WHEREAS, it is only an act of justice to those reform journals that stand in the picket line and have to bear the opposition of bigotry and persecution, that those people who have outgrown the old and are in sympathy with the new ideas should sustain those "Light-bearers," therefore
    Resolved: That we, as a society, endorse the course of LUCIFER, THE LIGHT BEARER as a journal of social, political, and especially on sex reform, and give it all the financial aid we can.
    Talent, Oregon.
Lucifer the Light Bearer, Valley Falls, Kansas, April 12, 1889, page 3

Endorsement and Criticism.
    I have followed the different views of your correspondents on Sexual Science with interest. I do think that the publication of those outrages which are perpetrated on woman under our present marriage laws will do a vast amount of good, and open the eyes of those who dare think and are not dead to all human feelings.
    I do not agree with the majority of your correspondents that the "root of all evil" is contained in our present marriage laws. I look on life as a great school wherein the good and bad is needed for growth, is needed as an object lesson for all, for teacher and pupil. Three-fourths of our people reason with their stomachs and can and will only be educated and evoluted out of their present routine of eating and sleeping through the force of circumstances, through necessity. I know of what I speak. I have pointed out to my neighbors the evils of society which makes slaves, cowards and tyrants of the majority, but they cannot understand. I have kept up this agitation about four years and I begin to see some change. Circumstances are in my favor. Hard times, monopoly, low wages and the struggle for existence become harder day by day. They begin to see the coils of the monster which manifests itself in authority and has its origin in the animal in men. I can get them to read our progressive papers and tracts and a change is coming, and I have great hopes for the future.
    If we had the power to remove all obnoxious laws, we would do only harm to those who believe in them, and would destroy one of the most powerful levers of progress we now wield. We do not fight any imaginary evil and wrong, but that which causes anguish and suffering to humanity. There is only one remedy. Improve the mental and moral nature of man by agitation or education; point out the foul spots in our social, political and religious life; let people judge if they call that tree good which bears such fruit as crime, misery and degradation, and whenever I have met with one who has had his perception cleared, has been persecuted and suffered from this fruit of the tree of evil such a one will listen and believe me.
    In conclusion I would say, we must deal with causes if we want to remove the effects. All the manifold evils of society can be traced to men--to the individual--elevate the individual and society will raise itself above the present low level and break the chains of ignorance and superstition which now bind both men and women.
Yours for liberty,
    WM. H. BREESE,
Talent, Ore., 1-21-'90.
Lucifer the Light Bearer, Valley Falls, Kansas, February 7, 1890, page 3

TALENT, Oregon, March 21, 290.
    DEAR BRO. HARMAN: I presume you are overrun with letters and I have not written you for that reason, but since the clouds are thickening I feel that it is our duty to help you hold up your hands as the hands of Moses of old were held up, which I now proceed to do in two ways, first by telling you that you have the full sympathy of this family and more especially the women, that is, myself and sister, for we know full well that it is our battle you are fighting, and if human sympathy is any help to you, you must certainly have ours; then I shall send you a little money by P.O. order. It is not much but we hope to send more if we have any crops this year, and as you would rather send out literature for the money I will tell you what I want (list enclosed) I sent to you for "Prodigal Daughter" one year ago, I was almost afraid to lend it around but did, and the outcome is that it traveled till it was almost worn out, then a lady patched it together and begged me to let her have it to send to friends in the Willamette Valley and gave me ten cents to get another one for her. All the Lucifers I hand around to those that are liberal enough to receive them, and to those that I know would burn them if I handed them to them in person I enclose it in a wrapper, take it to another town and mail it, for I have learned that people will read things they receive at the P.O. that they would burn if an outspoken Freethinker handed the same to them. We never destroy a Lucifer and never keep them only long enough to read them.
    I wonder if your critics think that such evils as O'Neill described will get any better by being safely covered up? The safer they are covered up in the dark the longer will they exist. If you could hear the way women are talking; perhaps you do, but I mean women that are uneducated and have never read anything on social reform. I wish you could hear some that come to talk with myself and sister, and--thanks to 
Lucifer and its contributors, for it is there we get most of the knowledge that we divide with them--if you could hear those poor women, some of them can scarcely read, you would rejoice at the rebellion that going on against these abuses.
Lucifer the Light Bearer, Valley Falls, Kansas, April 11, 1890, page 3

