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Listen to ““THE ABDUCTION OF LINDA NAPOLITANO” and 4 More Dark, True Stories! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.
IN THIS EPISODE: In December of 2019 the Pentagon did a one-eighty in its claim that it was investigating UFO activity. It now says certain programs previously said to have done so, did not have anything to do with aliens and extraterrestrials. (Pentagon U-F-NOS) *** Queen Elizabeth I once said, “I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king and of a king of England too.” It appears she may also have had a stomach for murder. (Was Queen Elizabeth I a Murderer?) *** A young girl’s imaginary friend turns out to not be imaginary – and they’ve found her bones to prove it. (Bones of a Ghost) *** A bizarre health movement from the 1800s required patients to walk everywhere only on their toes and the balls of their feet. Always. Why? We’ll look at the bizarre health practice of Ralstonism. (The Strange History of Ralstonism) *** Was a woman in New York City abducted in 1989 by a UFO? (The Manhattan Alien Abduction)
MENTIONED LINKS, EPISODES AND EVENTS…
“PEN PAL” episode: http://weirddarkness.com/archives/4730
“7 GATES OF HELL” included in this episode: http://weirddarkness.com/archives/4875
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STORY AND MUSIC CREDITS/SOURCES…
(Note: Over time links can and may become invalid, disappear, or have different content.)
“Pentagon U-F-NOS” by Jazz Shaw for Hot Air: https://tinyurl.com/yfmztwz7
“Was Queen Elizabeth I a Murderer?” by Les Hewitt for Historic Mysteries: https://tinyurl.com/yk635tfv
“Bones of a Ghost” from the Ledger-Enquirer: (link no longer available)
“The Manhattan Alien Abduction” by Billy Booth for Live About: https://tinyurl.com/yhc65rrf
“The Strange History of Ralstonism” by Jake Rossen for Mental Floss: https://tinyurl.com/ydvbouxw
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“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” — John 12:46 *** How to escape eternal darkness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IYmodFKDaM
MANHATTAN ALIEN ABDUCTION
One of the landmark cases of UFO abduction occurred on November 30, 1989, in Manhattan, New York. The case centers around one Linda Napolitano, who claims to have been abducted from her closed apartment window into a waiting UFO by the “grays,” and subjected to medical procedures. The case became well-known through the efforts of researcher Budd Hopkins. The events began at 3:00 AM.
After the experience, Linda had almost no memory of what had occurred. She would occasionally recall a brief moment of what had happened, she could recall actually being taken, and even the room she was examined in, but nothing more. The case was pieced together by the means of regressive hypnosis, witness statements, and the actual passing of time, as her mind began to heal itself.
It would be a year after the actual abduction before Hopkins began receiving mail from two men, who claimed to have seen the abduction. At first, Hopkins was suspect of their testimony, but in time their reports would help build the case into one of the most well-documented alien abductions in Ufology. Without any contact with Napolitano, their report agreed in all aspects with Linda’s memories.
Eventually, the two men would be identified as bodyguards of senior United Nations statesman, Javier Perez de Cuellar, who was visiting Manhattan at the time of the abduction. The bodyguards claimed that Cuellar was “visibly shaken” as he watched the abduction. The three men claimed that they saw a woman being floated through the air, along with three small beings, into a large flying craft.
Linda, who was forty-one years old at the time, described part of her ordeal:
“I’m standing up on nothing. And they take me out all the way up, way above the building. Ooh, I hope I don’t fall. The UFO opens up almost like a clam and then I’m inside. I see benches similar to regular benches. And they’re bringing me down a hallway. Doors open like sliding doors. Inside are all these lights and buttons and a big long table.”
There would eventually be more witnesses who come forward with their accounts of what they had seen. Hopkins kept the details of the eyewitness testimony private until he felt the case was complete enough to release publicly. One of the most striking accounts came from Janet Kimball, who was a retired telephone operator. She had seen the abduction also but thought she was watching a movie scene being filmed.
It would be some time before Hopkins discovered the name of the United Nations statesman. When he did, he knew that if he could get a man of such distinction to come forward with his testimony, it would be the smoking gun of alien abduction, and put Ufology into the hands of the scientific community at last. Hopkins’ wish would not come true. Although it has been said that Cuellar met privately with Hopkins, he would not go public.
