Rather than following "Bridey Murphy" back to Ireland, The Chicago American team -- which consisted of a local minister aided by two professional reporters -- followed Virginia Tighe back to her girlhood in Chicago -- where, it turns out, she became close to a recent Irish immigrant named Bridie Murphy Corkrell. The young Virginia was infatuated with Bridie, and had a crush on her son John.
This page presents the original newspaper articles, plus the Life magazine articles, as both photocopies and transcriptions. Click on the logos below to access the material. The articles were transcribed by Prof. Macmillan, and then the transcripts were converted to digital files via OCR. Photocopies of the original articles are also presented.
Because the Chicago American was published in several different editions daily, readers who consult microforms of the newspaper may find that the headlines and pagination may differ from what is given here. The content of the articles themselves is reproduced accurately.
May 27, 1956, p. 1
The publishing last January of a book, "The Search for Bridey Murphy" brought into glaring prominence the old theory of reincarnation (the idea that a soul lives successive lives on earth). It thereby assaulted one of our civilization's foundation stones - faith in the teachings of scriptures, church and synagogue.
The book, written by Morey Bernstein, a Pueblo, Colo., businessman, concerned his amateur experience in hypnotism with a housewife (named Ruth Simmons in the book but whose true name is Mrs. Virginia Tighe).
The book tells how Mrs. Simmons was put into a trance and then through force of suggestion was "regressed", that is, made to describe scenes at various periods in her childhood. Later she supposedly regressed back past her birth and into a previous life in Ireland in the early 19th century. She was then named Bridey Murphy.
In addition to its questioning of traditional religion, the book brought a more earthly danger: a flood of both amateur and professional experiments in hypnotism in which the subject in trance similarly was taken back through early periods of his life and into what some have come to believe were previous lives. These experiments, according to psychiatrists, are dangerous to some subjects mental health.
The mischief did not stop there. At least one person committed suicide apparently after reading. He left a note saying he was ending his life to learn whether reincarnation is a fact.
A Chicago minister, the Rev. Wally White, a pastor of the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle, Clark and Halsted sts., like many clergymen the world over, was himself concerned over implications in the Bridey Murphy story. He became far more concerned three weeks ago when he was suddenly confronted with the fact that Ruth Simmons had been raised in his own church here in Chicago.
The pastor decided to explore Ruth's childhood to see if the Bridey Murphy story could be exploded.
Meantime The Chicago American also had been checking into the whole story and background of Mrs. Simmons.
The paths of the Rev. Mr. White and Wesley Hartzell, city editor of the American who was directing the search soon crossed. Journalism joined theology in earnest effort to put Bridey Murphy (if there ever was such a woman) back into her unmarked grave.
The American put many reporters to work with the Rev. Mr. White on the mammoth job of probing carefully into Mrs. Simmons' past. The search ranged in time and distance from her birth in Madison, Wis., in 1922, through her life in Chicago through the ages of 4 to 21.
Checking relatives, city directories, reading material, classmates, teachers, family friends, books - in short, anything or anyone it was possible to connect with the actual life of this girl - the minister and the reporters found remarkable similarities between incidents and names in the life of the Pueblo, Colo., housewife and those concerning Bridey Murphy.
It would be erroneous to state that most of the incidents and names involved in the supposed life of Bridey were found by reporters to have parallels in Mrs. Simmons' childhood.
To find them all perhaps would entail the complete "reliving" of Mrs. Simmons' life - exploring the pages of every book she ever read, listening to every conversation she ever heard, talking to every person with whom she came into contact during her busy life in Chicago.
The American, however, in the series of articles starting today, will present enough parallels to enable the reader to draw his own conclusions about the truth of Bridey Murphy's existence. Our search for others continues.
By The Rev. Wally White
with Wesley Hartzell and Bob Smith
May 27, 1956, pp. 1, 8
Bridey Murphy a fantasy, say experts.
Story is heresy, say clergymen.
Bridey Murphy is a mystery no longer. The woman whose experiences under hypnosis in which she "regressed" back to a supposed previous existence as Bridey Murphy, was raised in Chicago.
Some of the things which happened to Bridey in Ireland are remarkably like what happened here to the real girl who now lives in Pueblo, Colo. as a housewife.
As a child she went to Sunday school for years in the church to which I was called as pastor two years ago, the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle. Her real name now is Mrs. Virginia Tighe, although she was called Ruth Simmons in the book written about her experiences, "The Search for Bridey Murphy," by Morey Bernstein.
We shall not reveal her maiden name, since we wish to spare the feelings and peace of her many relatives in Chicago. And we will not, of course, reveal their names in this series of articles about her experiences.
I talked with Mrs. Tighe [End p.1, begin p. 8] last week in her own home in Pueblo and found her to be a lovely and charming person, a young, modern, middle- class wife, There are thousands like her in Chicago.
Her widely publicized experiments under hypnosis have troubled her as deeply as they have troubled the Western world and its traditional religious beliefs.
She told me she doesn't believe in reincarnation. She learned it wasn't so in Sunday school, say says. Now she appears to wish to dispel the idea unleashed with new force on the world by the ghost of Bridey Murphy.
However, despite her unbelief in the specter she herself raised, she has no explanation for the fantasy which came forth from her lips while under the spell of amateur hypnotist Bernstein.
She realizes what she and Mr. Bernstein have produced is very serious. She read the recent article in a national magazine which said:
"Bridey is a publishing phenomenon because, among other things, it is being purchased by thousands who do not normally buy books. They are doing so, apparently, because they are interested in the possibility not only of a life beyond the grave but of one before the obstetrical ward. They are also buying transcriptions of the tape recording made during Ruth Simmons first hypnotic session ... 30,000 of these have been sold."
This points up the seriousness of the case. When one commences to discuss reincarnation, one moves into the spiritual realm. The Bible and the church are very explicit concerning life, death, and life after death. Either the Bible and the Church are true or they're not.
As a Christian minister I felt it my obligation to find out all I could about the girl who was to become Ruth Simmons. The search was to prove once again that if one finds the facts, even the most bizarre happenings can be explained - even Bridey herself.
It is for this reason that THE CHICAGO AMERICAN is presenting the results of intensive research as the answer, or perhaps the end, to "The Search for Bridey Murphy."
What kind of research? Bridey lived in a "white house" in her native Ireland, we are told on Page 113 of Bernstein's book. So she did. Reporters found the house, but it wasn't in Ireland; it was in Wisconsin. Ruth Simmons lived there during the first three or four years of her life. People in the town remember her.
When very young, Bridey got a good tanning for scratching the paint off her bed in her home in Cork, Ireland, Bernstein writes on Page 112 of his book.
Ruth doubtless will be able to recall the fact that she, too, was unable to sit down for some time after she received the worst spanking of her life for treating her own iron bed in similar fashion. She was 7 years old at the time.
It happened in Chicago. We can't prove that it happened in Cork.
Then there is the case of a store where Bridey bought a petticoat. A store with a similar name was located a half mile from Virginia's home in Chicago. It's not there any more.
These and many other similarities will be amply dealt with later in this series.
But let us introduce you to Ruth herself. I arrived unexpectedly, but when I stepped in her door I found she was a good housekeeper. How many wives have their homes in apple pie order by 10 a.m. - the time I stopped by?
She and her husband had just returned from a vacation, and they were thankful for a surcease from the blast of publicity that had taken away the quiet of her life after the book was published. She told me:
"My husband and I wish we had never heard of Bridey Murphy:"
I met her two little girls as they came in the house from school. She woke her baby from a morning nap so we could see her. Asked how she reconciled all this Bridey Murphy business with what she had been taught in our Sunday school, she replied:
"I don't try to. I still believe the Christian truths I was taught as a little girl, and I still believe the Bible and that Jesus Christ is the Savior of men and women."
She has a sister, now living in Chicago. The sister's name is Marie, not Helen as Bernstein's book says. The family was poor when Ruth was born in the Wisconsin frame home. Four years after her birth in April 1922, the parents brought their children to Chicago, taking an apartment on Chicago's West Side.
This city, however, was not to be the promised land for them. In a year the parents had separated. Ruth was sent to live with her uncle and an aunt -- Aunt Emgee we'll call her. This couple was not well off either, but they had no children of their own, and they welcomed her. The sister went to live with an aunt of her mother.
Ruth and her foster parents moved several times. We have the addresses of every place in Chicago in which they lived. The desire of relatives for anonymity again prevents us from revealing them
Ruth attended various schools in Chicago, graduating in 1940 from a North Side high school. She went to Sunday school at the Tabernacle, winning several awards for faithfulness in attendance and for learning Scripture verses. Some of her prizes were plaques containing such verses from the Bible. They still hang in the apartment of her aunt.
