He was tall, blond, 40, and easy on the eye. He was once a Baptist minister, but then he “discovered his powers.” And he had the exquisitely inappropriate name Christian Christensen.
In 1914, he was also the proprietor of “The Psychological Research Society” which was headquartered in downtown Hoboken, New Jersey. And here, he made demonstrations of his ability to talk to the dead.
Mr. Christensen attracted an ever-increasing flock, to the point that he moved his lectures to the Odd Fellows Hall. That turned out to be a ghastly error, as the local police began to attend. The policemen recognized him, as he’d given a lecture in Hoboken the year before – on exposing the tricks of mediums.
The policemen stood in the middle of Mr. Christensen’s lecture. “That’ll be about enough. Just get your hat and coat and come down to headquarters with us.” An uproar followed the popular seer straight into the courthouse when the local prosecutor dusted off the oldest books in the law library and charged Christian Christensen with “teaching and practicing witchcraft.” An estimated forty women crammed the courtroom to testify to his psychic powers and to warn officials of the dire consequences of meddling with him.
The curtain closes on this courtroom drama here, as I could not find an article that mentions the sentence imposed by the court. Presumably Mr. Chrisensen stopped talking to the dead in public. Something about the story suggests his private behavior changed little.
From the Washington Post, Jan. 9, 1914: “Jailed As A Wizard; Women Plead for Ex-Minister Accused of Witchcraft.”