Cuellar did aid Hopkins in verifying details of the case through correspondence but explained to Hopkins why he could not go public with his testimony. This would always leave a gap in the investigation, although there were other witnesses and Linda’s own account of her terrible ordeal. Despite some ups and downs, Hopkins probably did his finest work in bringing together the story of the abduction of Linda Napolitano.
After two years of constant media buzz following the bombshell announcement in December of 2017 that the Pentagon had been investigating UFOs (or UAPs, as they prefer to call them now), the government dropped another bombshell in December 2019. Or perhaps we should call it a “curveball,” as John Greenewald jr. of The Black Vault described it. According to a Pentagon spokeswoman, neither the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) or its progenitor, the Advanced Aerospace Weapon System Applications Program (AAWSAP) were related to investigating UFOs.
Claiming they want to correct the record and clear up some inaccuracies, the Pentagon now says AATIP was not a UFO or UAP program.
“Neither AATIP nor AAWSAP were UAP related,” said Pentagon spokesperson Susan Gough in an e-mail to The Black Vault. “The purpose of AATIP was to investigate foreign advanced aerospace weapons system applications with future technology projections over the next 40 years, and to create a center of expertise on advanced aerospace technologies.”
Since 2017, details have been scarce. However, the DoD’s latest position that AATIP wasn’t a UFO program, seems to represent one of their most dramatic about-faces on the issue since the program was first revealed.
This caused quite the stir in the ufology community as you could probably imagine. Some were pointing out that the language used in Gough’s email seemed carefully worded and left some wiggle room for them. It was noted that the phrase “foreign advanced aerospace weapons system” is somewhat ambiguous because “foreign” simply means “not from the United States” in this context, and that could extend to the rest of the universe, not just “foreign countries” on Earth. But that would seem to be in direct contradiction to the opening statement saying that neither program was “UAP related.”
I’ll get to the possible implications in a moment, but let’s first assume that we should take Gough at her word and say that AATIP had nothing to do with UFOs. This means that either the Pentagon or the people at To The Stars Academy (most specifically Luis Elizondo) are lying. From the moment that TTSA came onto the scene, they claimed that Elizondo not only ran the AATIP program but that it definitely involved investigating UFOs. In fact, Elizondo said he left government service because of his frustration over the slow pace of those investigations.
However, Susan Gough is the same spokesperson who previously said that Elizondo wasn’t even involved with AATIP, to say nothing of being in charge of it. According to Gough, Elizondo “had no assigned responsibilities” in AATIP and “was not assigned or detailed to the Defense Intelligence Agency.”
So basically, TTSA is saying that Elizondo ran the AATIP program and that it involved investigating UFOs. The Pentagon is saying he wasn’t even associated with the program and (at least now) it wasn’t investigating UFOs anyway. Both of these things can’t be simultaneously true.
Now let’s get to why the Pentagon would put out this statement. Elizondo gets the benefit of the doubt here because it’s the Pentagon that’s been changing their story. They’ve been telling reporters from across the spectrum for two years now that AATIP was created at the request of Harry Reid and that they were investigating unidentified aerial phenomena. Heck, they were the ones that came up with the UAP acronym because the term UFO was so loaded. The Navy came out and admitted that the objects in those three famous videos were UAPs because they had no clue what they were. And now we get a 180-degree reversal?
Two possibilities come to mind. The first is that they’ve grown uncomfortable with how close TTSA and others have been getting to uncovering whatever is responsible for all of this activity and they’ve decided to shut down the flow of information and clam up. That would mean that there is no “big D” Disclosure on the horizon from the government and we’re stuck figuring it out on our own.
The other, more disturbing possibility is that the Pentagon actually does know the source of those flying objects, and possibly that they actually are some deep, black bag project of ours, the Russians or the Chinese. That would make Gough’s statement true if the objects really aren’t “unidentified” after all. But it would also demonstrate that a large number of their previous statements were fabrications. I don’t put much stock in this second explanation, though, because it would require such a massive leap in technology that most scientists don’t think is currently within our grasp.