    WOMAN'S FRIEND: Mrs. Breese wrote to you some time since to send on 
Lucifer, it is a most welcome guest here, not because we delight in hearing of such outrageous wrongs done under the cloak of marriage or anything else but because we know the devil is here and the sooner it is generally known the sooner we will be from under the burden we as women are under now. We are glad that you are still a free man and hope against [hope] the time does come for the trial that those justice doers (in name only) will understand from both men and women that they have a serious case on hand.
    We think Voltairine de Cleyre knows what to say and how to say it, but it would not be surprising to hear of her arrest any time. She presents things to think of as they should be, and the sooner we as people see and think aright the sooner will light come.
    Many of our public lecturers are but stumbling blocks to their hearers, and I often think that if they cannot present a better example in their lives they had better not pose as teachers; but such obstacles are ever in the path of progress. While we build one part of the temple of Liberty we destroy another.
    We earnestly hope you will be left at the post to keep 
Lucifer's flag flying.
Talent, Oregon, June, '91.
Lucifer the Light Bearer, Valley Falls, Kansas, June 26, 1891, page 3

    Friend Breese thinks (see Various Voices) [below] that "so long as production and distribution are controlled for private gain liberty is a mockery, sexual freedom a farce and all our work in that line a waste of time," and adds, "the most determined opposition will be encountered when we teach the economic question." The simple fact that men have been sent to prison whose only fault is the persistence with which they urge attention to the sex question, whereas no one has yet been imprisoned because he "touched the economic question," would seem to show that our esteemed contributor is in the wrong. Those who now control production and distribution of commodities fear nothing so much as the agitation of questions relating to maternity and heredity, that is to say, questions regarding the production of human beings. They care but little about politics so long as the supply of contented or gullible slaves is not cut off, but they know full well that sex reform means interference with this supply; and hence their unrelenting opposition.

Lucifer the Light Bearer, Valley Falls, Kansas, February 26, 1892, page 2

    As yet I have been unable to see my way clear in regard to woman's freedom except by a change in our economic system. History proves it. On every side we see the tyrant to be the one which controls the bread and butter question. A new tyrant is added--the one that controls the means of distribution. So long as production and distribution are controlled for private gain liberty is a mockery, sexual freedom a farce and all our work in that line a waste of time. It is of the utmost importance to rally all our forces and make a main assault on the enemy's line at those two points, and you will find that the most determined opposition will be encountered when we touch the economic question.
    Now I do not wish you to understand that because I think the economic question [is] the root question [that] we should let others alone and confine ourselves entirely to this main question. Evolution teaches us that we must progress all along the line of human needs and wants. To take any other view would be narrow. But I believe that all the wrongs, oppression and tyranny which we see manifested in everyday life are the result of our cutthroat dog-eat-dog competitive system. Some of the extremists in Lucifer lay all the woes and ills of human life to our compulsory marriage laws. Yes, they are bad enough, but such laws would not last 24 hours if property rights were not back of them. The greatest champion of woman's freedom is democratic socialism. Let us gain that. Let us gain equality, by destroying the wage system, and then we will see light ahead. We see the dawn of a new civilization in the great combinations what are causing such uneasiness to those who cannot see that trusts and combines are the logical development of the joint stock company, and all to bolster up the present antiquated competitive system will be abortive and end in failure. Steam and electricity have sounded the death knell of competition, and no lover of humanity will regret to see the specter of want and hunger banished from the earth.
Talent, Ore., Jan. 12, 92.
"Various Voices," Lucifer the Light Bearer, Valley Falls, Kansas, February 26, 1892, page 3

