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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Family postpones funeral of boy on the advice of divine healer

John Toms Jr., a 3-year-old child in Spokane, had apparently died of pneumonia and possibly an underlying heart condition, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on March 21, 1918. Yet so far there were “no signs of mortification or rigidity, or the usual indications of death,” and the boy’s family decided to postpone his funeral. (Spokesman-Review archives)
John Toms Jr., a 3-year-old child in Spokane, had apparently died of pneumonia and possibly an underlying heart condition, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on March 21, 1918. Yet so far there were “no signs of mortification or rigidity, or the usual indications of death,” and the boy’s family decided to postpone his funeral. (Spokesman-Review archives)

The Spokane Daily Chronicle ran a bizarre story that began: “Has death really called little John Toms Jr., or is he in a stupor?”

The 3-year-old child had apparently died two nights before of pneumonia and possibly an underlying heart condition. Yet so far there were “no signs of mortification or rigidity, or the usual indications of death.” The family lived at 2624 W. College Ave. in Spokane.

The father said that “the body will not be buried until we are fully satisfied about the case,” said the father.

A “divine healer,” identified as Mr. Lake, had apparently “treated” the boy during his illness and had advised the parents not to bury the body.

“I am making no predictions in the matter,” said Mr. Lake. “I do recall, however, an incident in my congregation in South Africa several years ago in which a woman apparently dead and in her casket for four days, returned to life and so far as I know is still living.”

The Chronicle posed this question: “Can the prayers which were offered as treatment during his illness of three weeks bring him back to life?’

The coroner’s answer was apparently no. He said he planned to examine the remains soon and “thereafter sign the death certificate.”

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