The Problem of Knowledge: Patience Worth

Over the years many people who have thought about the Pearl Curran/Patience Worth story have offered opinions, unsupported by evidence, to explain how Pearl Curran did what she did, that is how did she obtain the knowledge to write several historical novels and plays and several thousand poems without having (according to Pearl) any interest in writing or without an advanced education in language or literature although she did admit to reading a few popular books as a young girl and that her father had read a few current novels to her when she was a teenager. She admits to reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Black Beauty but  Pearl  had no interest in biblical or historical novels and had none in her meager library of books. Pearl Curran had not traveled widely, having no opportunity to see England or the Middle East , the setting for her novels and plays.  The “problem” with the Pearl Curran saga has been from the beginning, Just how did she know all of the information about a long span of history in Europe and the Middle East  without having travelled there or ever read or studied it.   The crux of the Patience Worth/Pearl Curran story is “The Problem of Knowledge” as expounded upon by Casper Yost in Walter Franklin Prince’s book The Case of Patience Worth..

There is no evidence to support the idea that Pearl Curran had read or experienced anything that she wrote about as Patience Worth.  Of course Pearl Curran, under her own name wrote at least three short stories which were published in the Saturday Evening Post and which were apparently good enough that she received money for them. In those stories Pearl Curran did use events which she had experienced in her own lifetime either as a salesclerk in Chicago or in her confrontations with physicians, psychologists and educators who met with her in St. Louis , often in an effort to debunk her claim that Patience Worth was a disembodied spirit.

While I am still trying to figure out just how Pearl Curran knew what she knew, I have no conclusive evidence to support what I will present in the following, I do want to share my thoughts, that is, my opinion, as others have, about what could have provided at least a general milieu which Pearl Curran may have experienced and stored in her subconscious mind and which later formed the setting for “The Sorry Tale” written by Patience Worth.


Although Pearl Curran stated that she did not go to church or Sunday-School as a very young child she stated that she did go to a Methodist or Baptist Sunday-School as a grade-schooler and was “irregularly taken to the Episcopal Sunday-School of St. Andrew’s, rector Alexander Castle.  I was confirmed by Bishop Garrett.”, she said.  She stated that she was sent to the Catholic St. Ignatius’ Academy for ‘rest’.  It’s difficult to believe that after irregularly going to  Methodist, Baptist and Catholic schools and being confirmed in the Episcopalian church that some of that Christian teaching would not have rubbed-off on her. It is unbelievable that some of it would not have sunk into her subconscious mind.


Pearl Curran admitted that she had attended Christian churches occasionally from childhood, and as an adult she sang in the choirs.  Neither she nor her parents were considered to be especially religious however.  She did admit to having a Bible in the house which was observed by Dr. Walter Franklin Prince at the time he conducted his investigation of the Case of Patience Worth.  I have in my possession a copy of an inexpensive, common Bible which was purchased by my family in 1938 which has several full color illustrations of biblical scenes.. It also has a “Bible Readers’ Aides” in the back from “The Bible Reader’s Manual,” edited by The Rev. Charles H.H. Wright, D.D..  My copy is annotated as “American Edition” Rearranged by the American Editor with a  Copyright of 1901 by Louis Klopsch.  Of course I don’t know if the Bible found by Dr. Prince in Pearl Curran’s home in 1926 was the same or similar edition as the one I have but if it was, perhaps Pearl Curran would have had access to it as a young woman and may have at least glanced through it from time to time.  In the Readers’ Aid there are printed many photographs and drawings of scenes of Jerusalem, Nazareth, Tiberias, Bethlehem, The Golden Gate of Jerusalem,  and a page of Roman and other coins apparently used during the time of Jesus.  More importantly there are maps of the Holy Lands as well as a schematic of Herod’s Temple, Ancient Jerusalem, Palestine, The Sea of Galilee among several others.Bible-Readers-Aids

MapsBiblePicture2Bible Pictures

It is not too far-fetched to think that if Pearl Curran had seen these pages in her Bible. Perhaps these images were retained in her subconscious mind and were drawn upon by Pearl  at the time Patience Worth constructed the setting for The Sorry Tale.


1904worldsfair25In 1904 St. Louis Missouri was the site of the  World’s Fair extravaganza.  Pearl Curran would have been 21 years old at the time and  living in the small town of Bismark Missouri, not far from St. Louis  and her grandmother and aunt with whom she had lived as a young girl lived in St. Louis.  It seems probable to me that Pearl Curran would have visited the World’s Fair in St. Louis since it was a world-class production, perhaps analogous to  Disney World of our time.  Many if not most of the grand buildings, layout, statuary and landscaping copied the classical architecture of the Greco- Roman era and could have been retained in the subconscious mind of Pearl Curran  to be drawn upon as part of the visual images Pearl Curran  saw in her mind’s eye when Patience Worth described Roman scenes in The Sorry Tale.