Unless an until the government offers up any further clarification, your guess is probably as good an anyone else’s. But something here simply doesn’t add up as things currently stand.
WAS QUEEN ELIZABETH I A MURDERER?
The allure of a royal family is an easy one to accept. Tales of handsome princes and beautiful princesses do not always belong in fairytales. The Royal Family of today’s UK is among the most talked about and captivating of all monarchies. For centuries, stories of prowess on battlefields and with political machinations have made the royal lineage popular the world over. Some members have proven to be more fondly remembered than others. The Tudor dynasty is a fine case in point. Most people know of Queen Elizabeth I. However, what few people are aware of is that she may have been complicit in a murderous scandal involving her intimate friend and possible love interest, Robert Dudley, and his wife Amy Robsart.
The queen was quoted as saying, “I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king and of a king of England too.”
The aforementioned comment is among the most famous of all speeches by royalty. Having the heart and stomach of a king – even one comparable to a king of England – is one thing. Could Elizabeth also have had the heart and stomach of a murderer? A cold blooded one at that. Some armchair detectives have cast an ever increasingly suspicious eye over the events of September 8, 1560. As a result, they have come to the conclusion that the death of Amy Dudley (maiden name Amy Robsart) is not such an open-and-shut case.
Several days before her 18th birthday, Amy Robsart married Robert Dudley. No sooner had they issued their vows, the more cynical members of Tudor society began to question the marriage. Both of the newlywed’s parents were nobles in their own right and, like many of the time were always seeking ways and means to consolidate and improve their fortunes. A marriage of convenience suited both sets of in-laws. Both would improve their standing in the courts of the monarchy. Additionally, their collective influence would increase. The marriage took place on June 4, 1550, at the royal palace of Sheen. Edward VI was a guest of honor.
The couple had an eventful marriage. Much of the time they shifted addresses between numerous palaces and mansion houses – sometimes together, sometimes separately. A little over three years into their marriage, Robert was imprisoned in the Tower of London and sentenced to death when his father, the Duke of Northumberland, tried to install Lady Jane Grey on the English throne. Amy could visit on a regular basis for the final year of her husband’s confinement. Dudley only spent 15 months in the Tower but had suffered financially in that time. When he was released in 1554, he made efforts to resurrect his name and fortune. Within a year of being released, Robert’s father-in-law passed away. Several years on, he lost his mother-in-law as well. Amy’s marriage contract, still in effect, meant that she inherited her parents’ considerable wealth.
As the marriage between Amy and Robert continued, outside events began to shape the destiny of England. Elizabeth and Robert had known one another from childhood. When she ascended to the throne in November 1558, one of her first proclamations was to create the new role, Master of the Horse, and give the position to Robert Dudley. In the new court, this was among the most privileged of all roles. No-one else but the Master was able to physically touch the young Queen. Robert closely attended to her travels, accommodations, and everything to do with the Royal Stables and horses.
Additionally, Robert’s living quarters were adjacent to the queen’s bedchamber. This put him within scandalous proximity of her, and it may be that the two took advantage of their close living arrangement. Eighteen months before the unfortunate death of Amy Dudley, on 19th April 1559, the Count de Feria wrote the following:
“During the last few days, Lord Robert has come so much into favour that he does whatever he likes with affairs. It is even said that Her Majesty visits him in his chamber every day and night. People talk of this freely that they go so far as to say that his wife has a malady in one of her breasts, and that the Queen is only waiting for her to die to marry Lord Robert.”
Also in 1559, the Ambassador to the Republic of Venice wrote, “My Lord Robert Dudley is … very intimate with Her Majesty. On this subject I ought to report the opinion of many but I doubt whether my letters may not miscarry or be read, wherefore it is better to keep silence than to speak ill.”
Although there were many suitors to Queen Elizabeth, many people believed that she was indeed waiting to marry Robert once Amy was out of the way. It was obvious to everyone present that Robert was the queen’s favorite consort. Some say she was in love with him. She was also quite possessive of Robert’s time and attentions, and some say that her well-being depended on his presence. At one point, when he wanted to go overseas to take part in military affairs, she forbade it.
