Thomas Lynn Bradford
From Kook Science
|Thomas Lynn Bradford|
Lansing, Ingham Co., Michigan
|Died||5 February 1921 (52)|
Detroit, Wayne Co., Michigan
|Alma mater||Michigan State Agricultural College (Mech., 1891); Emerson School of Oratory (1900); Columbia College of Oratory[ii]|
|Workplace(s)||Ames & Co. of Milwaukee|
Thomas Lynn Bradford (c. 1868-9 - February 5, 1921), also known as Professor Flynn, was an American lecturer and dramatic orator, mechanical draftsman, and Spiritualist who committed suicide in 1921, apparently as part of an experiment he conceived to prove the existence of the afterlife, which, according to Ruth Starkweather Doran, was accomplished, as she reported having psychically-received messages from his "spirit voice" in the weeks that followed Bradford's death.
Thomas Lynn Bradford, message found in typewriter after his death
- Free Press (6 Feb. 1921), "DIES TO PROVE DEAD CAN TALK: Professor, Suicide, Believed to Have Had Spiritualistic Pact With Girl. Had Been Student of Occult; Desired Science to Have His Body, He Said.", Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI): 1, https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/118976376/
- Tribune (7 Feb. 1921), "Student of Spiritualism Dies In Attempt to Prove Theory: Body of Thomas Lynn Bradford Found in Gas-Filled Room; Girl Believes to Have Been Part in Pact Is Sought", New York Tribune (New York, NY): 1, 3, https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030214/1921-02-07/ed-1/seq-1/
DETROIT, Feb. 6.— Believed to have entered into a pact that if successful would answer the great problem of existence after the grave, Thomas Lynn Bradford, known as Professor Bradford and a student of psychic phenomena, gave his last remaining possession — his life — yesterday. His body was found in his room, at 2500 Howard Street, with the gas turned on. Nearby, evidently where they had dropped from his hand, were found several typewritten pages discussing the subject, "Can the dead communicate with the living?"
Somewhere in Detroit is believed to be a girl who is anxiously waiting for Bradford to prove his theory.
Bradford, who was forty-eight years old, was a graduate of Columbia College of Oratory, Chicago. He was a dramatic and humorous reciter and impersonator and is said also to have been a designing and electrical engineer. He is known to have read much on science and spiritualism and was a fluent conversationalist. He told Patrick P. Marcotte, in whose house he roomed, that he was born in Detroit, and that he had seven brothers, two of them physicians. His father was a farmer.
Friends report that it was the occult greatly fascinated Bradford, taking precedence over most material affairs.
"When I die my body goes to science. It is to be sent to the Michigan Medical Institute. Anyhow, my body does not amount to much," was the statement Bradford made some time ago, according to Mr. Marcotte.
Mr. Marcotte said Bradford told him he recently inserted an advertisement in a Detroit newspaper asking any one who was interested in the subject of whether the dead can communicate with the living to write him, and that it was answered by a Detroit girl, who, he said, visited Bradford to talk on the subject.
It was in some such conversation as this that Bradford is thought to have come to a decision that there was but one way to solve the mystery. Two minds, properly attuned, must needs to be used, and one of these minds must shake off its earthly mantle, he is said to have held.
According to Mr. Marcotte, Professor Bradford went to bed early Friday evening and requested that if any one called to them he was out and would not return until a late hour.
When he did not see Professor Bradford Saturday he went up to his room, and on approaching the door found gas was pouring out from under the doorsill. He pushed the door and found it open. On entering he discovered the man in bed dead. Coroner Burgess was summoned. He pronounced the death due to suicide by gas and ordered the body removed to the morgue. According to Mr. Marcotte, Bradford appeared at the store conducted by the former Friday.
Several works on spiritualism and two trunks were among the articles found in his room.
Mr. Marcotte says Bradford told him that in his younger days he was a star athlete and champion pole vaulter of the Detroit Athletic Club. He would often put on a frock coat and impersonate Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, and this seemed to be one of his favorite impersonations.
Bradford is said to have been negotiating for the publication of a book on spiritualism which he had written.
