I note that there’s an interesting piece included in the new Lovecraft Annual, although I have yet to receive a copy. This is… “Letters between H.P. Lovecraft and Orville L. Leach”, edited by Donovan K. Loucks.

Here’s what I can dig up online about Orville Livingston Leach (1859-1921), inventor, successful patent medicine purveyor, Rhode Island pleasure park owner, and a truly cosmic loon who believed the earth was hollow and the Millennium was near. In his dotage he had a cranky book to prepare, and he sounds like a prime candidate to have been a Lovecraft revision client c.1919-1921.

He was the youngest son of Elihu Leach and Sarah Lovisa Leach, and was born at Raynham, Mass. In 1886 he married Theresa Walsh but had no children. In the 1896 Providence Directory he was a seller of patent medicines via a remedy company. He was living at Prairie Avenue, Providence — about a mile south of College Hill. He seems to have moved around a lot around the turn of the century, but he is in one genealogy book with a note that he kept… “the Emory House in Providence”.

This house either took or gave the name to the Order of Emorians, which he founded. This order was originally the Evergreens, a “Life & Longevity League”, and was probably founded in the early or mid 1890s to promote his patent remedies and health regimens? He later became the… “Secretary of the Order of Emorians, Providence Lodge”. There was also an English branch of the Emorians, possibly a franchise for his patent medicines.

He was also President of the Emorian Marching Band aka Bartlett’s Emorian Concert Band. This band presumably paraded in Emery Park, of which he was the owner from c.1896-1921. Emery Park was a popular recreation ground some four miles SW of Providence, near the New London Turnpike. This Park is mentioned many times as the location for field days and annual outings of local trades federations, employee groups, and the like, in the early decades of the 20th century. Presumably it was landscaped and equipped as a sort of picnic gardens with a parade field, and perhaps with ‘medicinal’ springs and baths etc, serving as a free introduction to his patent cures?

He was also an inventor, patenting a new type of tyre, an “electrocardiographic electrode device”, and a “medicinal electrode” in 1901…

“This invention relates to improvements in electrodes for applying electric treatment to increase the vitality in animal bodies to cure diseases, and by supplying force which is adapted for the use of organized bodies to give strength and eradicate microbes and germs by subjecting them to the force which while beneficial to the higher types of organisms will overpower and destroy the disease germs. It is known to scientists that the filaments of nerves are tubular and that the nerve impressions travel with a spiral motion…”

In 1907 he patented a “Hair growth method and apparatus”, and then a storage battery in 1918. His tyre may have actually had some genuine commercial success, and was at least notable in the industry…

THE Boston Herald devotes a page to stating the theory of Orville Livingston Leach, of Auburn, Rhode Island, that the earth is inhabitable in the interior. The name of Mr. Leach, by the way, doubtless is familiar to many of our readers as the inventor of a bicycle tire and of a solid rubber automobile tire, but it would appear that he is no less interested in making his cosmic theory known than in developing his tires.” (India Rubber World, Dec 1907).

Here’s a similar report from The New Enterprise (Florida) June 04, 1908…

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Although some of the tire profits may have been taken in legal costs…

“The Emery Tire Co. (Providence, Rhode Island) have filed a suit for $20,000 damages against Orville L. Leach, the inventor of the cushion vehicle tire which they are exploiting, on the ground that, contrary to his agreement with the company, he has not admitted them to an interest in a patent for an improvement of the tire…” (India Rubber World, 1902)

In his final years he aspired to publish his fringe beliefs. Here is the cover of his loon-tastic 84-page “handbook of the Millennium” The White Spark (1920)…

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A “Books Received” notice in Reedy’s Mirror suggests The White Spark was circulated to newspapers with additional pamphlets…

“The White Spark and Two Pamphlets by Orville Livingston Leach. Providence, Rhode Island : Rhode Island Scientific Research Association . A new philosophy which claims to give a key to the universe.”

It’s a hilariously loony book, and if Lovecraft did revise it he may have been chuckling to himself the whole time.

The Rhode Island Scientific Research Association seems to have been incorporated c.1912, presumably by Leach, and has left almost no trace. I’d suspect it was just a pamphlet imprint for his patent medicine promotional materials and cranky pamphlets?

“a corporation, under the name of Rhode Island Scientific Research Association, for the purpose of the investigation, discovery, elucidation, and dissemination of science…” etc.

Leach died in late 1921, and his Emery Park died with him…

“…on December 31, 1921 the local papers announced the death of Orville L. Leach, owner and operator of Emery Park for over a quarter of a century, and Emery Park seems not to have been able to survive him.” (Gladys W. Brayton, Other ways and other days, p.103).

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