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Alonzo Eliot Newton was born in 1821 in Marlborough, New Hampshire to Silas and Sarah (Chaffin) Newton.  He became a foreman at the Temperance Standard by the age of 23. Two years later he found a position as foreman and proofreader in Cumberland, Maine before moving to Boston in 1849 where he was editor, typesetter, and proofreader for The Pathfinder Railway Guide.

Alonzo married Sarah Emery in 1845. Alonzo and Sarah attended seances with Maria Hayden and Helen Reed in Boston. It appears that Sarah’s ability as a visionary medium threatened the authority of the pastor of their church, The Edwards Congregational Church.  When ejected from the congregation, Alonzo wrote a letter published as a small book entitled: The Ministry of Angels Realized, a Letter to the Edwards Congregational Church in 1853. In it, he made a case for his beliefs: ”There are many other points on which our eyes have been opened to, as we think, a higher view and a clearer vision than we entertained before; but it will be impossible to present them adequately to your minds in a communication like this. We would frankly say, however, that we wish no longer to be considered as bound to any particular view of truth….”

Alonzo made it his mission to educate the public about Spiritualism. He became editor of The Pathfinder with Benjamin Penhallow Shillaber, co-edited the spiritualist newspaper The New Era, and became editor of The New England Spiritualist in 1855. He was commissioned to write tracts on Spiritualism, and edited and published, The Educator, a record of spirit messages received by medium John M Speer, before becoming editor of The Spiritual Age in 1858.

After becoming Secretary for the Haitian Bureau of Emigration which encouraged blacks to emigrate to Haiti, he worked as a clerk in the war department during the Civil War. Following the war, he was superintendent of colored schools of Washington D.C. for five years. Alonzo remarried in 1865 to Charlotte Gassett. They lived in Massachusetts, but Alonzo spent time at Blue Anchor Spiritualist settlement in Camden County, New Jersey before moving there to serve as superintendent of the “industrial college” in the progressive community in Winslow, New Jersey.

He established the following propositions:

I. That man has an organized spiritual nature, to which the physical body is but an outer garment.
II. That he has a conscious individualized existence after the death of the physical body.
III. That the disembodied can and do communicate sensibly with those still in the flesh.
IV. That incalculable good may be derived from such communion, widely used.

Alonzo published Seed Corn: The Principles of Modern Spiritualist in 1873 and The Modern Bethesda, recording the healings of Dr. James R. Newton, in 1879. He died of pneumonia in 1889 in Arlington, Massachusetts.

Additional Reading:

Newton, A. E.  Two Tracts: Tract No. 1 (“Spiritualism Defined”); Tract No. 2 (“What Does Spiritualism Teach?”) Boston: Bela Marsh, no date

Newton, A. E. (1853) The “Ministry of Angels” Realized: A Letter to the Edwards Congregational Church, Boston, A.E. Newton; Sold by B. Marsh

Newton, A. E. (1873) Seed Corn: The Principles of Modern Spiritualism. J. Burns, Boston  

Newton, A. E. (1879) The Modern Bethesda. Newton Publishing Company, New York

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