“I am practically a stranger in your midst, so don’t compare my work with any other so called Palmist or Clairvoyant whom you have consulted…the country has been overrun by pretenders…”[i] This is what Professor W.H. Thomas assured Park City upon his arrival. He, like many in his profession, had come seeking customers to assist with the veil of the unknown. As early as 1887, and as late as 1923, these practitioners of the occult would place an ad in the paper and set up shop around town.
Most of the clairvoyants who advertised in the Park Record had small, simple ads. Madam Franklin, however, spared no expense, and bought a considerably large space complete with a headshot. Her ads featured testimonials from customers praising her abilities. “Madam Franklin told me of an accident that came to me in two days” raved J.T. Oheney of Leadville, Colorado. [ii] Among many specialties, she noted she could test minerals and proclaim their value – quite convenient for a town like Park City.[iii] She worked out of 809 Park Avenue[iv], and then 317 Main Street.[v] She advertised for about a month in 1905, and then her ads (and presumably she) disappeared.
Mademoiselle Iro took a different approach. Rather than using an ad, she showed off her abilities from her carriage outside the post office. She dazzled the town as a blind folded mind reader, describing letters, documents, and objects that the crowd brought to test her. According to the Park Record, she didn’t make a mistake, and had cleverly earned her several hundred dollars in profit.[vi] She had earned enough credibility to be referenced in the baseball section during the Eureka-Park City series for the interleague state championship. “The clairvoyant who has been holding forth in this city for a week past has predicted that the score of to-morrows game will be 12 to 7 in favor of Park City, and that a fight will occur between the fourth and fifth inning.”[vii] Park City would in fact win, by a score of 9 to 6, but there was no fight reported.[viii]
Today, such pseudoscience is still controversial, but nevertheless the profession has managed to survive on indulging in human curiosity of the mystic.
The Park City Historical Society & Museum is celebrating 30 years of preserving, protecting, and promoting Park City’s history and heritage.
[i] Park Record, “Prof. Thomas” February 20, 1908.
[ii] Park Record, “Madam Franklin”, October 21, 1905.
[iv] Park Record, “Madam Franklin”, October 28 1905.
[v] Park Record, “Madam Franklin”, November 11, 1905
[vi] Park Record, “A Clever Act”, August 20, 1904.
[vii] Park Record, “Base Ball”, August 20, 1904.
[viii] Park Record, “Green and Gold”, August 27, 1904.