Pearl Curran has admitted that she and her family, as did many middle-class families during the early 20th century, enjoyed going to the movies..  Now movies prior to 1927 were silent  but apparently  they were well-attended especially in larger cities such as St. Louis Missouri and Chicago where Pearl lived and worked for several years as a young single woman.  While watching a movie is not the same as reading a book, during Pearl’s time there was written dialogue flashed on the screen to read.

Ben-Hur-1925Relevant to the Patience Worth/ Pearl Curran case is an early one-reel silent  1907  film adaptation of the Novel “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ” written by Lew Wallace and first published on November 12, 1880, three years before Pearl Curran was born.  According to an internet site, the book was considered to be “The most influential Christian book of the nineteenth century”  It was the best-selling American novel from the time of its publication, superseding Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin ( which Pearl said she had read) and remained at the top until the publication of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind in 1936.” (The year before Pearl Curran died in 1937.)

Reportedly Wallace “Determined to have the novel be historically accurate, Wallace gathered references concerning the Middle East during the time period of his novel, visiting libraries all over America and studying the Bible closely, to give his story authenticity.  He intended to identify the plants, birds, names, architectural practices and so on.  He wrote, ‘I examined catalogues of books and maps and sent for everything likely to be useful..  I wrote with a chart always before my eyes—a German publication showing the towns and villages, all sacred places, the heights, the depressions, the passes, trails, and distances”  He recounts traveling to research the exact proportions for the Roman triremes.

The Sorry Tale was praised by many for its details of the life of the Romans, Jews, Greeks and Arabs at that time. However in contrast to Lew Wallace, Pearl Curran had no reference material spread out before her when she dictated The Sorry Tale.  It just flowed out of the Ouija Board letter by letter, unpunctuated and transcribed by her husband John Curran.  Pearl Curran must have had a one-of-a-kind memory or a much facilitated subconscious mind—or—The Sorry Tale was really written by Patience Worth, a spirit from the 1600s—or—Pearl was picking through the mind of Lew Wallace using her, alleged by some, ‘super-duper’ psi abilities.  Although he died in 1905, approximately 10 years before The Sorry Tale was written, perhaps Wallace helped Patience Worth in the Great Beyond to fill in the details of the story—or—perhaps Pearl used her psi abilities to communicate directly with Wallace in the hereafter. (You see, anyone, including me, can confabulate stories about how Pearl Curran obtained the knowledge she displayed in the writing of Patience Worth.)



Of special relevance to Pearl Curran was the stage adaptation of Ben-Hur which became  a “smash hit” in Britain and in the United States.  From 1899 it played in theatres for a total of 21 years and was seen by more than 20 million people.  Apparently the key spectacle of the show was a live chariot race on stage using real horses and real chariots. The play was presented at the Illinois Theatre in Chicago in 1901 at the time when  the 18-year-old Pearl Curran was living in Chicago taking piano lessons and working at odd jobs. It is difficult for me to believe that a young vivacious single woman living in Chicago at the time of the presentation of an awe-inspiring and much talked-about production of Ben-Hur would not have gone to see it. At least she would have been aware of it and probably saw the posters and ads for it.  (Actually in response to a question from Dr. Walter Franklin Prince concerning the Roman emperor Nero ,  Pearl replies that “I saw a poster of ‘Ben Hur’ with her name on it.” The ‘her’ referred to was Nero’s wife, Poppea.)

Although I have not read Ben-Hur I believe, from reading the summaries of the story, that it was not similar to the story in Patience Worth’s The Sorry Tale although it did have scenes of the crucifixion.

Other Biblical novels were available during the early life of Pearl Curran including The Prince of the House of David (1855) and Quo Vadis: a Narrative of the Time of Nero, written by Henryk  Sienkiewicz in Polish and published in 1896 as a book.  It was translated into more than 50 languages.

