Mrs. Anna Elisa Brainerd Smith Pen Name Mrs. J. Gregory Smith

Seola Versus Angels and Women

I was impelled to take a trip in Indiana Jones style and research the beginnings of an author who was very much regarded in a positive way in her time. A Mrs. Anna Elisa Brainerd Smith. Secure your Jone’s hats and let's begin. Mrs. Anna Elisa Brainerd Smith wrote under her husband's name of Mrs. J. Gregory Smith in the late 1800’s. So when looking her up you will find her work as Mrs. Gregory J. Smith.

I’m leaning my focus on Smith’s lovely little tale called Seola. To give you a bit of its history. It was published in 1878. It is written as an “antediluvian (alternatively pre-diluvian or pre-flood) period is the time period chronicled in the Bible between the fall of man and the Genesis flood narrative in biblical cosmology. The term was coined by Thomas Browne. The narrative takes up chapters 1–6 (excluding the flood narrative) of the Book of Genesis. The term found its way into early geology and science until the late Victorian era. Colloquially, the term is used to refer to any ancient and murky period.”- Wikipedia.

I found the read a bit of an onion peel of the ancient history of religions of man. Mrs. Smith leaves us apparent clues in language with a prairie trail wide open for research if one has the ability to pick up on it. It’s not one for the narrow-minded unless one is just out for the fairy tale on the surface mirroring our own modern Marvel series. In other words, in reading Seola, if you happen to be one who is trapped in one particular dogma, the layered knowledge will just glide over your intellect depending on the degree you study. Smith would have had the education of scholar status, according to her town history. She also was a real-life hero in an attack during the Civil War. She was later honored with the town of Brainerd, Minnesota named after her for her bravery.

I’ve given a bit of the history of Mrs. Smith so let's look at Angels and Women published by A.B. ABAAC Company, New York. Angels and Women is a revision of the Unique Novel Seola by Mrs. J. G. Smith. It was revised and published in 1924 at the request of Charles Taze Russell just before he passed.

Revision of Seola published in 1924

The Forward of Angels and Women

I wanted to give Angels and Women a chance. So aside from the added forward and appendix I could say thus far Mrs. Smith’s work was a bit trampled. The forward to Angels and Women is a bit misleading and inaccurate. But in 1924 who’s checking right?

So let's break it down. The forward states.

Editors Note: The editor of Angels and Women had an opinion which states that he thinks Seola was written by an inspiration of a fallen angel. He makes clear that women are more “susceptible to seductive influences” and Mrs. Gregory was “impelled to write it after listening to beautiful music.” He then continues with “The reviser of this book is of the opinion that the original manuscript was dictated to the woman who wrote it by one of the fallen angels.” Under the insinuation, the editor states that Mrs. Gregory Smith had made “no pretense of a knowledge of the Bible.” Since Mrs. Smith passed away on January 6, 1905 (aged 85) which was 11 years pryer to Charles Taze Russell, the Editor would have not been able to ask her. But a little information on some of her earlier work would prove beneficial in this case. So let's investigate. Do you have your Jones hat? You’ll need it.

There is a company called Forgotten books which takes old important historical works and reprints them. I happen to come across Mrs. Gregory Smith's other works because I always like to know who I’m reading and what other works the author has written. Being that Seola is Biblical in nature one could speculate she may have written about the very material that helps her construct the novel. It’s a writer's job to read and research. But a little about Forgotten Books. Forgotten Books publishes hundreds of thousands of rare and classic books. I have been able to find many wonderful reprints of historical works from them while conducting research for myself. Interestingly I found one book in particular of Mrs. Gregory her first publication the title “From Dawn to Sunrise.” Smith went on and wrote essays, poems, and other works, and is best known for her three novels, Seola, Selma, and Atla. But it's her first published work, From Dawn to Sunrise (1876) which dealt with the historical and philosophical religious ideas of mankind, the second line of its title is what tipped my hat up in interest. So I purchased it. The book's success caused Henry K. Adams, author of A Centennial History of St. Albans Vermont to call it “The smartest book ever written in Vermont.” Her second work was Seola (1878), which was written as an antediluvian diary. The next novel published was Selma (1883), a Viking love story. The third novel, Atla (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1886), was about the sinking of the legendary lost island called Atlantis. Now you may not think anything of the later titles but Atlantis pops out at me like a clue. One of my first books purchased in antiquity was “The Book of the Master” by Adams. There had been legends in old manuscripts of a catalyst that caused the destruction of this ancient city which made its inhabitants relocate to Europe in Turkey.