PORTLAND, Oregon, Dec. 7, 1892.
    MR. W. N. BURDICK:--Dear Sir:--I am a stranger to you in person but not in kindred thoughts. Though I am away where the grand Pacific surges, and the towering old mountain peaks are kissed till they blush like crimson by the grand old luminary each eve, yet the Review is a welcome visitor each week, for breathings of home ever touch the tender chord of a wanderer. But what called me to feel closer now than ever before was your editorial on Thanksgiving. The universal humanitarian spirit shines from it. It glows with a feeling of brotherhood. It is synonymous with Goethe's Hermann when he said:
"Can that man be deemed worthy, who doth in good and ill fortune
Think alone of himself, and know not the secret of sharing
Sorrows and joys with others, and feel no longing to do so?"
    But how can we be thankful to a God or man when we read of the poor in our large cities, where wealth is banked by the millions by part of our people (or family), and others lying freezing and starved in the streets. The New York Sun said only a short time since that "an old cast-iron stove, bedstead, two tubs, three chairs, roll of carpet, wash boiler, old clock and pine bench were thrown out at 332 East Thirty-Sixty Street, and an old woman followed and sat on them--they were all she had--from six o'clock on Friday night until four o'clock Saturday night, and was then carried by a renter into her house." What becomes of those people? The police returns for the year tell the story. 88,152 arrests, 24,350 females. Lodges were furnished a total of 126,380. The homeless lodgers being 68,854 males and 57,426 females. See the amount of crimes we are responsible for: 492 unknowns were in the potter's field during the year, 93 were picked up in the streets. Deaths by poison, 39; by pistol, 61; by hanging, 30; by gas, 19; jumping from buildings, 4; by stabbing themselves, 20. The rest by living in dens, slums, penitentiaries, etc. Under such conditions should we be thankful that we live in America or anywhere else? Why can we not practicalize the grand old foundation principles, "that all men are created equal," and should we not as a whole enjoy life, liberty and happiness, instead of this physical and moral annihilation? Oh, for the "voices in the air" and body to work in harmony and make a heaven on earth, and make it here and now. Hoping these feeble, appreciative words from a stranger will cheer you on, I am,
Very respectfully,
    NOTE.--We don't know whether the above was intended for publication or not, but we assume the responsibility of publishing it, as it is a well-written letter and there is nothing of a private character about it. The wish for universal harmony, happiness and heaven on earth is commendable, but we shall never realize it on this earth unless that mythical period, the millennium, shall dawn upon it sometime during the cycles yet to be; neither shall we ever see the time when all will be above want and no one know the pangs of hunger. It was the curse of the fall that in the sweat of the face man should eat bread, and it is only the few that have been given sufficient foresight and financial ability to amass wealth. "The poor we have always with us," and shall have until the end. Ours be it to relieve it to the extent of our ability as the Son of Man did while on earth, and our duty will have been performed when we seek to lift up the fallen and attempt to "pour the balm of consolation into the wounded heart." But we will desist before we run these remarks into a "Sunday Night." We shall be glad to hear from our correspondent again.
Postville Review, Postville, Iowa, December 17, 1892, page 2