Now I don’t know if all of that forgoing information really has any relevance to Pearl
Curran and Patience Worth but  if one is looking for a source of input into the subconscious mind of Pearl Curran which she might retrieve for the setting for The Sorry Tale, then  I think that these sources enumerated above could have easily provided it and motivated Pearl to write another epic story, as was common at that time, of the period surrounding the life of Jesus..  At least those resources would have provided a ‘feel’ and detailed authenticity of the era about which she wrote. (The Sorry Tale was often praised for the amount of detail included in it, detail about which Pearl supposedly knew nothing but as indicated above, Lew Wallace knew a lot!) The story line in The Sorry Tale is not similar to Ben-Hur nor Quo Vadis, nor is the language usage the same.  The language of The Sorry Tale is unique and does not belong to any place or time  but is wholly, I think, an invention of Pearl Curran or Patience Worth or—maybe not!

What do you think?

15 thoughts on “The Problem of Knowledge: Patience Worth

  1. Joe Waldron

    We are discussing an extraordinary mind and as you pointed out, she was probably exposed to these materials. It would be necessary to compare the content of these materials to PW’s writings. It would be interesting to determine if her descriptions matched in detail some of the previous materials. Here is one instance. PW, in “The Sorry Tale,” describes beggars with sores and that they are picking at their sores. Is this shown in any of the other materials? I suspect not as it would not be “entertaining.” But then the proof is in the pudding. Perhaps these types of beggars are in the Bible.

    I would look for other unusual descriptions. It would take more study but I think that she describes a “black” woman at the market in “The Sorry Tale” who appears to be an accepted member of the culture. Do the other materials show dark skinned people living with the Jews at the time? This could be an interesting study that could lead to a better understanding of PW.
    It seems to me that something akin to this has been done with her other works.

    In general, I suspect that PW has included descriptive images that would not be expected based on prior exposure. I belive this is also true with regard to her unusual language which was later found to be acceptable usage at the time though long sense forgotten until scholars made a serious study of her use of language.

    In general, I think that you may be onto something here that could (would?) show that PW’s did not use of extant historical presentations as evidenced by her (and our later) knowledge.

    Perhaps PW described the presence of Black women living with the Jews and we have only recently come on this information — or something to that effect.

    1. Amos

      Thanks for your comment. It is difficult to really know what Pearl Curran was exposed to during her life before Patience Worth as what is known about her is generally from the time that Patience Worth appeared until Pearl Curran died with most of the information from the period 1913- 1922. Her later years until her death in 1937 are not well documented and what is known about her early years is primarily from her own memory as she reported to Dr. Walter Franklin Prince when he investigated the case. I think what is particularly missing is the time she spent as a very young child growing up in St. Louis Missouri under the care of her grandmother Cordingley. Perhaps what she learned from her grandmother would be particularly revealing.

      I think that Pearl Curran’s descriptions in The Sorry Tale, which are many and varied, seem from this vantage point to be from one who actually lived at that time of Jesus. Pearl portrays the scene at that time as a mixture of many cultures and peoples and their everyday life. Her descriptions of the time seem to me to much more real than descriptions found in the Bible or as portrayed in epic films about that time period. She described a mix of Romans, Jews, Arabs, people of the desert, East Indians and Africans all living in the same place, that is, in Bethlehem, Jerusalem and other locations in the general area It was a mix of languages and cultures not unlike what is currently happening in the United States of America and in other parts of the world today..

      ‘Beggars picking at their sores’ gives a special realism to the narrative which is not found in the Bible and other Christian sources. This is only one of the many realistic completely human descriptions provided by Pearl Curran which takes one out of the mundane travel-log descriptions usually encountered in descriptions of foreign lands and peoples. There are peoples of all skin colors in Pearl’s descriptions from very white skin as was Hatte, to darker skinned characters as Indra. Much of the action in The Sorry Tale is given to women who surprisingly are sometimes portrayed as quite ruthless in their interactions with other characters. To me the use of female action characters makes “The Sorry Tale” perhaps of special interest to women of today. They might find that Patience Worth and Pearl Curran support a feminist cause.

      The language used by Pearl Curran in The Sorry Tale I think was a construction of Patience Worth, that is, the grammar, syntax and style is unique and not comparable with any other English writing although some might want to compare it with the King James version of the Bible but personally I don’t think that is a good comparison. I don’t think the language in The Sorry Tale was ever a spoken language and probably there is no another example of any writing that is identical. This constructed language only makes the writing more unique and adds to the mystery of Patience Worth. I recommend that one read each chapter in The Sorry Tale” slowly savoring each word and turn of phrase allowing oneself to be taken into the sights and smells of the time. For me when I do this, I am quite transported to a time 2000 years ago in the Middle East, feeling the heat, cold and desert rains of Bethlehem and smelling the camels as the kneel around the stalls of trade as the doves fly from the reflecting pools around the temple. .