Spouses could not attend court or official matters of State, therefore, Amy was never around when Elizabeth and Robert were together. Some have also suggested that Elizabeth warned Amy to stay away or risk some kind of retribution.
Robert Dudley was rapidly rising in power within the court. In 1559 the queen appointed him, “Knight of the Garter,” a highly restricted society of chivalry and honor. Meanwhile, Amy Dudley was dealing with the onset of depression. As well as the potential infidelity involving the reigning sovereign, there is also a theory that she might have been suffering what was called ‘a malady in her breast’. Amy allegedly convinced herself that her breast cancer was terminal. One of Amy’s Ladies in Waiting claimed that Amy would to “pray to God to deliver her from desperation”.
Sunday, September 8, 1560, was a day of celebration. Our Lady’s Fair was taking place in Abingdon, close to Amy’s residence, Cumnor Place. The day began normally; Amy gave all her servants time off to enjoy the day’s festivities while she remained at home. It was only when the servants returned that they found the body of Amy Dudley laying at the foot of the stairs with a broken neck and a pair of deep wounds. Given how and where they had found her, plus the injuries that she suffered, it was only natural to conclude that death occurred by means of an accident or misadventure. However, some strange contradictions immediately challenged this logical conclusion.
Researchers have produced an original coroner’s report with no mention of a broken neck. The pair of lacerations were in this report but no other injuries. This is enough for some people to doubt that her death was merely an accident. Another curious development followed two days after Amy’s death. Elizabeth insisted that the news should be released to the public and that they officialize the cause of death as an accident. On the day of his wife’s death, Robert Dudley was performing his official duties far away from home. However, his behavior was curious after he learned of Amy’s death.
There is some evidence of possible jury-rigging going on behind the scenes. Dudley was rumored to have given Robert Smith, the jury foreman, a substantial quantity of velvet for tailoring. The new widower also requested a jury of discreet men. One of the jury members who went by the name of John Stevenson was an employee of Dudley. Additionally, Anthony Forster, who happened to own Cumnor Place (Amy’s home), was given a payment of over £300 not long after Amy was found. This amount today would be £65,000.
Other rumors circulated about Amy’s death. Poison was a consideration alongside divorce. Some even went as far as to claim that Dudley and Elizabeth had as many as five children together. Maybe some or all of these rumors were silly or idle gossip. What can never really be in doubt is Dudley’s desire to become a consort to Queen Elizabeth. Like his father before him, Dudley was intent on gaining as much power and influence that he was able to. Perhaps this was unacceptable to someone who went too far and decided to take matters into his own hands. If this was the case, then who could that someone be?
A common trend among Heads of State is to have a circle of trusted individuals who oversee various political duties. Elizabeth was no different and would often seek the advice of the most loyal of all loyal subjects. Fewer were more loyal than Robert, but that could have posed a problem of its own. Queen Elizabeth’s Privy Court was well-aware of the queen’s apparent feelings for Robert Dudley. Perhaps some members of the Privy Court managed to persuade the Queen that a relationship with Dudley was not best for the nation. This cloak and dagger plot and counterplot might have been a ruse to get Elizabeth to play some role in the death of Amy Dudley in order to drum up a scandal that would discredit Robert. According to the Wikipedia entry Elizabeth I of England:
“Elizabeth seriously considered marrying Dudley for some time. However, William Cecil, Nicholas Throckmorton, and some conservative peers made their disapproval unmistakably clear. There were even rumours that the nobility would rise [up] if the marriage took place.”
Outright execution or injury could ultimately end up causing more harm than good. If Elizabeth was actually complicit in the death of Amy Dudley, by choice or coercion, it would prove to be a much more effective manner of halting Robert Dudley’s rise toward the throne. Merely executing him for no real reason would surely have undermined Elizabeth’s own position. By engineering an outcry of this magnitude, Elizabeth may have proven at an early stage of her sovereignty that she was the astute politician that history remembers.
Any modern investigation into a death that has suspicious overtones to it will always begin with the immediate family or relatives. The police would have to determine the type of person that the victim was and do as much research into that person as possible. From there, the investigation would focus on those closest to the victim. In Tudor times, there was hardly a police force worthy of the name, but there were still professionals who dedicated themselves to this purpose. Robert was an obvious suspect in any wrong-doing.
