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Everything Oahspe - About Oahspe Origin and History of Oahspe - Written by Jim Dennon January 13, 2010

Kosmon Voice 111 February-March 1990

by Jim Dennon

Most of us want the truth and facts, whatever they are, and appreciate their publication. From my Oahspe and Shalam History according to those who were there, (1985), this chronology reveals details about the subject of Lloyd Kinder's open letter in the American Faithist Journal, (September/October 1989), and "The Old Trunk" article by Anon in the English Kosmon Unity, aune 1989).

John Ballou Newbrough was born near Mohicanville, Ohio on June 5, 1828 to William Newbrough and Elizabeth Polsley, who were Universalists. aohn's middle name was after the Universalist minister, Hosea Ballou.) When he was 16 (in 1844), John began working his way through Cleveland Medical College as a dental assistant to Dr. F. S. Slosson. In 1848 when gold was discovered in California, he decided to go. He and his Scotsman gold field partner, John Turnbull, were successful in California and afterward mined gold in Australia also.

Dr. Newbrough was a writer, poet and author during three decades before publishing Oahspe. His first novel was a 600-page book about his experiences in the California Gold Rush: The Lady 4 the West, or The Gold Seekers, printed at Cincinnati, Ohio in 1855 (a love story during the adventure). That was also the year he graduated from the Ohio College of Dental Surgery in Cincinnati.
He next authored a book of poetry, Woman's Will! versus Man's Wish!, at New York City in 1859.
Newbrough disapproved of women wearing makeup, wearing pants or men's clothing, doing men's work, voting or participating in politics. Dr. Newbrough married Rachel Tumbull, sister of his gold field partner, on February 24, 1860 in the Presbyterian Church at Jedburgh, Scotland. The Newbroughs settled at 128 West 34th Street in New York City where Dr. Newbrough practiced dentistry for twenty years. They had three children: one died in infancy, their son William was a civil engineer, and their daughter an artist.

In 1865, Dr. Newbrough published A Catechism on Human Teeth, for his patients to read in his waiting room. He devoted several pages about his use of nitrous oxide gas. The patient inhaled a bag of six gallons in two to three minutes, while Dr. Newbrorlgh extracted up to 15 teeth. Other dentists had lost two or three patients using gas, which (on page 14) he attributed to "poisonous breath left in the bag from other folks".
In 1867, J. B. Newbrough completed his second novel, The Fall of Fort Sumpter, or Love and War in 1860-61, published by Frederic A. Brady, New York, based on events between the Republican national convention in May 1860, and Lincoln's call for 75,000 troops in April, 1861. Criticized in the novel is a woman who advocates equal political and sexual rights, and lives with a man but retains her surname.

On March 20, 1872, one of Newbrough's dental patients, Mrs. Shaughnessy, died from suffocation after he gave her nitrous oxide gas. Subsequently, Newbrough consulted mediums, recording answers to his questions in Spiritalis, or Spirits Interviewed, in 1874.

Dr. Newbrough was a 33rd degree Mason, and an avid student of the world's religions. He was particularly fond of the two volume 20-year work on the origin of religions and languages, Anacalypsis, by Godfrey Higgins (1836), and made many notes in the margins.

Dr. Newbrough went on a vegetarian diet he thought necessary for contacting spirits on higher planes for a more comprehensive book. And he became interested (with others) in helping the 7,000 orphans dying annually in the streets of New York City. The new manuscript was ready in 1881.

Dr. Newbrough commissioned John A. Lant, a printer at 207-209 West 41st Street in New York City. Lant made inked proof pages of over 500 pages that he had typeset for Dr. Newbrough, which he saved away.

Dr. Newbrough informed Lant that after writing nearly a whole work of Oahspe, he destroyed ii and began over again. Therefore, lohn LanYs Oahspe plates were never used. About eighty of the proof pages survived known as The Book of Knowledge, alearlier

Version of the Book of Ben in Oahspe. A few other Lant pages exist, some of Saphah and one of Sethantes. An associate of Dr. Newbrough's, Waiter Lockwood helped edit the 1882 Oahspe, which differed from the 1881 Lant pages version. Afterward, Lockwood received some money toward starting a Faithist orphanage at Anaheim, California.