      As you may know, Pearl Curran used a different style of writing in each of her major works and I think that the writing in “Telka” is the most difficult to explain as a language that Pearl Curran would have ever known… Casper S. Yost provided a good critique of the language in “Telka’ which Dr. Prince included in his book “The Case of Patience Worth” If you have not read Yost’s analysis of the Telka writing style I recommend that you do so. Additionally, The language used by Patience Worth during her ‘table talks’, which was her default language—and although an exact replica of it could not be confirmed in England— I think that it probably was more like actual spoken language of that time i.e, (@1600s, incorporating several local dialects as is commonly done presently in the United States. Patience Worth said her mother was Scottish so it seems to me that words of Scottish origin would have crept in the daily speech of Patience Worth. There are those who have criticized the language of Patience Worth because it could not be located to any one place or time in England but I think this argument is specious to anyone who has studied how languages develop over time, especially at a time with no easy communication from place to place except by word of mouth as people moved from one local area to another local area and as marriages occurred between peoples speaking different dialects of English. We need to remember that language is a living entity and is not static (unless it is a dead language such as Latin.)

      I have studied Pearl Curran and Patience Worth for many years and have read most of the writing. I have come to realize that there are a few other writers who wrote under the guidance of non-physical entities as Pearl Curran did so she is not unique. Perhaps such writing was from the subconscious minds of the writers but it is becoming increasing apparent to me that some of it at least may also have been provided by contact with a non-physical entity. – AOD

      1. Joe Waldron

        “… it is becoming increasing apparent to me that some of it at least may also have been provided by contact with a non-physical entity.”

        After many years of studying this literature I think this is true for several reasons that need not be presented here. After reading many “other” sources one of the conclusions I have come to, that may be a general principle, is the idea that the discarnate communicator is only “allowed” to present information that can be discounted by the receiver. That is, the receiver is able to deny the other worldly possibilities. There are, of course, a few exceptions but by and large it holds true in the vast majority of cases, especially communications between people who know each other well.

        Interestingly I find elements of this general principle in PWs writings. She is one of the few who continually stress the content, over the source, and thus her tenor is partial confirmation of the idea. She is much more adamant about her position on this matter and that makes sense in the context of speaking to a much wider audience.

        In the grander scheme of life the idea makes a good deal of sense and allows one to proceed with their life under the guise of free will with a few nudges here and there for those who choose to listen.

        1. Amos

          Yes, I too have read many other sources of information about non-physical entities and the evidence to me seems overwhelming that some other reality apparently exists. Unfortunately very learned people have been discovering it for more than 150 years and the mainstream paradigm has not changed in spite of all of the accumulating evidence. Few in the media or in academia take it seriously and people who entertain such ideas are made fun of or in the case of respected scientists who espouse such ideas, are considered to be senile, an easy dismissal.

          Patience Worth said that there are certain kinds of information that she is not allowed to give. It may be that that information is either too overwhelming and difficult to describe or that humans are not ready for that information yet. Or, it may be that such information would destroy free will or otherwise upset the scheme of things, that is, God’s will for mankind.

          It is true that Patience Worth emphasized her writing rather than her self or her history. She always referred people back to what she had written when they began to query her. – AOD

  2. Joe Waldron

    BTW I have also conducted a substantial amount of genealogical research and very much agree with the idea that is would be difficult, if not impossible to track down an unwed female in the 1600s. The only real possibilities are to perhaps locate a set of parents and or siblings who reference her. There might be something in the immigration reports.Many of my ancestors are from Devon and it is indeed difficult to disentangle the relations. Church registers of marriages and births are useful. I have used marriage records (her parents) to identify physical locations followed by determining household members, and then verifying through church records, a long arduous process and significant records are often missing. I am going to search through some of these records to see what I can find. If I stumble on anything of interest I will let you know.

    If she came to America in the latter half of the 1600s there may be records of “Worth” that may or may not have listed females on the trip. Males and their wives were listed but siblings often ignored. I have at least one such case. If I can find a “Worth” who emigrated then I can back search for the family. Records from the 1600s are sketchy so there is not much hope but its worth a look.

    1. Amos

      I appreciate your comments concerning finding evidence that Patience Worth really lived on earth. They somewhat validate my own thoughts and previous comments about the difficulty of finding evidence that an unwed female with no property—especially of the rural classes, lived in England of the 1600s.

      I am glad to hear from you especially since some of your ancestors were from Devon. Although Casper Yost and others of Pearl Curran’s clique supposed that Patience Worth was from Dorset, I find it as likely or maybe more so, that she may have been from Devon. I have reports of two girls named Patience Worth from Devon but they are not exactly congruent with the exact time period of Pearl Curran’s Patience Worth. And as you may know, there were two Patience Worths who lived in colonial America who, may have been related to Pearl’s Patience but probably were not she. I have addressed this evidence in other posts on this site.

