Belfast Historical Society and Museum

Belfast Historical Society
and Museum


Phineas Parkhurst Quimby

10 Market Street
Belfast, ME 04915
Phone: (207) 338-9229

Biographical Information

Phineas Parkhurst Quimby (1802-1866)Phineas Parkhurst Quimby was born on February 16th, 1802 in Lebanon, New Hampshire. He was the sixth of the seven children of Jonathan Quimby and Susanna (White) Quimby. Jonathan was a skilful blacksmith by trade and relocated his growing family to Belfast, Maine in 1804. The original Quimby home was located on the current site of the Belfast Free Library on High Street. The Quimby blacksmith shop was situated directly across the road from their home and together they perched on Quimby Hill with a splendid view of Belfast Bay. After many changes and alterations the original Jonathan Quimby house was razed ca 1970.

Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, known as "Park" to his friends and neighbors possessed an extraordinary, inquisitive, perceptive and inventive mind. Although the availability of a local public education was meager at best during his formative years, he continued to educate himself by focused observation and reading many books. He had a natural aptitude towards anything mechanical and followed his oldest brother William into the world of clock-

making. William Quimby apprenticed with the first clockmaker in Belfast, Abel Eastman, and took over Eastman's business about 1820. Park apprenticed with his brother William and made beautiful clocks. An original P. P. Quimby clock is a rare and highly desirable treasure.

First Church of Belfast, MaineIn 1836, Quimby teamed up with another clockmaker Timothy Chase, and together they designed, built, and installed the tower clock in the First Church of Belfast on October 3rd of that year. The iron work for the clock mechanism was made in a machine shop at the Head of The Tide in Belfast. This clock is the fourth oldest tower clock in the State of Maine and the oldest tower clock built by Maine clockmakers. As of this writing in 2004, 168 years later, the Quimby & Chase tower clock is still marking the passage of time atop the First Church.

P. P. Quimby Family Home in Belfast, MaineDuring his lifetime, Quimby obtained four letters of patent on his inventions. President Andrew Jackson personally signed two of those patents.

Professionally, he was a clockmaker, a jeweler, a daguerreo-typist, merchant, philosopher, mesmerist, and finally, a Healing Physician.


In 1836, Charles Poyen St. Sauveur, a French disciple of Franz or Friedrich Anton Mesmer gave a public demonstration of mesmerism (an early form of hypnotism) in Belfast which captured Quimby's attention. While experimenting with two of his friends, Quimby discovered he too, could mesmerize. Of this first experiment he writes:

"So we sat the subject in the chair, the gentleman stood in front of him and I behind him, and the gentleman tried to draw him out of the chair; but he could not start him. Then we reversed positions, and I drew the subject out of the chair. This showed that I had the greater power or will. This ended the first experiment."

Two brothers, Henry and Lucius Burkmar were particularly receptive to Quimby's mesmeric influence. His greatest success was with Lucius and together they traveled throughout Maine and New Brunswick giving their own public demonstrations in the early to middle 1840's.


These early experiments with Lucius Burkmar provided Quimby with an open window to the mind. While in the mesmeric sleep, Lucius could clairvoyantly travel through time and space, see objects at a distance, read other minds, and diagnose and prescribe simple herbal remedies for treating diseases. It was through working with Lucius that Quimby learned of the limitations of mesmerism and could see a deeper spiritual science at work. He reached this conclusion:

"The capacity of thought-reading is the common extent of mesmerism. Clairvoyance is very rare and can be easily tested by blindfolding the subject and giving him a book to read. If he can read without seeing, that is conclusive evidence that he has independent sight."

Quimby also discovered he too had this independent sight and no longer needed his subject, Lucius. Unlike young Burkmar, Quimby didn't go into a trance and he didn't prescribe any medicines.


From 1847 until his passing in 1866, Phineas Parkhurst Quimby devoted his life to healing the sick. In the Fall of 1859 he opened an office at the International House Hotel in the city of Portland, Maine. His youngest son George Albert Quimby worked as his office clerk. Additional secretarial services were supplied by two of his new patients, the sisters Emma and Sarah Ware.

Dr. Quimby, as he was now known, treated over 12,000 patients during those years. Most notable were Warren Felt Evans, a practitioner and author of mental healing; Julius and Annetta (Seabury) Dresser, early organizers of New Thought; and Mary M. Patterson (Mary Baker Eddy), of the Christian Science movement.

