I am not writing this story to dispute whether clairvoyants exist, nor to argue whether Mrs. Nellie M. (Lewis) Titus of Lebanon New Hampshire was gifted or not with psychic visions. What I do know is that Mrs. Titus was an interesting, eccentric woman. She was in the public eye several times as she claimed to see what others could not while in a trance–a drowning victim, a murder scene, and buried treasure. That she led an intriguing life and she spent most of her time in New Hampshire qualifies her for a story here.
Pulitzer Prize winner Deborah Blum mentions Mrs. Titus in her book “Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life after Death” published in 2006. She says that William James of the Society for Psychical Research, a Harvard College philosopher and psychologist, reported on Mrs. Titus ‘seership.’ As a result of Mrs. Titus’ search for the body of Bertha Huse in New Hampshire’s Mascoma Lake (as mentioned later), William James reportedly concluded that “my own view of the Titus case consequently is that it is a decidedly solid document in favor of the admission of a supernatural faculty of seership.”[See full report in the Proceedings of the American Society For Psychical Research].
The search for the body of Bertha Huse was not the only time that Mrs. Titus was in the news. I will be using the newspaper articles of the day to detail the sensational events that Mrs. Titus became connected with. Whether she helped or not, had special talent or not–you can decide. I wish to thank Julie Couture, genealogy researcher for the Lebanon (NH) Historical Society, and Ed Ashey, the Lebanon Historical Society curator, for their correspondence to help determine the treasure site mentioned in this story.
—–1898: LOCATES BODY IN MASCOMA LAKE—-
Bertha M. Huse, daughter of Edwin E. & Lucy Almina (George) Huse died on 31 October 1898 in Enfield NH. Her body was located by a diver 3 days later near the Shaker Bridge that crosses Mascoma Lake. The cause of death (on her official certificate) is drowning. Bertha M. Huse had siblings Leona E. Huse and Guy E. Huse. This and similar newspaper stories were printed in many newspapers across the United States.
Source: St. Alban’s Daily Messenger, St. Albans VT, Saturday, November 5, 1898.
A CLAIRVOYANTS POWERS. Locates a Body in Mascoma Lake After Divers Had Failed.HANOVER N.H., Nov. 5.–The deep excitement and suspense of the past few days regarding the whereabouts of Miss Bertha M. Huse, who disappeared from her home at the corner of South and Wells streets, Enfield, Monday morning, was brought to a climax by the discovery of the body at 10:30 o’clock Thursday morning at the end of the bridge where she was last seen.
— It was the old story of disappointment in love, a broken engagement, mental derangement and ultimately suicide. Miss Huse was rational enough on all other topics, but was subject at times to fits of melancholy, during which she would reiterate the statement, “Nobody cares for me now.”
–Monday morning she arose before her parents and dressed herself putting on her hat, shawl, and a new pair of rubbers, and went out about six o’clock. Several persons saw her pass down Main Street toward the lake, and a family near the Shaker bridge was her pass by and start across the bridge which is nearly a quarter of a mile in length.
–Her absence from the house was not discovered till nearly 8 o’clock, and as she was not feeling well for a few days her mother thought she would let her sleep, but upon going to call her found her gone, and an alarm was given and search begun.
–Grappling hooks were procured, and an attempt made to drag the lake alongside the bridge, which is largely constructed of logs, brush and stone, with three or four water passes, but owing to the logs and brush it was found impossible to make any progress, and a diver was sent for from Boston.
–Cries had been heard in the dense woods in the vicinity and a party of 150 citizens with lanterns made a thorough search but without success. The diver worked two days without the slightest result. Printed descriptions of the missing girl had been scattered broadcast but no one had seen her.
–And now comes the strangest part of the story. Wednesday night Mrs. George Titus, who works in the overall shop at Lebanon, was seized with a peculiar fit in the night, from which her husband, to whom she has been married less than two months, tried to arouse her. She told him then, what he did not know before, that she possessed clairvoyant powers and that had she been left alone she would have been able to see where the missing Enfield girl was.
— A few minutes later Mrs. Titus went into another trance, and knowing this time what it was her husband did not disturb her. Thursday morning as the result of the trance, Mrs. Titus took the 7 o’clock train for Enfield. She found the diver and told him where he would find the body. The diver and others were incredulous and laughed at her, but Mrs. Titus was so positive that finally the diver agreed to search the place she suggested to convince her that she was wrong.
–Mrs. Titus told the diver that he would find the body between two logs at the Enfield end of the bridge on the upper side. She said that only a rubber would be visible, the rest of the body being covered up.
–The diver went to the place she indicated and to use his own words, “his blood ran cold” to see the new rubber sticking up just where she had indicated. There was no body in sight but he took hold of the rubber and the girl’s hat floated to the surface.
