Williams, Sophia (Chicago, mid 20th Century): Direct voice medium USA
An amateur Chicago, Ill. direct voice medium, Sophia Williams was involved in the famous “Mystery of the Buried Crosses” case as reported by researcher Hamlin Garland in his 1939 book of that name.
Garland reported that in 1934 he was given some 1,500 crosses and other artifacts allegedly unearthed by Gregory and Violet Parent between 1914 and 1924. He was told that Mrs. Parent began communicating with “dead souls” in 1914, just after she recovered from a serious illness. The communicating spirits directed her to buried treasures and artifacts all over southern and central California. They were said to be buried by North American Indians during the missionary period of California. He was informed that there were more crosses and artifacts to be found. Sometime around July 1937, Garland selected Williams, who did not charge for her services, to help him in his search.
Unlike most direct-voice mediums, Williams did not require darkness and did not go into a trance. She would place the larger end of a megaphone against her breast while Garland would listen for voices at the smaller end and relay them to a stenographer. In his very first “sitting” with Williams, Garland was greeted by one of his oldest friends, Henry B. Fuller, who had helped him research cases of mediumship when he was alive. Always on the lookout for fraud, Garland wondered if Williams had read of Fuller in one of his books. A few minutes later, another voice was heard. The spirit identified himself as Lorado, his wife’s brother, who had died the prior year.
Garland noted that Fuller called him by his last name, while Lorado addressed him by his first name, exactly as they had done when they were alive. He further noted that the voices, which were high in vibration, sometimes seemed to be coming from the megaphone and at other times from the air above the medium’s head.
The most convincing evidence came when a voice addressed the stenographer, Gaylord Beaman. “Gay, this is Harry,” the voice was heard. When asked for a last name, “Friedlander” was given. The astonished Beaman explained to Garland that Harry Friedlander was a friend who died in a plane crash in San Francisco Bay. The spirit then gave some details concerning the crash. Garland was certain that Williams knew nothing of Beaman and could not have researched this information beforehand.
Two days later, the second sitting took place. Garland first heard a voice say, “This is Turck, Dr. Turck.” Turck went on to tell Garland that he (Turck) was an “old fool” for having called Garland’s psychical research so much “humbuggery” when he was alive. Here again, Garland concluded that the medium could have known nothing about Turck’s attitude, which had been expressed at a luncheon.
When the voice changed, Garland asked the speaker to identify himself. “Doyle,” the voice replied. It was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, another psychical researcher known to Garland when he was alive. Doyle said that Sir William Crookes and Dr. Gustave Geley, two more famous psychical researchers who had died, were there with him. They all spoke and said they were there to help Garland communicate with their side of the veil. Geley began speaking in French until Garland told him that he was not fluent in French. Geley then switched to English. Professor William James also spoke, but Garland was unable to understand what James was saying.
More spirits came, including one who identified himself as Harry Carr, another of Beaman’s friends. Carr asked Beaman to contact his friend Lee Shippey to see if his manuscript might now be published. Here again, this was highly evidential as the names and information were well beyond the scope of research.
At the direction of spirits who spoke through the medium’s megaphone, Garland and Williams traveled hundreds of miles through southern and central California and Mexico searching for more artifacts. They discovered 16 artifacts similar to those found by Gregory and Violet Parent. The spirits would tell them where to drive, where to walk, and then where to dig. Twelve of the 16 artifacts are now on display at the West Salem Historical Society Museum in Wisconsin.
In 1946, Sophia Williams authored a book, You are Psychic, in which she discussed various types of mediumship, including her own.