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The Lost Franklin Expedition

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The Lost Franklin Expeditionhttps://i0.wp.com/www.spiritualpathspiritualistchurch.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/franklin-expedition-merl.jpg?fit=1200%2C676&ssl=1

In 1845, Captain Sir John Franklin sailed from England with two ships, the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, trying to navigate sections of the Arctic Northwest Passage. Their crews totaled 129 officers and men and after no news of them by 1848, they were considered lost

Lack of communication at that time made it difficult to find the lost ships. Jane Franklin, John’s wife, and her niece, Sophia Cracoft, took it upon themselves to manage the information that was reported. Much of it was rumor and hoaxes. A search was launched for the missing expedition in 1848, but the ships were not located.

During that time, mesmerism was a new phenomenon under investigation. One of those investigators was Dr. Joseph W. Haddock. He found that by using small doses of ether, he could put his domestic servant, Emma, into a trance-like state. Emma, the “Seeress of Bolton,” was used to demonstrate the trance state during the doctor’s public lectures.

Over time, the doctor experimented with Emma to see if she had any clairvoyant ability. Although the woman was illiterate, she was able to solve two lost and found cases in their local area. She also described a man in Australia and could see that the seasons were the opposite where the man lived.

Captain Alexander Maconochie was an associate of Dr. Haddock’s, and when Franklin went missing, he requested that Emma be asked about the ships and crew. In the fall of 1848, she said that Franklin and a few of the crew were still alive. She described Franklin as a bald man, which he was. She also said they were clad in rough skins and their cheeks were sunk in, but the men remained hopeful. When asked to locate the ships, Emma pointed to locations on a map of the Arctic region. At first, she indicated the Barrow’s Straits and then Queen Elizabeth Islands.

Another clairvoyant, Ellen Dawson, was also employed to locate the ships and crew. She said that the men were still alive and had a few food stores to keep them for a while. She couldn’t give any details about the location of the men. A search ship under the command of James Clark Ross, searched for the missing ships and crew, but they were never found.

Modern researchers believe the men of the expedition did not die quickly. They could still have been alive in 1848, as Emma suggested. But eventually they would have succumbed to hypothermia, starvation and other deficiencies in the hostile environment.

In 2014, a Canadian search team, with help from Inuit stories, located the wreck of Erebus in the eastern portion of Queen Maud Gulf. Two years later, the Arctic Research Foundation found the wreck of Terror south of King William Island. These were located about 300 miles south of Emma’s suggested location.

Additional Reading:

Mc Corristine, Shane. “Mesmerism, clairvoyance and the search for the lost Franklin expedition.” In Spectral Arctic, UCL Press. www.jstor.org

Woodman, D.C. (1991) Unravelling the Franklin Mystery: Inuit Testimony. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press.


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