Sue Young Histories

James Martin Peebles 1822 - 1922

March 18, 2008

James Martin PeeblesJames Martin Peebles 1822 - 1922 was an eclectic physician, homeopath (The New York Times 16.2.1922 and spiritualist. He was a colleague of Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and a close friend of Emma Hardinge Britten,

‘… James Martin Peebles credits Emerson for giving him the first impulse to the study of oriental literature. He wrote in 1909, “A generation ago, [fall of 1865] while reading Emerson’s Essays and hearing some of his public lectures, I decided to know him personally, and so, calling at his Concord residence, I received a most cordial and graceful welcome into his library, choice and massive. This was a red-letter day.”…’ * (J M Peebles, [Seers of the Ages: Embracing Spiritualism, Past and Present: Doctrines Stated and Moral Tendencies*](,+%5Bfall+of+1865%5D+while+reading+Emerson%E2%80%99s+Essays+and+hearing+some+of+his+public+lectures,+I+decided+to+know+him+personally,+and+so,+calling+at+his+Concord+residence,+I+received+a+most+cordial+and+graceful+welcome+into+his+library,+choice+and&hl=en&sa=X&ei=LHjzUtzZL9Ce0wXyroCIDg&redir_esc=y), (BiblioBazaar, 2009). See also

By Linda Pendleton - “The ancestors of James Martin Peebles, originally from the ancient town of Peebles in Peebleshire, Scotland, settled in the north of Ireland more than three hundred years ago.

Staunch Protestants with very pronounced religious convictions, they endured much persecution during a period of intense and bitter controversies.

In 1718, Robert and Sarah Peebles and children, emigrated from Ulster, Ireland to America and settled in Pelham, Massachusetts. Their eldest son, Patrick Peebles, was fifteen at the time. In 1737, Patrick’s eldest son, Robert was born in Pelham, Massachusetts. James Martin Peebles’ grandfather, Patrick Peebles, son of Robert Peebles, was born about 1770-1772, and by the time Patrick’s first son, James Peebles Sr. was born in 1796, the family lived in Whitingham, Vermont.”

“In 1820, James Peebles, Sr., married Whitingham schoolmistress, Nancy Brown, daughter of Deacon Jonas and Lois Brown, and a seventh generation descendant of Thomas Brown, who was living in Concord, Massachusetts as early as 1640. James Peebles Sr. served as a Captain in the Vermont Militia for many years and held various township offices.”

“James Martin Peebles was born March 23, 1822, at the family homestead in Whitingham, Vermont, the second born of eight children of James and Nancy Peebles.

The young James excelled as a student and at the age of sixteen entered the Oxford Academy in New York State to continue his studies, majoring in Latin, Greek, and the Classical Literature of the ancient periods. While a student at the Academy he became a teacher, with some of his students even older than himself.”

“At the age of twenty he was ordained a Universalist minister and preached in Kellogsville, Oswego and Elmira, New York; and in Baltimore, Maryland. During this period, a new spiritual movement began to sweep across America and overseas. The Reverend James M. Peebles was one who chose to stand in the bright light of the new Spiritualism.”

“By 1856, Dr. Peebles was preaching Spiritualism at the Free Spiritualist Church in Battle Creek, Michigan. In 1860, he went to Sacramento, California, where he spent nearly two years ministering throughout the gold mine camps in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

It was not long until he became known as ‘the spiritual pilgrim’ as he enthusiastically spread his Spiritualists’ philosophy through lectures, writings, and travels around the United States and the world. Himself a medium, he was surrounded by what he called his ‘band of angels’ from whom he received inspiration and spiritual guidance.”

“Aaron Knight was the first of Dr. Peebles’ ‘angels’ or spirit guides to come to his attention. Mr. Knight, the Elucidator, was the spokesman for a group of nine guides, which included Dr. Peebles’ deceased brother, Lorenzo; Mozart, the Spiritual Harmonizer; Madame Elizabeth, the Love-angel and sister of Louis XVI of France; Parasee Lendanta, an Italian scientist; Hosea Ballou, known as the Sermonizer; Caná, known as the Positivist; James Leonard; and John W. Leonard, a clergyman from Edinburgh, Scotland.

As Reverend Peebles became more conscious of angel-presence surrounding him, he came to understand his ‘band of angels’ was larger than the aforementioned nine. There were two intertwining bands associated with Dr. Peebles: Chief Powhatan, father of Pocahontas, and known as the Magnetic Cleanser; a Pawnee Chief; two doctors known as the Analyzers; a quaint and witty Irishman; and John, the Beloved, around whom the whole band revolved as planets around their central sun.”

“In 1852, James married Mary Conkey, a teacher in the Clinton Liberal Institute of Clinton, New York. Mary was considered refined, intelligent, well educated. She excelled as a painter and in later years became a spirit artist. The couple lost three children, either through miscarriages or as infants, and in 1861, their adopted son, Louie, died at the age of ten.

In 1867, James and Mary bought a large home in Hammonton, New Jersey. Mary maintained the home, most often in the absence of her husband, who for health reason preferred a warmer climate, and who apparently believed the calling of his life’s work was more important than maintaining a ‘normal’ married life. Mary died at the Hammonton, New Jersey home in 1909 at eighty-three years of age.”

“James began a study of medicine in his youth, studying with Dr. O. Martin, but it was not until the age of fifty-four that he completed his medical studies at the University of Medicine and Surgery in Philadelphia (closed 1880 ?Hahnemann College of Pennsylvania).

He initiated his medical practice in Philadelphia, and soon after had a sanitarium at his home in Hammonton, New Jersey. For several years, Dr. Peebles was a member of the faculty of the Eclectic Medical College, Cincinnati, Ohio, and later served as president of the College of Science in Los Angeles.

