Blake, Elizabeth

Blake, Elizabeth (d. 1920)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Born in Bradrick, Ohio, Elizabeth Blake displayed mediumistic abilities from childhood. She was a strongly religious member of the Methodist Church but was expelled from it because of her mediumship. Blake specialized in direct voice séances. For these she used a long trumpet, two feet in length. The small end of the trumpet was placed against her ear and the large, bell end at the sitter’s ear. The voices that came from the trumpet were very loud and often could be heard from as far away as a hundred feet.

Blake had no hesitation in submitting herself for testing by researchers. Professor James Hyslop investigated Blake and quickly became convinced of her genuineness. Hyslop said of Blake’s voice séances, “The loudness of the sounds in some cases excludes the supposition that the voices are conveyed from the (medium’s) vocal cords to the trumpet. I have heard the sounds twenty feet away, and could have heard them forty or fifty feet away, and Mrs. Blake’s lips did not move.” Hyslop gave details of a case where the spirit voice gave the correct solution for opening a combination lock to a safe, the combination being unknown to the sitter.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle referred to her as “one of the most wonderful voice mediums of whom we have any record, and perhaps the most evidential, because in her presence the voices were regularly produced in broad daylight.” Doyle described her as a poor, illiterate woman living on the shore of the Ohio River opposite the town of Huntingdon, in West Virginia.

Blakes’s medical doctor, who was also the superintendent of the West Virginia Asylum at Huntingdon, Dr. L. V. Guthrie stated, “I have had sittings with her in my office, also on the front porch in the open air, and on one occasion in a carriage as we were driving along a road. She has repeatedly offered to let me have a sitting and use a lamp chimney instead of a tin horn (trumpet), and I have frequently seen her produce the voices with her hand resting on one end of the horn.” Dr. Guthrie, in his writings, gave a number of instances of Blake’s mediumship. One instance was when the grandfather of the sitter came through to give details of his death. It had been presumed that the old man had been drunk and fallen from a bridge, but the spirit described how he had been bludgeoned by two men, robbed, and thrown from the bridge. The details given of the two men enabled the police to find, arrest, and convict them.


Awtry-Smith, Marilyn: “They” Paved the Way. New York: Spiritualism & More, nd
Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: The History of Spiritualism. New York: Doran, 1926