In September 1882 the already edited version of Oahspe was printed privately by the "Oahspe Publishing Association", a print shop financed in part by the temperance author, Elizabeth Thompson, whose books were also printed there.

His January 27, 1883 letter explaining how he wrote Oahspe on his typewriter during 52 weeks in 1881, appeared in both the American Banner of Light, and the English Medium and Daybreak (March 2, 1883) spiritualist journals. Dr.Newbrough said he received eleven thousand dollars from several anonymous donors, plus an additional three thousand dollars from friends to publish Oahspe.

In the fall of 1882 and spring of 1883, Dr.Newbrough organized the Oahspe Lodge of Faithists in New York City to promote the Shalam orphanage plan. His associate and assistant was Miss Frances Vandewater, whom he called "Sister Frank". Dr. Newbrough rented an upper flat with six rooms for Miss Vandewater, where they took in six orphans (but two died).

Dr. Newbrough sent copies of Oahspe to the editors of the Banner 4 Light in Boston, and the Medium and Daybreak in London. James Burns, editor of the Medium and Daybreak, announced Oahspe to his readers on December 1, 1882 and for a few years advertised and sold the 1882 edition of Oahspe in England, plus published portions of Oahspe, articles about it, and letters from Oahspe readers. One of the readers and letter writers was James Watson Jr. of Glasgow, Scotland, who pined Newbrough's venture at Shalam, Dona Ana, New Mexico, in 1884. Some years afterward he married the Shalam schoolteacher, Nellie Jones.

A prospectus entitled A Sketch of the Faithists was printed in 1883, which included the Book of Zemers not in Oahspe. It publicized the convention of Faithists held in New York on November 24th, 25th and 26th, 1883, the minutes of which were published in the 1884 Gospels of Oahspe, (in which the Book of Discipline first appeared, and a number of publisher's notes and footnotes not in Oahspe).

Dr. Newbrough fathered a daughter, Justine, born January 1, 1884 to Miss Vandewater (then using the name Mrs. Sweet, and named her daughter Edith Sweet for a time). On April 14, 1884 Newbrough's wife ordered him to leave their house at 128 West 34th Street in New York City.

Newbrough and Frances Vandewater Sweet moved to a farm at Pearl River, New York, which by-March 1990 they named "Camp Hored", the staging place for founding Shalam as outlined in Oahspe.

Newbrough wrote an additional manuscript, The Government and By-Laws of Faithist Fraternities, which accommodated his marital status for entering Shalam. Resident members were called the "inner council"; non-resident financial supporters the "outer council".

Newbrough designated July 26, 1884 as the "Holy Kosmon Day" (Inspiration XVIII:I). On that day, Andrew M. Howland, a wealthy Boston businessman and heir of Sylvia Ann Howland and her niece, Hetty Howland Robinson Green his double cousin), visited "Camp Hored" and promised to fund the project as Treasurer of the Outer Council. In Howland's presence that day, the volunteers covenanted as members of the Inner Council, with Dr. Newbrough their leader (C'Chief). (In 1888, Howland testified that he first read Oahspe in the spring of 1883, after which he corresponded with Dr. Newbrough and they first met at Boston in October, 1883.)With a thousand dollars from Andrew Howland, Dr. Newbrough and Joseph Grill went on a search by train to California to find land for Shalam. On August 25, 1884, a telegram was received from Dr. Newbrough that he "had discovered Shalam". A letter followed that it was at Dona Ana, near Las Cruces. Dr. Newbrough alone returned to New Mexico with Andrew Howland's money and on October 4, 1884 purchased the land from John and Josefa Barncastle for $2,250, deeded to Howland. Not questioning the southwest desert choice differing from the timbered location described in Oahspe, the volunteers left Pearl River, New York on October 15th and arrived at Dona Ana, New Mexico on October 19th, 1884.