- INS/Detroit Times (8 Feb. 1921), "AWAITS RETURN TO EARTH OF SPIRIT OF MAN WHO DIED BY OWN HAND TO PROVE THEORY - Mrs. Ruth Doran Convinced That If Thomas Lynn Bradford's Soul Lives It Will Devise Some Means of Communicating with Her. — Denies Any Agreement Made Between Them.", Olean Evening Times (Oleans, NY): 1, 2, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/111432187/awaits-return-to-earth-of-spirit-of-man/
- MS (8 Feb. 1921), "EXPECTS SUICIDE'S SPIRIT TO COME BACK TO EARTH", Minneapolis Star (Minneapolis, MN): 2, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/111431530/expects-suicides-spirit-to-come-back/
- DFP (8 Feb. 1921), "MISSED GHOST PACT, IS SORRY - Mrs. Doran Says She Would Like to Hear from Suicide, if Spirits Can Talk. Had No Bargain With Bradford; Didn't Know He Was Going So Soon.", Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI): 1, 3, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/111410938/missed-ghost-pact-is-sorry/
Messages from the Spirit World
- WBTL (10 Feb. 1921), "BRADFORD'S SPIRIT TRIES TO COME BACK - Spiritualist Says She Hears His Voice Calling From 'Great Beyond' - PAYS FOR HIS FOLLY", Wilkes-Barre Times Leader Evening News (Wilkes-Barre, PA): 1, 3, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/111471696/bradfords-spirit-tries-to-come-back/
- Herald (11 Feb. 1921), "Word from Suicide Claimed by Woman", Los Angeles Herald (Los Angeles, CA): B-2, https://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=LAH19210211.2.189&e=-------en--20--1--txt-txIN-%22Thomas+Lynn+Bradford%22-------1, "Detroit, Feb. 11. — In a startling statement issued here Mrs. Lulu Mack, a spiritualist, announced that she had received a communication from Prof. Thomas Lynn Bradford, who committed suicide here last week as the first step in an attempt to prove that the dead can communicate with the living. According to Mrs. Mack the spirit kept calling 'Thomas Bradford, Thomas Bradford.'"
Ruth Starkweather Doran
- N.E.A. (22 Feb. 1921), "Kills Self to Send Spirit Message; 'I've Got It,' Says Woman. Scientists and Spirits Are Stirred by the Great Adventure of Suicide Professor in Detroit.", Bismarck Tribune: 6, https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042243/1921-02-22/ed-1/seq-6/
The world today awaits expectantly scientific investigation of the startling adventure in spiritism of Prof. Thomas Lynn Bradford and Mrs. Ruth Starkweather Doran.
Pro. Bradford killed himself at 9 on the night of Feb. 5 to make "the great adventure." He hoped to solve for all time the age-old problem of life after death by trying to communicate from beyond the grave with Mrs. Moran. Now she says that she hay received a message from him.
Prof. Bradford, one time athlete and actor, turned in his later life to studying and writing on the occult. Finally he published a curious advertisement for "someone interested in spiritualistic science."
This advertisement was answered by Mrs. Doran, member of one of Detroit's oldest, families, writer, lecturer and member of the Protestant Episcopal church.
The professor and Mrs. Doran held several conferences at her home.
Professor Writes His Final Message and Then Kills Self by Taking Gas.
Shortly afterward Prof. Bradford's body was found fully-dressed, in his gas-filled room. The unfinished manuscript of a book on which he had been working lay beside his typewriter. One half-written page was still in the machine, it read:
"— and it is through scientific facts that I propose to demonstrate clearly the phenomena of the spirits, and to prove that all the phenomena are outside the domain of the super-natural."
Mrs. Doran, speaking of her final conference with the professor, says:
"His last words to me, a few hours before his death, were that he would prove to me, in a very simple manner, that the dead can communicate with the living.
"I answered his advertisement through a simple desire to know more about a thing in which I was little versed. I am not a Spiritualist, nor a believer in the psychic."
Prof. Bradford, after making all preparations for reporting his experiences in "the unknown" to Mrs. Doran, opened the gas jet and started on his great adventure.
On Feb. 12, one week later, Mrs. Doran announced she had a vague presentiment that she would hear from the professor that evening.
[Psychic] students throughout the city agreed to concentrate at 9 that evening on the professor, to "accelerate the return of his spirit." Leading spiritualistic pastors urged their congregations to join in the "concentration party."
Mrs. Doran Engages in Enterprise to "Do Her Duty As a Human Being."
Mrs. Doran, with a few friends gathered in her home, said: "I am not engaging in this adventure as a Spiritualist. I feel it my duty to do so as a human being. Certainly if Prof. Bradford does communicate to the world through me, a great step toward convincing mankind that the dead can talk will he taken. I have never heard spirits talk, but I realize that does not mean they cannot communicate. I am engaging in this with an open mind."
At the appointed hour just a week after Bradford's death, Mrs. Doran was standing in her parlor. Three witnesses, none of them believers in spiritism, were present. Curtains were, drawn. One lamp lighted the room dimly.
For several moments Mrs. Doran stood silent, staring at a dark corner. Then she said:
"I feel a strange presence. I believe it to be the spirit of the professor. A week ago I scoffed at such a thing. I wonder if there are many concentrating their thoughts on this now? I wonder—"
She placed her hands on her temples and directed. "Turn out the light." This was done. A moment's silence. Then:
"I hear his voice. It is faint, but it grows more distinct. It is the professor.
Then, in short stacco sentences, in a low voice, she dictated the message.
One of the witnesses wrote as she spoke.
Mrs. Doran Signs Notes As Testimonial of Their Accuracy.
Half an hour later she said: "The voice grows weaker."
