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Don’t Ya’ Know

by Suzanne McLain Rosenwasser


Chapter Two

Regianne Morley's family had inhabited ten acres of property on the west side of

Stirling Island for more than 200 years. Here, a point punches out at the mainland in a

curled fist of rock that strikes against the ever-rushing current. The sea slams back with a

ferocious notoriety, sending ill-captained boats into jagged, granite teeth. On the maps and

sea charts, the area is known as Scylla’s Neck.

The faith healer’s mother was Portia Morley, who died when Regianne was six; Portia is

buried with her ancestors in the Quaker cemetery that sits at Scylla’s Neck next to the

Quaker Meeting House dated 1652. George Fox, the founder of the Society of Friends, is

said to have visited Stirling Island in the 17th century. The Morleys were ancestors of

Quakers who fled New England during a contentious, and often deadly, period of intolerance

practiced by Puritans. The Morley’s came to Stirling Island because it was known in the

Colonies as a place where Friends were welcome. At the time the Island was populated with

a mix of Brits, Scots and native Indians. The Europeans arrived under the rule of James I,

the King of Scotland who inherited the British throne through Divine Right upon the death

of Elizabeth I. The Puritans hated the King as they had his Queen Aunt; thus James I’s

Stirling Island became a place of welcome refuge for persecuted Quakers.

The other predominant Island group was a mix of Manhasset, Montauk and Shinnecock

Indians, a scattering of Long Island natives who had refused to leave regardless of the

Grand Sachem’s agreement requiring their departure upon the sale of the Island to white

men in 1628. There was also a Poosepatuck family from a tribe of Beach Indians who

emigrated from their indigenous group on the mainland when Christian missionaries tried to
convert them. Then, in the 1660s while five Stirling Island men offered their lives in

defense of the Union, the Quakers introduced escaped slaves to the Island culture, adding

a curious Barbadian dash to the generations who became the ‘Scalers’.

The Morleys eventually married descendants of the Poosepatucks and came to occupy

land bordered on one side by the Quaker cemetery, consistently maintained by the Society

of Friends, and on the other side by Indian burial grounds, the responsibility of the Morleys

who were the Scalers with the most clear Indian blood lines.

The old Morley farmland was just a homestead before Regianne’s great grandmother,

Eula, hit on a market trend in 1881 and transformed it into a guest house. Stirling Island

had been discovered for a second time the decade before by consortiums of industrial

tycoons and religious zealots who bought prime seaside land on its eastern shores. On the

west end of the Island, Eula Morley, widowed and raising two young sons, saw her

opportunity; she had beach access just like they did on the East side of the Island, after

all. The widow Morley opened 8 rooms to guests in the big house and furnished the out-

buildings as dwellings for another four families. Soon enough, the tourists who came to

Sterling divided themselves by class, practice, and preference from east to west.

******************

On the eastern tip of Stirling Island, the wealthy and bon vivant took to the heights of

The Strand Hotel which stood grandly on a cliff parallel to Calliope’s Point, staring out over

Long Island Sound. The Strand boasted 125 magnificent guest suites sprawled over game,

music, and dining rooms. It was the concept of a group of yachtsmen and financial wizards –

ancestors of Cola Adams among them - who would soon be credited for making the 1890s
gay. Their attention to detail attracted those with money to spend and deep boat slips,

dredged at long piers, attracted the most magnificent sailing crafts on the Eastern

seaboard.

The Strand also became a stop for passenger steamers, carrying visitors who travelled

two hours along New York’s tidal basin from Pier 13 at Wall Street to land at Long Island’s

newest retreat. These elegant vessels disembarked beautiful people in stunning

processions from May to September. At The Strand, patrons played badminton on beach

courts and golf, the newest sensation, on a nine-hole seaside course. They met members of

brother yacht clubs from all along the Sound and brokered New York deals inspired on

expansive porches overlooking the bay. They drank champagne at dinner and danced under

Edison’s electric lights in the music hall at night.

