Livermore, Charles F.

Livermore, Charles F.

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Charles F. Livermore was a successful New York banker whose wife Estelle died in 1860. As a Spiritualist, Livermore believed that it was possible to contact Estelle. He asked Kate Fox, one of the Fox Sisters, if she would be the medium to make contact for him. In 1861, Kate agreed to do this. By that time Margaret Fox had married and Leah had remarried; both retiring from professional mediumship. Kate was the only one of the three Fox Sisters to continue mediumship at that time.

Kate Fox was engaged to hold séances exclusively for Livermore. She worked for him for five years, holding nearly 400 séances, mostly at Livermore’s home. A number of prominent people attended these sittings. Precautions were taken, such as the locking of all doors and windows, and careful records were kept. Kate, for the first time, began to produce materializations. However, it was not until the forty-third séance that Estelle materialized. As a materialized form, she was not able to speak more than a few words. Communication took place mainly by rappings and automatic writing. Both Estelle and another spirit form claiming to be Ben Franklin wrote on special cards provided by Livermore. While Estelle wrote, Kate’s hands were held securely by one of the sitters. Livermore claimed that the handwriting on the card was the same as his wife’s.

At the 388th séance in 1866, Estelle announced that she would not be returning. Livermore showed his gratitude to Kate for all her years of service by giving her a trip to England, which she undertook in 1871. According to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “He [Livermore] provided for all her needs, and thus removed any necessity for her to give professional sittings. He also arranged for her to be accompanied by a congenial woman companion.”

Livermore himself said, in a letter to Spiritualist Benjamin Coleman, “Miss Fox, taken all in all, is no doubt the most wonderful living medium. Her character is irreproachable and pure. I have received so much through her powers of mediumship during the past ten years which is solacing, instructive and astounding, that I feel greatly indebted to her, and desire to have her taken good care of while absent from her home and friends.”


Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: The History of Spiritualism. New York: Doran, 1926
Stemman, Roy: The Supernatural: Spirits and Spirit Worlds. London: Aldus, 1975
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