Reforms Must Go Hand in Hand.
    DEAR BRO. HARMAN: Our subscription to the Light-Bearer expired some time ago, and we enclose $2.00 to be applied for one year's subscription to one of the best papers which make their weekly visits to our house. We should have remitted long ago but are very busy attending from three to four meetings every week--Alliance and People's Party meetings. The masses can be induced to attend those meetings and a true reformer will always drop a word for the cause Lucifer champions so bravely.
    It is true, only free mothers will produce a harmonious and well-balanced offspring, but it is also true as long as children are born by accident that mothers and fathers who suffer and are crushed through our unjust social and economic system--that they will impress a hatred for the present existing conditions on their unborn offspring, which will make the flame of liberty mount sky-high and will illuminate the whole world and make every tyrant tremble.
    Political, social and religious equality is a farce, a sham, as long as we have economic dependence on a few men who now control money, land, transportation and the tools of production. Solve the economic question, loosen the grip of the bandits who control the physical necessities, and then we will see the true individual develop as never before in human history. Not before that time comes will noble, grand men and women go hand in hand to the land of freedom.
    Yes, Bro. Harman, the space occupied in 
Lucifer's columns for the ventilation cf financial problems is not wasted. Go on with your work of education; humanity is hungry for radical food; the thinkers are multiplying and their thoughts receive respectful attention from those who only delighted to vilify and scorn them a few years ago. This is true in both physical and psychic investigation.
    The paper now opened in 
Lucifer on "Sex Ethics," by S. C. Campbell, is in the right direction. The altitude held up to man is high. But in that direction we find the "Coming Man." The coming man will be strongly magnetic, strong in passion, but reason will control all.
Yours for progress,
Talent, Ore., 11-30-'93.
Lucifer the Light Bearer, Valley Falls, Kansas, December 8, 1893, page 3

    BRO. HARMAN:--Enclosed find order of one dollar which apply on subscription account. Your struggle is hard enough and I ought to help more, but times are very close, and just now I subscribed and paid for the Arena, 20th Century, Coming Nation, The Road, People's Party Post, Firebrand, Progressive Thinker, Light of Truth and more to follow. We all have our trials. "Whom the lord loveth he chasteneth" is true. Soul growth comes only through pain, sorrow and suffering. To live in ease and only for bodily self-gratification is death to soul growth. The great I and me--all stomach and brain behind the ears--must be evoluted into the heart region and top brain. To make the condition for such growth constitutes the true reformer. Economic reform is the keynote, it will open the doors of liberty to both men and women.
Ever yours,
    WM. H. BREESE.
Talent, Ore. 2-22-'95.
Lucifer the Light Bearer, Valley Falls, Kansas, March 15, 1895, page 3

    The following letter from an old-time friend and faithful helper is typical of much of the advice and counsel sent me, with most of which counsel I most heartily agree.
    "I am glad that you are free from the clutches of the bigots. I do not know if it will pay to give such tyrants another chance to incarcerate you again. I think you can do more good by keeping "within the laws," even if they are unjust.
    "Conditions under which we live today are the natural result of the past, and we are laying the foundation for higher conditions for tomorrow. Such is evolution. Let us do the best we can; be true to ourselves; have toleration and charity for all; for such only constitute the true reformer.
    "Enclosed find order for two dollars for Lucifer.
Moses Harman, "Keep Within the Law," Lucifer the Light Bearer, Valley Falls, Kansas, April 17, 1896, page 2

Ashland, Oregon, Sept. 30, 1901.
Mr. James E. Hughes:
    Dear Friend--I am more than glad to become a member of your Library. The Blade has been more than interesting for some time.
    Dr. Wilson is showing up the work of the officers of the A.S.U. [American Secular Union], which is to his credit. I have thought for some time there was something they did not care for others to know. I think we should have another Union, with a new name, with Dr. Wilson at the helm, for he is sure the man to build up the cause. He has proven himself honest and sincere in the work. I have received three letters from Reichwald. I did not remit. I think they have had all they should have, never to have done any good for the cause. With best wishes for the Blade and its workers, I am,
Yours for truth,
"Correspondence," Blue Grass Blade, Lexington, Kentucky, October 27, 1901, page 7

