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Jesse M. Ellis had every reason to be disappointed.

After all, he was minding his own business in the good State of Georgia when he was hypnotized by literature to move to paradise, the land of Shalam, in the Valley of the Mesilla, New Mexico.

There, he had given 18 months of his life, if not his very soul, to a vegetarian sect called the Faithists, their new bible, 900-page Oahspe (1882), and to their enigmatic leaders, dentist and spiritual medium, Dr. John Balllou Newbrough (1828-1891) who has divinely written Oahspe), and a financial backer, Andrew M. Howland. Jesse Ellis had toiled away at the Faithists' paradise-in-the-making, on the banks of the Rio Grande, one mile from the village of Doña Ana.

Ellis claimed that the sect literature and representations made to him were that the land and improvements owned by the sect would belong to the community. Ellis, his statement in court would later allege, was deceived when the property was transferred from the community to the sole ownership of Howland.

Anyway, as it would be a crime to rush through a T-bone steak dinner, this is not a fast-food tale; it is best enjoyed slowly as, by all accounts, Justice Freeman certainly did. he., of the Supreme Court of the Territory of New Mexico, had before him the appeal brought by Newbrough and Howland as, blasphemy! - Ellis had obtained a $1,500 verdict from a jury in the Doña Ana County Court.

John Ballou NewbroughBoth appellants (Newbrough and Howland) and plaintiff (Ellis) had lawyers. This was more than just Ellis v Newbrough. Given the immortal consequences of this case, the Court was comprised of four judges (O'Brien, Lee and Seeds) but only the one was game to put his name on the opinion, Mr. Justice Freeman.

It was August, 1891. After listening to the arguments from counsel and after having been given the thankless job of writing the opinion of the court, Justice Freeman shuffled the many exhibits and religious booklets on his desk, readied his fountain pen and a thick stack of papers, poured himself a large glass of local intoxicant and dove into the thankless task of sorting out mere mortal evidence from the divine. Evidentally, Freeman had lots of freetime though flashing before his eyes was one singular Latin maxim: fiat justitia ruat caesium.

On the 19th of August, his reasons for judgment were published for which there could be but one explanation, at least to hear Newbrough explain it: divine proof of the righteousness of his Oahspe.

This is a most extraordinary proceeding. So far as we have been enabled to extend our researches, it is without a precedent. It comes to us by appeal from a judgment of the district court for Dona Ana county, refusing to set aside a verdict of a jury in favor of the appellee.

It is an action of trespass on the case.

The declaration sets out substantially the following cause of action, viz.: That, at the time of the committing of the grievances that the plaintiff complains of the defendants were engaged in organizing and establishing a community called Faithists; and, being so engaged, the defendants heretofore … wrongfully and corruptly contriving and intending to deceive and injure the plaintiff, issued and published certain false, fraudulent, and deceitful writings, falsely and fraudulently and deceitfully pretending in said writings to describe the true nature and objects of said community, and to set forth the true state of facts in connection with said enterprize, and thereby to induce the plaintiff to believe that said objects and purposes of the defendants, and said facts in connection with said enterprize, were far different from what they really were, and from what said defendants really intended they should be.

The declaration then proceeds to set out what it is alleged the defendants held out the enterprize to be, viz.: That the property of the community was to be held in common,-no one individual to have any separate title and property; that said community was to be conducted on principles of brotherly love, without master or leader to exercise control over the members; that all the members were to enjoy equally a permanent place in the community, with no authority on the part of any member or members to exclude another; that said community was laid on principles of sound morality and purity of life; that the plaintiff, misled by these pretenses, was induced to become a member of the community; that he did then and there enter into said community with defendants; did consecrate his life, his labor, and all his worldly effects and prospects, together with those of his two children, placing all good faith and confidence in said community; whereas, in truth and in fact, said defendants knew at the time of making said false statements and pretenses that the property of the said community home would not be held in common by the members of said community, but that the title thereto was then and would in future be vested by deed in one individual, to-wit, the defendant Andrew M. Howland; and whereas, in truth and in fact, defendants well knew, before and at the time of making said false statements and misrepresentations, that said community would not be conducted on principles of equality and kindness, without a master.

The declaration then proceeds to charge defendant Newbrough with acts of tyranny, and also with living a life of immorality, etc.; that, by reason of the false representations aforesaid, the plaintiff was induced to become a member of the community; and that he remained a member of such community from October, 1884, until April, 1886, both he and his two children working for the improvement of the home; and the plaintiff saith that the defendants refused, and still refuse, to pay plaintiff for his said work and labor, or any part thereof; by reason whereof plaintiff saith that he has sustained great damage in loss of time and labor and opportunity and in the education of his children, and that he has suffered great anguish of mind in consequence of the dishonor and humiliation brought upon himself and his children by reason of his connection with said defendants in said community; to the damage of the plaintiff in the sum of $10,000.