–It was the work of only a few minutes to recover the body when once located. Being out of sight as it was, no diver could have seen it, and no dynamite charge would have dislodged it between those logs without wrecking the bridge.
–Had it not been for Mrs. Titus the case would undoubted have been added to the list of unsolved mysteries and the parents of the girl, who are highly respectable people, would have caused much anguish.
–Mrs. Titus does not do this work for money, in fact she does not like to do it at all as it makes her sick afterwards, and she is now confined to her bed.
Newspapers across the country carried more stories. The Kalamazoo Gazette, of Sunday, November 13, 1898, Kalamazoo Michigan, page 7 states: REVEALED IN A TRANCE. New Hampshire Woman Located Exact Spot Where Girl Drowned
Mrs. George Titus of Lebanon, N.H., has displayed startling powers of clairvoyance recently. The other day Miss Bertha M. Huse was found missing from her home in Enfield. For three days 150 citizens searched the neighboring country for traces of the girl, but in vain. Finally the news came to Mrs. Titus. She immediately went into a trance, and when she came out said that the missing woman had committeed suicide by drowning in Enfield lake. Thereupon she appeared before Enfield citizens and told her story. She said that the girl stood on the bridge looking up at the woods on the mountain before her, undecided whether to take her life or not. While wavering she fell backward into the waters of the lake and was drowned. Mrs. Titus accompanied the divers to the bridge and precisely indicated the spot where the body of Miss Huse was afterward found. The medium even went so far into detail as to describe the position of the body, feet upward. Following Mrs. Titus’ directions, the divers descended, and, in confirmation of her statements brought up the remains of the missing girl at the exact spot the clairvoyant had designated. Mrs. Titus says that she was constrained by a supernatural power to tell the friends of the dead girl the impressions of her trances–Special New York Press.
—-1905: SEES KILLER IN A TRANCE—-
The murder of 41-year old spinster, Mabel Page, daughter of Edward & Elizabeth D. (Adams) Page on 31 March 1904 in the bedroom of her family home in Weston, Massachusetts was considered a sensational event. Her throat had been cut. Her death certificate states cause of death: “suddenly, of internal hemorrhage.” At the time of Mabel Page’s death, the house had been empty except for herself. It was the maid’s (Amy Roberts) day off. She was buried in Forest Hills Cemetery, West Newton MA. She had three siblings including a younger brother, Harold W. Page, who lived in the house and was also the sole beneficiary of her will, and her executor.
The police arrested Charles L. Tucker of the crime. Though the evidence was entirely circumstantial, and the details such as the handwriting analysis and the type of knife used was hotly contested by various experts, he was convicted of murder. Charles L. Tucker asserted his innocence right up to his electrocution on 13 June 1906. Then Governor of Massachusetts, Curtis Guild Jr., met with Tucker’s family, but refused to authorize a stay of execution. Tucker’s family held his wake in their family home. It was well attended by friends and hundreds of people who felt he was innocent. The entire case was a sensational media circus with the newspaper being fined for printing statements that the court found objectionable. In 1907 Dr. Frank A. Harris (the medical examiner at the time of the murder) and Michael P. Curran jointly wrote a book on the Tucker Case called “NOT GUILTY….WHO KILLED MABEL PAGE?” where they detail the flaws of the case and present their own findings while promoting Tucker’s innocence. The book, “Murder and the Death Penalty in Massachusetts,” by Alan Rogers published in 2008 carefully details the murder trial.
About a year after the murder and a year and a half before the execution of Charles L. Tucker, Mrs. Titus came forward with information that she stated she saw while in a trance. We will never know whether what Nellie Titus saw was actual or not, as the police did not follow up on her story, and Charles L. Tucker was executed despite her statements.
The Boston Sunday Globe newspaper of 29 January 1905, page 97 shows the following story: SAW SLAYER IN A TRANCE. Mrs. Titus Also Saw Knife That Killed Mabel Page. Tells Where It was Hid–Man Not Tucker, She States.
— LEBANON, N.H. Jan 28–Mrs. Nellie M. Titus of this place believes that she has seen and can locate the place where the knife that killed Mabel Page is hidden, and that she has seen some of the actions of the murders, whom, she claims, was not Tucker.
— Six years ago Mrs. Titus went into a trance and said she saw every movement of Bertha Huse, a young woman of Enfield, who had committed suicide by drowning in Mascoma lake. Little interest was taken in the statement at first, because many persons lacked faith in such revelation.
— After a diver had spent two days searching for the body, Mrs. Titus went with the authorities to Mascoma lake, and pointed out the described the exact spot and position the body was in. The diver descended and came up with the body. This incident was the sole topic of conversation here and at Enfield at the time.
