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The Mystery of the Buried Crosses

Posted on 27 August 2013, 11:38

When asked not long ago to name what I thought to be the most intriguing book in the annals of psychical research, I narrowed it down to three stories: Psychic Adventures in New York, The Case of Patience Worth, and The Mystery of the Buried Crosses, not necessarily in that order.  The first book was discussed in this blog in my April 22 post, while the Patience Worth story was posted on June 17.  Therefore, it’s time to discuss the buried crosses.

In his 1939 book, The Mystery of the Buried Crosses, Pulitzer Prize winning author Hamlin Garland (1860-1940),told of some 1,500 buried crosses and other Indian artifacts dug up at various sites in Southern California and Mexico by Gregory and Violet Parent at the direction of spirits through the mediumship of Violet Parent.  After their deaths the artifacts were given to Garland by a relative of the Parents.

In addition to the artifacts, Garland was given 22 notebooks belonging to the Parents. They indicated that there were more artifacts to be found. Garland set out to find them and solicited the help of Sophia Williams, (below) a direct-voice medium from Chicago.    Unlike most direct-voice mediums, however, Williams did not require darkness and did not go into a trance. 

She would place the larger end of a megaphone against her breast while Garland would listen for voices at the smaller end and relay them to a stenographer.  In his very first “sitting” with Williams, Garland was greeted by one of his oldest friends, Henry B. Fuller, who had helped him research cases of mediumship when he was alive.  Always on the lookout for fraud, Garland wondered if Williams had read of Fuller in his 1936 book, Forty Years of Psychic Research. A few minutes later, another voice was heard.  The spirit identified himself as Lorado, his wife’s brother, who had died the prior year.


Garland noted that Fuller called him by his last name, while Lorado addressed him by his first name, exactly as they had done when they were alive.  He further noted that the voices, which were high in vibration, sometimes seemed to be coming from the megaphone and at other times from the air above the medium’s head.

The most convincing evidence came when a voice addressed Garland’s stenographer, Gaylord Beaman.  “Gay, this is Harry,” the voice was heard.  When asked for a last name, “Friedlander” was given.  The astonished Beaman explained to Garland that Harry Friedlander was a friend who died in a plane crash in San Francisco Bay.  The spirit then gave some details concerning the crash.  Garland was certain that Williams knew nothing of Beaman and could not have researched this information beforehand. 

Two days later, the second sitting took place.  Garland first heard a voice say, “This is Turck, Dr. Turck.”  Turck went on to tell Garland that he (Turck) was an “old fool” for having called Garland’s psychical research so much “humbuggery” when he was alive.  Here again, Garland concluded that the medium could have known nothing about Turck’s attitude, which had been expressed at a luncheon.

When the voice changed, Garland asked the speaker to identify himself. “Doyle,” the voice replied.  It was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, another psychical researcher known to Garland when he was alive.  Doyle said that Sir William Crookes and Dr. Gustave Geley, two more famous psychical researchers who had died, were there with him.  They all spoke and said they were there to help Garland communicate with their side of the veil.  Geley began speaking in French until Garland told him that he was not fluent in French. Geley then switched to English.  Professor William James also spoke, but Garland was unable to understand what James was saying.

More spirits came, including one who identified himself as Harry Carr, another of Beaman’s friends. Carr asked Beaman to contact his friend Lee Shippey to see if his manuscript might now be published. Here again, this was highly evidential as the names and information were well beyond the scope of research.

Garland’s old friend, Burton Babcock, then communicated. Garland described Babcock’s speech as “hesitating and incoherent,” which was characteristic of him when he was alive. Rudyard Kipling broke in at one point, speaking Gaelic before switching to English with an Irish brogue.  William Stead also came through and confirmed that the photo in Mrs. Parents’ album was genuine, commenting that he used to wear the cloak that Garland thought looked “absurd.”

Indeed, it appeared that a whole group of people, including some very famous ones, had gathered on the other side to avail themselves of Williams’s mediumship.  Some spirits unrelated to Garland’s search spoke at times.  One identified herself as Leila McKee, an old Wisconsin acquaintance. Another Wisconsin acquaintance, Wendell McIldowney, also came through.  While Garland had by this time concluded that Williams was not a charlatan, he knew he had to be ready for claims by skeptics that Williams had done some research before meeting him.  It would have been virtually impossible, he concluded, for any researcher to turn up either of these names from his past. 

