Are you a mystery lover? Whatever happened to the mystical healer: Francis Schlatter?

Francis Schlatter, the mysterious healer
Francis Schlatter, the mysterious healer

One of history’s forgotten mysteries, Francis Schlatter was born in rural Alsace, Germany in the year 1852, approximately.  After his parents’ deaths in the 1880s, he moved to England.  He plied his trade as a cobbler there, liked to read geometry and play croquet, but was otherwise rather non-descript and faded into background.  He had but one good friend, a man named Ryan, and when Ryan died suddenly, a badly-shaken Schlatter underwent a dramatic change.

He became all caught up in mysticism and began corresponding with a Florida faith-healer, named Helen Williams.  He pored over her books.  In 1891, he left his home in Jamesport, England and traveled to Denver, which was at the time a hub for spiratualists and free thinkers.

While practicing his cobbler’s trade there, and with the instruction of Helen Williams, he attempted to bring forth his own healing powers.  He prayed, fasted, and began a program of robust physical exercise.  During this routine, a voice (“the Father”) instructed him to begin healing.

When his healing attempts were at first unsuccessful, he set out barefooted and alone on a wandering trail of his own design.  He had taken his cobbler’s tools but abandoned them quickly.  While he continued to pray and fast, he wandered throughout Colorado.  He traveled on through Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, California and parts of Texas, carrying only flour and water with him.  Little is known about these journeys except for a scattered account he wrote himself.   The account was mostly about his daily frustrations, ailments and troubles along the way.   He was jailed in Texas and Kansas for not wearing shoes and a hat in public.

At some point, his healing powers did receive public notice.  At first he had been declared a fraud, but this opinion turned and his abilities were given much merit.  He was deemed sincere, with a Christ-like appearance, and those waiting to get healed got the desired results.  His method consisted of grasping the afflicted’s hands with his own hands while simultaneously reciting the Lord’s Prayer as he gazed toward heaven.  The illnesses or conditions were not mentioned and Schlatter emphasized that the healing was not from him but from the Father.

Newspapers and biographers documented the success rates of his cures.  On November 13, 1895, Schlatter drew a crowd of over 5,000 to be healed in Denver once again.  He expressed a desire to continue to Chicago to do further healings on the next day.

Then, he disappeared, leaving a note:  “My mission is done.  My Father calls me away—Francis Schlatter.”

Imposters seized the opportunity and went about selling patent medicine to the disappointed public.  The real Schlatter was only seen a few more times as he journeyed on horseback toward Mexico.

Archaeologists discovered his body in near Chihuahua, Mexico on a canyon embankment several years later.  He had fasted to death, leaving behind a few personal articles.  His writings and artifacts, put in safekeeping by friends and followers have been lost—one batch in a fire.

Francis Schlatter remains as an intriguing subject for mystery lovers like myself.

CathoDarlington-3dLeftPlease click the book cover to read more about Sara Marie Hogg’s novel on Amazon.

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  • Sara Marie Hogg

    For more detailed accounts please check out books about this man on Amazon. I had never heard of him. It is one of those things you just run across while looking for something else.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      He reminds me a little of Rasputin.

      • Sara Marie Hogg

        Yeah, I was thinking of that today, and almost put “his Rasputin-like eyes” in one of the final chapters of SS, when I was doing some editing of that because I had Rasputin on the Brain (one had nothing to do with the other, ha ha). Rasputin is in a poem of mine called The Berry Street Walker, also, about Fort Worth in the ’70s. Well Rasputin was a fascinating and apparently HYPNOTIC fellow.

  • Caleb Pirtle

    The unknown figures in history are the ones who intrigue me the most. Thanks for introducing Francis Schlatter to me. He is worth researching a little more.

    • Sara Marie Hogg

      Caleb, you will probably enjoy looking at more photos of this man, taken during healing sessions. If you Google his images on the web you will find a few. I didn’t want to use them because doubtful of copyrights, but some of the images are very interesting! Love the clothing.

  • Sara Marie Hogg

    Some accounts say that one of his personal effects, found close to the site of his death was a mysterious copper rod, that he carried around with him. What a mystery…did the copper rod have “properties?” What powers did Schlatter think it had, if any. I guess we will never know.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      I think you should write a novel: “Travels with Francis” and let your imagination fill in all of the missing pieces. He charges $5 to heal a cancer but will heal a broken heart for free.

      • Sara Marie Hogg

        I have read bits and pieces from the web, synopsises of books about him…one tidbit said that he was married for a short while (24 hours?) and that his wife left him for being drunk and not paying attention to her–something like that. Well after reading a little about Francis, I think this woman was a publicity seeker and there was no actual marriage at all. Perhaps he DID try to heal her broken heart and she misconstrued it! I would love to put a faith healer in a novel. Love Tommy Thompson’s Celebrity and the faith healer in that one. Love Elmer Gantry…not a faith healer, but an excellent character as is The Rainman. Maybe I just like Burt Lancaster’s acting..and I do.

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