soul searching

James Kidd was an eccentric copper miner with an interest in the supernatural

James Kidd was no relation to Jimmy the Kid

Kidd mysteriously disappeared in 1949, and was declared legally dead in 1965. Arizona authorities found among his possessions a handwritten will in which the prospector directed that his estate, worth $198,138.53, be used for “research or some scientific proof of a soul of the human body which leaves at death.”

Soul leaving the body found here

Although he boggled at the unusual bequest, Superior Court Probate Judge Robert L. Myers ruled that the will was legitimate, ordered a hearing to find out whether anyone could properly qualify to carry out Kidd’s wish. As the trial got underway, it was apparent that there were plenty of soul-searchers eager to tackle the task. No fewer than 17 organizations and 78 individuals put up the $15 filing fee and were prepared to stake their claims. Among them:

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Nora Higgins, 57, housewife and self-described clairvoyant from Branscomb, Calif., who maintains that the soul has no physical substance but consists of a hazy, tinted form resembling that of the body. At the hearing, she insisted that she had detected Kidd’s soul in the courtroom, “pacing up and down with his hands behind his back, shaking his head at the proceedings.”

Peck in courtroom found here

Another California housewife, Jean Bright, 48, of Encino, who claims to be in constant contact “through my entire nervous system” with a dentist friend who died two years ago. She asks the dentist’s soul yes or no questions about the beyond, Mrs. Bright asserts, and it replies by causing her head either to nod or shake.

amateur dentist found here

William A. Dennis, 64, of Balboa, Calif., a geophysicist who contends that the soul is a center of cosmic vibrations. When the human body is alive, he says, vibrations from the soul give man the power to think and act. When the human body is dead, it is unable to accept or record these vibrations.

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Virat W. Ambudha, 51, a lieutenant colonel in the army of Thailand and author of a book called Increasing Brain Power, who arrived from Bangkok on leave to fight his case, which he based in part on the enigmatic contention that the soul is a “most wonderful, delicate, small thing.”

Dr. Richard Ireland, founder of the University of Life Church in Phoenix, who claims the power to communicate with souls and frequently dons a blindfold to demonstrate his powers of mental telepathy.

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Since the court hearing was announced, Judge Myers, an Episcopalian, has received more than 4,500 letters of advice suggesting proofs for the soul’s existence. Most of them argue that the answer is to be found in the Bible, although a letter from India suggested: “Take a man who is about to die into a small room. All the doors, windows and ventilators should be thoroughly closed so that there is no place for the soul to get out. As soon as the man dies, his soul shall pierce or crack the window glass, thus giving proof of its existence.” Courthouse observers estimate that the hearing will last all summer, but Myers considers himself fortunate in at least one respect: “I don’t have to rule whether or not man has a soul.” That, he explains, is a matter outside his court’s jurisdiction.

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