The Hypnotist

Alexander McIvor-Tyndall, the hypnotist from London who offered to hypnotize Luetgert, was previously the subject of several articles by Theodore Dreiser, when the author was reporting for the St. Louis Republic in 1893.

In his memoir Newspaper Days, Dreiser recalls an episode when the "mind reader" McIvor-Tyndall visited St. Louis. He asked the Republic to bring together some people to ride with him as he drove a carriage through the city blindfolded, supposedly guiding his route by reading the thoughts of the man next to him.

"And, amusingly enough, I was ordered to get up the committee, -- Dick, Peter, Rodenberger and myself -- and sit on the seat and do the thinking while he, blindfolded, raced in and out between cars and wagons, turning sharp corners, escaping huge trucks by a hair only, to finally end up at Dick's door, as my thoughts directed him. ... When written up as true, which it was, it made a very good story indeed."

Dreiser said the experience prompted him and his friends to "enter upon experiments of our own with hypnotists, spiritualists and the like."

When he was in Chicago in 1897, at the time of the Luetgert trial, McIvor-Tyndall claimed to have used his powers of hypnotism to solve other criminal cases. He said he had been involved in the Hensen case in Minneapolis and the Dawson case in Los Angeles.

In 1900, McIvor-Tyndall wrote a book on palm-reading, Revelations of the Hand. He adopted the pseudonym Ali Nomad for a 1913 book on his mystical philosophy, Cosmic Consciousness: The Man-God Whom We Await, and a 1916 book, Sex, the Unknown Quantity.

McIvor-Tyndall, described by the Chicago Tribune as a "doctor of new thought and psychic researcher," gave a lecture in Chicago on "The Language of the Future." He called human speech a noise nuisance that caused countless nervous breakdowns.

The cure? He urged people to use telepathy, "the language of silence."

"Think of the time when the human race will be able to communicate without making a noise," he said. "Noise is what we all wish to get away from. All have the faculty of telepathy, whether it be latent or active. Some say it is a lost faculty of the human mind and soul. I will say it is both lost and developing by evolution. It is the universal language of the future."

In another lecture about the way in which people possess each other, McIvor-Tyndall said: "We don't own each other. Neither parents their children; nor wives their husbands; nor husbands their wives; nor employers their employees. Let us drop the prolific use of the possessive pronoun 'my.' "

The Tribune described him as a charismatic speaker:

Dr. Tyndall is a tall, handsome dark-eyed man, with long hair and an oratorical voice. ... At the Whitney Opera House every Sunday afternoon he spoke to crowded houses, and daily he held classes at the Masonic Temple. His followers were numbered in the thousands. He and Mrs. Tyndall are each over six feet tall and interesting.

His wife, Margaret, said the "doctor" possessed the "sixth sense."

"Once we were walking along the streets of Los Angeles and he stopped suddenly. He turned into a store, saying, 'I've got to go in.' It was a book store Thousands of books were on the shelves. He went straight back and picked out a book. He didn't look at any other one or touch any other one. And in it was a picture of his own hand."

She explained that a famous palmist in London had read McIvor-Tyndall's hand.

The palmist predicted that a woman would come into McIvor-Tyndall's life when he was 35. That woman wasn't Margaret; it turned out to be a new paramour, an actress named Laura Hudson (or Laura Hudson Wray or Laura Hughes, according to various reports). Margaret seemed resigned to the fact that her husband would fall in love with the other woman.

"Is there any chance for me to fight against fate?" she said. "It is the Cosmic Law, the Cosmic Urge."

In 1911, Margaret was arrested on charges that she had stolen $800 worth of diamonds from her husband's lover. Margaret told the story in an interview with the Tribune:

"The woman is an actress and a lovely girl. She is pretty and amiable. She used to be in Hackett's company, but lately hasn't acted. Why, I wrote a vaudeville sketch for her and my husband, thinking they might as well make a good living for themselves and be happy, but they never got a hearing, so the piece was not produced.

"Yes, I took the diamonds, but I did not steal them. I didn't want to say anything until the doctor came back from New York, but in justice to myself I might explain a few things. Ten years ago my husband fell in love with this girl, whose mother lives in Denver, where he then lived, and he seemed to be simply crazy over her. Neither he nor I had believed in anything but mental mates, for we were certainly that, but evidently there is something else in life.