A good many investigators have tried to check the authenticity of the Bridey Murphy story by tracking down names and places in Ireland.
But two noted experts, Dr Jerome M. Schneck, past president of the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, and Dr Lewis R. Wolberg, medical director of New York's Postgraduate Center for Psycho- therapy, have been quoted as saying:
"The attempt to check the story's truth in Ireland was roundabout. The direct way would be to go into Ruth Simmons' own childhood development, her parents and her relationship with them.
"What was she told as a child of her heritage? Who were her childhood friends, and what of her early experiences? That would tell us more than trying to check old newspapers in Ireland." They are right. It HAS told us far more.
A very pleasant man Bridey says she knew in Ireland. He lives in Chicago.
By the Rev. Wally White
with LeRoy McHugh and Bob Smith
May 28, 1956, pp. 1, 6
Second of the Series
Bridey Murphy had an "uncle" Plazz in 19th century Ireland.
Ruth Simmons, her 20th century American alter ego, had one, too - here in Chicago. Bridey's "Plazz" was the uncle of her husband, Brian, she related in one of her hypnotic regressions into a "previous existence."
Ruth's "Plazz" was a good friend and neighbor of her own aunt and uncle with whom she lived on the Near North Side. "Uncle Plazz" actually was what she called him.
She liked him very much, her Chicago relatives say. And he loved her, he told The CHICAGO AMERICAN, "like one of my own daughters."
This is only one of the numerous points of similarity which have been uncovered in the lives of the mysterious Bridey and the young Pueblo, Colo., housewife who six times reverted into the obliging Irish lass under a hypnotic trance.
Morey Bernstein, Pueblo businessman and author of the controversial book, "The Search for Bridey Murphy", cites Bridey's mention of the unique name of Plazz, as lending authenticity to the entire tale and to the theory of regression into a previous life.
He quotes an Irish Investigator as describing the name Plazz as "the very, very rare Christian name Blaize, called after the Irish Saint Blaize, patron of those afflicted with disease of the throat."
Chicago's Plazz - (This is his first name and he now spells it (with an "e"), is a 61 year old retired city employee, who agrees he has a rare Christian name:
"Not many persons could be named Plazz, I guess" And he adds:
"Maybe some Irish saint had a name something like "mine, but I'm not Irish. I'm Dutch. My father named me after an Indiana minister."
To protect his privacy, THE CHICAGO AMERICAN, whose reporters combed Chicago to find him, is not publishing his last name or address. Nor is THE AMERICAN using the maiden name of Ruth Simmons, now Mrs. Virginia Tighe, or the names of members of her family here.
Plazz and his wife were old friends of Ruth's Aunt Emgee and her husband, and the couples visited frequently. As he recalls:
"My wife and I would visit Ruth and her aunt and uncle, maybe two or three times a week. Then they'd be at our house a couple of times too."
(Editor's Note: In his conversation, Plazz referred to Ruth by her correct maiden name. For reasons already stated we have used the name in the Bernstein book).
"Two of my daughters, Patricia and Delores, all played with Ruth. I did too. Why, I thought as much of that kid as I did of my [end p. 1, begin p. 6] own children. I remember her very well from the time she was about 3 or 4 until she was in the eighth grade."
Plazz smiled as he reminisced:
"Ruth used to call me 'Uncle Plazz'. I remember that very well.
"Her uncle and I played on the floor with her and my girls. And during the summer we'd take the kids on picnics to the forest preserves."
On one occasion, he recalled, he attended Ruth's birthday party. Plazz, who said they never discussed Ireland as far as he can remember, described Ruth as:
"A smart little girl. In her young days she had pretty blonde hair."
Aunt Emgee and her husband, he said, had confided to him that Ruth was only their foster daughter: that she really was the daughter of Emgee's brother.
Plazz's wife, Alice, also remembered these joyous outings. Ruth, she said, was "a very capable girl." And Alice added:
"She and her uncle Louis - her foster father - used to sing and d and dance together a great deal. Remember the song 'You Are My Sunshine?' That was one of their favorites. They used to sing a duet when we'd visit their home."
The respective religions of Plazz and his wife are exactly opposite that described by Bridey for Uncle Plazz and his wife. In the real life family, Plazz is a Protestant (a Baptist) and Alice is a Roman Catholic.
Despite Ruth's close association with her "Uncle Plazz," as she pronounced it, she dismissed "Brian's Uncle Plazz" with a few cursory sentences under hypnosis during her account of Bridey Murphy's life.
As Bernstein reports in his book on the tape recording of Bridey's fifth trance:
Bernstein - How about Brian's uncle?
Bridey - His father was upset, but he married an Orange. But he wasn't upset when he married me. (Bridey also was a Protestant.) Let's see ... you mean his uncle that married the Orange?
Bernstein - Married what?
Bridey - The Orange.
Bernstein - Yes. What was his name?
Bridey - His name was Plazz. Plazz. .
Bernstein - How do you spell that?
Bridey - P-I-a-z...
Bernstein -- All right
Bridey - z.
Bernstein - two z's?
Bridey - Two z's.
Bridey apparently was confused about the spelling. But so was Ruth's Aunt Emgee - and the Chicago city directory for 1929. The story of Plazz was checked with the aunt who raised Ruth.
Aunt Emgee told THE AMERICAN she believed the name was spelled Plazz - with an "a". And AMERICAN reporters checking the directory found it listed that way.
Aunt Emgee said she, her husband and Ruth always had referred to their friend as "Plazz".
Moreover, reporters found it somewhat difficult to distinguish certain words and sounds while carefully listening to a transcription of Bernstein's tape recording of the first trance. Although the first trance did not deal with Bridey's account of Plazz.
A transcription of this particular session - the fifth - was not available to us and a check with the company producing the records disclosed that they are not available to the public as yet.
Still, Bernstein makes the mention of the name Plazz a major point. Again he quotes the Irish authority:
"Plazz. This is genuine all right and throws a sense of authenticity about the whole thing.
And quoting Bernstein himself:
"I had been unable to find anyone who had ever heard of such a name, so it is hard to understand how Ruth Simmons (who had been raised from infancy by a Norwegian uncle and
a German-Scotch-Irish aunt) could have been familiar with it."
Bridey showed early dramatic talent especially in an Irish brogue.
By the Rev. Wally White
with Wesley Hartzell and Ernest Tucker
May 29, 1956, pp. 1, 8
Third of a Series
Ruth Simmons, the girl who "relived" an earlier life as Bridey Murphy under the promptings of an amateur hypnotist, showed an early interest in dramatics.
The interest continued through high school on Chicago's North Side, where she was marked "superior" in dramatics by her teacher.
Earlier, as a 10 or 11-year-old child, she took private lessons in public speaking. In the course of these lessons, Ruth whose hypnotic trances formed the major part of Morey Bernstein's book, "The Search for Bridey Murphy," memorized a number of monologs.
Most of them were in Irish brogue -
In one, Ruth figured as "Bridget Mahon," an Irish girl having her picture taken.
In another she was "Maggie McCarthy," an immigrant servant girl. In Ruth's hypothetical earlier life in early 19th Century Ireland, she was married to a John MacCarthy.
Her name therefore would have been Bridget, or Bridey MacCarthy. This is the kind of hazy, piecemeal association of early experiences which psychologists say is the way such fantasies are born under hypnosis.
Ruth took her early lessons in forensics from a Mrs. H.S.M. (as with the other names concerned, the teacher's name is being withheld.)
This was during depression days of the early 30s. Mrs. M., a young mother then, needed extra money and gave the same lessons she had had as a girl. Mrs. M Never was a professional dramatics teacher. She was located by THE AMERICAN after an intensive search by a battery of reporters.
The little "pieces" Ruth memorized are not exactly gems of literature. They lean heavily on a stage Irish dialect and a labored humor. Sample from one piece, "Maggie McCarthy Goes on a Diet":
"Did ye iver work for a [end p. 1, begin p. 8] fat lady? Well, don't. They're supposed to be that good natured an' kindly but don't
you never believe it - they're the tryinest paple in the warld, air them fat wimmen. Now, a fat mon is jolly.
"Well, I won't be sayin' all fat wimmin is ugly tempered - It's only whin they're dietin' or exercisin' or somethin' loike that, and thot's what this last wan I'm workin' for is always a-doin'...
"I was dustin' the pairler an' I heard a strange bumpin' an' tumblin' an' the light fixtures on the calin' was shakin' to bate the band.
"I run up shtairs and through the half-open dure I sane the Missus rollin' on the flure. Thin she'd git up an' jump first on wan fut an' thin on another, comin' down loike a ton of brick. Thin she'd stoop over an' raise up.