— Mrs. Titus first took an interest in the Page case from reading the papers. When it arrived at the point in the trial where the knife was introduced as an exhibit, the woman took still greater interest in the case.
—“Why,” Mrs. Titus says, “I saw the knife that killed Mabel Page just as plainly as I see you (referring to the reporter) sitting in the chair. It was a two-edged knife, with a blade. I should say, about four or five inches long; same style of knife as the cut shown in the papers as Tucker’s knife. It was all smooth, not broken.” Mrs. Titus could not describe the handle, as that did not appear to her while in a trance.
— “All these facts came to me as I was reading of the case,” said Mrs. Titus.”Later, last Thursday, in the night, I mus t have been in a trance. I saw a man–I could not see his face–saw him cross a field or pasture. He was raggedly dressed, with a torn overcoat. He was more stoutly built than Tucker, as shown by his picture in the paper. I could not say whether he was older or not, but he was heavily built.”
— Mrs. Titus explained very coolly and decidedly: “I plainly saw that man put that knife under some cobblestones in a brook, just as plainly as I see you. If it were bare ground I could go from that Page house directly to the spot very readily. I again saw that man change his clothes in a back pasture or field. It was after I saw him leave the house. I could see the brook where he hid the knife at the time he was changing his clothes. It might be a fair-sized stream, larger than I realize, but possibly only a brook.
— “As I saw him change his clothes he stood facing me, and he was quite light complected. The man had got completely changed his clothes when I was aroused. He had removed his overcoat, inside coat and vest, and threw them down in a heap. In solving this case I am under the same influence while in a trance as the man, and I had to work slyly. Anything that would startle him would startle me. That man hurried to get that knife covered. There must be some woods near the brook, either before he got to the brook or after. I can’t say which. I could tell that field quick if I should see it.”
—“I think that man had worked at the Page house or near there, and had been discharged; or else he had been there for a short stay; I can’t tell which. I saw that man come out of the Page house, come out of the front door. He appeared terribly excited, looked in both directions, and then ran through a field. He ran for all he was worth, went straight for the brook and hid the knife. I came out of the trance before discovering what he did with the clothes, except to drop them in a heap. ”
— “From what pictures I have seen in the papers of Tucker, it was not he who ran from that Page house and hid a knife. I would like to see an original photograph, and I can say positively then.”
— Besides the Bertha Huse case, Mrs. Titus succeeded i locating a boy’s body in Mascoma lake, which the diver stated he found just where she had said, and the Bertha Huse case appeared in the Globe at the time.
— In the Bertha Huse case, Mrs. Titus says, she tried three times before it all come to her. “Then,” she says, “I saw that girl leave her house, saw her all the way to the lake; saw her jump in, and saw her after she was in the lake, and the diver found her exactly as I said.”
— Mrs. Titus has not interested herself in any important case for a long time. “I did work on a case of a girl drowned at North Hartland, Vt.,” she says. “It is on account of my health that I dislike to do this. I have always been sick after going into such a case, and was in bed three weeks after finding the Huse girl, and my doctor’s bill was $25.
—“In the Tucker case I seem powerless to resist; I must know it all. A trance may come over me at any moment, and I may see the whole affair. I must look it up further.I have been ill several days and shall not be any better until this leaves me and my mind can rest. I hardly ever read a murder case on account of its effect upon me. I am now 39 years old and never had a gray hair until after that Huse case. I shall yet see all that happened in the Page homestead.”
–Mrs. Titus was born in Springfield, Mass., and resided here seven years. Until the Tucker case came over her, she has worked in one of the local factories. Mrs. Titus has a good common school education, and is a woman of pleasant address and of ordinary appearance. She hesitated a long time in giving out this information.
–Citizens interested in the findings of Mrs. Titus have notified Tucker’s counsel of her story.
—-1907: REPORT by Prof. William James OF “SUPERNORMAL SEERSHIP”
Woodbury Daily Times, Woodbury, NJ page 4. Saw Body of Girl in Lake in Trance
Lebanon, N.H., Dec 5.–Professor William James, of Harvard, is out with a strong report in favor of accepting as true the “supernormal seership” claims of Mrs. Nellie M. Titus, of this place. Mrs. Titus saw in a vision the body of Miss Bertha Huse, who was drowned in Lake Mascoma. A long search had failed to find the body. Divers went to the spot described by Mrs. Titus and there found it. Professor James investigated the case and found it a convincing proof of supernormal power. [Editor’s note: see beginning of this story for details].
—-1908: SEES BURIED TREASURE IN A TRANCE—-
On August 21, 1908 Mrs. Nellie M. Titus claims to have had a vision of a buried treasure chest on a farmer’s land, near a driving park, about a mile from Lebanon, New Hampshire. Newspapers across the country cover the event. For several days the work continues. On 24 August 1908 the diggers strike water. The Boston Journal of August 25, 1908 states that the diggers found “a bed of pottery clay which is said to be of a very find quality and of considerable value.” Eventually, on 3 September 1908, the search is halted, with no one the richer.