The Shalam volunteers were not told of the financial arrangement between Newbrough and Howland for financing Shalam. They assumed Howland was donating the land for their community. When Dr. Reuben Carter, a professional colleague of Newbrough's, arrived on March 29, 1885, he visited the Dona Ana Courthouse and discovered there was no legal organization and Howland was the sole owner of the property. This news upset the volunteers at Shalam, and they asked that the property be conveyed to them as a legal organization.
Subsequently, Shalam was organized as 'The First Church of Tae" in December, 1885 when members signed Articles of Incorporation and a

Deed of Trust drawn up by Andrew Howland at Boston. The property was conveyed to the corporation conditionally: only two vegetarian meals daily, not less than five new orphans taken in monthly, no outside help permitted, and upon written demand paying Howland all the money he had invested. Signing, as incorporators were John 8. Newbrough, Harold Sandburg, Gustave Percival (Percy) Wiksell, Mattie Patterson, James Watson Jr·, Joseph Grill, Arthur L. Whiteside, William L. Jones, William T. Vance, Mary P. Davis, Charles B. Hughens, Issac F. Wilson, Frances V.Sweet, Nellie F. Jones, Jesse M. Ellis, William Wells, John P. Wells, John B. Ross, Helena Tyerrulunel, Sarah Wells, Martha Wells, Catherine Shaw, Henry S. Tanner and Lydia A. Hutchinson.
(Recorded in the Book of Deeds No. 7, pages 101-103, Dona Ana County, N.M.) Howland sold his wool business in Boston and arrived to live in Shalam on February 13, 1886.
But Howland never joined the "The Church of Tae". The volunteers thought he would become a covenanted member like themselves, and donate the land, but he did not. Instead of the cooperative project they volunteered for, they found themselves legally and financially obligated to Howland. According to court testimony, there were disagreements about allowing mistresses in the community, and Dr. Newbrough spanking member's children without parental consent.
Disenchanted and dissatisfied, the members held a meeting on March 12, 1886 and sent a petition to Dr. Newbrough asking him to give them the fraternal government he had promised.
That same day, Howland revoked the Deed of Trust to take the property back from the corporation and demanded payment of $37,282.18 from the members. The board of trustees John Newbrough, Frances Sweet, Henry Tanner, Joseph Grill and Jesse Ellis) returned the property to Howland on March 13, 1886.

On March 15, 1886, Andrew Howland issued written eviction orders to five members who were forced to leave. Subsequently, all members departed except Dr. Newbrough, Mrs. Sweet, Joseph Grill, Mattie Patterson and Henry Tanner. New volunteers were sought.

On July 9, 1886, Dr. Newbrough sued for divorce from Rachel Turnbull, (Dona Ana County, New Mexico civil case No. 952). The divorce was granted on October 6, 1886.

On January 22 1857 three of the former members sued Dr. Newbrough and Andrew Howland: Jesse M. Ellis, civil case 1050; Arthur L. Whiteside, civil case 1051; and Harold Sandburg, civil case 1052. Ellis alleged he was deceived and injured by false, fraudulent and deceitful writings pretending a foundation on sound principles of morality and purity, and alleged that Newbrough was at the same time living a life of impurity, immorality and dishonor. He charged Newbrough with subjecting himself and his children to great personal tyranny and servility.

On September 28, 1887, John B. Newbrough and Frances Vandewater Sweet were married at Shalam. Also during 1887, Dr. Newbrough wrote the Book of Gratiyus, Founding of Leviticus, in which he mentioned the members leaving Shalam (1:21) and the lawsuits (V:6).