"An' I was thot scared I says, 'Is ther anythin wrong, Mum, air ye sick, Mum." An' she raised up furious an' says, 'None of your business, Maggie. Run away from my dure.'"
One of the pieces Ruth learned was by Finley Peter Dunne, the "Mr. Dooley of Archey Road," whose Irish dialect whimseys were a rage in the early years of the century.
The brogue in this is considerably more authentically Hibernian than the Maggie McCarthy opus:
"I seen the Dorgan la-ad comin' up th' sthreet yesterdah in his futball clothes - a pair iv mathresses on his legs, a pillow behind, a mask over his nose, an' a bushel measure iv hair on his head. He was followed by three men with botties, Dr Ryan, an' th' Dorgan famIly ...
Mr. Dooley gives his impression of the football game: the yells. "Hooroo, hooroo, hullabaloo." - and the action:
""The' cinter rush av the Saint Aloysiuses took a runnin' jump at th' left lung iv wan iv the Christian Brothers, an' wint to th' grass with him. Four Christian Brothers leaped most crooly at four Saint Aloysiuses an' rolled thim.
"... This here young Saint Aloysius grabbed him be the hair iv th' head an' the sole iv th' fut, an' thrun him over his shoulder. 'What's that la-ad doin'? says I. 'Interferin", says he. "I shud think he was,' says I 'an' most impudent,' I says. An' I come away, Tis a noble sport."
In his book, Bernstein reports on several occasions that Ruth Simmons' brogue became more distinct as the seances took their course and she sunk more deeply into the character of Bridey.
This could mean the emergence of the long-dead Bridey Murphy or, more simply, the re-emergence of the dramatic readings of Maggie McCarthy and Bridget Mahon, with overtones of Mr. Dooley of Archey Road.
During one seance, Bridey said she lived in a little house "behind a big house on Dooley Road."
Mr. Dooley lived on Archey Road.
Another phenomenon that reduced Bernstein to wide-eyed wonder (was the fact that, although Ruth Simmons was no dancer, she demonstrated a "cute little dance" which ended with "a nimble jump" and involved pressing her hand to her mouth.
This was the Morning Jig, one of Bridey's terpsichorean repertoire (which also included the Sorcerer's Jig.
But Ruth was no stranger to dancing either. Her uncle, reached by THE AMERICAN at his home in Texas, remembered that as a little girl she used to dance jigs in the street, picking up pennies. He said:
"She was gifted in that way. She would see something done once and be able to mimic it perfectly - a dance like the Charleston, or an Irish jig.
"She had a very good memory. She used to be able to read a chapter of the Bible once, then repeat it word-perfectly."
This, of course, helped her memorize her Irish readings.
She could, said her uncle, imitate various dialects to perfection - Swedish, Jewish, Irish, Italian. He added:
"She could put on a brogue so well you would swear there was an Irishman in the room with you."
So the picture emerges of Ruth through her childhood and young girlhood - facile at imitations, interested i~ recitations and dramatics, a gifted, imaginative child.
Always with a strong thread of Ireland running through her imitations and recitals - Maggie McCarthy, Bridget Mahon, jigs, Mr. Dooley of Archey Road.
That wasn't an Irishman that Ruth's uncle heard in the room. It could have been the as-yet-unknown Bridey Murphy.
Bridey gets spanked in Cork, Ireland, and it hurts all the way to Chicago.
By the Rev. Wally White
with Bob Smith
May 30, 1956, pp. 1, 8
Fourth of a Series
Ruth Simmons went all the way back to 19th century Ireland to be spanked.
She could have saved herself the trip.
In her "regressed" identity of Bridey Murphy, Ruth recalled "an awful spanking" which she got for scratching "the paint off all my bed."
In fact, this is the first incident she mentioned - the very first words she spoke - as the amazing Bridey.
But Bridey - or Ruth - got a spanking here in Chicago too - for exactly the same reason.
The remarkable similarity between the incident which supposedly happened in a previous life and one which actually occurred to young Ruth in her North Side home is another of the startling coincidences which THE CHICAGO AMERICAN has uncovered in its investigation of the Bridey Murphy story.
The revelation was made during an audition of the transcription of Ruth's first venture into history as the saucy Bridey.
Listening intently to the transcription being played by us in the living room of the North Side home of Ruth's Aunt Emgee, were Emgee, Ruth's sister Marie, and a friend of Marie's.
Alert for the voice of the woman they had not seen in some 13 years, both Emgee and Marie sat on the edge of their chairs, their chins resting comfortably in their hands, as the transcription began with amateur hypnotist Morey Bernstein taking Ruth back to her childhood via hypnotic trance.
They nodded in agreement as familiar childhood incidents and names were discussed by the hypnotized Ruth Simmons.
Then, they strained forward as Bernstein took Ruth "back, back, back and back" into a previous existence as Bridey Murphy.
Bernstein - Now you're going to tell us, now you're going to tell me what scenes came into your mind. What did you see? What did you see?
Bridey . . . uh . . . scratched the paint off all [end p. 1, begin p. 8] my bed. Jus' painted it 'n' and made it pretty. It was a metal bed: and I scratched the paint off of it, dug my nails on every post and just ruined it. Was jus' terrible.
Bernstein - Why did you do that?
Bridey - Don't know. I was just mad. Got an awful spanking.
At this point we were startled by Aunt Emgee's calm interjection:
"That's right. She did that."
And she chuckled as she recalled the incident. Marie, too smiled in recollection.
Immediately we halted the transcription and pressed for further details.
Emgee, now excited as she realized that the bed scratching episode clearly linked Bridey with Ruth's own childhood, explained:
"It was a metal bed. Ruth was about 6 or 7.
"Esther (Emgee's sister-in-law) had painted the bed blue and pink, I think."
Marie agreed that was the color, all right.
While they recalled clearly that Aunt Emgee's husband, Lou (Ruth's foster father), had soundly spanked Ruth, they e like Bridey - couldn't remember what had prompted the little girl's actions.
Later THE CHICAGO AMERICAN obtained confirmation of their version from a Texas man, Aunt Emgee's brother-in-law, who had been living with them in Chicago at the time.
As he recalled the incident:
"I think Ruth was sent to bed for stubbornness - she didn't, want to eat something.
"After she scratched the bed, my brother, Lou, followed an old Norwegian practice. He spanked her with a strap. I don't think Ruth would forget it."
And Ruth didn't forget it. At least she still vividly remembered it a dozen years or so later, Aunt Emgee observed, when she received a new bedroom smite as a birthday present.
Aunt Emgee, who gave her the set, readily recalled:
"Ruth laughed about how she had scratched her bed as a child when I gave her the new pieces. We all joked about it."
Then Emgee pointed to two small plaques hanging on a wall and explained:
"These were in Ruth's room when she scratched the bed. She got them for attendance and Scripture memorization at the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle."
The inscription on one of the plaques becomes ironic in view of Ruth's later reports on at least one and possibly two previous lives. From the first chapter, 21st verse of Philippians, it reads:
"Only one life 'twill soon be passed, only what's done for Christ will last. For me to live is Christ."
The second plaque, which contains the figure of Christ, reads:
"Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth. Ecc. XII.l."
Bridey's bed scratching story previously has been questioned by other investigators.
As the tiny Irish lass, she told Bernstein she was 4 years old at the time of the incident.
Since Bridey said she was born in 1798, the tantrum would have occurred sometime during 1802.
However, investigations show, iron bedsteads were not introduced into Ireland until about 1850 at the earliest.
But there were many iron beds in Chicago during the late 1920s.
And Ruth Simmons or Bridey Murphy, take your pick, had one.
What's in a name? Bridey's story shifts to Wisconsin.
By Norman Glubok
May 31, 1956, pp. 1, 22
Fifth of a Series
Authorities on hypnotism contend there is nothing in the Bridey Murphy story that cannot be explained either as coincidence or as a sub- conscious memory.
They ask only that "Ruth Simmons" the Pueblo, Colo., housewife whose experiences under hypnosis are recounted in "The Search for Bridey Murphy" reveal her early life to them.
With those facts before them, they say, they could explode the whole story of her "previous existence".
Ruth Simmons herself declines to cooperate. She would not even talk with reporters who asked her to verify or disclaim childhood incidents or associations which are identical with those of the ebullient Bridey Murphy.
But THE CHICAGO AMERICAN was able independently to supply the needed facts.
THE CHICAGO AMERICAN determined to follow these facts.
A reporter went to Madison, Wis., Ruth's native city. He searched public records, talked with relatives and retraced many of the steps of the woman's earliest childhood.
What the reporter found supports the authorities' contention.
