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Observations placeholder

Walter Franklin Prince dreamed that in his hands was an order printed in red ink for the execution of a woman



Type of Spiritual Experience


Walter Franklin Prince (22 April 1863 – 7 August 1934) was an American parapsychologist and founder of the Boston Society for Psychical Research in Boston.

Born in Detroit, Maine Prince graduated from Maine Wesleyan Seminary in 1881 to become an Episcopal minister. He earned a BD in 1886 from Drew Theological Seminary and a PhD from Yale University in 1899. His doctoral thesis was on multiple personality. In 1910 he was the rector of All Saint's Church in Pittsburgh and in 1916 the director of psychotherapeutics at St. Marks's Episcopal Church in New York City.

In 1885, Prince married Lelia Madora Colman, they had no children but adopted a daughter. Lelia died in 1924. Prince authored several works on the study of human psychic abilities, among them The Psychic in the House (Boston 1926), The Case of Patience Worth (Boston 1927), The Enchanted Boundary (Boston 1930).

In 1908, Prince joined the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR).

Robert Ashby "[Prince] remained highly skeptical of PK and other physical phenomena, but felt that there was no doubt at all of telepathy, clairvoyance and precognition."  And this may be why.

A description of the experience

Premonitions: A leap in to the future – Herbert Greenhouse [1971]

Prince made a careful record of this dream before it came true, told two other people of his dream before it came true and also registered it with the Central Premonitions Registry in the US.

During the night of November 27-28, 1917, Walter Franklin Prince dreamed that in his hands was an order printed in red ink for the execution of a woman. Prince was not sure why she was condemned but he had a feeling that the French Revolution was somehow involved. The woman herself had brought the order for her own execution and said she was perfectly willing to die, if only Prince would hold her hand.

Dr. Prince saw the woman clearly in his dream: she was "slender of the willowy type, had blonde hair, small girlish features, and was rather pretty." she was about thirty-five.  She sat down and waited for death without fear, as if well prepared to die.

Suddenly, in the dream, the light went out. Prince sensed that the woman was being put to death, and when her hand grasped his hand in the dark, he knew the execution was taking place. He wrote later: "Then I felt one hand (of mine) on the hair of the head, which was loose and severed from the body, and felt the moisture of blood.”

Dr. Prince felt the fingers of his other hand “caught in her teeth, and the mouth opened and shut several times as the teeth refastened on my hand, and I was filled with the horror of the thought of a severed but living head. Here the dream faded out."

As soon as Dr. Prince woke up, he recorded the details of the dream. Then he visited the offices of the American society for Psychical Research and related the dream to Gertrude O. Tubby, an officer of the society. The following morning, the twenty-ninth of November, 1917, Prince set out for church with his wife and narrated the dream to her.

So far nothing had happened to indicate that the dream was a prophetic one. Dr. Prince was an experienced psychical researcher, however, and believed he could distinguish a premonitory dream from an ordinary one. Another person would have felt foolish in making a careful record or even repeating the dream. But Dr. Prince was so shaken by the gory details that he was sure the dream was precognitive.

Returning from church, Prince saw this headline in the afternoon newspaper:


A woman by the name of Hand had placed her head on a track of the Long Island Railroad, directly in front of a train coming out of the station. She was decapitated. She had left a note in her handbag stating that her head would continue to live after it had been severed from her body.

The accident happened at 11:15 P.M. on Wednesday night, less than twenty-four hours after Prince's dream.

Mrs. Hand was thirty-one years old, was slender and pretty and had golden brown hair. The dream corresponded in other ways with the real event: the dramatization of the "hand" (the woman's name); the fact that she "ordered" her own death; death by decapitation; death occurring "in the dark"; the belief of Mrs. Hand that her head would continue to live, as it did in the dream.

Two other significant details are that the suicide took place a short distance (six miles) from Dr. Prince's home and within twenty-four hours of the dream. The time element in particular is an important factor that would be considered in the evaluation of the dream by premonitions bureaus.

The source of the experience

Methodist movement

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Dreaming and lucid dreaming