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A Life of Purpose: Spiritual Journey
''The end of being is to find out God.''
Mary Perry Payne, Mrs. Bolton's mother
Frances Payne Bolton's great wealth could not protect her from illness, family tragedy, and the death of loved ones. The loss of her beloved elder brother, Oliver, and her mother, Mary, during Frances' early teens, left her lonely and introspective. Shipped off to school in France by her grieving father, she began a spiritual quest that a conventional marriage to a childhood friend, Chester Castle Bolton, could not fulfill or stop.

In 1919 Mrs. Bolton, pregnant with her fourth child, contracted influenza during a deadly pandemic that took more lives than World War I. She survived, but lost her infant daughter, who lived only one day. This loss precipitated a spiritual crisis. In the spring of 1921, Mrs. Bolton, now 36, left her family temporarily for Nyack, New York, where she learned yoga and began to study the mystical religions of the Far East. The Nyack community was headed by a self-styled swami, Dr. Pierre Bernard, also known as "Oom the Omnipotent." The unorthodox nature of the ideas Mrs. Bolton now espoused caused a temporary rift in her marriage, but brought her new confidence and assertiveness. During this time, she also inherited a large fortune from her uncle, Colonel Oliver Hazard Payne, which she immediately began to use to support the causes she believed in.

Nurse studying
In 1927 tragedy struck the Bolton family. Their eldest son, Charles, was paralyzed after a freak diving accident at summer camp. Coping with her son's injury once again brought Frances Payne Bolton face to face with the mysteries of life and death. After the accident, Mrs. Bolton met Eileen Garrett, the best-known psychic medium of her era. Sessions with Garrett, who entered a trancelike state through which she appeared to channel wisdom from an ancient Asian spirit, helped Mrs. Bolton come to terms with the trauma she had experienced. Together the two women pursued an interest in parapsychology, the study of psychic phenomena. The Parapsychology Foundation in New York City was set up to advance the understanding of Garrett's unique gifts. Mrs. Bolton was especially interested in finding scientific evidence to support her belief in life after death. She died peacefully at her estate, Franchester Place, in 1977, firm in her conviction that she would be reunited with her loved ones.

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Politician, humanitarian, philanthropist, and patriot The Life of Frances Payne Bolton (1885-1977) Psychic Eileen Garrett Nyack community members practicing yoga