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E XT IUOH DIXA HY

T ORY OF

.TO H X W ORRELL KEELY .


Bv j U LIUS 1\foR ITZEr< .

AHADOXI C AL as it may seem, a rr ntury which has see n a Fulton s tru ~


gl e with n.n unbe lie \'ing publi r, a )lorse
bringi ng' com mercial va lue to b ear on the
elect ric forre, has witn rss<d al~n a rai nbowch asi ng mu lti tud e whose grec<l for ::rai n
madr cverythin;..r sr< m pla usi Lie -providcll
the "geni us " at t lw hrlm had the mn;..rnctic
strate;..ry. nPccssary as we ll to his own sustenance anr1 co mpensatio n . The passing of
J ohn w orrell K eely, wh ose rec< nt death
ca me as a cmsh ing blow to those with fa ith
strong e nough to Pnd ow a tu nin g--f:> rk
or a ha rmoni ca with mecha ni cal powers
equal to a N iagara, h as removrd a character as uniq ue as h e was puzzling. And
yet in his particul ar f'ase the ofTspring of
his brain di d not e\r n atta in to the dignity
of a pat ent oflice a pplicant. .Nevertheless,
milli ons o f mo ney s pra ng t o the assistance
of the Keely motor projrc t when in th e
zenith o f its quart er -of-n-c<ntury exist<nce.
CofTt rs. d o uble- barred to rati onal underta king . unlock ed instantly at the sound of
a phraseology. incomprehensible as it was
begu iling.
The specter of th e K eely m otor stalk s
yet abroad. 1 h e d eath of its ma k er; the

exposure anti co ntradictions; the opinions


of well -kn own men of science; t h e cling ing
to straws by those unwillin g to ad mit
finan cia l loss-all th e s wift followin g incide nts in one of the most remark aL:.: transactio ns the world hns r ver known-conspire to a lease of notoriety good for many
days.
J ohn W orrell K~e l y was, in trut h, n
genius. Tl is masterful capac ity for k eep ing some of t h e world 's g-reatest scie ntists
a -g-uessing-; his rommand of ca pita l, unlimited at times. wi t h which to carry on
h is ns<arch es"; his letting it remain for
t h e g rave onl y to tell t he sec ret h e d id
not h old- this. and more, required a brain
quite out o f th e ordina ry. and an eye
with the cobra's hypnotic ('harm . Nothing
demonstrates more conclns i,cJy t his overpowering personality of h i. than the lapse
of time, from Nove mber 10, 1Si4-when,
in the pre~c u ce of a d ozen well-known
Philal1elphians. his ''vibratory generator''
was first rx hibited- to the yesterday when
K eely stood b efore another g reat scientific
gath ering and .. explaiuecl " something
that was never to be explained.
Now,
wi t.h one fell blow th e scythe of d eath
4l

