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February 2016 – Madame Diss Debar

In her book, The Allure of Immortality, Professor Lyn Millner wrote:

“One day, an exciting guest arrived at Beth-Ophrah, an ample woman in an elegant black dress that gathered at the neck. Her two scarves–one orchid, one white–flowed nearly to her waist, and her bleached hair was pinned neatly back, revealing a mysterious scar that ran beneath one eye and upward to her temple.” ((1))

This was Madame Diss Debar who was apparently a friend of Berthaldine Boomer (not sure how that happened…). Diss Debar supposedly had money and Dr. Teed was in need of some. That is not to say that the arrival of Madame Diss Debar was intended as a scheme to relieve her of her money. Quite the contrary. As it turned out, she attempted to relieve the Unity of some of their money.

Diss Debar claimed that she was many things, including a princess and a godchild of Pope Pius IX (although if true, that would certainly have not sat well with the Koreshans who were suspicious of Catholics). The Koreshans had taken her in because she had supposedly recanted her past sins of theft and fraud. ((2)) They apparently thought that they would convert her totally to Koreshanity, but that never worked out. She eventually left the Unity after being caught stealing and attempting to entice one of the McCready girls into a dive. ((3))

So, what about this woman? I’ve written here before about some of the charlatans and odd people who have graced the Koreshan doorstep. This is what I described as the “Dark Side” in an October 2012 post. Madame Diss Debar wasn’t “creepy” like Edgar Peissart, but she was certainly what I would call an “odd duck”…

Here are some links to some articles and books which feature the Madame Diss Debar:

New York Times – September 5, 1909

San Francisco Call – December 8, 1898

Excerpts from Books and Articles ((4))


  1. Millner, Lyn. The Allure of Immortality: An American Cult, a Florida Swamp, and a Renegade Prophet, p.175 and Marie McCready, “Memories, Memories, Days of Long Ago”, p.22 []
  2. See Millner, Lyn. The Allure of Immortality: An American Cult, a Florida Swamp, and a Renegade Prophet, p.176 []
  3. See: AM-0011 []
  4. Beware Familiar Spirits | The New Books of Revelations: The Inside Story of America’s Astounding Religious Cults | New York Times article, May 1, 1888 []

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