The Quimby Family Grave Markers in Belfast, MaineSuffering from overwork and exhaustion, Quimby closed the Portland practice in the late Spring of 1865 and retired to his home in Belfast. His health prevented him from writing a book on his science. In the middle of November of that year, he was forced to dismiss the remainder of his Belfast patients. He made his transition on January 16, 1866.

Belfast Historical Society & Museum—The Quimby Family Collection

# 86024 Quimby, Augusta (A. S. Frederick) - Collection of 7 scrapbooks of newspaper clippings of obituaries (mostly Belfast) 1885-1928.
# 86024 Quimby, Augusta—Collection of newspaper clippings covering events leading to WWI, Waldo County soldiers; Belfast soldiers, etc. Also notes of the Militia of Maine (newspaper clippings pasted over most of these notes).
# 86024 Quimby, Augusta—Tablet, handwritten. 1906 talk by Augusta Quimby Frederick, “Venice, Ancient & Modern”.
# 86024 Quimby, Augusta—Tablet, handwritten. 1907-1914 talk by Augusta Quimby Frederick, “California Missions”.
# 86024 Quimby, George Albert—4 scrapbooks of columns written by George A. Quimby for various newspapers; “Our George” columns.
#86024 Quimby, George A.—Scrapbook of newspaper clippings of different authors including; Mark Twain, George A. Quimby.
# 86024 Quimby, George A.—Scrapbook containing a collection of newspaper articles by various authors of interest to George.
# 86024 Quimby, George A.—Scrapbook containing a collection of “Our George” clippings, 1883-1885.
# 200319 Quimby, George A.—1). Letter, 1807, from grandfather Chase to his wife Adelaide. (George’s wife Adelaide Chase Quimby). 2). Booklet “Notes Along the Way” by George Quimby about a trip from Maine to the Thousand Islands in Sept. 1884 by rail and steamboat. 3). Copies of Republican Journal newspaper, 9/8/1836 and June 1905 (High school graduation of Katharine & Elizabeth Quimby, George’s daughters). 4). “Old Houses of Belfast” (100 years old or more, written in 1911, updated by Elizabeth Mosher). 5). “Recollections of the Civil War” read by Augusta Quimby on 12/17/1917 at the Unitarian Alliance Women. 6). Augusta Quimby’s journal of newspaper clippings 1913-1914. 7). Maine Working Man’s Advocate 7/24/1833. 8). Library of Congress letter to Mrs. Katharine Quimby Carter & Elizabeth Pineo acknowledging the gift of Quimby papers. Dec. 21, 1953.
# 200319 Quimby, Augusta—Scrapbook of newspaper clippings; Col. Philo Hersey information 1913-1914.
# 86024 Quimby, Augusta— Scrapbook of newspaper clippings 1917.
# 86024 Quimby, John Haraden— Journal of life of John Haraden Quimby starting with his marriage to Annie M. Noyes June 21, 1854—June 28, 1860.
# 86024 Quimby, John H.— Journal entitled: “A Condensed Account of a Trip Across the Ocean-With All the Notes, Items, Incidents and Accidents Connected With the Same.” Handwritten June 30, 1874-Sept. 1874.
# 86024 Quimby, John H.— Journal, handwritten: “A Trip to California and Back; and What I Saw in 30 Days or More” April, 1891.
# 200319 Book: The Quimby Manuscripts. Edited by Horatio W. Dresser, introduction by Ervin Seale, Julian Press, 1961.
# 200319 Book: The Quimby Manuscripts, Thomas Y. Crowell Co. publishers. Edited by Horatio W. Dresser, 1921.
# 200319 Book: The Philosophy of P. P. Quimby, by Annetta Gertrude Dr# 200319 Book: Mary Baker Eddy, by Ernest Sutherland Bates, PHD and John Dittemore, Alfred A. Knopf NY, 1932.
# 200319 McClure’s Magazine December 1906. Editorial announcement Mary Baker Eddy; The Story of Her Life and the History of Christian Science.
# 200319 Tintype photo album-miniature— 16 “jewel” tintypes of Quimby family—P. P. Quimby included.
# 030035.1 Computer CD—Phineas Parkhurst Quimby Concordance compiled by Ron Hughes 2003.
# 030035.2 Quimby, John H.— Reproduction of Belfast Hydrant Engine Company #2—1849 minutes and fire records kept by John H. Quimby.
# 030035.3 Computer CD—Phineas P. Quimby Historical Newspaper articles.
# 951108 Book: Phineas Parkhurst Quimby—The Complete Writings, 3 volume set , Ervin Seale, editor, DeVorss & Company 1988.
1 pair wooden clock hands from town clock in First Church tower—P. P. Quimby and Timothy Chase clockmakers.