Much of what Ruth recalled under hypnosis as experienced by "Bridey Murphy" in Ireland more than a century ago provided vivid parallels to her childhood days in Madison.
As Bridey, Ruth recalls a "Father John ... Father John Goran," who was very close to her and her husband.
On page 171 of the book hypnotist Bernstein asks:
"Now, what was Father John's last name?"
"Father John ... oh, it started with a G... started with a G..."
Bernstein - "Did you [end p. 1, begin p. 22] ever see it printed? Must have been printed in the papers."
Bridey - "I saw it ... I saw it on the papers ... I saw a G... G... G... G-o, G-o-r, G-o-r-a-n ... G-o-r-a-n."
Bernstein - "Father John Goran?"
Bridey - "Yes, Father John Goran."
At a later session, described on page 176, Bernstein suggests the name might have been "Gorman" and Ruth agrees.
As a child in Madison, Ruth lived at 311 N. Blair st. Less than 100 feet from her front door is the intersection of Blair with Gorham st.
A block and a half away from the same house is St. John's Lutheran Church, the largest in the neighborhood. It was built in 1905, some 17 years before Ruth was born.
Could "Father John Goran" or "Father John Gorman" come from a sub- conscious connection between Gorham st. and st. John's Church? The experts say such connections are frequent in a hypnotized subgect's mind.
Historians note that frame houses were scarce in Bridey Murphy's Ireland.
But they were plentiful in Madison during the 1920s. And Ruth lived in one of them, at 311 N. Blair street.
In the book, author Bernstein asks Ruth: "What kind of a house do you live in?" And Ruth responds:
"Uh ... it's a nice house ... it's a wood house ... white ... has two floors ... has ... I have a room upstairs ... go up the stairs and turn to the left."
A modest story-and-a-half cottage, the house is now covered with tan brick-like shingles put on by the present owner 15 years ago.
Oldtimers in the neighborhood recall that the house was frame and painted white during the period that Ruth's family was there.
Ruth lived there only two or three years. By 1925, the directory shows, the house was vacant. And Ruth, who was born Apr. 27,1922, would have been no more than three when she moved, if the directory is correct.
Psychiatrists agree that many things that happen to a young child can be recalled under hypnosis.
Bridey Murphy's experiences, they contend, come largely from sub- conscious memory.
There are other similarities in the Madison background.
On page 113 of the book, Bridey tells of a younger brother who died. Hypnotist Bernstein asks:
"How old were you when he died?" And Ruth responds':
"I was four ... just four, He was just a baby."
Ruth - not Bridey - did have a brother who died. But Ruth was 5 not 4, at the time.
A reporter retracing Ruth's childhood found a birth certificate in the Dane County courthouse at Madison issued for a child stillborn to Ruth's parents.
The child, who was not named, was born in Madison General Hospital on Oct. 29, 1927.
In the book, Bernstein asks:
"Do you know how old your brother was when he died?" And Ruth's answer:
"No. Just a ... not one ...yet ... Don't know."
When she said the child was "not one" she was absolutely correct. It had been born dead. And to a 5-year-old girl expecting the birth of a little brother or sister it must have been a great shock, a shock she would likely recall under hypnosis.
On page 135 of the book, Bernstein seeks more information about the little brother. Bridey is telling about a childhood trip in Ireland. And under questioning by Bernstein the following conversation takes place with the hypnotized Ruth:
Bernstein - "Where is your older brother?"
Bridey - "My older brother - little brother ... he's dead."
Bernstein - "He's dead?"
Bridey - "Yes"
Bernstein - "How old was he when he died?"
Bridey - "Oh, he was a baby... just a little ... I don't know..."
Bernstein - "From what did he die?"
Bridey - "He was ... sick of ... I don't know what was wrong with him. He died ... when he was just a little ..."
Bernstein - "What disease did he have?"
Bridey - "He ... I don't know... I don't know."
Further evidence that the stillborn child made a great impression on the young Ruth comes when Bernstein asks her about Bridey's husband's family:
"All right. Now, does Brian have any brothers or sisters?"
And Ruth replies:
"No, his - That's it! ... his mother, his mother ... his mother died. He had a brother ... he had a brother ... It was a still child, and his mother died. He went then with his grandmother... It was a still child."
As Bridey, Ruth recalls that she had to walk a long way to church. In Madison, records show, her family belonged to Trinity Lutheran Church, more than a mile from the Blair st. home.
The pastor at Trinity at the time was the Rev. John N. Walstead. Another possible explanation for "Father John?"
Bridey remembers living near a barn. Next door to another of her several homes, at 15S. Webster st. in Madison is a onetime livery stable since converted to a motor repair shop. That particular house has been replaced by a public garage.
Bridey said her mother's name was Kathleen. Ruth's mother's name, according to a sister, was Katherine Pauline. Could Kathleen be a combination of the two?
The house at 311 N. Blair st. in Madison holds at least one more coincidence with the "white house" of the book.
On page 119 in the book Bernstein asks Ruth: "... Tell me how you died?" Ruth replied:
"Fell down ... fell down on the stairs, and ... seems I broke some bones in my hip too, and I was a terrible burden."
When a recording of the session was played a few days ago to Ruth's sister Marie who now lives in Chicago, Marie exclaimed:
"That was me. I fell down the stairs when I was little."
Then Marie pointed to a scar she still carried on her forehead as a result of the tumble.
Marie recalled that she fell down the stairs at 311 N. Blair St.
The reporter found a steep flight of a dozen steps just as the sister had described it.
It was the sister who had fallen - and Bridey's "previous existence" that died.
Ruth Simmons' childhood chums in Chicago recognize their former playmate
before her real identity is publicly known.
By The Rev. Wally White
with Norman Glubok and Bob Smith
June 1, 1956, pp. 1, 6
Sixth of a Series
Bridey Murphy's tale of a previous life in Ireland a century ago startled the credulous portion of the nation's population.
But friends of Chicago-raised Ruth Simmons, the later day Bridey, were even more startled.
For as Bridey's piecemeal story of her life in 19th century Ireland was unfolded by amateur hypnotist Morey Bernstein in his book and newspaper and magazine condensations, Ruth's friends readily recognized the childhood of the girl they knew right here in Chicago.
While many of the incidents and names mentioned by Ruth during her hypnotic regressions into "an earlier life" were unfamiliar, there were enough similarities to give them a clue to Bridey's real identity long before a national magazine first revealed Ruth's actual married name, Mrs. Virginia Tighe.
One of Ruth's former childhood playmates in Chicago confided to THE AMERICAN:
"Sure, I recognized Bridey's story as that of Ruth. And I wasn't the only one."
Another friend in Chicago, she said, told her that a Missouri woman had written her after reading Bridey's story and stated:
"I think this woman is Ruth."
In addition to outstanding similarities already mentioned in this series, Ruth's Chicago friend - let's call her Ann, since that is not her name - cited the sneezing incident as one which convinced her of Bridey's true identity.
The fourth tape recorded hypnotic session was cut short when Ruth, as the "regressed" Bridey, suddenly loosed "a tremendous sneeze."
From her reclining position, the still hypnotized Ruth sat erect, opened her eyes and asked:
"Could I have a linen."
After considerable confusion, Bernstein finally deduced that she wanted a handkerchief and handed one to her.
Before Bernstein could wake her she sneezed once more. And she sneezed again later during the fifth hypnotic session.
Ann readily attached significance to this particular incident, explaining:
"If anyone could sneeze hard, it was Ruth."
About Bridey's request- [end p. 1, ,begin p. 6] ing a linen, instead of a handkerchief, Ann added:
"I loved white linen handkerchiefs. And I always called them my white linen handkerchiefs.
Virginia admired them. She knew what I called them."
Ruth's Aunt Emgee, who raised her in Chicago, also recalled Ruth's frequent sneezing sessions.
By itself this similarity might not be of prime importance. But when viewed with a chain of such coincidences an amazing parallel in much of the two lives is easily noted.
Even the literary tastes of Bridey and Ruth were about the same. Asked by Bernstein about her favorite books, Bridey replied rather shyly:
"You'll laugh, I liked the weird stores, and I liked the stories of things beyond, and I liked the dreamy stories about Cuchulain my mother used to read."
"Ruth liked weird and dreamy stories, all right, She used to read detective and mystery stories. She read a lot of movie fan magazines, too."
Bridey, of course, said nothing about the latter.
Both Bridey and Ruth also had somewhat similar tastes in food. Potato Palate
Bridey reported she and her husband, Brian, stopped for "potato cakes" in a placed called Doby en route to Belfast from Cork after their marriage. Later Bridey was asked about her favorite dish and replied:
"I... I liked ... uh ... platters ... or flats of potato cake ... But I certainly had my fill of potato cake."