August 22, 1908, Lowell Sun, page 15. SEARCH FOR GOLD. Woman Says She Sees Treasure Box. LEBANON, N.H., Aug 22–This town was all excitement yesterday morning caused by the search for a pot of gold containing $75,000 which Mrs. Nellie M. Titus, a local clairvoyant, declares is buried in the Peter Fredette farm, about a mile from the town. A party of men got busy digging early yesterday, and a big crowd gathered to watch the proceedings, many really believing the golden treasure would soon be unearthed.
–Mrs. Titus had set 10 o’clock as the psychological moment for the shekels to shine in the sunlight, and about that time the crowd began to get anxious and the diggers to grow nervous. But at 10 the dirt was still the same color, and the men in the trench made no reports of even smelling gold.
— The “hole in the ground” is located near a driving park, and already it has sunk about 20 feet by those who have faith in signs and omens and who apparently momentarily expect to crack their spades against a prize equal almost to that of a Capt. Kidd or the one a youth expect when he chases the rainbow.
–The first three feet of earth removed was gravel. Then came a peculiar clay, which extended about 15 feet, very heavy in its nature. Mrs. Titus remains near the “mine” and directs the excavation from the side line. She carries a divining rod to help mark out the berth of the hidden wealth.
— Mrs. Titus asserts her attention was called to the treasure by a friend who is a medium who wrote her a letter telling of it. Mrs. Titus says she located the gold herself last night just as plain as though it were in her hand. But that was at night. She says the money is in a chest about three feet long by a foot wide and deep , and was probably put there by Indians.
Speaking of it she says: “I shall remain here until the chest comes to light, as the strain is such I can hardly control myself, and the nearer they come to it the worse I feel.”
–Mrs. Titus’ husband is on the scene and has faith in the outcome he says. Peter Fredette, owner of the farm, is a spectator. While he does not believe the money is here, he will not refuse half if it is found. It was reported late last night he would sell his farm at the market value and give the buyer a chance on the gold.
From a Woodstock VT newspaper:
THURSDAY, Sept. 3, 1908
Mrs. Nellie M. Titus, Lebanon, N.H., clairvoyant, who has been searching for golden treasure she claims to have seen in a vision gives up the search.
–BRIEF BIOGRAPHY of Nellie M. (Lewis) Titus–
Helen Mirah/Maria “Nellie M.” Lewis was born b 24 June 1864 in Springfield MA, daughter of Charles & Mary (Stickney) Lewis (of Plainfield NH), and died 30 Sep 1957 at the Alice Peck Day Hospital in Lebanon NH, aged 93. She had been living on Plainfield Road in Lebanon NH. She married 1st) 24 Sep 1884 in Cornish NH to Ernest E. Clark, son of L.H. & J.E. (Cummings) Clark. They divorced. She married 2d) 29 Sep 1898 in Enfield NH to widow, George W. Titus as his 2nd wife. He was born in Vershire VT, the son of Lyman & Julina (Titus) Titus. George W. Titus was buried in West Lebanon Cemetery, W. Lebanon NH. She is buried in Gleason Cemetery, Meriden NH (per her death record). [Lewis H. Clark informant, Norwich VT] Her occupation at her 2nd marriage was seamstress. In 1880 she was living in Plainfield NH with her mother, step-father, Giles S. Hastings, and older brother George F. Lewis. From 1900-1920 she was married to George W. Titus and living with him in a rented unit of a house in Lebanon NH in the vicinity of 16 Taylor Street.
Child of Ernest E. & Helen M. (Lewis) Clark:
1. Lewis Homer Clark, b 18 Aug 1884 Henniker NH, died 21 Jan 1965 in Hanover NH; He married 24 March 1906 in Lebanon NH to Henrietta Artemise Parker, daughter of John & Henrietta (Miller) Parker. He was a fireman at the time of his marriage. They resided in Henniker NH and had children Doris Artemise Clark (1907-1967) m. Reginald Merrifield; Marion Henrietta Clark (1908-1969) married John F. Davison; John Lewis Clark (1910-1951); Emma E. Clark (1913-1946); Bernice E. Clark (1917-2009) She m1st William A. Ernest; m2nd George H. Whittier); and Helen L. Clark (1924-2012) married Ray Leston Wescott.
Clairvoyance: A system of Philosophy, Concerning Its Laws, Nature and Unfoldment, by J.C.F. Grumbine, 1897 (With Lessons and Experiments)
Clairvoyance and Occult Powers. by Swami Panchadasi, 1916
Clairvoyance And Thought-Transference, by Dr. L.W. de Laurence 1916