Ashland, Ore., Nov. 9, '02.
Mr. Hughes:
    I would be glad to get you up a club of five or more here. I have often asked men that I thought were good freethinkers and not afraid of public opinion, as I thought, to subscribe for the Blade.
    Some would say they did not like the paper--that it was too radical for them, or they did not like Bro. Moore, but I shall keep on trying.
    I enclose a clipping from the San Francisco Examiner for Bro. Moore to write up, as I think there is nobody else can do justice to the case.
    You remember how the church people wrote up the death of May Collins and Putnam--now is a chance to get even with them.
Yours for the cause,
    Comment--The clipping enclosed is about Rev. Rabe and his assistant pastor, Miss Augusta Busch, both found dead in the church in each other's embrace.
    Of the coroner's jury of six in their case, three said it was a punishment of God for their wickedness, and the officers of the church were not willing to have Rabe's funeral service conducted in the church.
    In the case of Miss May L. Collins and Putnam the civil officers reported that it was from accidental asphyxiation, as did also a physician sent from Kentucky to investigate the case.
    I do not remember that anybody said there was anything criminal connected with the deaths of Miss Collins and Putnam except one preacher of Lexington, who does not rank among the first-class preachers of the city.
Blue Grass Blade, Lexington, Kentucky, November 23, 1902, page 3

Ashland, Ore., Nov. 25, 1902.
Brothers Moore and Hughes:
    Dear Sirs--Don't stop my Blade, for I shall take it as long as I can read and raise the price.
    Count on me for a bunch of "Dog Fennel." You are doing a grand work, and as long as I can I will contribute to you and others in the cause of truth and justice.
Blue Grass Blade, Lexington, Kentucky, December 14, 1902, page 3

    Mrs. A. D. Platt, Ashland.
    Mrs. S. M. Pefferle, Ontario.
    W. J. Dean, Talent.
Honorary Vice Presidents of National Liberal Party, Blue Grass Blade, Lexington, Kentucky, June 21, 1903, page 8

Mrs. Sarah E. Richards, Ashland, Ore.
Wm. M. Richards, Ashland, Ore.

"Blade's Club," Blue Grass Blade, Lexington, Kentucky, July 19, 1903, page 6

    Ashland, Ore.--Please find enclosed $2.25 for Blade for next year and Dog Fennel in the Orient--twenty-five cents being for postage on the book. Please put me down for Dr. [J. B.] Wilson's Rome book. I know it will be great. I do enjoy his writings so much. His letters to the Blade from the different cities he visited in the month of October are just great. I think that as a descriptive writer he is as good as Samuel P. Putnam was. I once thought Putnam had not an equal along that line. I am like Miss L. M. Gibson; I want to know if there is no way to recover Girard College from the Christians. I think that is one of the first things that should be done for the cause. It is our duty to join hands and make the fight for it. Would it take too much money, as most of us are poor, and the ones who have do not care about such things? I hope to be able to give to [the] Rome Congress fund. With best wishes for the Blade family, I am yours.--MRS. A. DEPEATT.
    Ashland, Ore.--Enclosed please find $1 to continue the Blade that never gets dull. I found two new subscribers at 50 cents each, but could not make it five, so, for the present, I cannot make up the club. It is encouraging, indeed, to witness the increase of freethought. I believe there are twenty Liberals now where there was one four years ago in Southern Oregon. Please find stamps to cover mailing of Dog Fennel that never was pleasant to me until it came from the Orient. Now if you will send me [Grier] Kidder's Virgin Mary, "The Crimes of Preachers" and the Holy Bible in a Nutshell, with the bill, I will remit by return mail. Kind wishes to you and Bro. Hughes and all the staff.--WM. M. RICHARDS.
"Short Letters," Blue Grass Blade, Lexington, Kentucky, December 20, 1903, page 4

    Ashland, Ore.--I will take one of friend Wilson's books, for I regard him as one of the ablest and purest men that has ever taken the platform, and I would like to see him President; but believe that Socialism is going to succeed Republicanism. Its rapid growth is surprising to some and alarming to those in power, and endorsed by all fair-minded people.--Wm. M. RICHARDS.