The clock struck 10. The lights were turned on. Mrs. Doran appeared flushed. She read the notes she had dictated and placed her signature under them as a testimonial of their accuracy. This is the message:
"I am the professor who speaks to you from the Beyond. I have broken through the veil. The help of the living has greatly assisted me.
"I simply went to sleep. I woke up and at first did not realize that I had passed on. I find no great change apparent. I expected things to be much different. They are not. Human forms are retained in outline but not in the physical.
"I have not traveled far. I am still much in the darkness. I see many persons full of rapture and happiness. Persons of like natures associate. I am associated with other investigators. I do not repent my act.
"My present plane is but the first series. I am still investigating the future planes regarding which we in this plane are as ignorant as are earthly beings of the life just beyond human life.
After signing the notes, Mrs. Doran fainted. She soon recovered, however, and was asked:
"Are you certain, beyond doubt, that you heard from Bradford?"
"I am convinced. I never heard a spirit voice before. That was the Professor, without doubt," she replied.
Witnesses, on behalf of Mrs. Doran, have invited the American Psychical Research Society, in New York City, to make a thorough investigation.
Leading psychic experts, including Sir A. Conan Doyle, Sir Oliver Lodge, Hereward H. Carrington and others, are greatly stirred over the phenomenon because of the unusual conditions under which it occurred.
- Newspaper Enterprise (20 Mar. 1921), "SAYS DEAD MAN TALKS TO HER - Woman Claims Spirit of Prof. Bradford, Suicide, Visits Her Often", Ogden Standard-Examiner (Ogden, UT): 5, https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85058393/1921-03-20/ed-1/seq-21/
DETROIT, March 19. — Mrs. Ruth Starkweather Doran is continuing her great adventure in spiritism with Prof. Thomas Lynn Bradford, who recently killed himself to prove his theory that the dead could communicate with the living.
Mrs. Doran is a member of one of Detroit's oldest families, a writer, lecturer and member of the Protestant Episcopal church. She tells about her latest experiences in the following article:
The spirit of Prof. Thomas Lynn Bradford visits me constantly.
The man who killed himself so as to be able to prove that the physically dead can talk with the physically alive has revealed to me many wonders of the spirit world.
Why should he have chosen me as the earthly agency through whom to send his messages to the world from the beyond?
I do not know.
I saw him but once.
He came to my home when I responded to advertisements in which he sought students in psychology. To my amazement he discussed spiritism.
I told him I was not really a spiritist, that I doubted the reality of spiritism. Then he departed, rather abruptly, saying as he went: "I will prove to you that the dead talk!"
Three days later he killed himself.
Soon I received my first message from his spirit. Constantly — almost every night and sometimes by day — the spirit talks to me.
I am not a victim of mental mirage!
I am convinced that through me will come — indeed, has come — proof that the physically dead talk.
The spirit voice has said to me:
"Through spiritism the world will be reclaimed; sin will be vanquished, suffering will end. The physical in man will cease to be, and the physical death — and that is the only death — will be no more. Men will live on earth forever, even as they live forever in the spirit world."
The voice has told me we are victims of our own animal tendencies; how our troubles issue from ignoring the spirit and worshipping the flesh.
Sometimes I am awed by what I hear; again I am amused.
The professor's spirit voice told me:
"Some spirits wear dress suits."
Imagine "evening" dress in the spirit regions!
But the professor says the spirits retain many of their earthly customs.
I believe that the power to hear spirit voices is common.
But only a few persons ever become conscious that they have it.
I thought once I saw Prof. Bradford's apparition, but I am not sure of this.
I am can always sense the coming of the spirit voice. In his latest message the professor said:
"When men no longer idolize the material and honor the spiritual the troubles of earth will cease. When men realize that they can be guided and helped from the beyond, their troubles will cease to be."
THE SPIRIT WORLD
In another message he said:
"As I have said before, the outlines of the human form are retained here, but not the physical. Men and women wear raiment much as they wore on earth, that is, astral clothing, which, to us, has all the realness of material garb.
"Spirit bodies of men wear evening dress, even as their earthly bodies did in physical life. Spirits of women wear the kind of hats that suited their earthly natures.
"There is no time or space here, as known on earth. There are spirits here from Mars and other planets."
What wonder will yet be revealed to me?
I do not know. The spirit of Prof. Bradford has told me much; it has promised to tell me more."
- Per his Michigan Death Certificate, as attested by his brother James Bradford, Thomas Lynn Bradford was 52 years old at the time of his death, not 48 years old as reported in newspapers of the time. This is further supported by the appearance of Thomas Bradford in the 1870 U.S. Census as being 4 years of age at that time.
- Bradford's educational background is enumerated in his obituary in the M.A.C. Record: "Necrology: Thomas L. Bradford w'92.", Michigan Agricultural College Record 26 (21): 13, 4 Mar. 1921, https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_M_S_C_Record/PU7mAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=%22Columbia+College+of+Oratory%22+Bradford&pg=RA9-PA13&printsec=frontcover