Willie Brough

From Kook Science

William "Willie" Brough, Jr. (September 2, 1875 - October 8, 1958) was an American resident of the San Joaquin Valley in California who was described in 1886 press reports as "The Boy With Fire in His Eyes" on the basis of claims that he was able to cause fires by merely casting his gaze upon combustible items, being held responsible for the blazes that had apparently broken out in at the Madison District schoolhouse where he was a pupil as well as his family's home in Turlock, Stanislaus Co., California. Brough's supposed power was variously attributed to such things as an excess of "electricity" or more supernatural causes, though there seems to have been no further investigation after the initial public interest faded, and no known recurrence of such fires following the family's relocation to a nearby property.


Press Coverage

An Imposter in San Jose, CA

One J. W. Roscoe, a theatrical promoter, put on a stage show at the Standard Theater in San Jose in late October to early November 1886 with Willie Brough advertised to be the headliner. It was quickly found out, however, that the boy on stage was not Brough, but rather a hired hand from Sacramento, and all the pyro-kinetic effects witnessed by the paying audience was purely "phosphorous and imagination."