Ann and Aunt Emgee agreed that potato pancakes were Ruth's favorite dish.
Both Bridey and Ruth also had the same favorite song - Londonderry Air.
Specifically asked by Bernstein to name her favorite, Bridey responded:
"Uh ... I liked the ... Londonderry Air."
About Ruth, Aunt Emgee says:
"She and my husband liked to sing 'Danny Boy' (Londonderry Air). They sang it often."
"I used to play 'Danny Boy' on the piano and Ruth would sing it. She liked it a lot."
A Note on "Danny Boy"
"Bridey Murphy" said that favorite song was "Londonderry Air", also known as "Danny Boy". According to the Book of World-Famous Music, by J.J. Field, the tune of "Londonderry Air" was first published in 1855, as part of The Ancient Music of Ireland, a collection edited by G. Petrie. The words to "Danny Boy" were written by F.E. Weatherly in 1910, and set to 'Londonderry Air in 1913, and was popularized by the Australian composer Percy Grainger (1882-1961). But "Bridey Murphy" said she had been born in 1798. Although other lyrics were published before Weatherly's, and "Bridey" might well have known the tune, it is extremely unlikely that she would have known the words to "Danny Boy".
Twice during her hypnotic trances, Bridey complained to Bernstein: "Oh, My foot. My foot."
Neither time did she explain what was wrong with her foot, but Bernstein pointed out that each reference followed mention of a jig or dance.
"Ruth wore long narrow shoes. They were always too small for her.
She has corns and always complained of her feet hurting her. Her shoes squeezed her feet. When she went out to buy shoes, she would always get heels as high as possible and shoes as small as possible."
As a child, Bridey told Bernstein, she lived outside of Cork in "The Meadows." That, she explained was her address.
As a girl, a pretty colored calendar made a strong impression on Ruth Simmons, Ann recalls:
"Ruth's uncle bought one for each of us. The picture was of a little girl in a meadows. The caption was 'Sunshine on the Meadows.'
"Ruth kept it for a long time."
And she apparently remembered it even longer.
Bridey gets married in much the same way she does in Chicago.
By The Rev. Wally White and Bob Smith
June 2, 1956, pp. 1, 3
Seventh of a Series
Traditionally, her wedding day is the happiest day of a woman's life.
It wasn't so with Bridey Murphy. Neither was it true for Ruth Simmons her 20th century American counterpart.
For both the "regressed" brogue-speaking Bridey and Chicago-raised Ruth (equally adept with the brogue) found the nuptials brought unhappiness to ones they loved.
Their wedding-day troubles were virtually identical. Nor do similarities end there.
Probing the Chicago life of Ruth Simmons in search of an explanation of her reported hypnotic regression into a previous life in Ireland 100 years ago, CHICAGO AMERICAN reporters have uncovered numerous parallels in the two lives.
While Bridey's account of her matrimonial venture naturally differs with Ruth's real-life experiences in many ways, there are three significant similarities.
For one thing, both Bridey and Ruth were married twice. Bridey wed Brian MacCarthy once in Cork, she reported, and again in Belfast.
Ruth, the fictitious name given the Pueblo, Colo., woman by Morey Bernstein in his book, "The Search for Bridey Murphy," was first wed here in the fall of 1943 to a young Chicago Army Air Force man.
He was killed on a bombing mission in the South [end p. 1, begin p. 3] Pacific in 1944. Later Ruth married another Chicago man.
It's the first wedding day which bears a strong similarity in both instances.
Discussing her first marriage to Brian in Cork, Bridey reports on Page 195 of Bernstein's book:
"I got married so my folks could see me, 'n' ... they were unhappy about it, you know. I mean they... felt that I was ... that they were losing me. My father was very upset."
During another hypnotic session, Bridey and Bernstein had the following conversation about her wedding:
Bridey: I was thinking that my father was so unhappy. You know we took the horse, In' he was a very worried man. And he felt he'd lost so much ... I was going so far away. He
went ... he went to bed over it. .
Bernstein: Is that right?
Bridey: Oh, he was so upset. And I - I was unhappy to go then.
Bridey: Um hmm. He was ... oh ... he was unhappy with me, and (here Bernstein reports Bridey gave a "rueful little laugh") . .. I ...
Suddenly Bernstein switched the subject. As he explains in his book:
"When I interrupted Bridey, all the witnesses in the room would have liked to pull me away. In short, they would have preferred to hear more of the personal life' and times of Bridey Murphy'. But our real job was to dig for the solid evidential checking points, and I could not see how her father's sentiment could help us in this direction."
Apparently they could, however, for Ruth's 1943 wedding day has a close parallel with Bridey's story.
She married the young airman, whom she had known a long time, on the final day of his two-week furlough in Chicago.
Both her aunt and uncle, who had raised her from the age of 4, cautioned her against the sudden marriage.
Neither attended the wedding.
Friends report both were very upset. There's another "coincidence," too.
During the discussion of Bridey's marriage, the Irish lass tells Bernstein the amateur hypnotist whose book has created a national controversy, that she and her husband took a horse and livery rig to Belfast following the wedding.
Like Bridey, and her bridegroom, Ruth and the groom actually left the wedding scene the same day of their wedding. But they took a modern form of transportation - a plane. Their destination was New York and then an Air Force base in Virginia.
Ruth's association with her first husband also produces another similarity with Bridey's marriage.
Other investigations previously have pointed out that "Brian" is not only the name of Bridey's husband, but also the middle name of Ruth's present husband.
This name is linked to her Chicago life, too.
Brian was the name of a nephew of her first husband. And Ruth, friends and relatives agree, took a particular fancy to this youngster, then about the age of 6 or 7.
He was not a child Ruth would be apt to forget.
Bridey goes shopping in Ireland -- and in Chicago.
By The Rev. Wally White and Bob Smith
June 3, 1956, pp. 1, 11
Pretty Chicago housefufe tells her 'Previous life' as a school teacher of 1894 under hypnosis. Page 10
Eighth of a Series
Bridey Murphy went shopping in Belfast.
Ruth Simmons did her buying here in Chicago.
Strangely, both found stores of a similar name - selling the same kind of merchandise.
This is another of the coincidences uncovered by CHICAGO AMERICAN" reporters probing the Chicago childhood of Ruth Simmons (whose real married name is Mrs. Virginia Tighe) in search of a possible link with her "previous life" as Bridey Murphy.
Six times amateur hypnotist Morey Bernstein "regressed" Mrs. Simmons (it's a fictitious name to shield her identity) into an existence as the cooperative Bridey of 19th century Ireland.
And six times Bridey willingly spouted details of her life as a child in Cork and later as a married woman in Belfast. Many of these details, however, bear a strong resemblance to actual persons, places and events to be found right here in Chicago, her childhood home.
It was Bernstein's search for proof that Bridey actually existed which brought out the name Cadenns House, a women's apparel shop. Bridey said she bought camisoles (articles of lingerie) and shoes at the store which she said was in Belfast.
CHICAGO AMERICAN reporters, searching for facts in the Chicago childhood of Ruth Simmons, found that there was a "Kaden" Dry Goods Co. at 3136-38 Montrose av. from 1925 until the early 1940s - about five blocks from where she lived on Chicago's North Side.
Bernard Kaden, who formerly operated the store with [end p. 1, begin p. 11] his brother, Joseph, told THE AMERICAN:
"Sure we sold women's slips and blouses, We sold shoes, too."
In Bernstein's recounting of Ruth's hypnotic regressions, "The Search for Bridey Murphy," he tells how the name was brought up during Bridey's third trance.
After Bernstein asked for the names of some stores or businesses in an effort to establish the authenticity of Bridey's story, the hypnotized woman responded:
"There was ... a... Caden House. It was a ... place for ... uh ... women's apparel, things that ladies would ... blouses and camisoles and ... and ..." .
When Bernstein asked her how to spell it, Bridey replied: "C, it's C-a-d-e-n-n-s."
The same store was also mentioned during the fifth and sixth hypnotic sessions, but each time only after prompting by Bernstein. Bridey and difficulty remembering the name again.
On page 182 of his book, Bernstein records the discussion on the fifth tape:
Bridey: ... Oh ... I... ah ... hmmm ... I went there two times. That's a ladies' thing. You know that's a...
Bridey: I know... that ... place. Oh ...
Since Bridey obviously was unable to recall the name she had given during the third trance - even though Bernstein assured her that her memory was becoming "clearer and clearer" - the hypnotist himself advised her:
"You told us the name was Cadenn's House. Is that right?"
Bridey: That's it! How did you know? That's a ladies' place you know.
Bernstein: But you told me once before. Bridey: Cadenns House it is.
