John Ballou Newbrough – Biography, History and Inventions

John Ballou

John Ballou Newbrough

John Ballou Newbrough was humbly born on 5 June, 1828, in a log cabin in the farm of his family a couple of miles north of Mohicanville, Ashland, Ohio, to William Newbrough (1791-1878) and Elizabeth Newbrough, nee Polsley (1795-1875).

William Newbrough was a British American (Newbrough family comes from Aberdeenshire, Scotland), born in Maryland. Elizabeth Polsley was a Swiss American (Baltzli->Balsley->Polsley family comes from Langnau, canton Bern, Switzerland), born in Morgantown, West Virginia, who was attracted to spiritualism. Newbroughs lived off the land, raising their own food, but William Newbrough was an educated man, who had attended the famous William and Mary College in Virginia and use to work as the local schoolmaster in Mohicanville.

John’s middle name was after the American Universalist clergyman and theological writer, Hosea Ballou (1771–1852). John Ballou was the fourth children in the family, after the boys Jacob Cyrus (1819-1822), Solomon Daniel (1819-1896) and Eugenius Polsley (1824-1888), and he had 2 younger brothers—Josephus Justice (1829-1911) and Franklin Cicero (1835-1913), and a sister—Paulina Olive (1832-1866).

John Ballou was clairvoyant from childhood, although his father was a stern man, flogging his son when the latter began to receive spirit messages. John was educated in the local schoolhouse, and in 1844 he went to Cleveland Medical College to study both medicine and dentistry, where his schooling were paid for by his mother selling wool and eggs and John working as a dental assistant to the famous dentist Dr. F. S. Slosson, helping to make dental plates and taking impressions for false teeth.

In 1849 Newbrough graduated from the college. He then worked for a short time under the supervision of his uncle, who was the head physician in an "insane asylum".

In 1848 gold was discovered in California. In 1849 Newbrough and his Scotsman partner, John Turnbull, decided to go California. They were successful, accumulating a small fortune, and afterward, in 1851, they mined gold in Australian gold fields of Ballarat also, where Newbrough struck a claim worth $25000.

After making his fortune and circling the globe, Newbrough returned in US in 1855. He shared part of his good fortune with his family back in Ohio, where his parents and younger siblings still lived. Then he began practice as a physician in Cincinnati, but soon switched to dentistry and moved to Dayton and St. Louis.

John Newbrough married the young Rachel Turnbull (1844-1918), a sister of his gold field partner John Turnbull, on 24 February, 1860, in the Presbyterian Church at Jedburgh, Scotland. The Newbroughs settled initially in Philadelphia, where Newbrough practiced dentistry until 1862, then moved to New York City for more than twenty years. They had three children: the boys William (1860-1919), who became a civil engineer, George (died at age 2), and the daughter Elizabeth (1865-1954), who became an artist.

John Newbrough was a writer and poet. His first novel was a 600-page book about his experiences in the California Gold Rush: The Lady of the West, or the Gold Seekers, printed at Cincinnati, in 1855, was a love story during the adventure. Later he published several other books, between them one, which made him famous: Oahspe: A New Bible. It was published in 1882, purporting to contain new revelations from …the Embassadors of the angel hosts of heaven prepared and revealed unto man in the name of Jehovih…. Newbrough reported it to have been written by automatic writing, making it one of a number of 19th-century spiritualist works attributed to that practice.

Francis VandewaterNewbrough fathered a daughter, Justine, born January 1, 1884, to his dental assistant Frances Vandewater Sweet (see the nearby portrait). In April, 1884, his wife Rachel ordered him to leave their house in New York City (they divorced in 1886 and Newbrought married to Frances Vandewater). Newbrough and Vandewater moved to a farm at Pearl River, New York, which by March 1884 they named "Camp Hored", the staging place for founding Shalam Colony, as outlined in Oahspe.

Later in 1884, Newbrough and Andrew Howland, a member of distinguished New England family and heir to a vast whaling fortune, set out to find an appropriate site for the colony, and selected 1490 acres in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Soon, 22 Faithists arrived and settled a colony, to care for and raise foundlings and orphan children to better world as adults. The colony and Newbrough himself had a lot of problems, but managed to survive somehow until 1891, when ultimate disaster befell the colony. A outbreak of influenza devastated the area, and Newbrough himself was struck down, dying on 22 April, 1891. For almost a decade, Frances Newbrough and Andrew Howland attempted to revive the faded dream, struggling to keep the colony going. By 1900, Shalam was destitute. The school closed, children rebelled and colonists squabbled.

John Ballou, a 33rd degree Mason, a vegetarian, and an avid student of the world’s religions, was an inventive man and a holder of numerous US patents, between them three patents for calculation devices (see calculating machine of John Ballou), and also for manufacturing of rubber (US patent 73916, for this patent he ran into trouble with the Goodyear Rubber Co., because he developed a much cheaper compound to set teeth in dental plates than the one produced by Goodyear, which dominated the market), artificial teeth (US85927), furnace pot (US115677), car for railway (US121539), ventilator (US142140) and exercising apparatus (US169467).


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