634 THE EXTRAORDINARY S70RY OF jOHN WORRELL KEELY.


has cut down the maker and his model. all this has furnished experts an opportuAs a result, perhaps, another life went out nity for advancing theories that nevertheof its earthly sphere as well.
For that less do not explain everything it is desirMrs. Bloomfield Moore was heatt and soul able to have explained.
in the Keely project, the words of Henry
When Clarence B. Moore, the son of the
Dam, the eminent scientific write r, testify, late Mrs. Bloomfield Moore, came to the
when he said, shortly after the d ea th. that realization that the memory of 'his mother
he had felt intuitively that when Keely was linked too closely with her interest in
died Mrs. :Moore would not long survive.
the Keely proj ect, to which he had persistIt matters not a
ently been an antaggreat deal what was
onist, he reso I ved
the agency employed
that now or never
by Keely when in
was the hour for exthe act of demonposing the trickery
strating his "hydrowh ich he was conpneumatic-pulsatingvinced lay at the bottom of the thing.
vacue engine." Was
it compressed air,
Keely's house was
rented and investigahydrau lic power or
electricity? Theretions were begun .
cent exposures of
L e ading Philadel
trickery on the prcmphian scientists assisted in the work,
ises point strongly to
the former conjectand the first disure, but t.he probacovery came in the
bility is that the exshape of an immense
act modus operamli
steel g lobe. Almost
will never be absocovered with dirt arid
lutely established.
rubbish, it was held
Bringing the hisdown in the earth of
tory of the Keely
the cellar by heavy
transactions d own to
beams. When re
the latl!st d eveloplieved of its incnm
ments, the removal
brance, the sphere
of the machinery
was lifted out of its
from the premises ocresting-place,
and
cupied by the " ins ubs e quently was
ventor'' stirred up
found to weigh more
matters as its remainthan three tons. On
ing could never have
the top of the globe
ace om pi ished. In
a hole was discovered
the safekee ping of a
and, screw-threaded.
fri end of Keely's, in
the cavity gave 11
Bosto n, the motor ' s
wider diameter the
fut ure is as obsc ure
farther penetrated.
as if it had neve r
TH F. TKANSMITTE K .
Immediately near
bee n contemplated by its e rstwhi le ma ker. the sphere was found an iron pipe which led
But the sce nes enacted at th e vacated work - for a distance of more than fift een feet into
shop; the exposures ; t he controversies; the the space under the front room. H ere was
violent persistency wi J whi ch the investors di scovered a pit lined wi t h wood and covstill cling t.o probabilities t hat do not ~ee m ered by a trap-door. Fresh ashes gave evieven possibili ties wh en viewed from an im- dence of a carefu l demoli1 Jn of material not
partial stand point; the discovery of th e thought "alua :Jc enougl, for removal, and
hidden tubing, which came about immedi- yet necessa ry to ha v11 out of the way . In
ately following the removal of the motorthese ashes, howeve r, were found short sec

THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF JOHN WORRELL KEELY. 635


tions of what at first was considered to be
wire, but subsequently proved to be brass
tubing. A large amount of glass tubes
was likewise found i n the debris. The
fragments left behind gave striking evidence of the car~ exercised in removi ng the
Keely motor machinery from its home.
The next day, still g reater results rewarded the searchers of the premises. The
room in the rear was curiously raised above
the others, and this was the apartment in
which Keely conducted all those experiments which had puzzled the world until
his rleath.

psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, and Mr. Moore, who had the investigation in charge, the nature of what had
been laid bare now came in for earnest
consideration. It was d etermined beyond
a doubt that the tubing, and the spherical
reservoir found in the ce ! ~ ~ r, stood conc lu
sively for the argument that compressed air
might easi ly have accomplished all that
had been d emonstrated so mysteriously by
Keely.
But before entering upon the more d etailed account of what came of the exposure, it becomes necessary to revert to

"DISlNTRG RA TOR." AN D LEVER FOR MOVt NU T H E ENERG Y OF THE " DISIN TEG RAT E D " WATER .

When the floor was torn up, the revelation was complete. Through the joists, in
holes specially cut for the purpose, ran a
short brass tube. Other tubes were discovered al so, and the whole went to show
that the motor had been connected here
with the spherical contrivance in the
cellar.
In th e prese nce of Prof. Arthur W .
Goodspeed, professo r of physics at the
University of P ennsylvania; Prof. Carl
Herin g, one of the most eminent e lectrical
enginee rs in the country ; Prof. Lightner Witmer, professor of experime ntal

the year 1872, the year when the K eely


Motor Company was organized, and the
enth usiasm anent the'' new force'' broug ht
into the fold men whose very names
at that peri od stood for common sense and
perspicacity.
At the Fifth Avenue H otel, New York
city, a meeting was held, presided over
by Edward B. Collier, a lawyer, who in
his particular line o f paten t attorney had
from time to time come in co ntac t with
invento rs st ru g~ lin g for a hearin g . The
meeting was composed o f ba nk ers, merchan t!<, scientists and practical engineers,