Below this revelry, on a shore line that curved down gentle slopes from a rocky

promontory, The Piper’s Grove Camp Association of the Methodist Episcopal Church

developed 200 acres to the glory and honor of their Christian souls. The sober engineers

of the investment group designed the land to cater to what they called “Muscular

Christians”- families whose views were far more intent on inward glories than those who

danced at The Strand. The rolling, rocky hills matched the Methodist Camp site at Oak

Bluff on Martha’s Vineyard, and in like fashion, soon housed a large, simple hotel, surrounded

by airy pavilions, parks, and bath houses, as well as a large barn, which hosted alcohol-free,

community dinners followed by - the preferred form - shouting preachers who raised funds

like auctioneers at the end of each session (“Do I hear a donation of $20?”). Several lacey

Victorian cottages, available for lease, were built closer to the water on land that had been

black and bayberry picking-grounds for generations of Scalers.


It was no small irony that the sober, religious migrants who flocked to pray the word of

their Lord and Savior at Piper’s Grove could be gazed upon from the heights of The Strand’s

brightly lit music hall by the elite who danced and drank until dawn. But of further interest,

was the community who came ashore from the Stirling Island Ferry at the east end of the

Island and crossed westward four miles over the Old Post Road to visit their dead during

an evening séance at The Morley Guest House.

The séances started with two sisters who came to Morley’s in 1884: Adelaide and

Annamarie Coeur, upstate New York Quakers. The Coeur sisters were from a radical sect

that devoted themselves to the rise of Spiritualism sweeping America at the time. The

success of psychic colonies like Chautauqua and Lily Dale had paved the way for the Coeurs

to bring their vibrations to Stirling Island. Their spirit-seeds rattled the bones of

abolition, tolerance, free love, and women’s rights, and they took root at The Morley House

when the sisters left them behind, in consideration of certain financial arrangements. Eula

Morley recognized opportunity when she saw it; she knew the cemeteries on either side of

her property offered further dimension to the spirit figures whose essences soon drew

scores of believers from the mainland.

The Coeurs and their vibrations were an attraction from the moment of their arrival

when a horse-drawn, wagon-taxi holding a dozen visitors halted in front of the Morley’s;

Instantly, Adelaide Coeur arose. She threw her hands in the air and shouted, much to

everyone’s surprise: “Exalt, one and all. Bare your souls to this hallowed land.”
Following her bellowing exclamation, Adelaide promptly sat down on the wagon bench and

began to remove her shoes, holding the attention of her fellow riders, the driver, and even

the wagon’s horse – who was probably turned because this disembarkment was taking much

longer than usual; however, due to the later proceedings, the rapt attention of the horse

was sited as evidence that spirits were indeed present. Shoes and stockings in hand,

Adelaide stood, refused the aid of the driver, and declared: “My soles will not impede my

soul from the energies beneath my feet.”

With that, Adelaide Coeur ceremoniously planted one foot, and then the other, on the

Morely’s land, turned to those behind her, and said: “Prepare yourselves to step on holy

ground.”

Adelaide and Annamarie Coeur didn’t even know about the cemeteries then.

**************

The Morleys had become accustomed to the eccentricities of their mainland visitors and,

watching from the front stoop of the rambling farmhouse, they knew a wagonful of

adventures had just arrived. Adelaide strode toward the house exclaiming that her spirits

had found their home. “Their roots are tickling my feet!” she warbled. Only her diminuitive

sister followed her; the rest of the guests had yet to move from the taxi.

Eula snapped at her sons to run to the wagon and help with the other guests; for a

moment, she feared they weren’t going to get off the wagon. However the sight of two tall

and tan, teen-age boys, running toward the wagon, prompted the immediate action of some

of the younger girls who poked their parents into movement.


Later that day, Eula Morley walked the grounds with a more sedate Adelaide Coeur and

listened to her stories of mediums, crystal balls, spirit cabinets, vibration photography,

séances, and Ouija Boards. Just as they approached the Quaker Cemetery, Adelaide

grasped Eula’s arm, and whispered emotionally: “You live with spirits. Why didn’t you tell

me this? You live with spirits. Do you take care of them?”