Still, Garland wondered if Williams was somehow unknowingly tapping into his subconscious.  However, his subconscious could not possibly be involved in directing Williams to uncover additional crosses or other artifacts.  If the spirits could help him uncover more artifacts, that would, Garland reasoned, be solid proof of the existence of a spirit world and, concomitantly, life after death. 

Conan Doyle brought George Parker Winship, an ethnologist when he was alive, to comment on the crosses.  Winship explained that some of them were from Central America – from Yucatan and Guatemala – and preceded Christianity.  It was further explained that the Indians brought them from those countries during the 16th Century when the invading Spaniards forced them to move to California

When a voice clearly announced, “This is Father (Junipero) Serra,” Garland was astounded and wondered if his mind were playing tricks on him.  He was also surprised that Serra spoke English, as one reference indicated he did not.  Serra told him that the book was wrong and that there was only one language on his side.  He further told Garland that the crosses were of pagan origin and that the Indians buried them in ceremonies to appease their gods.  He added that he prohibited such pagan worship but was unable to control the wild Indians.

At the direction of Serra and other “Invisibles” who spoke through the medium’s megaphone, Garland and Williams traveled hundreds of miles through southern and central California and Mexico searching for more artifacts. They were often accompanied by relatives or friends to help them in the search and in the digging. The spirits would tell them where to go, where to stop, which direction to walk, and then where to dig.  They found 16 artifacts, similar in substance and design to those collected by the Parents, in 10 widely separated locations.

Some were in deep gullies, others high on cactus-covered hills far from the highway.  One was hidden in a ledge of sandstone behind a wall of cactus plants which Garland had to chop away before finding it.  For the skeptic who might have claimed that Williams went all over the state planting the artifacts for Garland to find, Garland wrote that this would have been an impossible task.  Moreover, it was clear that the grounds covering the artifacts, some buried more than two-feet deep, had not been disturbed for many years.  It was equally clear that Williams had neither the time nor the motive to carry out such a hoax.

Garland (below) had ended his 1936 book still a little skeptical when it came to psychic phenomena, although his skepticism had to do more with whether it was proof of life after death rather than whether it was supernatural.  Although he could not bring himself to state it in so many words, he appears to have finished his 1939 book on the buried crosses as a believer in life after death.  How many readers of his book were convinced is unknown.  The story probably exceeded the “boggle threshold” of the average reader and was looked upon as nothing more than a work of science fiction.


As for the crosses and other artifacts, 12 of the 16 found by Garland are now on display at the West Salem Historical Society Museum in Wisconsin. It is unknown what happened to the other four.  The original 1,500 or so were apparently donated by Garland to the Museum of the American West in Los Angeles in 1939, but they are no longer in the museum’s inventory and nobody seems to know what happened to them.


A few years ago, Lisette Coly, the granddaughter of renowned trance medium Eileen Garrett (1893-1970) and executive director of the Parapsychology Foundation, discovered 27 of the original 1,500 in a box in her basement, having been sent to her grandmother in 1966 by the son of the publisher of Garland’s book.  The box was marked “Hamlin Garland.”  The whereabouts of the other 1400-plus artifacts is unknown.  Perhaps, they, too, are stored in a basement somewhere and will turn up at a garage sale or flea market.

There is so much more to this story. For those interested in reading it, Garland’s book The Mystery of the Buried Crosses has recently been republished by White Crow Books

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores. 

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Next blog post: Sept. 23. 



