It is difficult to know Miss Anthony’s personal thoughts on this topic. Given her anguish over loss of family members and her speculations about life after death, it is plausible that she would have tried to commune with loved ones lost. One of six children, she outlived all but one of her siblings and commemorated their birthdays long after their demise. Upon the death of her oldest sister Guelma, Susan wrote her mother:
“Our Guelma, does she look down upon us, does she still live, and shall we all live again and know each other, and work together and love and enjoy one another? In spite of instinct, in spite of faith, these questions will come up again and again.” (Harper, p. 447)
Harper’s biography also records Susan’s anguish over the loss of her brother D.R.’s daughter Susie (her namesake), who drowned while skating on a pond, and of her nephew Guelma’s son Thomas King McLean, “a senior of brilliant promise at Rochester University.”
For all of her grief and speculations about the afterlife, Susan’s response to a reading with a medium at the Lily Dale (NY) Spiritualist center was rather lukewarm. Recently I came across the book Lily Dale by Christine Wicker, which includes this caption under a photo of Susan taking the air outside one of the camp’s cottages:
“Suffragette Susan B. Anthony was a frequent visitor to Lily Dale, where she was invited to speak at annual Women’s Day celebrations….Although not s Spiritualist herself, she did visit a medium and got a message said to be from her aunt. Anthony’s response was, ‘I didn’t like her when she was alive, and I don’t want to hear from her now. Why don’t you bring someone interesting like Elizabeth Cady?’”
Next time: Why did Susan visit Lily Dale?
(Photo of grave of Daniel Read Anthony (Susan’s brother) by Jeanne Gehret