Mother Elinor might be considered the first American woman to head a Jezreelite commune in her own right. Unfortunately for Mother Elinor, her reign at the God House was brief, lasting approximately three months, because in March 1907 the press began to ask questions. Mother Elinor seemed to bear a striking resemblance to Ann O’Delia Diss Debar, whose criminal career began with bilking wealthy older people with her psychic abilities and moved on to infiltrating established communes to swindle yet larger group of people.
The history of the God House, though relatively brief in comparison to other communal societies, is still very important in understanding the Southcottian tradition in America. Though Queen Elinor proved to be a false prophet, her brief stint with the colony underscores qualities within the ingathering of steadfast faith: acceptance of female leadership, resilience, and hope for the return of Shiloh. It is unfortunate that these same qualities put them at risk from the likes of Ann O’Delia Diss Debar.
American Communal Societies Quarterly
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