      I think that the key find would be a Patience Worth who emigrated to the American colonies around late 1679 -1680 or so. Pearl described Patience Worth as appearing to be about 30 years old when she came to the colonies, so if she were born in 1649 as she indicated then she would have been 30 years old in 1679 or thereabouts. As I have indicated in another post here, William Worth and Faith Patterson had a daughter, born in the colonies whom they named Patience and William’s son also had a daughter whom he named Patience. Now these Patience Worths were not Pearl’s Patience but I think there is a possibility that they were named after an older relative who was killed in a skirmish with the Indians as indicated by Patience Worth.

      I wish you luck in looking through the existing records. – AOD

  3. Joe Waldron

    John Worth (DOB1545) married Ellen Harvey (DOB 1545) Maridon, Plymouth, Devon, Eng
    John (1570) married Willmot Stuttever (1593
    Anne (1595
    Christopher (1598)
    Willmot (1600)
    John (1606 – married 1626 and 1634 Barbara Strong (1634 – 1643 Mass)
    Died 1643 Fort Plymouth, Mass.
    Lionel (1631 Tiverton, Devon)– 1667)
    John (1633 (Devon – 1643)
    Francis (1635 Devon)
    Richard (1637 Devon)
    Olyve (1637 Devon)married Brown
    Francis (1642 Devon)
    William (1642 Devon – 1724)
    Robert (1573)
    Richard (1572)
    Thomas 1573)
    George (1579) married Thomasine Foote in 1609
    Mary (1602)
    Elizabeth (1605)
    Anne (1610)
    Bridget (1610 twins?)
    Patience (1613)
    Joane (1615)
    Christian (male 1620)
    Obedience (1621)
    Ann (1581)
    Thomasine (1608)

    Apparently George’s daughter Patience is seven years younger than her cousin John. Worth. John and his wife Barbara sailed for Fort Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1642 with their children in tow. He was 36 at the time. Patience would have been 29 years old. Interestingly he, his wife and son all died in 1643. Note that John had seven children and it is possible he took Patience along as a nanny. Now can I find out more about what happened in Plymouth in 1643. When asked “When did you live?” I wonder if Patience she gave a time period not a birth date?

    There is nothing conclusive here but it is interesting. Note the Patience listed here had six sisters and one brother.

    Do not take these dates as definitive. They tend to bounce around depending on whose tree is reviewed. I tried to get best estimates based on formal records when available.

    Incidentally, the Patience Worth from 1649 in NJ was married to a man named Lawrence so she is out.

    Your thoughts? Think it is worth pursuing?

  4. Joe Waldron

    Oh boy the indentation was not posted so it is really difficult to read the chart. I can send by email write to and I will send an attachment. In the mean time the story goes something like this.
    John Worth (DOB1545) married Ellen Harvey (DOB 1545) Maridon, Plymouth, Devon, Eng
    1) John (1570) married Willmot Stuttever (1593
    2)Anne (1595
    2)Christopher (1598)
    2)Willmot (1600)
    2)John (1606 – married 1626 and 1634 Barbara Strong (1634 – 1643 Mass)
    Died 1643 Fort Plymouth, Mass.
    3)Lionel (1631 Tiverton, Devon)– 1667)
    3)John (1633 (Devon – 1643)
    3)Francis (1635 Devon)
    3)Richard (1637 Devon)
    3)Olyve (1637 Devon)married Brown
    3)Francis (1642 Devon)
    3)William (1642 Devon – 1724)
    1)Robert (1573)
    1)Richard (1572)
    1)Thomas 1573)
    1)George (1579) married Thomasine Foote in 1609
    2)Mary (1602)
    2)Elizabeth (1605)
    2)Anne (1610)
    2)Bridget (1610 twins?)
    2)Patience (1613)
    2)Joane (1615)
    2)Christian (male 1620)
    2)Obedience (1621)
    1)Ann (1581)
    1)Thomasine (1608)

    That should clarify it a little bit.

  5. Joe Waldron

    BTW, I can easily imagine a feisty 29 year old redhead, sick of the hypocrisy in England signing on for an adventure in the colonies

    1. Amos Oliver Doyle Post author

      Thanks for the genealogy of some of the Worths in England. Several years ago I pursued many of the names you cited but I couldn’t authenticate Pearl Curran’s Patience’s lineage. Many of the Worths died during the siege of Plymouth. I would like to compare my records with your information when I have a little more energy.