Thank you for your prompt response to my ramble. What a great resource you have facilitated for those of us seekers trying to find that balance or flux-reflux, yin-yang, action-reaction, matter-antimatter, interpenetration of opposite, dialectic, nature-nurture, existence-essence—or whatever we want to call the process where we can exist in the denser vibrations of the earthplane, what I like to call in my writing “dirt-bound” or “dirtside” while at the same time enjoy the higher more metaphysical realms of thought-spirit-soul. This would be what my favorite thinker of the late 19th and early 20th century—Rudolf Steiner dubbed “Spiritual Science” where the difference between the physical and metaphysical realms is just variations in vibrations of the Unified Field or Strings of the Instrument of The Creative Process. As you say in so many of the books you feature—the eastern tradition, as in earliest Hindu Vedas etc., speaking of the Akashic or essential fabric that underlies and overlays all matter-energy-space-time—the Mind of God or Great All (GA-GA!)—the Past—meeting the future or Western Tradition with recent Christianity where the Piscean Age now merges with the Aquarian . . .
  In other words, you are one of those leaders, avatars, teachers, avant-gardeners, lighthouses, beacons—that I encountered now late in this incarnation but never too late—as Steiner found when he was ready for the Master to show up when the student was ready. So thank you again for being there for me, now here, as I look at all your books featured and links—a new level in my growth this time around—just as the Seth Books were my Gateway Drug of Choice, so to speak back in the Paleopsybernetic Era of the 1960s and 70s as I was also a warrior during the Counter-Cultural Revolution, which I am currently writing an autobiography thereof.
  Before I encountered thwe Seth Books I was into the Atlantis Story through Edgar Cayce and anything I found on Reincarnation research. In that vein, I wonder if you might look into the scientific work on Reincarnation being done by a dear friend of mine—Dr. Walter Semkiw—and add him to your list of authors and books. You can google him and find his books on Amazon. His premise and mine, as well as your writers it seems is that if we all on this planet believed in the reality of reincarnation it would go a long way in resolving all the disputes and divisiveness racially, religiously sexually, et al since our souls have and will embody them all sooner or later while we are dirtbound on this planet, thus we only discriminate against ourselves.
  So please look into Dr. Semkiw and add him to your lighthouse equivalent of the Library of Alexandria as I am now obsessed with reading you and all your authors then adding my own autobiography-in-progress which could be in the genre, my favorite, of Metaphysical Romance.
  Thanks again for all your good work.

Sam Hays, Thu 25 Sep, 06:25


Thanks for your recent comment.  I think we are in full agreement, though you go a bit deeper than I am prepared to do. It does seem to be all about vibration.

Michael Tymn, Wed 24 Sep, 09:23

I felt I was led into psychic research from the so-called “metaphysical” realm, which in my opinion is simply higher vibrations, frequencies, or bandwidths of the physical spectrum of vibrational patterns the make up this particular universe which is organized or structured within a Unified Field, which also accommodates “string theory” as if all the various threads or laws of nature-action/reaction-compensation/karma are interwoven and touching like a great tapestry or web that the internet will someday incorporate as human consciousness evolves toward what Pierre Teilhard de Chardin called the Omega Point and Vladimir Vernadsky called the Noosphere as we evolved from the geosphere of inorganic substance to the biosphere of organic connected by what I call the ULF or Universal Life Frequency. When human consciousness evolves through a Dialectical process, as in the Dialectical Idealism of Hegel and the Dialectical Materialism of Marx akin to Darwinism—human consciousness will be able to co-create along with The Creator, manipulating atomic structures at will as Geist of the Spirit of History becomes Self-Actualized collectively, a la Hegel, and individuals and their Souls become Self-actualized a la humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow.

Just as much a part of this process metaphysically are the entities vibrating at the higher frequencies in between incarnations in the physical realm or lower vibrations—that we call spirits, which are souls still personifying their more recent embodiments or incarnations that can communicate with those humans who are “attuned” to receive such communication from the so-called spirit realm, again just higher vibrations of the physical realm. Thus it is perfectly rational to have these entities among us and interacting when we are incarnate, and there will be enough empirical or scientific evidence to make it harder to disbelieve than believe, just as it is harder to be an Atheist than a Deist and deny that the Universe is very well-organized and motivated by a Creator or God. On the way to believing in psychic or parapsychological phenomena one can be an Agnostic if one chooses as we do have Free Will within deterministic parameters to make life more interesting or entertaining as we while away eternity.

So my point, in other words, is that there are such a thing as ghosts, as in the “Ghost Club” of poet W.B. Yeats, but they are souls between incarnations who can communicate with the so-called “living” but are also bound by rules of behavior in how much they can interact with us the embodied.

I started out this short post saying how I believe I was guided from Spirit to study Spiritualism or Psychic phenomena or the Parapsychological back in the 1960s and after interviewing over 100 psychics, numerologists, astrologers, and the like, came away convinced, just as Garland was and as most humans throughout history were believers in the spirit realm. I regularly get fun little clues from my so-called “spirit guides” some of whom are regarded as high masters as to whether or not I am on the right or wrong pah on my own journey toward Self-Actualization.