Robert Dudley was nowhere near the house when Amy’s life ended, but that doesn’t mean that he was innocent of it. As alibis go, being in the presence of the Queen of England miles from the scene of a possible crime is quite a hefty one. It’s not beyond all realms of possibility that Dudley hired or asked a person or persons unknown to act on his behalf. Without forensics, it would have been easy enough for someone to conclude that the young woman’s neck broke in her fall or tumble. That would pretty much be the start and end of the investigation.
One trope that is often used in detective fiction is the axiom: who had the most to gain by the death of the deceased? Historian Alison Weir proposed that one-time courtier of the Elizabethan court, William Cecil, had a hand in the death of Amy Dudley. As the royal popularity of Robert Dudley increased, that of William Cecil began to wane. It is entirely possible, and very likely, that the men became bitter rivals to the point of obsession. Perhaps Cecil devised a plan against Dudley and used Dudley’s own favoritism as a weapon against him.
The announcement of Amy’s death shocked the nation. Cecil might have seen the potential of a royal wedding and took the necessary steps to prevent that from happening. Even if the limited capability of the investigating team had managed to find proof of intent, the more popular consensus of opinion would point the finger of blame directly at Robert Dudley. If this was Cecil’s gamble, then it paid off. Dudley never did marry the Queen. In that aspect, Cecil’s plan worked, if he had a plan.
One of the last things Amy Dudley did in her life was to insist that all servants take the day off to attend the fair taking place in Abingdon. Not all of them considered this to be acceptable behavior for a Sunday and some of them initially refused to go. However, Amy was insistent. Of all the servants, only one – Mrs. Odingells – refused to leave the house. She did retire to her room and left Amy alone for the day.
The main problem with the suicide theory is that, at the time, it was considered to be a mortal sin and would lead to eternal damnation. Perhaps with the combination of depression, pain, illness, and abandonment, it seemed to be the most viable option for her. Another problem with this idea is the actual execution of it. There are more effective ways in which to take one’s own life. Throwing oneself down a ‘dog-legged’ staircase with just 8 stairs and a landing in the middle doesn’t seem to be the most foolproof method in the world. Modern medicine has indicated that a woman with a similar strain of cancer that Amy perhaps had might have a side-effect of brittle bones. A suicide would be a more bonafide solution if the servants had found Amy on the landing instead of the bottom of the staircase.
Perhaps one point in the overall popularity of the Royal Family as a group is the intrigue that surrounds them. This is not really true in today’s world, but in centuries gone by, the Royal Family is almost synonymous with tales of war, battle, and espionage. If a foreign national were to infiltrate the aristocracy and intentionally kill one of their number, thus forcing Elizabeth to change her plans on a more personal level, it might have weakened her on an international level.
The scandal that did follow the death of Amy Dudley made it virtually inconceivable that Elizabeth could marry Dudley after all. Elizabeth no doubt realized this and was forced into keeping her distance. This could explain why Mrs. Odingsells refused to leave that morning. This plot would really have needed someone to oversee matters, perhaps even in a hands-on fashion.
With so much political intrigue muddying the waters, it is easy to overlook that a life ended. Maybe it ended in a way that a few people tend to believe. This was nothing more sinister than a tragic accident. It is entirely possible that Amy lost her footing or suffered a dizzy spell for a second and overbalanced. However, the coroner’s report included interesting wording. The wounds of Amy’s neck were referred to as ‘dyntes’. This is a Middle English term that is no longer in use.
The most suitable modern terminology could be blunt force trauma.
BONES OF A GHOST
Investigators are unsure how possible human remains got inside a home’s insulation. A Russell County Georgia fifth-grader is convinced bones found in her home recently belong to a mysterious friend who told her about being chopped up years ago. Investigators have few clues about how and when the bones got inside insulation under the living room floor of the mobile home on Jowers Road, near East Alabama Motor Speedway. The 10-year-old, Stephanie Ogden, and her family have lived in the home since 1998. Her great-grandparents, John and Marion Stewart, own the home.