Blue Grass Blade, Lexington, Kentucky, March 27, 1904, page 4

History S.O. Spiritual Society.
    I have been requested to write a short history for publication of the factors which contributed to the organization of the First Spiritual Society of Southern Oregon. At this time, when "Memorial Hall" is completed, and the event of dedication on April 2, 1905, to the cause of Spiritualism will be celebrated, this explanation will give the facts and also be a kind remembrance to two of Jackson County's old citizens.
    Mr. and Mrs. John Holton were early pioneers to the Pacific Coast. They came to Jackson County when the red men still laid claim to Rogue River Valley as a hunting ground. My acquaintance with Mr. Holton dates back about twenty years, and I soon found that he held (then to me) peculiar views about the future life. Mr. and Mrs. Holton were Spiritualists, and their knowledge of Spiritualism dated back to the Rochester rappings on March 31, 1848. They often told me, when they "passed over," as they called it, all their property should be donated to the promulgation of Spiritualism, and a hall with free rostrum for both men and women was their ideal.
    Others favorable to organization were Mr. and Mrs. L. E. Payne, of Ashland, also Mrs. M. J. Hockersmith, and on Nov. 24, 1888, we met at the farm home of John Holton, on Wagner Creek. I called the meeting to order, stated the object of this preliminary meeting, and John Holton was called to act as chairman and myself as secretary. Mr. and Mrs. John Holton again expressed their desire to give to an incorporated society which was legally organized under the laws of the state of Oregon, all their property, real and personal, and proposed that we incorporate under the name "The First Spiritual Society of Southern Oregon."
    Committee on incorporation, constitution and by-laws--Mrs. L. E. Payne, Mrs. M. J. Hockersmith and Wm. H. Breese, to report at the meeting to be held on Dec. 20, 1888, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Breese, to form a permanent organization.
    On Dec. 20, 1888, a permanent organization was perfected, and the following constitution adopted:
    Whereas, Experience has shown that knowledge can be more rapidly acquired by combination of effort than singly, we, whose names are hereto annexed, have agreed to form an association to be known as the First Spiritual Society of Southern Oregon, and for its better government do hereby establish the following constitution:
    Section 1.  The name, style and title of this Association shall be the First Spiritual Society of Southern Oregon, and our aim and object are set forth in the following declarations:
    Section 1.  We believe that there is a spirit world and that mankind in the way of evolutionary and progressive soul unfoldment do retain their individuality after that change takes place known as death; and we believe that if we observe certain psychological conditions, soul aspirations and sympathies, we may become connected with and receive communications and light by influx from such spirit world and they can return and communicate with us.
    Section 2.  We believe that the truth will never suffer by investigation; therefore, in order to get the best and most thorough information on all subjects we hereby declare that our rostrum and platform is free to all. Nobody shall be debarred from expressing his or her honest opinion on account of race, color, religion or sex.
    Section 3.  We believe that mere physical phenomena will not spiritualize mankind, and may be produced independently of the moral qualities of the medium, but that the higher phases of mediumship, consisting of the currents of inspirational speakers and writers, are dependent for their moral value and force upon the purity of the instrument through which they are transmitted, and consequently we hold all mediums or teachers who act in that capacity before the world to strict accountability for their moral conduct while acting in such capacity.
    Section 4.  We believe that "morality" is a relative term and progressive as humanity, and therefore this society will not prescribe special rules of moral conduct, leaving that to the individual conscience of its members.
    Signed by J. Holton, Mrs. H. C. Holton, R. T. Young, Mrs. A. E. Young, L. E. Payne, Mrs. L. E. Payne, Mrs. M. J. Hockersmith, Mrs. S. A. Morton, Mrs. M. J. Sherman, E. C. Payne, Miss A. J. Payne, Miss E. R. Young, J. B. Plummer, William H. Breese, H. C. Stock.
    Trustees elected for one year--R. T. Young, Medford; Mrs. L. E. Payne, Mrs. M. J. Hockersmith, Ashland; John Holton, W. H. Breese, Talent.
    Officers--R. T. Young, president; Mrs. L. E. Payne, vice president; Wm. H. Breese, secretary-treasurer.
    Since organization the society held regular quarterly meetings for social and intellectual purposes, whenever convenient. Mediums for physical phenomena have at different times served the society and presented tangible proof to the physical senses, that the ego, the intellectual, rational soul, survives the physical dissolution of the body. The philosophy of Spiritualism has been presented by able exponents of national reputation.
    The present board of trustees looks to the inauguration of a policy so that all prominent speakers and mediums of national reputation will stop at Ashland.
    The society at present has 57 members and many sympathizers, and we hope with regular Sunday meetings and a lyceum for children in our new hall we shall soon double our membership.
    Spiritualism is not an obscure belief today. The phenomena are subject to scientific demonstration. The proof to the physical senses of men, of a future life, rest on the phenomena of Spiritualism. Scientists and scholars recognize this and are investigating. Every day some prominent one steps into our ranks. The daily papers are publishing fair and exhaustive reports of our meetings.
    The philosophy of materialism, that all living organisms, together with intelligence and love, are expressions and developments of physical laws and forces, will soon be laid on the musty shelves. Spiritual philosophy and phenomena have accepted the challenge; this intellectual battle has got to be fought out between the agnostic scientist and the Spiritualist. The orthodox church lives only on tradition, and does not count in this contest and in this age of critical investigation. The age of "I believe" is past. It has fulfilled its mission and served its purpose. This age demands facts, and proof of the immortality of men. Spiritualism has the facts and proof, and courts investigation. Only on these lines can the church add "knowledge to their faith" and confidently meet the future, realizing that man has only one life and it belongs to two worlds.
                W. H. BREESE,
            Secretary 1st S. S. of S. Ore.
        J. E. SMITH, President.
Ashland Tidings, March 30, 1905, page 1