In November, 1887, Howland sent the Newbrough's and most members to New Orleans until the trial was over. The Newbrough's established a baby receiving home on the corner of Clay and Patton Streets where they lived from 1887 until 1890.
The trial was postponed several times because Dr. Newbrough was not present, but was finally scheduled to convene on May 3, 1888 anyway. On April 29, 1888 the one remaining member at Shalam, Dr. Henry S. Tanner, left on the northbound train. Legally the property owner but not a member, Andrew Howland alone stood trial, which took Place in Las Cruces, New Mexico on May 3, 4 and. 5, 1888. On May 5, 1888 the jury returned a guilty verdict and assessed damages of $1~00. (On appeal the verdict was set aside on August 19, 1891. New Mexico Supreme Court Case 386, Report of 1896, (pages 182-191.)

Still in New Orleans during 1889, Dr.Newbrough published a monthly magazine called The Castaway publicizing the Shalam orphanage, seeking babies and volunteers. Nine issues were published from March to and including November, 1889. In the July 1889 issue, Newbrough Mote: "We have fifty-eight years yet ahead [by 1947] to get ready in. At or before that time all the present governments, religions, and all monied monopolies are to be overthrown and to go out of existence.

The typewritten Oahspe manuscript (with pages of pencil drawn plates) was kept in an oak box at Shalam. While Andrew Howland was alone at Shalam from 1888 to 1890, he made revision notes in an 1882 Oahspe subsequently used by the Boston printer to publish the 1891 second edition.

"Not in 0." was a recurring note in the revisions, thought to mean "Not in Original manuscript" However, following one such note was "let this stand as it is". For years, the 1882 Oahspe with Howland's revision notes was in storage at Fl Paso, Texas. In 1972 it was donated to the New Mexico State University Library, Rio Grande Collections, at Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Howland's revision notes appear close to, if not the same as the handwriting in the 1882 Oahspe plates. (Research requiring a handwriting expert.) From 1881 until Newbrough died, Oahspe manuscripts were written and revised. He died of influenza (la grippe) on April 22, 1891 before the second edition of Oahspe was printed in Boston, and before the New Mexico Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the District Court on August 19, 1891.

Andrew Howland married Frances Vandewater Newbrough at Shalam on June 25, 1893. (He had been married before and had a daughter in Boston, May Howland Leroy.) Between 1891 and 1907, Howland lost the rest of his fortune trying to implement Levitica. They adopted a few orphans; most were sent elsewhere before they left Shalam on November 30, 1907. They visited Long Beach, California until June 25, 1908 then moved to El Paso, Texas where they resided at 1118 Rio Grande and 1019 East Rio Grande Street. In 1909, Newbrough's daughter, Justine B, did another printing of Oahspe under copyright. Newbrough. Although the Howlands continued to sell Oahspe from their home, they had switched their faith to New Thought (Unity) before Howland died on April 10, 1917, and his wife on January 3, 1922.

In 1898, Franklin P. White, a former participant in Howland's Levitica community, returned home and founded a Denver Fraternity. His wife, Clara E. White, was a medium and claimed to restore Oahspe to its true, unrevised form which they published under the! title Romance of the Red Star, A Biography of the Earth. It included a chapter they said was omitted from Oahspe. Although "corrected" and renamed, their version violated the copyright of Oahspe sold by the Howlands.
(Dorothy Wills of our research group located the book in a Colorado library and obtained a photocopy which we donated to the New Mexico State University Library historical archives in memory of Harry O. Hilton.) On April 5, 1902,'The Brotherhood of Light Society" was organized in Denver, Colorado. The inner council was composed of Louis W. Van Dyke (C'Chief), Mary A. Elliott (Se<3·etary), Fred A. Sutor, Minnie E. Wheeler, Albert A. and Grace A. Bass, and George Clarke Rose. Chief and Secretary of the Outer Council was Nelson K. Standart, an optician at 255 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, Michigan. Also 9 member of the outer council was the first Oahspe printer, John A. Lent, then residing at 4265 Easton Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri. In 1909 at the request of the American Society for Psychical Research investigating the origin of Oahspe, Nelson Standart recorded the information about the origin of Oahspe he received from Lant (a copy of which I obtained from Dr. Newbrough's grand nephew in 1963). Dr. James Hyslop of the Society asked Nelson Standart to send all of the Lant proof sheets, but Standart refused to let them out of his organization's archives. A few days after mailing the Lant information, he requested those notes back. But Hyslop was permitted to keep a photograph of Dr. Newbrough and the Lant proof sheet accompanying the notes.

