The ‘Great Eastern Wizard’ of the Park House hotel

By on July 25, 2016
The Park House can be seen through the trees in both of these vintage photos.

The Park House can be seen through the trees in both of these vintage photos.

LR20160714_Park House 2

M.L. Dellinger was Lititz’s conjurer extraordinaire

Millard “Milford” Linville Dellinger loved to entertain.

Born in York in October of 1853, he made his way to Lititz around 1898, finding work by operating the Park House, a hotel once located at 26 N. Spruce St. The establishment attracted travelers from near and far who could rent a room for the night after spending the day in the popular grounds of Lititz Springs Park.

Aside from running the hotel and restaurant, greeting guests, and providing great hospitality, as a hobby Dellinger took an interest in magic, hypnotism, and fortune telling.

In 1891, he put on his first magic show at Red Front Park in Manheim, where he amazed all in attendance with his trickery and sleight of hand.

“Professor M.L. Dellinger, the Great Eastern Wizard” was the stage name he went by, and before long he gained a large following around the county. To earn extra money, he also ran a mail order business, where customers could write to him at his “Magic Temple” in Lititz.

An advertisement from 1905 read:

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.

As an evidence of ability send someone’s handwriting with 25 cents and I’ll read you that person’s character.

An energetic young man who has inclinations for occult science and its mysteries can secure employment as an assistant, or may buy my entire paraphernalia 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

 

An artist's rendering of the Park House.

An artist’s rendering of the Park House.

 

By the 1920s, he and his wife Rebecca would leave the hotel business and move to 226 S. Broad St. At this stage, Dellinger was working as a laborer at the Express Printing Company.

Although they lived a fairly quiet life, his wife would play an important role in local women’s history. As fate would have it, she was the very first person in Lititz to cast a women’s vote in a presidential election, which took place during the battle between Warren G. Harding and James A. Cox in 1920.

Sadly, in 1927, Rebecca would pass away, leaving Dellinger a bachelor. But The Great Eastern Wizard would come out of retirement on at least one more occasion to astonish the public with his lavish magic show.

A newspaper report from October 1931 read:

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. 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.

Whether he performed any more shows after this date is uncertain; however, history tells us that his last “feat” may have been his greatest. As it turns out, he would live to the age of 97, pulling his final “vanishing act” in June of 1950 when he died. And while you won’t find Dellinger’s “Magic Temple” on any map of Lititz, his interesting legend will certainly live on.

Cory Van Brookhoven is president of the Lititz Historical Foundation and has authored several books on topics involving Lancaster County history, including Lititz. He welcomes your comments at coryvb@hotmail.com.

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