      There are several things that I am pretty sure of. First, Patience Worth said that “England was the stem on which she bloomed.” I take that to mean that she was born in England but that may not necessarily be true. She also said that her father’s name was John and her mother Anne but people often have call names other than their birth name. At one point Patience said that her mother was from Scotland.

      Pearl Curran saw a vision of Patience Worth leaving England for the colonies with three men I think, and that Patience looked to be about 30 years old at that time. Patience said that she died in the colonies, unmarried and without children. Patience gave dates of 1649 and 1694 as somehow related to her birth or life. At times these dates are unclear as to whether they are the date of her birth or her life span. It could be that she was unsure and her birth may have been 1694 instead of 1649, that is, the last two digits were reversed when she was trying to remember her birth date in response to an early question.

      As you suggested in your earlier comment, Patience was more interested in what she wrote rather than personal information about her and was seemingly playing with those who asked questions about her, not giving any specific information but letting them try to figure it out and smiling and nodding her head when they come up with something but never coming right out and saying, “That’s right!” Now this may have been a ploy by Pearl Curran but maybe not. It may have been Patience Worth toying with those who asked her questions. That would fit in with her personality. I think in that she had a sense of humor and liked to tease and play with her interlocutors.

      I still think that William Worth and Faith Patterson were somehow related to Pearl’s Patience Worth. Maybe Pearl’s Patience was William’s sister, cousin or aunt but after researching as much as I could, William seems to me to be the best bet as he and his son each named one of their children Patience Worth. This to me seems as if they were memorializing someone since names repeated from generation to generation commonly are a mother’s or grandmother’s name and that was not the case in William’s family. It could be however that William’s Patience died as a child and William’s son, her brother named his daughter after his deceased sister rather that someone from an older generation. I could not find any information that William’s daughter Patience survived to adulthood and married to continue the lineage but the daughter of William’s son did. – AOD

  6. Joe Waldron

    It took a bit of digging yesterday. Essentially, there is much sloppy genealogical research on the internet. On occasion I bumped into a few high quality web sites with what appear to be good information. It is interesting to note that these “good” sites are not obviously affiliated with the major groups such as or The independent genealogists seem to conduct some of the most well documented research and on reflection this makes sense. While I haven’t found Patience Worth I have found a few interesting tidbits that may be of interest at some point. Here is an abbreviated chronology.

    John Worth (1570) and at least one of his sons died in the siege of Plymouth, Devon. This was not Plymouth Mass as some of the sites indicate.

    Apparently his sons, Lionel (1631), Richard (1637) and William (1642) did immigrate to Nantucket, Mass. Where William had at least one and probably several children. William was a carpenter, smithy, and was involved in town politics.

    William’s son John (1666) had a son Nathaniel (1687) who had a daughter Lydia Ruth (1763) * who had a son John Worth Edmonds (1799) who had a daughter Laura (1839). She later married James Robert Gilmore.

    * Yeah he was pretty old but he had three wives and a passel of kids, some may have been step children.

    John Worth Edmonds is interesting because he was a well respected lawyer, judge and political figure. He and a colleague George T Dexter, MD were Spiritualists, participated in many seances and co-authored “Spiritualism Vol I and II”. I read portions of the texts and found that both men were active participants and displayed various “abilities” to receive information from discarnate entities. Judge Desmond states at one point that Laura could speak several (10+?) languages in mediumistic settings among other “abilities.” From what I read John Worth Edmonds was a “true” believer and probably a leader in the accepted Spiritualism of his day. You can read about him on where you can also use their links to access his texts.

    There is substantial confusion in the genealogical literature with regard to William Worth (1642) who emigrated to Mass and William Worth (1638) found in New Jersey. These are not the same people, though many sites show them to be identical. Currently I can find no roots for William (1638). He just shows up in Shrewsbury, NJ, marries Faith Patterson (1655) and has possibly six children. The Pattersons are a well respected founding members of the community. Apparently, William and Faith were Quakers as they are recorded in the Quaker texts. Patience (Feb 1861) is recorded as having married a Lawerence. Her sister Sarah also married a Lawrence and she is widely acknowledged throughout the web sites who often list her father as William (1642) from Nantucket. This is not true: As indicated these are not the same men.

    I thought that perhaps I could tie Pearl Curran to John Worth Edmonds given their proclivities. I could not do it but I did find a few things that might interest you at some point.

