Alden, Willard (1800–1878)(religion, spiritualism, and occult)
Willard Alden owned land beside Lake Cassadaga in upstate New York, where Spiritualists first started holding regular meetings in 1871. He married Corintha Wilcox on September 27, 1832, in Cassadaga, Chautauqua, New York. They had two children: Theodore Cleremont (b. 1833) and Theodosia Augusta (b. 1835).
The Spiritualist meetings started as simple picnics to which Alden invited fellow Spiritualists. They were for fun and socializing, but soon grew more serious. Willard Alden became more and more serious about Spiritualism and engaged Lyman C. Howe, a prominent proponent of and lecturer on Spiritualism, to speak at a meeting on Sunday June 15, 1873. At that time Alden’s Grove was dedicated to the special care of the Spiritualists. A series of popular one-day events featuring lectures and discussions with prominent speakers continued for four years.
In 1877 Jeremiah Carter, at the behest of a spirit voice he kept hearing, prevailed upon Alden to arrange a camp meeting, which was held from Tuesday, September 11 until Sunday, September 16, 1877. Annual camp meetings followed, with the second one running for an additional ten days. At that time Alden’s Grove was fenced in and a cottage was built on the property. The camp meetings ran regularly until Alden’s death in 1878 and then continued under the aegis of his son Theodore Alden.