The collection contains materials related to the musical and literary activities of Jesse Shepard, who wrote under the pen
name Francis Grierson, and his long-time friend and assistant Waldemar Tonner.
Benjamin Henry Jesse Francis Shepard (1848-1927) was a musician, author, lecturer, spiritualist, and self-proclaimed seer.
While living in London in 1896, Jesse Shepard took the pen name Francis Grierson (Grierson being his mother’s maiden name),
to which many of his works are credited. Shepard was born in Birkenhead, England on September 18, 1848. When he was six month
old his parents immigrated to America and in 1849 settled in Sangamon County, Illinois. In 1858, while living in Alton, Illinois,
Shepard was present at the last of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. From 1859 to 1862 he lived in St. Louis and served as a page
for General John C. Fremont. While living in Niagara Falls with his family in 1863, Shepard had the opportunity to play the
piano and discovered his musical talents. Prior to 1887, Shepard traveled extensively performing throughout the United States
and Europe at the patronage of his admirers who were often prominent writers, artists, intellectuals and politicians. Shepard
received notoriety as a master of piano improvisation performing at famous salons and for European royalty. While in St. Petersburg,
Russia in 1871 Shepard received instruction in holding séances furthering his interest in mysticism and Spiritualism.