    In the St Louis 1910 Census, John Curran is the head of a household that contains Pearl (his wife) and the following people. George G Pollard (1848) father-in-law. George notes he works for the immigration bureau and that he and both of his parents were from New York. Mary E. Pollard ne Cordingly (1862) is the mother-in-law who states that she was born in Illinois. Her father is from Ohio and her mother is from Massachusetts. On the Census Pearl states that she was born in Mound City Illinois 2/15/1883.

    In the 1880 Census Mary E. Cordingly is 18 years old, living in Tywappity, Mo where she is a milliner.

    A search of New York Census records finds Thomas C Pollard (1819) NY married to Sarah M (1820) NY. He states he is a merchant and born in New York. Their children include, Alvy (1840), George G (1845), Thomas L (1856), Frank (1859). The George G listed here may be Pearl’s father. I found additional census data when the family moves to New Jersey. This data is consistent with what is presented here.

    I searched but could find no links between Pearl’s family and the Worth’s as mentioned above.

    In summary, I did not find anything of real use. Patience continues to be enigmatic!
    Personally, I am enamored of Patience (1613) in Plymouth. I just can’t find a way to get her to Mass. She has six sisters, one brother and lives within shouting distance of the docks. I have three daughters who are half Scots women, complete with reddish hair and clannish characteristics. I know how feisty these women can be and can just see Patience taking the plunge, as it were.

    On the other hand, William (1838) may be from Scotland — hmm I will need to check that out.
    Have a good day.

    1. Amos Oliver Doyle

      You have come to the same dead end that I have. I agree that genealogy web sites are not always reliable (Neither are the records of the Later Day Saints). Critics claimed that Pearl Curran got her knowledge from relatives who emigrated from England but as you have discovered her immediate relatives, that is, her parents and grandparents were born in the United States. That doesn’t rule out that her grandmother Cordingley may have had some knowledge of England which she picked up from her mother or father, Pearl’s great grandparents although Pearl claimed that her side of the family had been in the United States for a long time.

      I believe that the New Jersey William may be the William that is related to Patience Worth for reasons I have provided in the linked post above. Some people who comment about Patience Worth claim that she lived in Nantucket but she never said that she did. Those who look for Patience Worth related to the Nantucket William never find her because I think that the William she may have been related to was the one in New Jersey.

      The Patience Worth born in Devon England in 1613 may have been the one who died in 1615 in Devon but I have no evidence that that was the case. The other Patience Worth born in Devon lived to marry James Symons in 1698 so I don’t think that either of them is Pearl’s Patience Worth. – AOD

  7. Joe Waldron

    Patience Worth (1861) a Quaker Friend.

    Research takes its own course and depends on the available material. My latest findings lead to the idea that Patience Worth born in 1671 is not the Patience Worth who connects with Pearl Curran. Here is how I arrived at that conclusion.

    Let me begin by stating that the Patience worth married to Benjamin is probably the niece of William Worth (1638) and not of interest here.

    Looking through the internet resources especially “Google Books” where there are many references to William Worth and his associates. The story does not begin with him.

    Richard Lippencott is one of the primary founders of the Quaker Friends in New Jersey. Apparently, he is from England, moved to Massachusetts, back to England and returns to Massachusetts. Later he and associates move to Rhode Island and subsequently to Shrewsbury, New Jersey where they found the “Friends” church. His associates are Wardell, Shattuck (Shattock), Burden, Parker, Tillot, and William Worth among others who make these travels.

    William Worth (1642) and William Worth (1638) are from the same area but are different people. William (1842) marries and stays in Nantucket.

    The respective descendants of William (1838) note that these men are the beginning and the founders of the Friends in America. This may or not be true but they are certainly among the founders of this movement. They note that James Fox comes to Shrewsbury shortly after they establish their first meeting house. See

    James Fox advocated “Unprogrammed Worship” or “Waiting Worship” or “Silent Worship” See where it can be described as follows;

    “Friends gather together in “expectant waiting upon God” to experience his still small voice leading them from within. There is no plan on how the meeting will proceed, and actual practice varies widely between Meetings and individual worship services. Friends believe that God plans what will happen, with his spirit leading people to speak. When a participant feels led to speak, he or she will stand and share a spoken message of (“vocal ministry”) in front of others. When this happens, Quakers believe that the spirit of God is speaking through the speaker. After someone has spoken, it is generally considered good etiquette to allow a few minutes pass in silence before further vocal ministry is given. Sometimes a meeting is entirely silent, sometimes many speak. These meetings lasted for several hours in George Fox’s day.”

    Here is a good review of the role of a minister in the Quaker Friends church with reference to George Fox who is the inspiration for Richard Lippincott, William (1838) and friends

    See also and the entry for 1697 where William Worth is is one of the executors for Abigail’s estate. She is the wife of the deceased Richard Lippincott.