“Not them,” Eula replied, turning to point in the opposite direction. “I take care of

them.” Eula indicated the Indian burial grounds which the woods had filled in over the

years; however, looking carefully, Adelaide saw a mound which was five-feet tall and 20-

feet wide.

“Mound Builders?” Adelaide said in astonishment. “Mound Builders this far East?”

“Well,” Eula replied, unsure of the intensity of Adelaide’s question, “Indian burial

grounds. Manhasset. Poosepatuck. Shinnecock - Long Island Indians, like the Montauks – at

least, that’s what we think. People have found pottery, and we can trace ourselves back. I

used to play on the mound when I was a kid. We protect it from that now.”

Adelaide was still; transformed, actually. She became legitimately reverent before she

spoke: “Mound builders are not indigenous to this area, Mrs. Morley.”

“Excuse me,.” Eula said. “What does that mean, Miss Coeur?”

“Mound Builders are pre-Columbian, at least that’s what I think; I’m a student of the

ages, Mrs. Morley, a graduate of Vassar. There are all sorts of beliefs about the Mounds –

generally that they begin in South Georgia and travel up through the mid-section of the

continent. There have been hoaxes, of course…but…well, anyway. Thomas Jefferson

personally excavated a Mound in Virginia and concluded from the burial practices that they

were directly related to those of the Indians of his time. Joseph Smith, attributed the
Mounds to the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, the Jews, in the Book of Mormon; but I’ve also

seen many credible references to the Mounds being pre-historic. You’ve got something

here, Mrs. Morley. The Mounds are mystical; they house ancient spirits who have lain

undisturbed since their souls blended with the earth. These vibrations are valued above all

by the true Spiritualist, Mrs. Morley.”

Eula could see the Evangelist arising in Adelaide Coeur; the woman’s demeanor changed

again and her voice rose as she spoke:

“These virginal, undisturbed innocent spirits long to be part of the human plan. We can

tap into their souls, Mrs. Morley, and may I add: you’ve got a gold mine here. An absolute

gold mine, Mrs. Morley, because – don’t you see? The Ten Lost Tribes? That’s a very

popular theory, which means, we’ll attract the Jews, too! Wall Street Jews, Mrs. Morley.

You’ve got a gold mine here. Trust me.”

Eula noticed that Adelaide had a way of absorbing the air around her and leaving it

empty when she finished speaking.

“Adelaide,” Eula said, slowly - knowing she had to break through some vacuum. “I know

you’re an educated, academic scholar – and I don’t want to be contrary; but the mounds

came from scraping up the Indian cemetery to make a level farm and piling the remains all in

the same place. They were just created out of economic necessity. You know, somewhere a

hundred years ago when eating was more important than memorializing. My grandfather

used to laugh about it. ‘Go take a piss on your dead Indian ancestors boys,’ he’d say to my

brothers, ‘We piled ‘em up over there in the mud.’ It was my mother who began to respect

the mound when my brother unearthed what was surely the skeleton the of an infant.. She

planted cedar seedlings around the mounds and said we couldn’t play there any more.”
Adelaide was still again. She held her chin with her hand as she tightened her gaze with

a furrowed brow: “Mrs. Morley, how many people know that?”

*********************

Eula figured it wouldn’t hurt to let Adelaide exclaim about her version of the Mounds to

the guests gathered in the parlor for tea and cakes that afternoon. It was clear that

Adelaide held them all in rapt attention as she poured forth her knowledge about the

mysteries of Burial Mounds, enhancing the facts with acknowledgements to her spirits who

apparently intervened in the delivery from time to time. Eula noticed her sons were

enthralled as well; but the expression on the face of a New York banker who’d been bringing

his family to the Morley’s for several summers, caught Eula up short – especially his reaction

to the part about Adelaide’s visitation from a child at the Mounds, an Indian spirit-child who

said her tribe had been lost from the other nine tribes who’d been wandering endlessly,

seeking the families from whom they’d been parted. Plaintively, Adelaide said, the child

asked Eula for help. “Didn’t she, Mrs. Morley?”