The bones were found as the Ogdens, who are renovating the home, pulled up boards in the living room floor. Russell County Sheriff’s Lt. Heath Taylor said an initial analysis shows the bones are from the pelvis and leg of a child at least 10 years old, and the child has been dead at least 10 years.
Another bone was found the next day. The area where the bones were found had duct tape over the insulation.
“There’s an odor there that doesn’t belong,” claims the homeowner.
The bones probably don’t have enough marrow to do DNA tests. Because the trailer has been moved several times between Georgia and Alabama, investigators now are faced with the daunting task of trying to track down missing children from a wide area in two states.
Officer Taylor said gnaw marks on the bones may indicate a rodent placed them inside the insulation. Dirt and plant material on the bones indicate they were outside at one time.
10-year-old Stephanie said a black girl in a white dress started visiting her room when she was about 5 years old. The girl was friendly, but she told Stephanie a horrible story.
“She told me that somebody put her in the floor,” Stephanie said. “She said he had a mask on, and that he chopped her up. She didn’t know who the person was, because he had a mask on.”
Stephanie, a fifth-grader at Dixie Elementary School, now thinks that the bones that were found in her home belong to her playmate.
“It’s possible because that girl was a ghost,” Stephanie said. “Nobody knows about them.”
Marion, Stephanie’s great-grandmother, said Stephanie used to tell her family about the visitor, but the adults always dismissed the stories as being an imaginative child’s fabrication based partly on horror movies. Stephanie used to always ask for two glasses of soda when she would play outside — one glass for her and one for her friend.
The grisly discoveries in her home have convinced Marion that the girl’s playmate is actually a tormented soul seeking peace.
“I’m not a psychic, and I don’t believe in some of that stuff,” she said. “But I believe this is a soul who has not been put to rest.”
Officer Taylor said detectives can’t base their work on ghost stories, saying, “Do you have any idea how hard it is to investigate a ghost?”
Investigators are looking through databases of missing children to find any links to the trailer’s location, but Taylor doesn’t hold out much hope of solving the case.
“It’s just one of those cases where there’s just not a lot to go on,” he said.
THE STRANGE HISTORY OF RALSTONISM
When Webster Edgerly appeared on stage in a late 19th-century play about Christopher Columbus, he performed while balancing on the balls of his feet. Critics were confused, but Edgerly—a part-time actor, author, and soon to be leader of a wildly successful health movement known as Ralstonism—believed that strolling like a centaur, his body weight on his toes, would avoid leakage of what he labeled “vital forces” of the body.
The critics might have thought it was a character choice. For Edgerly, it was a lifestyle choice.
In time, Edgerly would write over 80 books, count Queen Victoria among his readers, and offer his pseudoscientific advice on everything from sex (once every eight days, and no more) to walking (avoid straight lines at all costs). He envisioned a sprawling city full of his acolytes, and bought up real estate in New Jersey for exactly that purpose. He believed Ralstonism was the key not only to health but to telepathy and other spectacular powers. Nearly a million people followed his views, and he even had a hand in originating the Ralston cereal brand. But if history seems to have forgotten such a peculiar man, there’s a very good reason for that.
Named after the famous orator Daniel Webster, Edgerly was raised in Massachusetts and attended Boston University, where he graduated with a law degree in 1876. Though he was interested in theater as an actor and playwright, it seemed his true calling was as a guru. The same year he finished school, Edgerly founded the Ralston Health Club, a business devoted to wellness. He named it Ralston by using the letters of his mother’s name, Rhoda Lucinda Stone, and later retrofit it to become an acronym for Regime, Activity, Light, Strength, Temperation, Oxygen, and Nature—all things Edgerly valued.
The Ralston Health Club had no formal location. It existed mostly in Ralston’s head, which also conjured a series of self-help titles such as Lessons in Artistic Deep Breathing and Sexual Magnetism. Written under the pen name Edmund Shaftesbury, these tomes were verbose and offered dubious advice, like picking up a marble from a table and swinging it around in order to increase one’s “personal magnetism,” or what Edgerly believed was a person’s energy and charisma. Young men were advised to bed women old enough to be their grandmothers and then marry women 20 years their junior. (Edgerly, already married once, married again at age 42 to an 18-year-old.) He also propagated a new language he called Adam-Man Tongue. He promised that continued study of this assorted wisdom might ultimately result in the power to control the thoughts and actions of others—or even achieve immortality.