The Brotherhood of Light Society first took in orphans on a farm near Denver, and later moved to Arboles, Arhuleta County, Colorado (on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation). The orphanage operated for a number of years. When some of the orphans were 14 years old, George Rose took them on a tour of Los Angeles, and recorded their trip activities in a log.

In October, 1909, Standart said his organization had between 500 and 600 of the Lant proof sheets, plus a considerable number of duplicates, and some of the paper matrices used to cast the metal plates as well. He had them in his own possession for a number of years, then sent them to their headquarters at Arboles, Colorado. Standart mailed one duplicate proof sheet and the Book of Sethantes to the American Society for Psychical Research, and another to J. Nelson Jones, author of Thaumat-Oahspe, in Australia. Years later, Wing Anderson acquired about 80 (duplicates?) of the Lant proof sheets, now known as The Book of Knowledge, plus some pages of the original Book of Saphah not in Oahspe. Where the collection of over 500 proof sheets and paper matrices are, if they survived, is yet unknown (another research project).

The Lant proofs version of Oahspe preceded the typewritten manuscript Howland used to compare the 1882 Oahspe with while revising it for the 1891 edition. This confirms Lint's information that Dr. Newbrough abandoned an earlier manuscript for a revised one, which became the 1882 edition. Many of the Lant proofs verses are worded differently, and use more "Panic" words such as Chad for God. Substitution of English for "Panic" words was acknowledged in the publisher's remarks preceding the 1882 version of the Book of Ben. Not only were words substituted in the 1882 Oahspe, information was changed, and material was omitted.

The Confraternity of Faithists in London, England began publishing the 1891 edition of Oahspe from smaller plates and with English spelling of words like colour, in 1909 or 1910.

In 1934, Wing Anderson purchased the Oahspe copyright, Printing plates, and 2,700 unbound books from Dr. Newbrough's daughter, and published the bite sized 1891 edition. As new owner of the Oahspe copyright, Anderson warned Franklin White to stop selling Romance 4 the Red Star.

Anderson helped Newbrough's daughter (Justine Newbrough, who married W. B. Williams and had three children, divorced and changed her name to Jone Howlind) relocate to Southern California in 1938. For a time, he employed the family in his book selling business. The relationship became strained, however, because Jone wanted no contact with readers of Oahspe.
When Anderson interviewed her on March 20, 1960 about Oahspe and Shalam history, she said that was the last she would ever talk to him about Based on Newbrough's forecast of world conditions in 1947, Wing Anderson wrote and successfully marketed a series of prophecy books during the World War II years. He established his Essenes of Kosmon community at North Salt Lake in 1944. Utah would not permit the organization to adopt children, so he moved the project to Colorado, but the Utah problem followed them. Wing and Lillian Anderson personally adopted two boys, Karl and Thor. He disbanded his organization in 1957.

In 1960, Ray Palmer (Amherst Press) began printing the green covered facsimiles of the 1882 Oahspe edition, which are still sold. After Wing Anderson died at Fallen, Nevada in 1970, his 1891 edition of Oahspe went out of print, but the English version of the 1891 edition is still available.
What really happened to the typewritten Oahspe manuscript? In 1909, Nelson Standart wrote to Andrew Howland requesting information about the origin of Oahspe for an investigation by Dr. James H. Hyslop of the American Society for Psychical Research.

