The Real Threat is the Hypnotist?

The Minneapolis Journal, June 23, 1903


A Minneapolis Woman Seeks Van Sant’s Aid Against Hypnotists

     Because her 18-year-old boy Claude caught the circus fever and eloped with a carnival company in which he played the spectacular part of being buried alive, Mrs. W.F. Nettleton of 110 Fourth avenue SE has asked Governor Van Sant to ‘kindly protect our young men in Minnesota from being hypnotized and buried alive.’ Mrs. Nettleton says that her boy was buried alive at Owatonna and that when his father went to that city to get his son the hypnotist refused to take the boy out of his temporary grave. Mrs. Nettleton made a scene at St. James and secured possession of the boy. Not having in mind habeas corpus proceedings, she informs the governor that the law, ordinarily, is apparently powerless to interfere.
     Mrs. Nettleton inclosed one of the hypnotist’s handbills, in which his act is this described: ‘A subject is placed under hypnotic influence in the open air, free, before the public on the first day of the exhibition. The subject is then placed in a coffin and buried alive under six feet of sod, there remaining night and day until the last day. At any time wished he is disinterred and the hypnotic spell removed.'”

The Minneapolis Journal, June 30, 1905

Mrs. Nettleton wasn’t the only one seeking protection from the powers of those who could influence the mind in the early 1900s. In 1905 an H.J. Nelson from Blooming Prairie, Minnesota sent a telegram to the attorney general’s office insisting that steps be taken to protect people (or himself) from hypnotists and that hynotists be criminally prosecuted.

Fulton Co. News, PA, Mar. 19, 1908

 Friends of Hillis Wayne noticed that his behavior had been a little “off” for a few days and attributed this to him being under the spell of a railroader. An appeal to the police was made requesting that they hypnotist be jailed until he removed Hillis’ spell, but apparently hypnotizing someone wasn’t against the law.