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John T. Crook Testimony: Scams to Get the Hopkins Fortune: Seances, Table Tipping, and Slate Writing

Updated: Oct 12, 2022

John T. Crook Jr., who provided key testimony in Timothy Hopkins’s suit to overturn Mary Hopkins Searles’s will. (Credit: from the private collection of Jerald Hersey of Lakeland, Florida.)

Just one of the legal battles for the huge fortune left by railroad magnate Mark Hopkins. A story focusing on adopted son Timothy Hopkins’ lawsuit contesting Mark’s widow Mary’s will, which left the estate to her second husband Edward Francis Searles.

Some of the court testimony came from the Crook boys, whose names were not revealed in the press – but with some digging, I uncovered their pedigree and their place among the Hopkins family.

According to the Crook boys, Mary became engrossed in the paranormal and often consulted the spirit of their father Dr. John T. Crook, her former personal physician, as well as her first husband, Mark. Mary did not query the spirits about small matters, but rather on who should be her next marital partner, and who should get her property. The “spirits” furnished the answers through table tipping and slate writing (a method of written communication from the spirits introduced to Mary by Henry Slade). Read more of my story at Genealogybank blog .


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