Ernest Case: Toledo’s “Man of Visions”

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We have been neglecting the many Interesting People of the past, so today let us fire up our Chronovisors for a peep at Toledo, Ohio’s “Man Of Visions,” Ernest Case, who was something of a nine-days’-wonder in 1904. Each of these articles repeats some of the same information, but also adds new details.

The basic story:


Ernest Case, of Toledo, Foretells His Own Death on 27th of Unknown Month.

He Also Predicts Railroad Smash for September 10, When Dear Friend Will Die.

Toledo, Ohio, Aug. 28. The manifestations and visions have recurred in the life of Ernest Case, the Toledo working-man who is puzzling clergy, scientists and everybody else. True to his prophetic remarks, when the 27th of the month came around his peculiar condition became more apparent than ever. He had sufficiently recovered to go to Akron, Ohio, and returned yesterday. He was found lying near his home in a semi-conscious state and taken home. He was placed upon a couch with his Bible under his pillow and the previous tests applied in the presence of a number of responsible parties. The Bible was removed and hidden in a remote part of the house.

Staggering to his feet, with eyes tightly closed, he walked straight to the hiding place and laid his hand upon the book. Then he collapsed and was taken back to his couch.

Some Cruel Tests

While in his trance condition water has been dashed upon him, his limbs pinched until the blood would almost flow, pins have been stuck into his body repeatedly and he does not even quiver a muscle.

The removal of the Bible alone produces a revival in his condition. The careful substitution of other books does not feaze [sic] him.

Last night, while he was in a comatose condition, some newspaper men quietly removed the Bible from his pillow. He began moaning and soon his hands began to trace characters upon the bed at his side. Over again and again was the word “testament” traced in imaginary letters. Suddenly he tottered to his feet, walked to the book, placed his hand upon it and fell.

The book was again placed beneath his pillow and every possible test, even absolutely cruel torture, was resorted to, but he never moved an eyelash, and lay as one dead, except the gentle respiration.

Remarkable Revelation.

Case during lucid intervals, made known some remarkable revelations regarding a number of letters and a small sum of money that had been missing a long time. In one of his sleeping spells, alone and unaided, he went to a point in the attic; getting down upon his knees he crept into a little nook, ran his hand down between the side walls and brought forth missing letters that he never had the remotest possible opportunity for knowing the location of.

He finds things hidden in the most obscure places, and reads anyone who calls during his lucid spells, like an open book, as well as relates in detail incidents of their lives supposed to be thoroughly hidden from everybody. In every instance these have proven absolutely correct.

Yesterday, while in his trance-like condition, for a long time he traced letters and writing  with his fingers in which he detailed a railroad accident to occur the tenth of next month, in which three will be killed, one a dear friend of his. He is visited by scientists and representatives of almost everything that could be interested, yet not one visitor has discovered the slightest evidence of fake in anything.

He still clings to the statement that he will die on the 27th, but does not yet know what month or year. Philadelphia [PA] Inquirer 29 August 1904: p. 1


Ernest Case Attracts Attention by Reason of His Marvelous Visions

Claims An Angel Visits Him Every Day From Whom His Knowledge is Obtained

Only a few weeks ago Ernest Case, a mechanic, 35 years of age, of 1209 Greenwood Avenue, Toledo, O., was as little known as any other hard-working man of his station. Today he commands attention by reason of his marvelous visions and astounding powers of revelation. Facts in his story are vouched for by sane, reliable men.

It was while engaged at work on the Eads Bridge, at St. Louis that the first of the unusual events in the previous humdrum career of Case took place.

He experienced a vision, which told him that he was about to pass through a spell of sickness. He went home and told his wife, who thought it was only a notion. She knows better now.

He was not religiously inclined at all, though a member of the East Broadway United Brethern Church of Toledo. The pastor of the congregation is Rev. W.C. Shupp.

Recently Case was taken with a severe illness. His wife was startled to hear the attending doctor say it was abscesses in the stomach, for that is exactly what Case himself had foretold through his first vision. He was in bed for 27 days. Lately he has been sitting up a little or lying on a couch. Here is his wife’s account of what happened then.

“Two weeks ago, as I was nearly worn out, I lay down, and to please him I feigned sleep. Suddenly I was startled to see him lean over in the chair with his eyes closed, and I sprang forward to catch him. Judge my astonishment when I saw him begin tracing characters upon the floor with his fingers. Watching closely I made out the following:

“Ernest Case, Died 27 ___.”

“He designated no month or year. He was unconscious and utterly oblivious of his surroundings.

“That same day he suffered intense pain and by some accident he chanced to be upon the couch with a bible beneath him. As if by magic his pain left him and he went to sleep. In arranging his pillow I removed the bible. Instantly he was on his feet, and although his eyes were closed he marched directly to where I had placed it in the front room, and with one finger upon the book he pointed the other at me, at the same time muttering something. After that we tried many times the experiment of removing the bible, and he invariably went directly to it.