During the sixth and final hypnotic session with the "regressed" Ruth Simmons, or Bridey Murphy as the case may be, Bernstein inquired where she had bought her shoes.
After much hesitation, Bridey answered:
"I... It started with a... Oh, all this spelling is wearing me out."
The tape continued:
Bernstein: Well, all right, if it's bothering you, do not spell it.
Bridey: It's ... It's a house ... or something ... Cadenns.
Bernstein: You told us Candenns House before. Is that right? Bridey: That's the place.
Then, although she had spelled it for Bernstein during her third
trance, Bridey added:
"Cadenns House. I don't know how to spell it." Sheepishly, Bridey confided: "I'm not much at spelling."
Investigators have been unable to find any Cadenns House in Belfast.
CHICAGO AMERICAN reporters, probing every possible angle of Bridey's story, found the Kaden's shop listed in the 1928-29 Chicago city directory and telephone books of later date.
Moreover, it was near a neighborhood theater. Anyone walking from Ruth Simmons' home to the movie house undoubtedly would have passed the Kadens' shop many times.
While the store also sold men's furnishings and dry goods merchandise, Bernard Kaden explained that frequently women's slips and blouses were placed in the display window..
The Kadens have long since moved from the neighborhood. Neither the store nor the theater is in operation now. But CHICAGO AMERICAN reporters found them.
That's more than the investigators who scoured Belfast were able to do.
Bridey as an invalid, and her Chicago counterpart.
By Norman Glubok and Bob Smith
June 4, 1956, p. 4
Ninth of a Series
"I was such a burden. Had to be carried about."
It's Bridey Murphy, speaking about the final days of her life in 18th-century Ireland.
It's Ruth Simmons, 24-year-old Pueblo, Colo., housewife, speaking too. The "broguish" Bridey emerges only when Ruth is under hypnotic trance.
When amateur hypnotist Morey Bernstein "regressed" Ruth "back, back and back in your mind," it was Bridey who was dutifully concerned about the burden she had become before her "death" on a Sunday morning in Belfast in 1864.
Had Bernstein asked Ruth Simmons (a fictitious name given his subject in his book, "The Search for Bridey Murphy") whether she had been a burden to her family, she might have responded in all honesty, "No."
Although Bridey seems readily able to recall incidents which happened to her at the age of 4 - she says that was in 1802 - Ruth Simmons, under normal conditions, might not find recollection so easy.
Yet older friends of the Chicago-born Ruth vividly recall her concern as a 4-year-old over the fact that she had become a temporary burden to her Aunt Emgee and Uncle Lou, the foster parents who raised her from that age until her marriage in 1943.
Suffering from a severe childhood disease and unable to walk for several months, the young girl was carried everywhere by her uncle.
Although both Emgee and Lou assured her she was not a burden, Ruth feared she was causing the family great inconvenience, her friends recall.
Could Bridey actually be recalling this feeling of anxiety which Ruth herself possibly couldn't remember? Psychiatrists say this is likely.
The similarities uncovered by THE CHICAGO AMERICAN in the lives of Bridey and Ruth are numerous.
The descriptions of their mothers, for example, are identical.
When the transcription of Bridey's first tape-recorded hypnotic "regression" was played by THE AMERICAN recently for Aunt Emgee and Ruth's sister, Marie, Bernstein was heard to ask the hypnotized subject to describe her Irish mother.
As Bernstein inquired whether she was "a big woman or a little woman", Marie interjected during a pause in the recorded voices:
"She was medium".
Immediately the recorded voice of Bridey echoed:
"Juse medium ... she us."
When Bernstein inquired as to the color of her mother's hair, Bridey responded:
Seated in that North Side Chicago apartment, totally unfamiliar with Ireland or anyone who ever existed there a century ago, Marie nodded agreement, adding:
"Yes, it was black."
Bridey's description of her father, however, didn't tally exactly with Marie's recollection of her dad.
She agreed with Bridey that he was tall, all right, but said he was bald. Bridey distinctly claimed his hair was "sort of reddish, like mine."
In his book, author Bernstein point out that "Ruth's hair decidedly is not red. It's brown."
Bernstein obviously didn't know what one of Ruth's close Chicago friends confided to THE AMERICAN.
"All her life Ruth felt that her hair had a red glow. She always used henna rinses.
"She always wanted red hair and thought it looked red to others."
There are a couple of other coincidences, too, which, by themselves, might not mean a great deal. But they are links in the long chain joining the two lives which spanned an ocean and nearly 100 years.
Asked by Bernstein for some Irish words, Bridey mentions "banshee" and "tup." About the latter, she explains:
"Tup ... oh, you're a tup! ... You're ... you're just a sort of a rounder, just a ... it's mostly not very good grammar. They don't speak proper."
It's possible that Bridey was reaching way back into Ruth's early life for this one, as she obviously did for so many of her "facts".
Childhood friends remember that
Ruth's uncle -- the brother of the uncle who raised her -- had a quaint
habit of calling all the children, Ruth included, "littletuppins" or
Childhood friends remember that Ruth's uncle -- the brother of the uncle who raised her -- had a quaint habit of calling all the children, Ruth included, "littletuppins" or "tups".
About Irish ghosts, the hypnotized
Bridey had this to say:
About Irish ghosts, the hypnotized Bridey had this to say:
"They're... that's the banshee.
That's Gaelic... that's how people would say that there was... when
somebody would die, that would be the wail of the banshee."
"They're... that's the banshee. That's Gaelic... that's how people would say that there was... when somebody would die, that would be the wail of the banshee."
Obviously, banshee is an Irish word, but it's a simple one which almost everyone recognizes. And connecting a wail or howl with death would be natural for Ruth.
A howling dog actually
heralded the death of her grandfather here in
Ruth and her aunt Emgee had left the house where the girl's grandfather lay dying on their way to their own home, the friends explained:
As they entered their house, their pet dog began to howl. Moments later a phone call informed them the elderly man had died.
One close acquaintance remembers it:
"Emgee talked and talked about the dog wailing."
Frequently she told Ruth:
"Whenever you hear a dog howl it means someone has died."
That's something a little girl is apt to remember.
Ruth's beloved Aunt Marie tells
By Ernest Tucker and Norman Glubok
June 5, 1956, p. 10
Tenth of a Series
It is strange that Ruth Simmons, who "regressed to a previous existence" under suggestion of an amateur hypnotist, picked on Ireland as the place of her earlier life.
There is not much Irish blood in Ruth's veins. The girl who became Bridey Murphy is mostly of mixed German, Norwegian and Polish ancestry.
But all through her early life runs a strong affinity with things Irish. By testimony of relatives, friends and teachers, she was a great hand for doing Irish recitations in a strong brogue and singing Irish songs - her favorite (like Bridey's) was "Danny Boy". She danced a nimble jig.
She was fascinated by Irish names, a relative in Chicago says, and often said that if she had a son she would name him Kevin.
Ruth admired red hair, used henna on her own brown hair, and persuaded herself she really had titian tresses.
But a distant relative, Ruth's mother's Aunt Marie, was as Irish as the lakes of Killarney.
Aunt Marie coddled Ruth, made much of her, and told her stories she had learned from her father, who emigrated from Ireland in the mid- 19hh Century.
Relatives and close friends agree that the maiden aunt, who died at the age of 93 about four years ago, was one of the few persons who showed the young Ruth much real affection.
Aunt Marie was living with Ruth at about the time the girl left Chicago after her marriage.
And significantly, Ruth learned of the death of the beloved aunt shortly before she took the identity of "Bridey Murphy" in her hypnotic trances.
We know Aunt Marie was fond of Ruth. Records in Montgomery County Court at Rockville, Md., Show Aunt Marie left about $2,500 to her. Another coincidence - it arrived in the spring of 1953, during the period she was telling of her life as Bridey Murphy.
It seems likely that some of the Irish references used by Bridey in her hypnotic trances stem from the tales of Aunt Marie. With the passing of Aunt Marie it became impossible to trace them.
Ruth's favorite "aunt" may be the woman referred to briefly by Bridey on Page 154 of Morey Bernstein's book as "Mary... she does the cooking."
For a native of Ireland, one who had spent her entire life there, "Bridey's" knowledge of her native soil was pitifully scanty. She had a few hit-or-miss geographical facts, like the glens of Antrim, but she couldn't even name the four provinces of Ireland.
Her Gaelic vocabulary was limited to such kindergarten words as "colleen" and "banshee" and she thought "lough" means river.
But she astonished the credulous Bernstein by her knowledge of Irish folklore, Sample:
"I remember about Cuchulain." (This name, as she said it, sounded like Cooch-a-lain. The spelling was later verified by a friend.) "He was a warrior ... the bravest, the strongest, and when he was 7 years old he could slay big men ... When he was 17 he could hold whole armies ... My mother told me about him."