636 THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF JOHN WORRELL KEELY.


Bloomfield Moore, who was left the executrix of her husband's will, advanced the
'' iilYentor ' ' large sums out of the fortune
accruing to her from the estute. Now and
then a halt was called , to be sure, but the
pcrsuasheness of the '' itwcntor ' would
make her rally to his assista nce once more,
and another lease of life would be accorded
to the mo tor.
A grcat public exhibition was given in
Philade lphia, but while enthusiasm ran riot
among a ~ertain cligne, skeptics were plenty
and t he pr rsisteney with whi ch Keely
would rcfnsc t.o admit a ny one into his
secret caused a suspicion-which, nevertheltosf', did not p reve nt a famous Phi ladelphia
physician from advancing his individual
chee k for t e n thousand d ollars. This was
in 1 8tH . In J 8 \JO the stoekholu ers began
to gmmble, and something bad to be done
to save the cause . Keely had just d eclared
that he was on I he e ,e of success ; that another step wou lrl bring him to the threshold o f tilt mystery that until then had
been a mystrr_y even to him, he admitted.
Again his remark able forre of character
saYed I he 1lay. The work was co ntinued,
and one machine foll owed an oth er, only
to be t brown asid e for some new contrivance de tined to assist in the re,olutionizing of th e ex isting order of things. As to
what h1ul bren known ns the " genern tor,"
aml which had been part of a bath-tub,
where a tream of wat er. passing through
a goose-qui ll, set th e contrha.n ce in motion,
t he more sig nificant name
of '' liberator ' ' was now
bestowed on th e machine.
A p eculiar feature of the
' ' liberator '' was a series of
tuning- fork s, wi th the vibrations of which Keely
claimed t o di sintegrate air
and release an eth eric force
capable of riv aling a cyclone in streng th if properly utilized and applied .
In explr.nation of what one
visitor saw upon one occasion. thi s individual said
that a pint of water poured
into a cyli nder seemed to
work grea t wonde rs. The
gage showed a pressure
CLA I M E D Cot L n RF. M O V E D
of more than fifty thou Z I T IH~ R ST RIN G S

and the result was satisfactory, from a


K eely point of view. The project gained
substantial assistance . :Money was subscribed, and the following day there was
placed in the hands of Keely a check for
ten thousand d ollars ; which , to do him
justice, h e immediately expended for
machinery, or material necessary for the
co ns truction of his pec uliar apparatus.
In fact , whatever the vagarieg of the man,
however much his ideas may ha ve been
beyond the limit of common . euse, that
K~ely s pent t.he money '~ hi ch h e ob tained
in expcrinll'ntal investig ations ca.nn ot be
d eni ed even by the most strenuous o f his
opponents at that time or now.
Small
c onsolation this, to the many who fell vi ctims to the smoothness of his s peech or the
incompreh e nsible lang uage whi ch h e employed. .A.t any rate, after being launched,
the motor project soon f ound it self in d ee p
water. Funds lwga n to g-e t low, and bankrupt cy
followed.
Lu ck ily,
a friend
now appeared on
the scene.
From one
time to
another,
Keely'
patrones , frs.

Gl.ASS C O:": TAI SI XG \ VJ.: IG H T \VIli C H K EEL Y


L" l-' O R 00 \\. N U \ ' ST RIKI :S G T H E

THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF fOHN WORRELL KEELY. 637


sand pounds to the square inch. Great
ropes were torn apart . iron bars brok en in
two or twisted out of shape, bullets discharged
throug h twelve- inch
planks,
by a force which could not be uetermined .
In the g lory of his exuberance. Keely
now d eclared t hat wi th one quart of wate r
he would be able to send a train of cars
from Philadelphia to San Francisco. a nd
that to propel a steamship from N ew York
to Liverpool and return, w ould require
just about one gallon of the same.
I t was worth almost the price of fa.llin g
victim to hea.r Keely at the t ime theorize,
expost ulate where it became necessary,
and su rvey his aud ience wi th one of those

value to the man who had brough t the


" inve nt ion " into the world. No matter
h ow complicated the phraseology, they
would all ow for the possibili t ies in store.
K eely's exc use for not a llowing- a ny one
in to his secret, was based upon the commercial value, wh ich h e claimed h e d esired to
have u nimpa ired for th e benefi t of the
stockholders. It surely would not d o to
reveal a sec ret that mig h t pro,e its own
fin a ncial d efeat, he argued , wi th empha tic
reve rence for his own invention, and for the
g lory and gain in store for those willing to
abide their t ime.
The persona lity of J ohn Worre ll K eely
was replete wi th the charm of heartiness.