In 1892, he had a sanitarium in San Antonio, Texas and by 1894 was living and practicing medicine at his health-home sanitarium in San Diego, California.

In 1896, he opened a branch sanitarium in Indianapolis, Indiana, under the direction of Dr. John A. Burroughs. During this time, he also published his Temple of Health Journal.

In 1902, he founded the Peebles’ Institute of Health in Battle Creek, Michigan. Within a short few years, he moved to Los Angeles where he continued medical practice.”

“An international lecturer, prolific and talented author and journalist, Dr. Peebles published more than thirty books and endless newspaper articles and essays during his long lifetime. For many years he was a regular columnist for the Spiritualist paper, The Banner of Light.

He journeyed the world five times; the first time in 1865 aboard the Cunarder Persia, and wrote of his adventures within several editions of his book, Around the World (and Five Journeys Around the World). He completed his fifth trip in June 1913, at the age of 91, returning to New York on the Atlantic Transport liner Minnehaha from London, at which time he was interviewed by the New York Times as to the secret of his vitality at 91 years of age.

He was probably best known as an author, for his books, Seers of the Ages: Embracing Spiritualism Past and Present, published first in 1869, and followed by several later editions; What is Spiritualism and Who are these Spiritualists?, published in 1903; How to Live a Century and Grow Old Gracefully, published in 1881; and in medical circles for Vaccination, A Curse and a Menace to Personal Liberty, published in 1905.”

“Two authorized biographies of James Martin Peebles were published: the first, Spiritual Pilgrim by J. O. Barrett in 1871, and the second, A Biography of James Martin Peebles by Edward Whipple was published in 1901.

In 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Dr. Peebles to the position of U.S. Counsel at Trebizonde, Turkey, where he served for nearly two years. He was a member of the Congressional American Indian Peace Commission and a delegate to several international peace conferences, and an active and outspoken participant in the anti-slavery, temperance, and women’s suffrage movements.

Dr. Peebles delivered the first series of Sunday evening lectures on Spiritualism in London, Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania. He often shared the lecture platform with Gerritt Smith, Henry Wright, William Lloyd Garrison, Sojourner Truth, Lucretia Mott, and others.

Dr. Peebles was affiliated with the Freemasons; Knight Templars; Odd Fellows; Sons of Temperance; Independent Order of Good Templars; and Theosophy.

Several times he toured India with Col. Henry Steel Olcott, who founded Theosophy with H.P. Blavatsky. Dr. Peebles was instrumental in establishing educational facilities in India and Ceylon with Col. Henry Steel Olcott was a fellow of the Anthropological Society, London; the Psychological Society, London; Academy of Arts and Sciences, Naples; and several other societies.

He founded the Peebles College of Science and Philosophy in Los Angeles in 1914, the California Centenarian Clubs in 1915, and was president of the California Humanitarian League.”

“James Martin Peebles died in Los Angeles, February 15, 1922, days short of his one hundredth birthday, and at a posthumous centennial birthday banquet celebration held in his honor in Los Angeles, his communication from the other side through a medium and his message from Heaven was reported in a number of major newspapers across the country, and elsewhere, including the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times.

Dr. Peebles’ communication with those of us on Earth has continued since that time.”

With thanks to Dana Ullman:

In the mid-1980s, I organized a conference for the National Center for Homeopathy in Boston. One of our speakers was a very special and totally energetic 90+ year old Elinore Peebles (1897 – 1992) who was one of the leaders of the Boston’s laymen’s leagues (a group of non-medical professionals who worked for the promotion of homeopathy).

She was also a Swedenborgian (based on the works of Emanuel Swedenborg), and she was the author of a chapter on homeopathy in a leading large-sized book on Emanuel Swedenborg. I quote her in my new book, “The Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy,” in my discussion of Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science movement.

Peebles claims to have known the Eddy secretly sought the care of a homeopathic physician who trained with James Tyler Kent, MD, the famous American classical homeopath.

Elinore Peebles was the daughter of a Boston homeopath, though it doesn’t seem that James Martin Peebles was her father since he would have to have been 75 at her birth.

I just discovered that Elinore Peebles was the daughter of Charles Cutting (a Boston homeopath), and she married Waldo Cutler Peebles*, active in both homeopathy and the New Church (the Swedenborg Church).

Elinor Peebles. She was born in 1897 to the well-known homeopathic physician Charles Cutting. She grew up listening to his accounts of homeopathic healing. She sat in on her father’s Sunday afternoon gatherings of local homeopathic physicians.

Of the five physicians who attended regularly, three were active Swedenborgians. She so often heard Emanuel Swedenborg and homeopathy discussed together, that it took her some years to realize that they were not the same thing.

She came to realize that a

“great number of homeopathic physicians…were what I would call ‘unchurched [Swedenborgians](../archives/2010/03/29/emanuel-swedenborg-1688-1772/).’ For, although only a minority were active church members, a great many more believed that familiarity with [Emanuel Swedenborg](../archives/2010/03/29/emanuel-swedenborg-1688-1772/)’s writings was helpful in practicing their homeotherapeutics.”

Elinor’s father died when she was young, so she left school to help support her family. She never went to college, but she became one of the country’s most informed students of homeopathy. She married Waldo Cutler Peebles*, active in both homeopathy and the New Church.

Waldo Cutler Peebles* wrote Swedenborg’s Influence Upon Goethe and Democratic Tendencies on the Spanish Literature of the Golden Age.


Any views or advice in this site should not be taken as a substitute for medical advice or treatment, especially if you know you have a specific health complaint