The parenthetical sentences above are by Bernstein.
Now obviously if Bridey, or Ruth had been TOLD about the great Irish hero of legend, she would have pronounced it correctly - approximately Cu-hull-an.
It she had READ about him, she would have pronounced it as she did- the way an English-speaking person would render it.
The idea of any Irish child pronouncing Cuchulain as "Cooch-a-lain" is as absurd as the idea of an American child pronouncing the name of the first present as Gay-org Was-HING-ton.
Nor could Bridey pronounce Deirdre (She made it Dee-ay-druh) or Sean (See-an). The former is as familiar to an Irish child as Pocahontas is to an American, and Sean (Shawn) is merely Irish for John.
"A prominent Irish literary figure asserted that Bridey's account of the Cuchulain story was accurate in all details."
The "details" given by Bridey are scanty enough, but Bernstein didn't have to go to a "prominent Irish literary figure" to get the feeble confirmation.
Anyone of a dozen books on the shelves of almost any public library would have given him assurance that Ruth had read a version of the Cuchulain legend.
So have hundreds of thousands of others, boys and girls who have not had the good fortune to be regressed to a previous existence. To cite a few, all children's books:
"Cuchulain of Muirthemne," by Lady Gregory.
"The Boy's Cuchulain," by Eleanor Hull.
"The Hound of Culain," bu Eileen Page.
There are plenty more, some scholarly tomes, some popular renditions. Ruth could have read anyone of them and retained enough in her subconscious mind to have disgorged it at the promptings of Bernstein.
So with Deirdre - an appealing figure of legend, whose tragic story would have made a deep impression on a young girl. Bernstein says:
"Two Irish authorities maintained that, while Bridey's remarks about the Deirdre story were essentially accurate, the king involved in this tale was the king of Ulster, not Scotland."
"She was ... beautiful girl... and she was going to marry... this king ... this King of Scotland ... and she didn't love him .., and this boy came and saved her. She was in a dungeon ... and she ran away... and they were betrayed and brought back ... and they killed him and she committed suicide."
This is not an "essentially accurate" account of the tale, but a sadly garbled one, Irish authorities or no. It's easy to check. The tragic Irish heroine, like Cuchulain, figures in dozens of collections of folk tales.
Books such as "Gaelic Folk Tales," by Mary Grant O'Sheridan of South Madison, Wis., published in Chicago in 1922, or "Deirdre," by the famed author James Stephens.
Nor does the researcher have to go to obscure manuscripts and translations, as Bernstein intimates, to find the King of Scotland in the Deirdre story: they all have him in it, trying to get Deirdre's husband Naoise killed in battle so he can get Deirdre - like King David, Uriah
and Bathsheba in the Bible.
There is no cause for wonder in the elementary knowledge of Irish fable displayed by Ruth. An hour's reading in a gook of fairy tales would have, and undoubtedly did, supply it.
In spite of Bernstein's awe, all Ruth's testimony proves is that he knew even less about Ireland than she did.
Conclusion -- What the experts say about Bridey in relation to The American's findings
By Effie Alley
June 6, 1956, pp. 1, 7
Eleventh of a Series
The Chicago American's search for the truth about Bridey Murphy won acclaim today from prominent doctors in New York, Chicago and elsewhere.
"A magnificent job," said Dr Margaretta K. Bowers, New York psychiatrist. She added:
"It is wonderful... exactly what I hoped someone would do,"
Dr Bowers is a member of the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis and one of the contributing authors to "A Scientific Report on ‘The Search for Bridey Murphy'," recently published analysis of what leaders in the field consider Morey Bernstein's unintentional hoax.
Congratulating THE AMERICAN on its "pioneer detective work," Dr Lewis R. Wolberg, said this "Carefully documented evidence reveals the basis for the Bridey Murphy myth."
Dr Wolberg is the medical director of New York's Postgraduate Center for Psychotherapy. He continued:
"The American has performed an invaluable service to science in making known the specific events of Ruth's life which she wove together to form her reincarnation fantasy."
He pointed out scientists have felt certain from the first that real clues to the truth would be found in Ruth's childhood, but that THE AMERICAN had proved it.
Dr Maurice H. Krout, Ph.D. consultant for the Chicago Psychological Institute termed the series a "contribution to sanity," adding:
"Since publication of the Bernstein book I've had a lot of otherwise sensible people - some of them $15,OOO-a-year-men - come to me and beg to be 'reincarnated'."
Dr Alfred P. Solomon, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois, declared THE AMERICAN chose a far more intelligent way of checking on the reality of Ruth Simmons' memories of a former life than sending reporters [end p. 1, begin p. 7] to Ireland in an effort to find traces of their authenticity.
The latter was the method used first by Bernstein and later by the CHICAGO DAILY NEWS. The latter serialized Bernstein's book.
All of the experts agreed the evidence assembled by THE AMERICAN'S reporters from old records, visual inspection of the scenes in which Ruth spent her infancy, from former neighbors, friends and relatives, points to one inescapable conclusion:
That in telling the story of "a former existence" as Bridey Murphy to amateur hypnotist Bernstein, Ruth Simmons actually was relating events of her own early life.
Time after time happenings described as belonging to the life of Bridey Murphy were found to have taken place, not in far away Ireland in a bygone century but in Chicago within the memory of those who knew Ruth best. They occurred not to the Irish Bridey but to the real American Ruth Simmons.
As for instance - Bridey scratched the paint off her bed as a youngster. As THE AMERICAN's investigation showed, Ruth Simmons did like- wise. In her revelations, Bridey mentions an Uncle Plazz. There was an Uncle Plazz in Ruth's life, too.
In some instances, material dug up by AMERICAN reporters serves to explain inconsistencies puzzling to Bridey "believers."
Bridey said she lived in a "nice wood house." Houses in Cork are known to be almost entirely of brick and stone. But Ruth Simmons, AMERICAN reporters found, was born in a white frame house in Madison, Wis.
Dr Milton H. Erickson, Phoenix Ariz., the dean of America's medical hypnotists, commented:
"In the hypnotic trance, when efforts are made to regress a patient, the patient necessarily makes use of all past events and experiences along with the thoughts and ideas encountered by contacts with others.
"Psychologically, the tape recordings on Bridey Murphy are a nice example of this sort of thing."
Reviewing the evidence amassed by THE AMERICAN, doctors were able to interpret the deeper significance of these remembered events.
Though each emphasized that without an examination of both Ruth and Bernstein their analysis could only be tentative, they pointed to solutions of some of the most puzzling questions growing out of Ruth's fantasy of a previous life in Ireland during the 19th century:
1 - What made Ruth Simmons, and ordinary housewife and mother, a good mixer and apparent extrovert, such a good subject for hypnosis that she could enter its deepest stages at the command of a man utterly untutored in the uses of this medical tool?
2 - Why, in recalling the events of her own childhood, did she remember them not as her own story but as that of the long- dead Bridey Murphy?
3 - If she was indulging in a flight of fancy, why didn't she soar higher and imagine something truly grand - herself as a princess; a being from another planet; a woman returning from far outposts of time and space, perhaps speaking another language and tinged with grandeur? Why see herself as only an ordinary, middleclass woman in a drab and obscure setting?
Psychiatrists believe the answer to the first question, as well as to many others that could be posed, are to be found in Ruth's very early childhood.
Dr Solomon noted that actions and the memories of them are often symbolic. He finds great significance in the fact that Ruth's first utterance as Bridey was concerned with scratching the paint off her bed. He said:
"This is almost like a prolog to announce that the story she will tell is that of a rejected child."
THE AMERICAN found court records showing that Ruth Simmons actually was the product of a broken home. This necessitated her being placed with her uncle and aunt as foster parents while still a very young child.
According to psychiatrists, the psychological record of the emotional injury Ruth suffered from the circumstances is plain in the tape recordings of her hypnotic trances. Said Dr Wolberg:
"Apparently, she was an unhappy child. Maybe her deepest unhappiness was experienced in infancy. I would guess, before she was 4 years old.
"This probably accounts for her fantasy of reincarnation. In reality - in the emotional sense - it signifies that she was starting over again, creating a new and more satisfactory life for herself right from the very beginning."
Today Ruth Simmons is an apparently happy, well-adjusted person. On the conscious level she has overcome any emotional injury which may have been inflicted on her baby-self.
On the unconscious level, the memory of this injury remains, according to psychiatrists.
The need to have been loved as a baby still exists and probably accounts for the fact that she proved an exceptionally good hypnotic subject, Dr. Solomon said. He continued:
"Very likely she was such a good subject because as a child she had not been mothered in the natural way. Under hypnosis she could recapture the feeling of dependence she found no satisfactory expression for as a child.