K EF.l.. Y A ND BOA R D OF D IR ECT O R S OF T il E K I;E L\' 1\-JOT O K C0 :\1 P A N\' .

superior g la nces whi ch mean t to illustrate


that h e ha lf pi t ied t hose who fa iled to tllld erstand his vocabulary. In one respect
he was scient ific in his procec1nre of explanat ion. a nd in othe r re~p ec- t s he was quit e
the reve rse. Unq uestiouuhl y he had read
consid erably on th e sul1j ec-t of locomotion
and kin drell ma tters. whi ch mi g h t stand
him in good stead. But wh en it came to
" molecular vibrat ion. "sy mpath etic eq ui lib rium, ' ' ' oscillat ion of t he ato m. "
"ethcric d isin tegrat ion," and a thousa nu
and one similar terms for his motor f orce,
the avera;re mind found its receptive powe rs
hardl y equal to the occa io n. T he n it was
that the fri ends of the motor sh owed th eir

His was the secret of the promoter' s art.


H e had th e insigh t necessary to th e ma n of
affa irs. minus t hat quali ty of suhj ecti on
which tells it is t ime to cease before it is
too late. An d when considered in t his
conn ec tion, that no one was ever tak en ab solu tely into his confi de nce. it still remai ns
a mystery how his followin g continue<l a lmost the identical one that stood by him
from the conception of the scheme t o his
death, a nd after .
W hen at work in h is laboratory, coatless.
his g rimy h a nds exhibi t ing labor 's ha llmark, Keely looked the persouification of
the master-cra ftsman, a nxi ous to w ring
from th e regions of the attainable th e

638 THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF JOHN H' ORRELL KEELY.

secrets those regions might contain. But come true,


"etheric disintegration,"
when it came to the demonstrating feature, "quadruple negative harmonics, " "atomic
the s<:ancc consequent to such exhibitions triplets,'' and the like, would have become
as once in a while were required , then part of the teachings in a new curriculum
credulity had to step to the front and of its kind . But fate decreed otherwise.
make room, as an advance-guard, for the The "miracle" produced by the drawing
true disci pies who stood ready to believe, of a bow across a string, whereby he
even sometimes against their own con- claimed to harness or release the force of
victions. And when his benefactress im- air and water, the "miracle" of controlling
plored him to let such men as Mr. Edison the elements, ceased to exist when he
into the secret as an evidence that there passed away.
Keely 's education had been limited to a
was no humbug, Keely knew what was best
for him, and treated the advice as not degree. A carpenter by choice of trade.
he had a penchant for mechanics from
worthy of consideration.
Keely posse-sed few traits ..........~~~~~~~~....... an early ao-e, and it is said by
those who knew him in
of the typical inventor.
He lived a life of comhi youth that his ear
parative ease,
" as musical enough
t o h ave been the
the opulence thn.t
he displayed led
placing him in the
the suspiciou
to believe that
c onductor's
things were
chair of 11
small orchesnot as they
ought to be.
tra, at one
And so in
time. But
that Philawhile those
delphia labcurious musica! charts
oratory th is
man built
which he
theories out of
drew, with no
m et a I,
small skill for
turned metal into
an a m ate u r
th eo ri es wh ich,
draftsman, may
undoubted ly, baftled
mean somethi ng
his own, c h a ritable
unique to the men who
enough, understanding.
employ the compass and
The nooks and corners of
the square. t o others they
his w orkshop cou ld tell of ~< ustcA L CHART "'" WHi c H K EELY merely illustrated a t rend of

CLAIMED TO RAVE DI SCOVERHD


hours spent 10 chasing the
Hi s ET H ER IC" FoRcE.
mind into a domain where
elusive force-provided K eely had been mortal should not venture.
his own worst enemy, and attempted
It should not be forgotten that Keely presomething which he really expected to at- dieted that the flying-machine, for which
tain. But it is here that the most mo- the century bas been waiting, would come to
mentous qu estion comes to the fore. If he pass the moment his motor stood completed.
really did believe in his own theories, the And in the same way he asserted that his
discoveries whi ch have been made defy pneumatic gun was the one and only instruthat proposition. AP-d if be was a charla- ment of its kind for ~o ve rnm ents to make
tan, his cr.recr will prove one of the most use of- as soon as the motor power he had
stupendous impositions ever practised by in mind had been prod uced .
The construction of the motor plant was
man .
The scientific nomenclature employed by nearly all his own doing. Composerl of
Keely would have necessitated the recon- the motor proper, and the transmitter, the
struction of the latest di ctionary to cover machine rested on a heavy brass base .
his terms and sentences. If his dreams had Here, too, was a hollow brass sphere or ball.

THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF jOHN WORRELL KEELY. 639


Between the engine and the transmitter
ran a se ries of wires, and along the base of
the transmitter au array of steel rods
bristled like so man y fix ed bayonets ready
to repulse the attacks of the incred ulous.
These steel rods were responsive to the
touch, and compared to the ordinary
musical scale, which is subject to the
tuning-fork.
The interior of the g lobe almost defied
description, but out of the complex mass
brass tubes and adhesive plates stood
prominently. This was the shifting reso-

flow of talk about " finding a neutral


center, '' and the like, the performance
did not fail t o do the work intended . But
whi le the harmonica was supposed to have
done the whole thing, starting up the machinery by " ctheric force," the exposures
recently brought about admit of the sup posit ion that a concealed rubber bulb in
the floor was th e instrument used. K eely
mig ht easily have shut off or released his
compressed air by placing his foot on parts
of the floor best known to him.
It mig ht be taken for granted that the

OU N \ V ITH \ \'HI C H K EE LY E XPE W.lt\:I ENTED AT SAND Y H OOK , AND OTHJ-;R APPLIANCES.

nator, as Keely tPrmcd it. The tubes and


plat es took up the vibratory sound and
carried it along with rapiuiry. Of these
vibrations the re were seven distinct kinds,
said Keely, and each of these seven capable of infinit esimal division.
The motor it self co nsisted of a h eavy
iron hoop, placed firmly on the plate.
Within this hoop ran a drum with eig ht
spokes. When it was once in operation, the
movements of the drum were exceeding ly
rapid and did not fail to impress. Tak en
in connection with Keely's simulta neous

clement sti ll fa ithful to the apostle's


memory are not giving up without a strugg lc. They aver that the sphere found in
the cellar was known by them to be there.
One e nthusiast goes so far as to say that
he kn ew t ha t K ee ly, havin g demonstrated
his power in lifting the g lobe, reversed
the experiment and pressed it down in the
g round . The h eavy beams, which h eld the
sphere in place, rather controvert such a
statement.
Since that midnig ht visit. to t he dismantied shop of the late John Worrell Keely,

640 THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF jOHN WORRELL KEELY.


the scientific opinions auvanced are of
considerable importance, whether bearing
upon his motor or his individuali ty.
Renowned professors of physics have stated
that they have Leen con vi need for years
that the method was compressl'U air. A
medical journal of hig h standing, in discussing the matter from a psycholog ical point. of view, says that rat her than
make out a case anent Keely it were uett~ r to foll ow the psychological development of his dupes. Co ntinuing. this j our-

of a good patent-right. He was not an


h onest lunatic.
He reaped substant.ial
gain from his secrecy, for he ran a j ointstock company.''
To a ll intents and purposes this stock
company is still intact, bu t the action of
the Keelyists did not. restrain one h older of
a hundred shares of stock from d isposing
of his certificates for a few dollars . The
buyer could find a purpose even in the
stock pa per, h oweve r, for it went to the
papering of his house . And now, while

GLOBE i\l OTOI< ANO P R O \ . IS IONAL E N G INE.

nal says t hat the psych ology o f most.


inventors usuall y brings them out. too soon
rath er than too late. ''Criti cs nnd scientists
who may feel inclined to work out the
problem o f Keely's psychol og-y should remember that insane inventors do not act in
any way lik e K eely, ' ' is the exact l:w;rua!!e
of this medical au thority . ''Their ><e lw mes
a re usuall y divu lrrd prematurely anu they
c.lo not hesitate to rc,eal their wondrous
scf' n ts to t he worlc.l und er th e p rotec t ion

the machine is in Boston, in t he l;:ee ping


of a fri end who is s upposed to have known
Keely' s .ecrct, it behooves to recall the
memory of R obert Fulton, throug h whose
a l c r tn e~s it became possible to unea rth the
perpetual-motion fraud of R cd heffer, the
impostor who in his time was no less a
sphinx than K eely . Only, with the discove ry of h is imposition Hcdheffer t ook
Keely had to c.lie to be disto tl ight.
covered .

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