"Well, they corresponded and stayed in love it seems. We came to Chicago last June and this girl came through here, saw my husband, and then she went to new York and wrote him to come to her. He went. It wasn't so long ago that I went to New York, too. I realized that these two couldn't live apart and I was sensible about it. We all three lived in the same house. She and I both had to have money and the doctor was so in love that his work suffered and consequently he was not well off financially. Then one day the girl said to him that he might have her two diamond rings any time he wanted them to pawn. She wrote it, too, and he has the letter. He didn't pawn the rings, however, and gave them back to her.

"I wasn't well in New York. I was nervous and, of course, it was more or less of a strain to live there with them. knowing that they loved each other, though I wasn't jealous, and I knew that it must be all right. I made up my mind one day that I would let them have each other and that I would get out. I didn't quarrel with either of them, for I had no hard feelings. I am fond of them both.

"I didn't have any money to get to my home in California, but the doctor told me what the girl had told him about her rings. I made up my mind that I would get them and pawn them. She was away when I took them out of her trunk, but I thought she would be glad that I had gone, and I knew that the doctor's word was good.

"When I got to Chicago I was broken down from a bad case of nerves. Friends of mine came to see me, and they wired the doctor that I was ill, and, of course, as I was his wife, he came to me at once. What else could he do? We stayed here five weeks. he told the actress that he would hurry back. Well, I guess she was angry because he didn't back sooner, and so she suddenly refused to answer his letters. He sent letters and telegrams by the hundred, telling her that he couldn't live without her, but she wouldn't answer them. He figured that she had committed suicide and worried himself to death about her.

"The next thing I knew I was informed on last Saturday that I was under indictment in New York for stealing diamonds valued at $800.

"She didn't want her mother in Denver to know, and she must know that this arrest is going to make everything public.

"She wrote my husband and said, 'Tell Mag not to worry about the diamonds. I hope that she will soon be well.' Then she had me arrested. I don't know whether she thought the doctor was going to remain with me or not."

Mrs. Tyndall held up a big ring suddenly and said, "It is this I tell you it is this ring!"

It was an Egyptian scarab, set in ... gold snakes.

"It is the hoodoo. I haven't had a streak of good luck for so long I don't know what good luck is. I believe this ring is accountable for it. I have suspected before that it is a hoodoo, and I believe I shall discard it this very night."

Six years later, the unconventional trio was still together. McIvor-Tyndall married Laura Hudson, making her his sixth wife. Now his ex-wife, Margaret remained a close friend, though she referred to herself as the "cosmic goat" in the whole affair. McIvor-Tyndall actually married Hudson twice. In the first ceremony in Crown Point, Indiana, McIvor-Tyndall's name was misspelled on the marriage certificate, so the ceremony was performed over again in Chicago. The Tribune reported:

Today at the Raleigh hotel, 648 North Dearborn street, the three still are celebrating, eating ice cream in a world peopled by nomads and tadpoles and Philistines, blissful in their own company and new-thoughtfully scornful of carping jeerers. It is a strangely contented triangle.

Margaret did not attend the wedding, however. "You know, I couldn't bear to witness the ceremony," she said. "Of course, we have always vibrated in harmony, but I was afraid my superself would not react. My refusal to brand as immoral the woman who has taken my husband from me; my decision to retain the friendship, which was the foundation of my association with Dr. Tyndall for twelve years, is unusual only because the average human being is undeveloped, selfish and lacking any normal view of life."

Wife No. 6 smiled, saying, "Isn't it cosmic? ... We have proved that harmony among three people is possible; that true understanding is simple. If all three of us had not attained to our high plane of mentality serious consequences might have resulted from this great love affair."

The Tribune noted, "The great lover, wearing his Bhakti Yogi aura, said nothing."

The scandals did not end with the wedding ceremony. McIvor-Tyndall's new wife had a daughter, Irene Hughes, whose age was reported as sixteen or eighteen.

Even though the girl was living with her grandmother, Emily Hughes, in Denver, her new stepfather was supposedly having a weird effect on her. The grandmother sought criminal charges against McIvor-Tyndall, claiming that he was hypnotizing the girl by sending "thought waves" from Chicago to Denver, putting her under a spell.

"Neighbors declared the girl acted strangely and talked constantly of Tyndall," the Tribune reported.

The district attorney, however, said he had no jurisdiction to charge the Chicago hypnotist.

Picture of McIvor-Tyndall: Chicago Times-Herald, Oct. 4, 1897.

Chicago Tribune, Dec. 11, 1911; June 16, 1917; Aug. 29, 1917; several undated clippings.