Kids were told to stay away from Sarobia by their parents, as mysterious, occult-like happenings were common occurrences on the old estate.
Sara Logan, the mistress of the compound, dressed mainly in all-white clothing, mostly saris and Indian-styled garb, cotton, not animal skins, representing purity and enlightenment, maybe.
All sorts of seemingly strange bohemians, a band of non-conformists, lived on the property: avid followers of a theosophical school of thought that based its philosophy around the upcoming arrival of their messiah, the next “World Teacher,” who was slated to set the sacred course of his followers to a more divine understanding of truth, justice, and the metaphysical way of life.
Twenty individuals—beside the owners and their daughter, Deborah—artists, poets, writers, actors, craftspeople, stray dogs and alley cats took up residence on the reclusive compound.
Rumors were abound about black magic, paganism, spiritual pageantry, wild goings-on, the running around naked on the grounds of the manor, scuttlebutt concerning the Logans’ idolatry of felines of which originated as local folklore, depicting the cultish iron cats placed on the tops of the estate’s gate posts.
The couple had ties with Annie Besant, a top-notch British theosophist and president of the International Theosophical Society until her death in the early 1930s. This well-respected leader and women’s rights activist visited the Logans quite often. She was the legal guardian of the so-called, reincarnated, believed-to-be, theosophic messiah: Jiddu Krishnamurti, found at the age of fourteen in Adyar, Chennai, India, by one of her associates, Charles Webster Leadbeater. The youngster accompanied his spiritual nanny to America and maintained yearly visits to Sarobia for many years to come.
Robert and Sara’s mystical community’s quest for truth entailed the study of the universe, all things infinite and small in vast detail: a search for the true meaning of earthly existence, and the zealous scrutiny of self-purpose.
Mysticism, existentialism and Hermetic philosophy were the common threads wrapped around the lives of those who lived on Sarobia, not your typical church-going group of citizens, living in a small town whose inhabitants believed many oddball, perhaps, hedonistic rites were taking place regularly on the premises.
Theosophy, the study of everything esoteric, maintained a strong influence on the Logans and their good-sized commune. Weekend-long theosophical revivals at Sarobia were not uncommon with scores of participants, arriving from out of town, dressed in Indian garments, wearing sandals on their feet, fueling even more neighborhood suspicions and insinuations.
Besant reportedly convinced Sara Logan to “try an experiment in character-building” by releasing the latter’s servants, a rather catty way of putting it, in this writer’s humble opinion; although, the former probably had meant it sincerely in true spirit of the transcendental principles of Theosophy.
As a result, the lady of the mansion discharged her maids, butler, chauffeur and groundskeeper; yet she kept the housekeeper to help cook vegetarian meals, do the dishes and act as Robert’s personal assistant, thus spawning the establishment of the experimental artists’ colony.
The individuals who moved into Sarobia took over the duties of the discharged servants, maintaining the running of the estate. Most of the guests invited to participate in the commune were Theosophists who would also attend the theosophical meetings presented there and become part of the movement.
The following is a report issued by the secretary of Robert R. Logan’s 1897 Harvard class, as an update in 1917. Note Robert’s autobiography in the body of the communication:
- ROBERT RESTALRIG LOGAN
Born at Philadelphia, Pa., Dec. 3, 1874.
Parents : Algernon Sydney, Alary Wynne (Wister) Logan.
School : Tutors at home.
Years in College: 1893-97.
Degrees: A.B.; LL.B Univ. of Penn. (1900).
Married: Sara Welherill, June 6, 1898, Philadelphia, Pa.
Child: Deborah, Feb. 16, 1900.
Address: (business) 602 Morris Bldg., Philadelphia, Pa.; (home) “Sarobia”
182 CLASS OF 1897 — REPORT V
THE most difficult question for me to answer is that of occu-
pation, for, if by occupation is meant something paid for by
filthy lucre, I have none really worth mentioning; and if, on the
other hand, remuneration is not the criterion, I have too many
occupations to catalogue.
Some persons probably think of me as a retired lawyer living
on money squeezed from the widow and the orphan; others as
an unrecognized literary genius — please note the word “others.”
There are those, no doubt, who would define me as a versatile
idler while their neighbors were writing me down a humanitarian,
and not a few, perhaps, would simply pigeon-hole me as a “bundle
of eccentricities” or “a Harvard man.”
I am living by the banks of the Delaware river on a very pleas-
ant estate of some forty acres where I change the tires upon two
automobiles and a Ford, besides laying out a garden, making
sun-dials, working a bit in stone, brass, wood, and concrete and
doing a little reading. Incidentally I drive back and forth on
the twenty-two miles of road between “Sarobia” and Philadel-
phia, manage half a dozen small properties for a former client,
act as president of the American Anti-Vivisection Society, edit
the Journal of Zoophily, and play golf. For the benefit of those
who do not read the catalogues of G. P. Putnam’s Sons I may
add that I published in 1914 a volume of poems entitled “Lichens
from the Temple.” Aside from that I do not believe I have
done any serious harm.
More at next installment…