    WM. H. BREESE, Talent, Ore.--Enclosed find $1, which apply to expenses in your present fight for keeping out of the clutches of the postal inquisition. Would it not be well to quit harping on the "Right to be born well" and change it to "Right to be married well?" Physical materialism and materialistic theology have promulgated theories of sex, love and marriage which tend to make of the union of men and women only acts of nutrition and reproduction. The effort of Lucifer for women’s equality and freedom in all relations meets my hearty approval. Its puny efforts to throw discredit on legal marriage I do not endorse. I admit there is plenty to improve in our present legal marriage code, still it is the best the race has so far developed, and as soon as the forces for religious, social and economic reforms become conscious this will be attained. I wish to say that the root of all matrimonial unhappiness lies outside and prior to legal marriage. The man and woman married by natural laws will not condemn the legal code; it is only those whom nature divorces who will rebel against the legal code. Whenever we teach and raise the ideal of marriage to nature's standard, two human beings attuned physically, mentally and spiritually on the same key of vibration, we have the perfect marriage, and in such the "right to be born well" is safeguarded. Hoping you will come out all right in your present trial.
Lucifer the Light Bearer, Valley Falls, Kansas, October 29, 1905, pages 6-7

    In No. 1051 W. H. Breese says: "I admit there is plenty to improve in our present legal marriage code, still it is the best the race has so far developed." What constitutes a good marriage code, if such a thing there be, is a matter of opinion, but Mr. Breese approves of "women's equality and freedom," so I presume he would test a marriage code by that standard. Let us apply his test to the facts.
Lucifer the Light Bearer, Valley Falls, Kansas, November 23, 1905, page 3

From an Old Worker.
    Ashland, Oregon, Jas. E. Hughes--"A Trip to Rome" by Dr. Wilson received. You will please find enclosed $1.15 for book and postage, as I don't think it just to you to let you pay the postage. I have not read very much of it yet, but from what I know of the Doctor's writing, I will get my money's worth of information. I think he is the finest descriptive writer we have.
    I was sorry to hear of the death of C. C. Moore; did not agree with him in much of his writing, but there was one thing that I did admire, and that was [that] he could not be intimidated. Wishing for you everlasting success in the cause.--MRS. A. DEPEATT.
Blue Grass Blade, Lexington, Kentucky, August 12, 1906, page 7

Last revised November 9, 2019