Swami Laura Horos
Swami Laura Horos (c. 9 February 1849 – after 1909) was a late 19th and early 20th century medium. 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".
She 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. However, it seems that she was born in Harrodsburg, Kentucky in 1849, while her father Prof. John C.F. Salomon, was a Professor of Music at Greenville Female Institute, also known as Daughters' College, now the Beaumont Inn. Her given name was Ann O'Delia Salomon. She seems to have been married many times, and used the names Princess Editha Lola Montez, Edith Solomon, Della Ann O'Sullivan, Ann O'Delia Diss Debar (or Dis De Bar), Vera Ava, Madame Messant or McGoon, or Swami Viva Ananda. British occultist Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers (1854–1918) briefly accepted 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.
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.
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". 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 licence in July 1906.
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.
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- Milbourne Christopher. (1969). Houdini: The Untold Story. Crowell. p. 160. ISBN 978-0891909811
- John Mulholland (1979). Beware Familiar Spirits. Scribner. ISBN 978-0684161815
- Fraudulent fortunes, Law Society Gazette, 2 December 2004
- Rape and Rhabdomancy, The Law and the Medium, Fifty Years of Psychical Research (1939)
- chroniclingamerica.loc.gov, Paducah sun., October 16, 1901, Weekly Edition, Image 3.