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Sunday, May 21, 2017

The "Great Eastern Wizard" Story

Original entrance into Lititz Springs Park.
It was an ordinary day.  Recently read about a colorful guy by the name of Millard "Milford" Linville Dellinger who lived in the little town of Lititz, Pennsylvania and who loved to entertain.  Dellinger was born in nearby York, PA in 1853 and eventually found his way to Lititz at the age of 45.  About twenty years prior to his moving to Lititz, a hotel bearing the name of Park House had been constructed at 20 North Spruce Street, at the edge of the Lititz Springs Park.  The hotel had been built as a place where visitors to the park could board overnight as well as enjoy a good meal.  
An artist's sketch of the Park House Hotel in Lititz, PA.
A saloon eventually was added to the hotel.  Lititz Spring Park was established in 1778 and was under the control of the Aufseher Collegium, or the Moravian Church.  The park was developed at the time so musicians of the congregation could indulge, late into the night, in merry making at the "Big Spring".  Seems there was a Spring Head that was located at the far west end of the park which had a water flow created by three springs that flowed from underground caves.  
The "Head" of the Lititz Springs Park.
The water flowed gracefully eastward and was known as the Lititz Run Stream.  This stream ran through the park as it does today.  In 1856 sandstone from the nearby Furnace Hills was transported by horse and cart to the park to keep the stream flowing in a controlled manner through the park. Over the stream was constructed an Arched Bridge from the same sandstone.  Well, when Dellinger came to Lititz he bought the Park House Hotel.  Visitors to the park could rent a room at the Park House for the night, paying between $.50 to $1.00, and enjoy their day at the park and not have to worry about finding their way home after a night of merry making.  
The original Arched Bridge over the
stream that ran between sandstone
Seems that Dellinger supplemented his income by selling Victrola talking machines and 78rpm records from the music room of the hotel.  Mr. Dellinger was not only a hotelier, but had a hobby of magic, hypnotism, and fortune telling.  A few years before he moved to Lititz, he performed his first magic show at Red Front Park in nearby Manheim, PA. where he amazed his audience with his tricks and sleight of hand.  Known as "Professor M.L. Dellinger, the Great Eastern Wizard", he gained a large following in the area with his performances.  He eventually ran a mail order business where customers could write to him at his "Magic Temple" in Lititz.  A 1905  advertisement read thus:
 The Magic Temple — Having spent many years in research and study of the occult sciences, and the reading of character as indicated by the physical characteristics of the head, face, hand and handwriting, I am prepared to give lessons in sleight-of-hand, hypnotism and the study of character as revealed by the head, face, hand and handwriting.  
The Arched Bridge after being rebuilt.  It looks very close
to this shape and condition today.
An energetic young man who has inclinations for occult science and its mysteries can secure employ- ment as an assistant, or may buy my entire parapher- nalia at a reasonable price, as old age demands my retirement. Call on or address:  M.L. Dellinger, Dealer in all kinds of Magic and Conjuring, Apparatus, Toys and Novelties,  Lititz, Penna.  Millard eventually gave up the hotel business and performing in the 1920's and moved to 226 S. Broad Street in Lititz and became a laborer at the Express Printing Company.  
The Park House Hotel can be seen in the distance, standing
a few hundred feet from the water's edge.
As far as the Park House Hotel, it no longer was a boarding house by the late 1930s, but did become an auction house until it was demolished in 1957.  Today, a smaller version of the hotel can be seen across from the entrance to the park on North Broad Street.  Mr. Dellinger's wife Rebecca gained notoriety by being the first woman in Lititz to cast a vote in the 1920 presidential election between Warrne G. Harding and James A. Cox.  Seven years later she died and Dellinger eventually took to performing once again.  In 1931 the local newspaper reported:
 Up To His Old Tricks — That M. Linville Dellinger, who many years ago astonished the folks in these and other parts with his feats of magic, has not lost any of his deftness as was demonstrated Sunday a week ago when he entertained a large group of relatives and friends at Pleasureville in York County with his tricks.
Looking at the hotel from the west.  It can be seen on the right.
Mr. Dellinger left here Thursday to visit in that section, and on Sunday he was the recipient of a birthday dinner given by his niece, Mrs. Geo. Hess at Pleasureville in honor of his 78th anniversary. Following the dinner, the party repaired to the town park where an impromptu program was staged with Mr. Dellinger entertaining the guests for more than an hour.  
It is unclear how much longer he performed, but he did live to the age of 97.  You may try to Google Dellinger's "Magic Temple", but you will more than likely be disappointed.  The story of the "Great Eastern Wizard" is now folk history and the story of this Mr. Dellinger and his magic act is being passed down from generation to generation.  He is one of the legends of Lititz, Pennsylvania.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.      

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