For this discussion, I will be referring to “From Dawn to Sunrise.” Its table of contents reveals the vast relevant history of this time. It was a revival period or also called the Victorian era. Here in the United States many mystery schools and clubs of sorts gave people the freedom to express these ancient myths and schools of thought into the arts and curriculum. Later author Joseph Campell explains this in his book A hero with a thousand faces. This particular book is used to cast outlines for many famous Hollywood movies such as Star Wars and Marvel. Seola is simply a prototype and a work far ahead of its time. Or one could concede that’s it’s similar as Shaksphere implants allegory into his works, mesmerizing readers hundreds of years later. Or the constant argument of what the meaning of Leonardo's Last Supper means, or what it means to particular people. Dan Brown made millions on his version. An interesting side note, Seola’s Journal is currently in production as a motion picture. You can view this information on IMDb.

Chapter Comparisons

Page 8 of Angels and Women and Page 2 of Seola they come across a Phoenician Daleth which means door. Below you can examine both the Phoenician and Hebrew letters.

See link in Phoenician for door and the Hebrew ד

More and more clues. Now without knowing what the peculiar cross on this same page of the Novel I can only imagine looking up what the Ellora and Elephanta caves were as also mentioned in the opening pages because that's the next clue. These caves would date back to 600–1000 CE. Thus giving us a clue to the peculiar cross. Ancient Shiva’s cross is very similar to the cross of Lorraine and I’ve also seen another cross along this area of ancient similar to what we know today as used a natzi symbol. And also closely linking Hindi and Brahma. These religious artifacts aren’t myths but set in stone.

So let's dig into some examples of the knowledge she crumbles. Firstly on page 31, we are given a bit of a history lesson in the character named Seth. The stage for Seth is played out as a Great Sage who was the inventor of characters used in writing.

Seth is a traditionally masculine name with roots in Egyptian, Hebrew, and the Bible. It can mean “put,” “anointed,” “compensation,” or “appointed.” In the Bible, Seth was the third son of Adam and Eve — a replacement for Abel after his brother Cain killed him.

But is this Seth that Mrs. Smith describes, “a great Sage and the inventor of characters used in writing” sound familiar? One could look in myth and in doing so we find something similar. I recalled in my studies that Thoth was an inventor of characters. So I wanted to know was Thoth a Sage? A little history on Thoth. Thoth was credited by the ancient Egyptians as the inventor of the characters used in writing. This got me to thinking that possibly Thoth and Seth are one and the same for this novel, but on an archetype level. Could my suspicions be correct? “As Thoth was credited with the creation of a number of branches of knowledge (law, magic, philosophy, religion, science, and writing) he was thought to be an infallible judge capable of rendering completely just decisions. The Greeks admired him so greatly that they credited him as the originator of all knowledge on earth and in the heavens. He was so important to the gods, and especially to Ra, that he was the god chosen to retrieve Ra’s daughter from the distant lands she sometimes fled to.” Author Joshua J. Mark.

Well, let us keep reading. On-Page 41 in Angels and Women we come across Seth and in Watchtowers Societies revision they kept to the original, also show Seth as the founder of this city, inventor of characters used in writing. But something else, “He caused two wonderful pillars to be erected upon which was inscribed the history of the world.” Comparing this side by side to Myth, according to legend, Thoth preserved his canon of writings inside two great pillars “just before the Great Flood inundated the world.” Thousands of years later, the pillars were rediscovered. According to existing texts written by Egyptian priests, one of the pillars was discovered outside the city of Heliopolis (city of the Sun), and the other was unearthed near Thebes.” Could Seola be written to preserve or even to teach fable of ancient myth? One could speculate.

From the December, 1901 issue of The Vermonter magazine

Final thoughts

I conclude that not only could there have been misinformation about why Russell instructed this book to be rewritten, by the editor's notes in the forward, but I also think that the real reason he wanted it to be rewritten was also lost when he passed away. No way for him to have guided the work unless, of course, the writers were guided by “angels” themselves. Fallen or not fallen being truly inspired or not, this inspiration was fleeting and uninspired where inspiration is lacking or not trusted. “Inspired by beautiful music,” this educated woman said. Beautiful music. Aren't you inspired to dance when you hear it? Or for the painter, aren’t you inspired when you have the talent? No prior knowledge of the bible? Nonsense. Im not sure the writer of Angels and Women did his research. Either the research department was lacking or they just chose not to research, to begin with. During a time of women's, oppression it was easier to discount the knowledge of a woman than to give her credit for her achievements, amongst the less educated I presume. But for the women, Mrs. Anna Elisa Brainerd Smith here in 2022 we will give you the credit where credit is due.

Author Kerry Kaye

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