Real Name: Pearl Lenore Curran
Case: Psychic Activity
Date: July 8, 1913 to November 25, 1937
Details: Pearl Lenore Pollard was born in Mound City Illinois on February 15, 1883 to George Pollard and Mary Cordingly. As an infant, she was taken to Texas by her parents and eventually moved to St. Louis, Missouri where she lived for most of childhood and adult life. She moved to California in 1930 where she died of pneumonia in a Los Angeles hospital on December 3, 1937. Pearl Pollard married John Curran and after he died in 1922, she married two more times. Pearl Curran married Henry Rogers, an old family friend and Robert Wyman her teenage sweetheart.
She claimed that a 17th century English woman named Patience Worth spoke to her through an Ouija board. In 1912, her friend Emily Hutchins, a freelance writer, introduced her to the occult world and the Ouija board. At first, Pearl was reluctant to have anything to do with board. On July 8, 1913, the pointer began moving quickly across the board. The letters began to form into coherent sentences. The first sentences created were "Many moons ago I lived. Again, I come. Patience Worth, my name."
Over the next few months, Patience began to dictate literary works in an archaic style. Some of the words included "thee" and "thou" which were common in 17th century England. When asked why she spoke in such a way, Patience responded that people would not believe that she was real if she spoke in the current language style. By 1915, when Pearl's husband John assumed the job of transcribing the sessions, Patience was dictating for hours on end, producing from 500 to 3000 words per sitting. Friends and others came to St. Louis to see the works being transcribed.
William Reedy, a skeptical literary publisher, was one of the visitors. When Pearl asked Patience to greet their skeptical guest, she responded by saying "Hello, Mr. Fat and Wide". After Patience began dictating more of her works, Reedy became convinced that she was legitimate. He had several articles and journals published about Patience and Pearl.
The Sorry Tale was the first novel "written" entirely by Patience Worth; it was published in 1917 by Henry Holt and Company. The novel was about Palestine during the time of Jesus. A distinguished historian felt that the novel was one of the best novels written about Jesus. The New York Times also gave it a positive review.
However, some skeptics accused Pearl of fraud. They claimed that she memorized stories that she dictated during the sessions. Members of the scientific community claimed that the writings were from Pearl's subconscious. Pearl Curran basically had only a grade school formal education and had rarely traveled out of Missouri. Many people were unable to explain how Pearl Curran and Patience Worth were able to write so many works of high quality literature without using modern English since she had little formal education and was not widely traveled.
In August of 1916, the Currans decided to adopt; surprisingly, Patience was the person who convinced them. Patience accurately predicted that the child would be a girl. At 8PM on the evening of October 7, 1916, Patience refused to continue the session, claiming that something important was happening at that time. The next day, the Currans learned that the child that they were planning to adopt had been born. Interestingly, she had been born at the exact same time that Patience told them to stop the session. Patience also accurately predicted physical characteristics about the child and its mother.
A second novel, Hope Trueblood was published in 1918. The sessions continued for several years. John transcribed the sessions until his death in 1922. In 1930, Pearl moved to Los Angeles. In November of 1937, Patience predicted that the end would be coming soon for Pearl. A few weeks later, she passed away. Over the course of twenty-two years, Patience dictated over 4 million words. She wrote aphorisms, hundreds of poems, several plays and five novels through the Ouija board. To this day, this remarkable feat has yet to be properly explained.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the May 12, 1995 episode.