Eula hadn’t expected the question, of course; she felt her eyes grow huge with the

penetrating gazes of all the others in the room. Eula shrugged and stammered because she

felt the irritation of the banker. Before Eula could refute Adelaide, however, the agitated

Spiritualist spoke: “Well, it was quite a shock, as you can see,” Adelaide went on as if Eula’s

oblivion was an affirmative. “The tribal child was very small, so her essence was hard to

read - but her message was for Joseph.”


Hearing her son’s name made both Eula and Joseph jump. Adelaide stepped in front of

them. “Your name is Joseph, is it not young Master Morley?” She had everyone’s attention

now. “The message is about a search for a stick,” Adelaide continued. “The stick will say

Judah on it. If this doesn’t make sense to you now, it will later. The lost child said:

‘Joseph is to seek Judah’s scroll.’ I don’t know what it means, I’m just the messenger.”

Reuben Autler Goldsmith, New York banker, protested this claim immediately. He stood

with a stomp, looked deliberately at Adelaide Coeur and said: “I take great offense at your

using the sacred beliefs of the Talmud to perpetrate the fraud of Spiritualism, Miss Coeur.

The Morleys have always hosted a fine mix of open-minded countrymen; hence, our repeated

visits here. Tonight, however, Eula Morley has allowed you to cross the line. I’ll have you

know, I am a Jew. I do not abide by all that we do; however, I know this: Jews do not

communicate through Spiritualists. Your perpetration here is as false as can be. The Lost

Tribes of Israel do not bury themselves in dungpiles by the sea nor whisper in P. T. Barnum’s

ear. You are a fraud. You will not prey upon me and my family.”

Mr. Goldsmith herded his wife and children out the door, muttering about packing up

their cottage and leaving on the next ferry. Eula ran after them, coaxing him to reconsider

as she scurried.

The remaining guests turned back to Adelaide who said in a chirpy voice: “Who’d like to

take a sunset walk to tour the Mounds?”

Hands slowly rose all around the parlor; but Joseph Morley and his brother sprang to

their feet so they could be on either side of the Coeur sisters before anyone else got

there.
While strolling toward the edge of the farm, Adelaide interjected her idea of holding a

séance in the parlor that evening. “The spirits are here,” she said, making sure everyone

stopped to ingest the glory of the sunset behind her. “The vibration-child was asking Mrs.

Morley to sit for her tonight. I know how to bring the child into the parlor, if you’d like me

to.”

The eyes of the group were transfixed on the aura Adelaide had drawn around herself

with the natural light, so when she turned and pointed them toward the “sacred Indian

Burial Mound.” It was as if a Spirit had directed their eyes and Adelaide tuned into their

collective consciousness. “Who sees the little spirit child?” she asked.

It was just at dusk, June 30th 1884 on the edge of a covert of woods at the foot of a

plateau-topped mound surrounded by cedar trees fed by a lapping sea. Adelaide Coeur asked

again, with her eyes closed and her arms raised: “Who sees the little spirit child?” The

purpled-blue sky enveloped Adelaide, and she used every hue of it: “The child is beckoning

you. Who are you? What is the name of the one she calls?”

The tallest of Eula’s teenaged sons stepped forward: “It is my name,” he said strongly.

“I am Reginald Judah Morely. I am the one she calls.”

******************

No one’s eyes were larger than those of young Reginald who sat in amazement across the

séance table from one of the Coeurs, straining to make sense of table raps from his great-

great-grandfather, as Annamarie Coeur chanted. The soft hum of the woman’s words were

hard to decipher - but communicated something to the effect that the Morley’s guest

house was indeed a place where the spirits of Indians, Slaves and Quakers came, in
Adelaide’s words, “to suck peace from the bosom of the sea with which to heal the wounds

of those who follow.”

In later years, Eula Morley credited this séance and the banker Goldsmith for increasing

her business. The Goldsmiths could not leave Stirling Island as quickly as intended; the

East Ferry stopped running at 8 p.m., so they were doomed to await the morning ferry to

depart. Lacking vacancies elsewhere, they remained at Morley’s for the night. Mr.