"Only now, she could satisfy it through dependence on the hypnotist."
Dr Solomon explained that hypnotism involves an exaggerated submission to and dependence on the hypnotist. He continued:
"As in babyhood, the mind of the mother is the mind of the child, so under hypnosis, the mind of the hypnotist guides and directs the mind of the subject."
He and others see in this phenomenon the explanation of why Ruth Simmons assigned events of her childhood to a mythical Bridey Murphy.
Said Dr Wolberg:
"Under deep hypnosis some people are abnormally suggestible. They will accept the slightest hint as an order and try with a desperate inventiveness to supply what is asked of them."
There is evidence in Bernstein's own account of the hypnotic sessions as well as in the tape recordings that without realizing it, he did demand from Ruth stories of her "previous lives," the doctor said, explaining:
"She became a creative artist building out of remembered or partially remembered life experiences the reincarnation of them he asked for."
According to Dr Bowers, Ruth in one sense had lived all the lives she spoke of under hypnosis, but she lived them simultaneously and in her own person.
During the course of her life she had developed a "multiple" personality" At one level she was Bridey: at another Brian. At the deepest level of all the sick and suffering "New Amsterdam baby" (the life Ruth lived previous to Bridey) who died in infancy, said Dr Bowers. He [sic] added: .
"Bridey was Ruth's rebellious self. Brian was the self which tried to adapt to the standards Ruth's foster parents set for her. Like Ruth, he had a perfect attendance record at church, studied hard and quoted Scripture.
"The New Amsterdam baby signified Ruth's own rejected self in infancy, the baby who 'died' because it could find no one to love it."
The doctor believes that like most youngsters, Ruth made up for the natural disappointments of everyday life by sometimes fancying herself in a daydream world.
In this interior life, it was Bridey, the gay, carefree Irish girl with the red hair Ruth wanted but did not have.
Thus, when under hypnosis she "remembered" being Bridey, she was recalling something which had actually taken place, albeit only in her own infancy.
The childish day-dream took an Irish coloring from the fact that Ruth's Aunt Marie, a woman who gave her abundant love and affection, was Irish herself and told the little stories of what must have seemed to her a fabled land. Dr Bowers concluded.
Why then were Ruth's Bridey memories so drab? Why did she not choose a more highly colored pre-existence?
Said Dr Wolberg:
"I've had patients under hypnosis spin really beautiful and exalted stories but they were people of great creative imaginations. Ruth Simmons is neither a poet nor a great creative artist. She had to stay within her own limitations, even under hypnosis."
The experts also point out that even though her account of Bridey's life may not sound particularly interesting or colorful to the ordinary reader, they were for Ruth packed with emotional meaning.
By Ernest F. Tucker
June 7, 1956, pp. 1, 8
Last of a Series
Morey Bernstein, the Colorado businessman and amateur hypnotist who wrote "The Search for Bridey Murphy," devotes a chapter of his book to bolstering his theory of human reincarnation.
Through his apparent scientific detachment there shines the patent fact that he wants to believe.
In the series of articles concluding in this summary today, THE CHICAGO AMERICAN has examined the phenomenon of Ruth Simmons, 34-year-old housewife who "regressed" to a previous existence" under Bernstein's hypnosis.
The reporters assigned to the investigation found a mass of material leading to a simple, logical explanation which does not depend on the spirit world or astral spheres.
Had he wanted to, Bernstein could have reached the same conclusion. Instead he goes to great lengths to prop up his ramshackle theory.
He cites "a number of scientists whose experiments have led them to the same conclusion" - i.e., that there is such a thing as reincarnation. "For some reason," says Bernstein, "their reports have not been circulated as extensively, as they might have been."
Some "scientific workers," he adds darkly, "know considerably more than they admit."
In other words, there is a widespread, sinister cabal to hide the "fact" that all of us, presumably, have known previous existences as a king in Babylon or a Christian slave - or a placid housewife in 19th Century Ireland, like Ruth, alias Bridey.
This is, of course, the purest moonshine. Plenty of people believe in reincarnation, just as plenty of people believe in ghosts [end p. 1, begin p. 8] and goblins and things that go bump in the night.
All of them, from the flying saucer fanatics to those who vibrate in harmony with the Cosmic All, have as a tenet of their faith that scientists are all conniving at a plot to prevent these "truths" from becoming common knowledge.
The trouble is that scientists, whether astronomers or psychologists or chemists, won't accept unsupported statement as proof; won't interpret evidence according to a preconceived notion; won't build a soaring edifice of fancy from a single plank of fact.
Bernstein quotes a man "whose brilliance and penetrating logic had won him national prominence" in defense of his theory. This unnamed prodigy comments:
"In the Bridey Murphy case I admit that alternative explanations are more fantastic than the rebirth explanation she gives while under hypnosis.
"Any alternative explanation, it seems, would have to include the fantastic combination of ingenious and costly research, histrionic perfection, astonishing coincidence, plus fraud and collusion."
With all respect, Bernstein's brilliant logician is talking through his hat.
The explanation for the rebirth of Bridey is elementary psychology. plus knowledge of what hypnotism is, plus a credulous and inexpert amateur playing Svengali to Ruth's Trilby.
It has been impossible to check all the references that Ruth made to her "previous existence" as Bridey. But the list of those which have been checked out by reporters for THE AMERICAN should finally lay to rest the ghost of Bridget Murphy MacCarthy, 1798-1864. Consider:
Bridey's first appearance comes when she describes scratching the paint on her metal bed. She got spanked. Ruth scraped the paint from her metal bed. She god spanked. There were no metal beds in Ireland in 1802.
The name of Bridey's husband was Brain MacCarthy. The middle name of Ruth's present husband is Brain. A favorite nephew of her first husband was Brian.
An uncle of Bridey's husband was named Plazz, an obscure but perfectly genuine Irish name. This is fastened upon with loud huzzas by Bernstein as proof irrefutable. A childhood friend of Ruth's was "Uncle Plazz."
Bridey lived in a white frame house in Cork, in an era when white frame houses were as rare there as wigwams, Ruth lived in a white frame house as a tiny girl in Madison, Wis.
Bridey had a little brother who died as a baby. So did Ruth.
Bridey's favorite food was potato cakes, So was Ruth's.
Bridey amazed listeners at the seances by talking with a brogue. Ruth was an adept at various dialects and her uncle said she could sound "as if an Irishman was in the room with you."
Bridey danced a jig. Ruth was accomplished at dancing jigs.
Ruth did monologs, her favorites being those in an Irish dialect, in the person of Maggie McCarthy or Bridget Mahon.
These pieces of evidence mount up. Fragments of half-remembered books, things that happened to her as a little girl, friends long vanished, all reappear in the saga of Bridey Murphy, snatched from the grab-bag of Ruth's subconscious mind. Some are slightly disguised.
A monolog by "Mr Dooley of Archey Road" becomes Dooley Road, on which the MacCarthys lived. Kaden's store becomes Oadenn's, St. John's Church on Gorham st., Madison becomes Father John Goran - conjecture, but reasonable: that's the way the subconscious works.
Perhaps the most significant link of all:
Ruth's beloved Aunt Marie, who died shortly before the seances and left Ruth a sum of money, used to tell the girl Irish stories.
The multitude of parallels proves to all except the hopelessly gullible that Bridey MacCarthy, nee Murphy, is just Ruth Simmons in an old-fashioned hat.
We don't know where she got the card game "Fancy" or where she read about Sean (pronounced Shawn except by Bridey). We don't know where she got the fairly accurate description of Antrim, Ireland, or from what depths Ruth called forth Vera and John Jamieson of New Amsterdam who Mrs. Strayne was (although here again we have an idea).
These things are built up in Ruth's subconscious and it is extremely unlikely she could "furnish any references, except under hypnosis or psychoanalysis.
It hardly matters. Such minor things would serve only as further corroborative evidence for the central, irrefutable fact:
Bridey Murphy of Ireland is a creature of rags and tatters, the product of Ruth Simmons' own life, patched together by her subconscious mind under the goading of Bernstein.
Sic transit, Bridey Murphy. She is such stuff as dreams are made of, and her little life is rounded, with a sleep. When Shakespeare said that he was talking about humankind in general, but it will serve as Bridey's epitaph.
Don't bother us any more, Bridey. Requiescat in pace.
|This is the end of the Chicago American's series on Bridey Murphy. In its June 25, 1956 issue, Life magazine summarized the Chicago American series in an unsigned article (p. 109) labeled "Sequel", accompanied by photographs of Virginia Tighe and the real Bridie Murphy Corkell.|