Again, you have the Free Will to believe in the notion that there is a God behind the the Unified Theory or not, the mind of God then filling in the “space” between subatomic particles, which would also be the fabric of the -called “ethers” or the Akashic. Since all knowledge comes from the mind of God or Akashic, those humans who are attuned or have the proper access code have an advantage oever those who are not as aware of the inter-connectivity of It All or what I call ATI or All That Is.

Of course, humans have the ability to imagine we are alone, alienated, absurd, and that there is no meaning behind the mean-ness or cruelty or pain and loss—no order no God, that when we look at the stars with a telescope or DNA with a microscope it’s all just one big or small accident of freak of nature and that some Existentialists are more right than wrong saying “Existence Precedes Essence” and that these invisible playmates exist only in our minds, which still means they exist somewhere, however, whatever.

Ah but beware, just like the movies The Exorcist of The Omen warns, not all our invisible playmates have our best interests at heart or soul. Like rebellious teenagers who find the keys in the ignition or doors open, the “evil” types can take our physical soul vehicle for a joy-ride and crash it like vandals. So be careful messing with Ouija boards or that old Black Magic without protection, as in a spiritual condom.

Now I’m inspired to read Garland again, thanks.

Sam Hays, Mon 22 Sep, 23:40


I just picked up the book and it fell open to page 47, which states that Father Serra directed the search for the Parents.  Without digging further into the book, I recall that being the case for Garland’s search as well.  In effect, he seems to have been a “control” on the other side. I also recall reading somewhere that he spoke both Spanish and English.

What I find more amazing is that the Indians could remember where they buried the crosses.  It was pointed out that on those times when Garland found nothing, it was because the artifacts had been moved as a result of erosion, wash, etc. Perhaps they can go back in time and see themselves digging in a certain spot.  As I have often said, we have to avoid applying terrestrial standards to celestial abilities.

Michael Tymn, Wed 25 Sep, 23:21


I don’t recall that there were any Spanish or Mexican communicators, at least directly.  I think Father Serra was relaying messages from them.  There was some question as to his ability to speak fluent English and he commented something to the effect that on that side there is only one language.  I will have to refresh my memory on that and let you know.  It might take a day or two before I can check it out.

Michael Tymn, Wed 25 Sep, 19:37

I’ve just finished reading Garland’s book and it is remarkable. Either it is amongst the best evidence for survival after death, or it is amongst the best fraudulent documents in the survival literature, and I haven’t made my mind up yet. Either way it is a very good read. If it is a fraud it is as detailed and carefully constructed as that other famous con - the HItler Diaries of 1983!

One thing surprised me, though. Neither Garland himself, nor Mike Tymn in his foreword or closing remarks of the book questioned the strange ability to speak fluent English in a direct-voice context of the so-called spirits of Spanish explorers of New Mexico, Arizona and California who lived in the 16th century (1523 - 1540). The padres of the Catholic Missions in California were also fluent English speakers, which may be forgiveable since they were more recent - 19th century -characters in America. However the ancient Spanish speaking such excellent English seems suspicious to me and I wouldn’t mind a comment on this from Mike. Also there were so many famous people in contact with Garland that I wondered why many of these people - the famous and the ancient - had not moved on to higher realms making them uncontactable.


Keith P

Keith P in UK, Wed 25 Sep, 13:36

One of the people most interested in the story of the buried crosses is Bill Stoney, now retired from NASA, where he was the chief engineer for the Apollo Space program.  I talked with Bill recently and he said that one of Garland’s granddaughters recalls her mother having sold the remaining 1,500 or so crosses as scrap metal.

Garland’s wife and daughters did not appreciate the “occult” interest of Hamlin Garland and were anxious to divorce themselves from the whole subject after his death in 1940.

Michael Tymn, Mon 9 Sep, 01:45

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The Only Planet of Choice: Visitations – Many people use the word ‘Alien’ to describe a visitor from outer space. Extra terrestrial is another word, which is rather more user friendly. For the sake of the question and answer format, the word used by the questioner has been left, though even Tom questions our use of‘Alien’. Should we wish to foster openess between all beings of the Universe perhaps we should also look at our vocabulary? In a discussion between Andrew and Tom many years earlier, Andrew had asked Tom about UFOs and whether they were created manifestations. Tom had replied: “Many of the flying things that you call UFOs come from our place, but they come from other places also, and they do come in physical form. But many of them are not physical. They are like your movie screen”. Read here
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