“Rev. W.C. Shupp has also called here and tried the experiment, with the same result. Ernest is not a believer in spiritualism or the doctrine of Universalism. When I questioned him about the 27th he broke into tears and said he could not tell me what month he would die, but that it would be on the 27th. He says an angel visited him every day, and that he receives all his knowledge from him. He says his movements are guided at all times by two lights, a large one and a small one, representing the Old and New Testaments.

“Strangers have visited the Case house, and he has suddenly pointed his finger toward them and narrated events in their lives, in several instances so secret that the guests begged him to desist and finally hurriedly left the house.

Case, who dislikes the notoriety his case has provoked, declares that in one of his visions he saw in golden letters a foot high on a wall, thick, yet transparent, wonderful revelations of the other world, having had a glimpse of heaven and hell.

“If the people could see what I have seen,” said he, “they would immediately become influenced to lead better lives.”

He says the moon and sun have both been inhabited, but were burned off, just as this world will be in time.

Insanity and hypnotic experts have examined Case, and report that he is absolutely of sound mind. The Evening Statesman [Walla Walla, WA] 31 October 1904: p. 3

The Saginaw News adds:

Rev. Shupp preached on the phenomenon Sunday, saying:

“I believe that Case is the bearer of a message from God to this generation. He has a knowledge of orthodox theology which he could not possibly have acquired in an ordinary way. I believe his five senses were rendered dormant while his soul senses became preternaturally acute. His revelations show the broadest knowledge of the world’s history. He reads thoughts and has told me some startling things about my parishioners. His main message is ‘Beware, sinners, the judgment day.’”

Case, while in trance writes messages in a script that the pastor says resembles Hebrew, but he is not Hebrew. Saginaw [MI] News 1 August 1904: p. 2

Case’s fame quickly spread and it looks as though someone wanted to put him on the stage, a plan scotched by his ill-health.


Toledo Laborer Who Mystifies Scientists Too Ill to Address Crowd.

Toledo, Ohio, Aug. 7 Ernest Case, the wonderful “man of visions,” packed the East Broadway Church last night. The crowds were, in a measure, doomed to disappointment, however. Case is just recovering from a severe illness and was so nervous and ill he dared not undertake to address the people, but promised to in two weeks. At the last moment he feared to face so large a crowd in his weakened condition. A wonderful thing occurred this week, as related by the Rev. Mr. Shupp to-night in the pulpit and vouched for by several other ministers. While sitting at the home of a friend Case remarked that a certain man, naming him, whom he had not seen in many years, was just taking the train at Fostoria, thirty-five miles distant, to come to Toledo to see him. He related just what conversation the man had with brakeman and conductor on entering the train, which has to-day been verified to a word.

He says there is a light that points out all of these strange things to him. One local paper sent five separate reporters to see him, thinking there was some trickery. Every one came away thoroughly convinced of the genuiness of the man’s wonderful visions and his phenomenal powers of discernment. In each instance, he was put to the severest tests in the presence of ministers, scientists and theosophists. He has been examined by insanity experts, theosophists, spiritualists, hypnotists, newspaper experts, ministers, lawyers, et al, but they do not vary in opinion or diagnosis an iota. Case is a laborer. The Sun [New York, NY] 8 August 1904: p. 1

I asked Ken Summers of Who Forted?, who is an expert on railroad history, if he could confirm that the Man of Vision’s prophecies ever came true. There was no accident on the 10th of August, 1904. On 10 October, 1904, a collision between two trains in Kansas City killed 27 people and injured at least 30 more. None of the casualties were from Ohio; several were from Missouri where Case had previously worked.

Ernest appeared in the 1900 census as a “bridge builder,” 30 years old, along with a wife, Lizzie, and an adopted son named Robert A. He’s on the 1903 books of the National Protection Society, receiving a sick benefit of $75. He disappears from the 1910 census, while Lizzie is back in the 1920 tally, married to a sheet-metal worker named Hodkins.  Robert, age 25, is living with the couple. An Ernest Case, age 74, was listed as a patient in the Good Convalescent Home for Mental Defectives, Akron, Ohio, in the 1940 census. I have not been able to find his death date, obituary, or grave. After his twenty-seven minutes of psychic fame, Case seemed to disappear without a trace. Perhaps his visions ultimately betrayed him into insanity.

While we cannot absolutely rule out angelic visitation, it seems more probable that Case’s illness triggered hyperesthesia, unless, of course, he was just feigning a trance. There are also anecdotes in the paranormal literature about persons under stress suddenly developing ESP. Unfortunately the articles above do not say, when Case lurched to his feet in search of his Bible, whether anyone leaped to support him. If so, his ability to find the Good Book may have been based on the old mentalist’s muscle-reading trick.

Why that mystic number 27? Well, at a stretch, there are 27 books in the New Testament. Or perhaps Case saw into the future–to the 27 Club?

Any more information on the Man of Visions such as a death date? Chriswoodyard8 AT


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