To this unique and wired complaint a demurrer was interposed. The second and fourth grounds of demurrer are as follows:

"Because there are no sufficient facts alleged in plaintiff's said declaration to charge these defendants, or either of them, with any liability to plaintiff by reason of the matters by plaintiff in his said declaration complained of…. Because the said declaration is duplicitous, in this: that plaintiff in his said declaration has attempted to plead more than one, and various and distinct and different, causes of action in one and the same count."

We think the court erred in overruling this demurrer.

The most that can be gathered from the declaration is that the defendants had conceived some Utopian scheme for the amelioration of all the ills, both temporal and spiritual, to which human flesh and soul are heir; had located their new Arcadia near the shores of the Rio Grande, in the county of Dona Ana, in the valley of the Mesilla; had christened this new-found Vale of Tempe the Land of Shalam; had sent forth their siren notes, which, sweeter and more seductive than the music that led the intrepid Odysseus to the Isle of Calypso, reached the ears of the plaintiff at his far-off home in Georgia, and induced him to consecrate his life and labors, and all his worldly effects, etc., to this new gospel of Oahspe.

This much is gathered from the pleadings.

The evidence adduced in support of the plaintiff's demand is as startling as the declaration is unique.

What the declaration leaves as uncertain, the proof makes incomprehensible.

If the court below had been invested with spiritual jurisdiction, it might have been enabled, through an inspired interpreter, to submit to a mortal jury the precise character of plaintiff's demand. We think an examination of the record before us will amply support these conclusions.

The first and principal witness offered by plaintiff was himself. He sets out in full the nature of his grievance. He admits … that he made no sacrifice of property to become a member of the organization, but that he "threw up a situation" in which he could make a good living. What induced him to make this sacrifice is set out in his testimony. First in order came some specimen of literature published by the society, community order, church, or Faithists, as they were pleased to call themselves.

Over the objections of the defendants, two books were allowed to go to the jury. The first and larger volume is entitled as follows:

"Oahspe: A New Bible in the words of Jehovih and his Angel Embassadors. A sacred history of the dominions of the higher and lower heavens on the earth for the past twenty-four thousand years, together with a synopsis of the cosmogony of the universe; the creation of planets; the creation of man; the unseen worlds; the labor and glory of gods and goddesses in the etherean heavens. With the new commandments of Jehovih to man of the present day. With revelations from the second resurrection, formed in words in the thirty-third year of the Kosmon era."

In the preface to the book it is said of it that "it blows nobody's horn; it makes no leader." It is further stated: "When a book gives us information of things we know not of, it should also give us a method of proving that information true. This book covers that ground."

The inspired author of this new revelation was doubtless somewhat familiar with the writings of his early predecessors. He had read of the jealousies that had arisen between Paul and Barnabas, so that he takes occasion in his preface to assure his disciples that these gospels are not intended to establish the fame of any one,-"it blows nobody's horn." And again having seen innumerable sects spring up as a result of a misconstruction, or rather of a diversified construction, of the earlier gospels, we are furnished with the consoling assurance that this book presents the "method of proving that information to be true."

With this comfortable and comforting assurance, the witness opens this volume of light, and bids us satisfy the hungry longing of our restless spirits by feasting our eyes on its simple truths. This new gospel, in order to prepare our minds for the acceptance and enjoyment of its simple truths, proceeds to dispel the mists of superstition that for nearly 2,000 years have obscured our spiritual vision.

It gives a plain and unvarnished story of the origin of the Christian's Bible.

It is this: That once upon a time the world was ruled by a triune composed of Brahma and Budha and one Looeamong; that the devil, entering into the presence of Looeamong, tempted him by showing the great power of Budha and Brahma, and induced him (Looeamong) to take upon himself the name Kriste, so that it came to pass that the followers of Kriste were called Kristeyans; that Looeamong or Kriste, through his commanding general, Gabriel, captured the opposing gods, together with their entire command of 7,600,000 angels, and cast them into hell, where there were already more than 10,000,000, who were in chaos and madness.

This Kriste afterwards assembled a number of his men to adopt a Code. At this meeting it is said there were produced "two thousand two hundred and thirty-one books and legendary tales of gods and saviors and great men," etc. This council was in session four years and seven months, "and at the end of that time there had been selected and combined much that was good and great, and worded so as to be well remembered of mortals."

The council, or convention, as it would now be termed, having adopted a platform,-that is, agreed upon a Bible,-then proceeded to ballot for a god. "As yet no god had been selected by the council, and so they balloted in order to determine that matter."

On that first ballot the record informs us there were 37 candidates, naming them. This list includes the names of such well-known personages as Vulcan, Jupiter, Minerva.
Kriste stood twenty-second on this ballot.

"Besides these, there were twenty-two other gods and goddesses who received a small number of votes each."

The names of these candidates are not given, and therefore there is nothing in the record to support the contention of the counsel that the list includes the names of Bob Ingersoll and Phœbe Coussins.

The record tells us that at the end of seven days' balloting "the number of gods was reduced to twenty-seven."

And so the convention or council remained in session "for one year and five months, the balloting lasted, and at the end of that time the ballot rested nearly equal on five gods, namely, Jove, Kriste, Mars, Crite, and Siva;" and thus the balloting stood for seven weeks.


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