Ann O'Delia Diss Debar

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Ann O'Delia Diss Debar
Swami Laura Horos.jpg
A portrait of Ann O'Delia Diss Debar
Born Editha Salomen (probable)[1]
1849 (1849)
Died 1909 (aged 59–60)
Nationality American
Other names Ann O'Delia Salomon[2]
Della Ann O'Sullivan
Vera Ava
Editha Lola Montez
Madame Messant (or McGonn)
Swami Viva Ananda
Laura Horos[3]
Laura Jackson[3]
Occupation Medium

Ann O'Delia Diss Debar (probably born Editha Salomen,[1] c. 1849 – 1909 or later) was a late 19th and early 20th century medium and criminal. She was convicted of fraud several times in the US, and was tried for rape and fraud in London in 1901. She was described by Harry Houdini as "one of the most extraordinary fake mediums and mystery swindlers the world has ever known".[1]


Although many sources claim that O'Delia Diss Debar was born as Editha Salomen in Kentucky in 1849, no documentary proof exists.[1] Another commonly reported birth name is Ann O'Delia Salomon.[2] She herself claimed to have been born in Italy in 1854, the daughter of King Ludwig I of Bavaria and his notorious mistress, the dancer Lola Montez, and that she was raised by foster parents from a young age.[citation needed] Her actual father, Prof. John C.F. Salomon, was a Professor of Music at Greenville Female Institute, also known as Daughters' College and now the Beaumont Inn.

Ann O'Delia Diss Debar (also spelled Ann O'Delia Dis Debar[3]) is the most frequently referenced of the many used by Editha in her lifetime, including Editha Lola Montez, Della Ann O'Sullivan, Vera Ava, Madame Messant (or McGoon), Swami Viva Ananda, Laura Horos (or Swami Laura Horos) and Laura Jackson.[3][4] British occultist Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers (1854–1918) briefly believed that she was Anna Sprengel.

She apparently became involved with Victoria Claflin and Tennessee Claflin, popular exponents of spiritualism, in the 1860s and 1870s, and was a disciple of Madame Blavatsky. She claimed to be the wife of West Virginia statesman Joseph H. Diss Debar, and produced "spirit paintings" by Old Masters. She was prosecuted several times for fraud. She was convicted of fraud after persuading elderly lawyer Luther Marsh to give her his townhouse on New York's Madison Avenue, and sentenced to 6 months imprisonment in June 1888. The magician Carl Hertz appeared at the prosecution for the Horos trial in New York. Hertz helped send Horos to jail by duplicating in court the tricks she had used in her séances.[5]

She was imprisoned for two years in Illinois for another fraud, under the name Vera P. Ava; and as Editha Loleta Jackson, she was expelled from New Orleans in May 1899 as a swindler. She was imprisoned for 30 days later that month.[6]

She married Frank Dutton Jackson in Louisiana in 1899, calling herself Princess Editha Lolita. The couple went to England in the 1890s, calling themselves "Swami Laura Horos" and "Theodore Horos".[citation needed] They set up a "Purity League" at the Theocratic Unity Temple, near Regent's Park in London, and worked as fortune tellers and diviners, advertising their services in newspapers, such as The People and the Western Morning Advertiser. They were arrested in Birkenhead in September 1901, and charged with obtaining property by false pretenses, rape and buggery. The later charges seems to have arisen from louche sexual practices at their temple in London. The couple defended themselves, but the Swami was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment, and her husband to 15 years. She was held in the prison in Aylesbury, and released on license in July 1906.[citation needed]

She spent some time in South Africa, calling herself Helena Horos of the College of Occult Sciences, and ran a fruitarian colony in Florida. She was in Cincinnati in 1909, under the name Vera Ava, but her later whereabouts are unknown.[citation needed]

A biography is included in the 1938 book Beware Familiar Spirits by the American magician John Mulholland (reprinted in 1979).[6]


  1. ^ a b c d Harry Houdini. (1924). A Magician Among the Spirits (via
  2. ^ a b Michael Cantor. (2015). Herrmann the Great - A Journey through Media. USB 978-1329084834
  3. ^ a b c d "GRAVE CHARGES AGAINST ANN O'DELIA DIS DEBAR.; English Government Officials Expect that She and the Man Jackson Will Get Life Sentences". New York Times. 1901. 
  4. ^ Lewis Spence. (2003). Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology. Kessinger Publishing. p. 439. ISBN 978-0766128156
  5. ^ Milbourne Christopher. (1969). Houdini: The Untold Story. Crowell. p. 160. ISBN 978-0891909811
  6. ^ a b John Mulholland (1938). Beware Familiar Spirits. Scribner. pp. 251-260. ISBN 0-684-16181-8


  • Harry Price. (1939). Rape and Rhabdomancy, The Law and the Medium. In Fifty Years of Psychical Research. Longmans, Green and Company.

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