    William Worth is recorded in the Friends minutes as witness to several marriages and similar phenomena. He owns at least 500 acres of land and perhaps another 300 acres and is obviously (as reported in several books) a highly respected man. From “History and Genealogy of Fenwick’s Colony, New Jersey, “Lands in Pilesgrove township Richard Tindall, 195 acres, … Thomas Potter, 500 acres, Richard Lippincott, 1,000 acres, “Shotlock”, 500 acres, William Worth, 500 acres…” Apparently these men were neighbors. From

    Richard Lippencott (1619) of Dorcester, Stonehouse, Devon England marrried Hannah Shattuck (1654 Boston Mass – Nov 1674 in Shrewsbury, Monmouth, NJ). In attendance were … William Worth. Lippincott took a young wife this time! He had a few marriages.

    From the records of the Friends meeting, among other sources, what we know is as follows.

    William Worth (1638? – 1710 Shrewsbury, NJ)
    1st wife, Faith Patterson (1656 Hingham, Plymouth Mass – 1 Nov 1683 Shrewsbury)
    2nd wife (1687) Mary Smith (from Bermuda, probably born in England) with a mother and two negro children who were to be adopted by William Worth?. Probably means “owned.”
    3rd wife (1695) Joane Woolcott (xxxx 1720)

    ..William Worth’s Children include
    .. Sarah (1671) marries Joseph Lawrence 1692
    .. Hope (1672 – 1674)
    .. Willmott (1676)
    .. William (1678 – 1678)
    .. Ephraim (1679)
    .. Patience (1681)

    .. Ann (1658 – 1716) marries (1680) Francis Jeffery Probably William (1638)’s sister?
    …. Mary (1682)
    …. Jeffrey (1684)
    …. William (1686)
    or so it would appear from church records

    Patience (1861)

    The first thing to notice is that Patience is two years old when her mother, Faith dies. It is pure speculation but Patience may have been sick and died with her mother. William does not marry for five years so this means he is a single father and has been taking care of three young children, Patience from two through seven years of age. This seems unlikely. He is wealthy and undoubtedly has hired or other help. However, there are no further references to Patience in the literature that are meaningful. Apparently, Sarah also preceded William in death. Son William’s and daughter Hope’s deaths are noted in the literature and it is possible that Willmott, Ephraim, and Patience all died early. I can find no subsequent references when searching for each child individually nor do I find death announcements.

    The more important finding lies in the idea that these are Quaker Friends. They do not have any “minister” in the traditional sense as is referenced in Patience’s conversations with Pearl. In fact women as often had “ministerial duties” as men.

    At the very least Patience (1681) grew up in this environment where there is “Silent Service” and no or only an occasional male or female minister.

    Pearl’s Patience refers to ministers and their ways a few times and from her comments as much as what she does not say, she and Patience (1671) have different life experiences. The friends traditionally meet with women on one side and men on the other. There is often a curtain or wall between them but I am not sure how or if this was done in the 1600s.

    I think we can agree that Patience was somewhat of a feminist or at least held men in a lessor regard. Had she experienced the Quaker Friends I think she would have referenced females who also had a minister’s duties.

    The following Friends URL discuses the Quaker family and the role of women, who often met separately from the men. These ideas are nowhere, to my knowledge, referred to by Patience Worth, in Pearl’s work.

    My conclusion is that they have different life experiences, assuming PW (1681) lived beyond age two. It would appear that Pearl’s Patience does not derive from the Quaker Friends faith. I suspect that she lived much earlier.

    PS nothing came of the search through the Scotland files. Ahh, our girl remains as mysterious as ever — and she would not have it any other way. It is what she says not who she was.

  8. Joe Waldron

    Title should be “Patience Worth (1681) a Quaker Friend.

    NOthing like getting old to mess up your skills.

  9. Joe Waldron

    A little more research on Pearl’s family that others may be able to take further. Pearl’s mother Mary Cordingly (1862, Illinois) is the daughter of John D Cordingly (1834) a blacksmith from Ohio. His wife Ellen (1836) was born in Mass, as were both of her parents (per the 1880 Census). However, there is no maiden name for Ellen so her parents cannot be tracked. Mary’s siblings include George (1864 Illinois) and Nellie (1867 Illinois). There may be other siblings

    John D Cordingly (1834 Ohio) is the son of John L Cordingly (1793 born in Del?) and Mary Cordingly (1794 Pa). John D has a sister, Eladie (1838 Ohio)


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