These advanced abilities were, of course, attainable only after buying many of his books, which were sometimes priced at an exorbitant $25 in 1892 (about $730 today). The cost may have contributed to a feeling that Edgerly’s advice was rare and valuable. The books sold well, affording Edgerly a lavish lifestyle. He eventually counted over 800,000 Ralstonites; Queen Victoria was said to have a complete set of his works. Members identified themselves with black armbands called Ralstonettes.
In Star Ralstonism, a kind of member guidebook published in 1900, Edgerly wrote:
“It is gratifying that all honest doctors who have investigated Ralstonism are its friends and recommend it, or rather prescribe it, in place of medicines, to their patients. A doctor who has investigated this system, and does not affirmatively aid and use it, may be set down as dishonest and unsafe to employ.”
A blend of huckster and quack, Edgerly nonetheless commanded attention in key places. In addition to his royal readership, he became friendly with William Danforth, the founder of the Purina company. Edgerly had long recommended a whole-grain breakfast, a surprisingly rational bit of instruction, and Danforth believed that Edgerly’s paid endorsement would help sell boxes of shelf-stable wheat germ cereal in stores. Ralston Wheat Cereal went on sale in 1898 and was successful enough that Danforth decided to unite with Edgerly commercially to create the Ralston Purina company in 1902. To consumers, Ralston had taken on a connotation of good health.
Unfortunately, Edgerly’s beliefs were not always well-intentioned. He was a proponent of eugenics—an abhorrent attempt to “improve” the human race using selective breeding—and his books often espoused racist ideas, such as recommending that all non-Caucasian males be castrated. A principal tenet of Ralstonism was the idea of a strictly Caucasian “new race” that could live to be 100 and without illness. His quest for a “superior” human soon led him to New Jersey, and a project even more ambitious than his book series. He wanted a congregation.
For years, Edgerly had moved around, from Massachusetts to Topeka, Kansas, to Washington. In 1894, he started buying up land overlooking the farming community of Hopewell, New Jersey, with the goal of creating an entire city of the Ralston faithful. He imagined 400 homes, six farms, and six estates, including the one he purchased, renovated, and named Ralston Manor. A towering Victorian comprised of 27,000 square feet, the house contained a veritable maze of hallways and had a third floor devoted to a classroom for elocution lessons. The sprawling 72-step staircase was built with a 36-piece orchestra in mind—one band member on every other step. Edgerly planted trees from Japan, Norway, and China to add to its exotic aesthetic. With a rich fruit and vegetable garden, he dispatched fresh goods to residents in town, hoping to be perceived as a generous benefactor. In the house, he continued his prolific writing, which so bothered his wife that he reportedly built a separate room so she wouldn’t be disturbed by his typing.
Despite the success of his books, the Ralston utopia failed to meet his expectations. The lots in Hopewell were expensive, even for his upper-class clientele, and there were few job opportunities nearby. Only 25 of them sold. Worse, his attempt to befriend the townspeople did not go as planned. After Edgerly built a water tank on his property that fed the area, residents complained it tasted foul. The tank had indeed developed a crack, letting contaminants in. Soon, Edgerly was declared unwelcome in Hopewell and was essentially forced to move to Trenton, where he lived until his death in 1926.
Ralstonism largely faded into a historical footnote until an archaeology student, Janet Six, stayed in Ralston Manor in the 1990s. The house had come into the possession of friends after passing through numerous hands. She began investigating the history of its most infamous owner and wrote a thesis about his life. Six helped bring Edgerly back into focus, but the Ralston Purina company seems to hold little curiosity about—or reverence for—their radical and racist forebearer. There’s no mention of Edgerly in the company’s official history, only vague references to a “Doctor Ralston,” one of Edgerly’s pen names. The company was bought by Nestle in 2001 and the name changed to Nestle Purina.
Ralston Manor still stands today; the current owners use it for art and fundraising events, and locals know it as the Castle. They still sometimes talk about the eccentric who once patrolled its halls, thinking up elaborate ways to spread the word of Ralstonism while bouncing on the balls of his feet.