Thursday, September 4, 2014

Ella's Most Peculiar Husband

19th century clown

     Yesterday's blog was all about Ellen/Ella Galloway/Gray.  Her name changed depending on which source you were looking at.  After I found Ella's marriage, some unpleasant facts about her husband Truman E. Mason began to surface.  For instance, this headline in the Evening Herald from Syracuse, NY about forty miles from Wolcott:   
"Professor" Mason Hypnotized His Wife.  

     The story below the headline reports that in December of 1896 Ella fell asleep and didn't wake the next morning as usual.  Truman claimed he had hypnotized her and she was in a trance from which she would emerge in five days!  What??  Seriously??  It goes on to say he was a "trance medium" who could communicate with the dead as well as levitate objects, and was a hypnotist of remarkable powers who held seances in the local opera house.  Ella did indeed awaken from her "trance" at some point since she lived another two years, but what was the purpose of this odd event?  Publicity?
     You may recall an earlier blog in which I discussed the Fox sisters of Hydesville, not awfully far from Wolcott.  They too claimed to be conversant with the departed and were credited with founding the spiritualist movement.  That was twenty or thirty years before Truman began his supernatural career, but fascination with the new phenomenon was still growing in America.  Especially in the area near the Fox sister's former home.  Perhaps that is what drew Truman, a native of Ohio, to Wayne County, New York in the first place.  I really wonder though, what could the elder Galloway's have made of all this, and of Truman?  Just to add a touch of the surreal, another news article claimed Truman had been a circus clown for twenty years, retiring from the ring in 1876, just three years before his marriage to Ella. That's right, a clown. WTH? 

      I tell you now, I have an intense dislike of clowns and they absolutely terrify my daughter-- she won't even take her child to the circus lest one of these evil creatures approach them.  Clowns are creepy!  Everyone knows that!  Why would Ella marry a clown?  One possessed of weird preternatural abilities besides.  (I hope my daughter never sees this blog, her fears have been realized-- a clown with unearthly powers straight from Lucifer himself.)

     Wait there's more, this article is from the New York Press published in June of 1898, about three months after Ella's death:  
Wolcott-- Truman E. Mason, ex-circus clown, veteran and spiritualistic medium of this village desires to wed and his comrades of the Grand Army of the Republic won't let him...comrade Mason is 60 years old and an invalid and the bride he so much desires is only 20. 

     Truman's health was failing, and he had been financially assisted by his GAR Post for years.  They had no desire to foot the bill for another wife and upon learning of his intentions, they forbade the marriage.  (A clown! are you kidding me?)  Although he protested, it seems that in the end Truman listened to them, I found no evidence the marriage ever took place.  And exactly why would a 20 year old want to marry a destitute, invalid, ex-clown, (shudder), old enough to be her grandfather?  

     Truman lived another eleven years, dying in 1909 and was buried in Wolcott's Glenside cemetery next to Ella.  In a large striped tent, (sorry, just kidding, I'm having some difficulty getting my head around this revolting clown thing) 

     I can't wait to lay this on my aunts who are coming to town from Denver and Chicago this week-end.


  1. I laughed. I shuddered. I scratched my head (5 days?!). But all in all a fascinating family story!

    1. Thanks Nicholas, I know, 5 days? Didn't she need to use the outhouse? I shuddered too!