Goldsmith imbibed himself into an early bedtime, offering Leah the opportunity to come

down to the parlor for the midnight séance.

The rapping, which Reginald testified to be his great-great-grandfather, was

acknowledged to be Leah Goldsmith’s mother when Annamarie Coeur, who conducted the

séance, noticed how attuned the banker’s wife was to the proceedings. She knew Reginald

was already on board, and pulling in Leah caught a bigger fish. Hitting on a deceased mother

at first attempt was a practiced skill. Though Annamarie appeared to be shy, she was really

an active evaluator of human behavior and response.

“I can hear a woman whispering,” Annamarie said with her eyes closed and her wrists

resting on the palms of Reginald to her right and Leah to her left. There were nine people

at the table, including the Morleys and four guests. Adelaide Coeur had complained of

exhaustion after dinner; she’d left the table dramatically, saying:

“Excuse me please, won’t you all, while I retire. Being a conduit for spirits is waring, and

the older they are, like the ancients I transported for you today, the more difficult it is on

me. It was also especially exhausting for me this day because,” Adelaide made eye contact

with every one of the 15 guests in the dining room. “I have never been in the company of so

many porous humans. I have to tell you; each of you - even you youngsters - has an aura
about you that makes me quiver at the strange forces that brought you together. If you

want to pursue these vibrations, my sister, Annamarie will call them together for you

tonight in the parlor. She has rested today to be able to bring these energies to you this

evening.”

It was fewer than ten minutes into the séance when Leah Goldsmith started answering

questions she heard voices asking her. No one at the table could understand her mumblings

beyond the repeated word ‘Mother,” although Reginald claimed to. Tears streamed down

Reginald’s cheeks though his eyes were squeezed tighter than shut; he sputtered: “She

loves you, M’am. She loves you still. That’s what she’s saying and something about a locket,

I think. Yes. A locket, indeed.”

Well, Eula stared across the table at Reginald and beamed with pride at her son’s

ingenuity; not realizing, he believed every word he uttered. Adelaide, who’d snuck

downstairs to the root cellar, stopped poking the ceiling with a broom handle when she

heard Reginald’s voice. She walked over to a pile of burlap bags and sat, content that once

again, whatever she’d done had paid the way for the two sisters to survive in the style to

which they were accustomed for awhile longer.

*********************

It took more than a decade for mysticism to become second-nature to Stirling Island.

The Methodist Episcopalian camp directors at Piper’s Grove certainly weren’t happy about it,

and approached the City Council to act “in faith of Jesus and dispel the devil worshippers

from the Island.” No Scaler in his right mind would consider asking another to leave, so the
Muscular Christian’s pleas were merely acknowledged. On the other hand The Strand, under

the onsite management of John Burston Adams of Calliope’s Point, saw the rise of Island

Spiritualism as a tourist opportunity. Well-heeled guests asked Strand employees about the

stories they’d heard about Indian Spirits and séances. The Strand’s guests wanted to know:

“Is it true?” For some nice pocket change, the employees offered surreptitious conveyance

to and from the Morley’s with a wink and a nod from Mr. Adams. An island economy is too

fragile to shake; the dollars parted with on one end of Stirling just multiplied while crossing

over to the other. It was popular for year-rounders to mark a dollar bills with symbols,

watching how long they took to come back to their wallets.

So as the new millennium of the 20th century dawned, disciples of Spiritualism

disembarked the ferry with Muscular Christians and lovelorn Wall Street secretaries in a

veritable stream of carpetbags from those early summers on. The season became milagros

for the shoreless who sought a connection to something beyond them - deep in their genetic

code - something that could moor their souls to whatever they sensed was sifting through

the universe. It seemed possible to find those essences in this place where the water

touched every edge, baptizing the land in its cleansing laps, and where the stars reached out

from velvet nights with wispy, clouded fingertips.

From these passages came Regianne Morely and Cola Adams.

**********************