Friday, August 12, 2011

Samri S. Baldwin - The White Mahatma

While doing research for Civil War era magicians, I came across a document which led me to the location of Samri Baldwin's grave.

He was born Samuel Spencer Baldwin on January 23, 1848 in Cincinnati Ohio. His interest in magic began when he witnessed a performance of the Davenport Brothers. He worked on duplicating their feats but the Civil War got in his way. He became the drummer for the 83rd Ohio Infantry Regiment. His regiment fought at the Siege at Vicksburg.

After the war, Samuel Baldwin changed his name to Samri and began his performing career. He chose to borrow ideas from the fake spiritualist mediums of the time and apply them to the stage, thus creating the first Question & Answer Mentalism Act. Many of his techniques are still used today.

He continued working into his 70s. In 1921 he had a short lived spot in the Thurston Show. He had actually brought with him his trunk filled with all the treasures he had collected during his years of performing.  Gifts given to him by General U.S. Grant, King George Bismarck, Emperor Franz Josef and a host of others. These rare treasures were to be a gift to Howard Thurston, but Baldwin and Thurston did not get along and Samri kept these treasures for his own. I assume they came into the possession of his daughter Blanche Baldwin. There whereabouts today are unknown.

He died on March 10, 1924 in San Francisco, CA. He is buried at The Presidio Cemetery also known as San Francisco National Cemetery in San Francisco, Plot A, Section 655.

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