Howland had Justine 8. Newbrough write the Society directly, promising her full cooperation. But instead, she deliberately burned her father's paintings (1960 interview). The half-truth cover story told to Percy Wiksell, K. D. Stoes and others was that the paintings and Oahspe manuscript had been crated in their El Paso home basement for shipment to the American Society for Psychical Research in New York City, when a flash flood came down from nearby Mount Franklin and destroyed them all, so they were burned as rubbish. But Jone Howlind Justine Newbrough) said in 1960 she destroyed them by fire on purpose (which prevented the A.S.P.R. from examining the originals). Between 1909 and 1917,Mrs. Howland and Justine Newbrough answered letters promising to cooperate with the A.S.P.R. investigation, but never did.

A subsequent effort by an adopted Howland daughter to replace the typewritten manuscript indicates she may have participated in its deliberate destruction. The children at Shalam were given Oahspe names. Justine Newbrough-Howland's was Etisyai. Her adopted sister's name was Nin'ya (Nin). Nin was born Louise Howard on October 15, 1888 in New Orleans, and married Alfred J. Carpenter, an El Paso plumber, on June 5 1915. In an effort to replicate the original, she laboriously typed an Oahspe manuscript and made pencil drawings of the plates. One page was a sample of the typewriting. It was intended to pass as the original manuscript, and it did. Her manuscript was donated to the Centennial Museum of the Texas Western College (which is now the University of Texas at El Paso) in 1949 by Louise (Howard?) Cantrell. The museum acquisition was reported in the EI Paso Herald on July 28, 1950 as being the genuine original Oahspe manuscript.
The university transferred the manuscript from the museum to their library on September 21,1975 but the college couldn't find it for Ray Palmer in 1974. Dorothy Wills continued Palmer's quest for the manuscript in 1981. She founded our Oahspe Research Group (Dorothy Wills, Linda Blazer, Jim Dennon). We asked the UTEP Library staff to keep looking. They moved into a new library building. But the manuscript eluded discovery until it turned up in a box during Kosmon inventory on February 5, 1987. After all our effort and wait, it was Nin Carpenter's typewriting; not Newbrough's original manuscript. Despite the disappointing outcome, our group added to the knowledge of Oahspe and Shalam history by locating records and photographs and contributing them to the New Mexico State University Library, Rio Grande Historical Collections.

Dr. James H. Hyslop of the American Society for Psychical Research was favorably inclined toward Dr. Newbrough and Oahspe. If Nelson Standart, Andrew Howland, Frances Newbrough-Howland and Justine B. Newbrough had cooperated with him, the over 500 John A. Lant proof sheets and the original typewritten Oahspe manuscript, as well as Dr. Newbrough's paintings would all be safe in the A.S.P.R. archives today.

The old saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater, is worth taking into account relative to Oahspe and its history. Everything in the Universe proves the Great Spirit. In our short ride on this planet we are all wondering about the same things; particularly about what happens to us after death.

-Jim Dennon


  • A Sketch of the Faithists including the Book of Zemerrs (1883), and the 1882 Oahspe containing revision notes by Andrew Howland (1890), New Mexico State University Library, Rio Grande Collections, Las Cruces, N.M.
  • John A. Lant information, notes by Nelson K. Standart (1909), Detroit, Michigan. (Confirmed by Lant's handwritten notes in Newbrough's Woman's Wish poetry book, University of Virginia.)
  • Oahspe Research File (1908-1918), American Society for Psychical Research, Inc., New York, N.Y.
  • Oahspe manuscript typewritten by Mrs. Alfred J. (Louise) Carpenter, (1929), University of Texas at Fl Paso Library, Special Collections, El Paso, Texas. Tape recorded interview of Dr. Newbrough's daughter by Wing Anderson (March 20, 1960), Southgate, California.
  • John Ballou Newbrough and the Oahspe Bible, by Daniel Nathan Simundson (1972), Department of History, University of New Mexico, 303 pages.
  • The Oahspe Story (1965), Dr. Newbrough and Oahspe (1975), and More of Oahspe (a compilation of pre- and post-publication manuscripts, 1983), by Jim Dennon.

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