Koons, Jonathan

Koons, Jonathan

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Jonathan Koons is best remembered as the inventor of the trumpet used in many Spiritualist séances. He was an early American medium who lived in Millfield Township, Ohio. In 1852, he became interested in Spiritualism and was told by spirit that he was “the greatest medium on earth.” Koons had eight children and was also told that each of them, even the seven-month-old baby, had special psychic gifts.

Koons built a log cabin for the spirits. It was one large room, sixteen feet by twelve, and was equipped with every possible noisemaking device. These were all used during the course of a sitting, which was frequently presided over by oldest son Nahum, aged eighteen. Nahum would sit at the “spirit table” with rows of benches in front of him for the sitters. When the lights were extinguished there would be a cacophony of sound, with the banging of drums, shrieking of whistles, and even the firing of pistols. Materialized hands and faces were seen in the light of phosphorized paper. These hands carried objects around. Cone-shaped megaphone trumpets floated overhead, with the voices of the spirits coming from them. The voices would call out the names of the sitters, even if they had tried to hide their identity, and give pertinent messages proving survival after death. Although seventy miles from the closest town, the Koons’ spirit house was always full, with people coming from states all around Ohio.

As many as 165 spirits were usually in attendance. According to Nandor Fodor, these spiritis claimed to belong “to a race of men known under the generic title Adam (red clay), antedating the theological Adam by thousands of years.” Fodor said they were most ancient angels. One of them was named Oress and instructed the circle. They signed themselves in any written communications (automatic writing) as “King No. 1,” “King No. 2,” “King No. 3,” etc, and sometimes as “Servant of God” or “Scholar of God.” The main “King” claimed to be the pirate Henry Morgan. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle mentions John King speaking at a Koons séance in 1855. The spirit John King seems to have spoken to or through a large number of different mediums at different times.

The messages of these spirits were collected by investigator Dr. J. Everett and published under the title Communications From Angels. He also published a chart of the spheres, drawn by Nahum Koots while in trance, and affidavits testifying to the phenomena. In 1852, Charles Partridge visited the spirit house and wrote a report for the Spiritual Telegraph. In it he said,

The spirit room holds from twenty to thirty people. After the Circle is formed and the lights extinguished, a tremendous blow is struck by the drumstick, when immediately the bass and tenor drums are beaten with preternatural power, like calling the roll on a muster field, making a thousand echoes. The rapid and tremendous blows on these drums are really frightful to many persons; it is continued for five minutes or more and when ended, ‘King’ usually takes up the trumpet, salutes us with ‘Good evening, friends,’ and asks what particular manifestations are desired. After the introductory piece on the instruments, the spirits sang to us. They first requested us to remain perfectly silent; then we heard human voices singing, apparently in the distance, so as to be scarcely distinguishable; the sounds gradually increased, each part relatively, until it appeared as if a full choir of voices were singing in our room most exquisitely. I think I never heard such perfect harmony. Spirit hands and arms were formed in our presence several times, and by aid of a solution of phosphorous, prepared at their request by Mr. Koons, they were seen as distinctly as in a light room.

The tremendous din of the drums and other instruments could be heard a mile away from the spirit house. Perhaps not surprisingly, Koons’s neighbors did not take well to this. The house was often attacked by unruly mobs; barns, outbuildings, and crops were set on fire, and the Koons children were frequently beaten. Eventually the family left the area and wandered the country as Spiritualist missionaries for many years.

Interestingly, a neighboring family named Tippie were very similar. They, too, had a spirit house that they constructed to the same pattern as that of the Koons family. The John Tippie family had ten children and every one of them was supposedly a medium. Manifestations took place in the Tippie house, which were almost identical to those in the Koons house.


Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: The History of Spiritualism.
New York: Doran, 1926 Fodor, Nandor: Encyclopedia of Psychic Science. London: Arthurs Press, 1933
Kosmon Church see Newbrough, Dr. John Ballou