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  • Mark Iverson: Idahistory

Failure to Raise the Dead: Marie Ogden and the Strange Afterlife of Boise's Edith Peshak

Under the well managed lawns of Boise's historic Morris Hill Cemetery rests Edith Peshak, a citizen of Boise with a particularly interesting afterlife.

Riddled with cancer and desperate for a cure, Edith and husband Elmer moved to a commune in Utah named the Home of Truth in 1933. The community followed the post apocalyptic Christian teachings of its founder, a wealthy New Jersey spiritualist named Marie Ogden. This would be spiritual leader recruited twenty-one followers from Boise that same year, eventually moving with her new acolytes in September - Edith Peshak included.

Marie received divine revelations through the medium of her typewriter which she believed allowed her to communicate with God. One message told her to establish a community in the deserts of the Dry Valley in Southeastern Utah - a specially chosen sanctum for those selected to survive the end of days.

Within this sanctuary, Marie and her followers constructed a village made of three concentric circles - the outer, the middle, and the inner portals. Ogden claimed the inner portal as her home and declared it the exact center of the earth's axis. These circles would be the last remnants of humanity after Armageddon.

The deathly ill Edith Peshak believed in Marie's self proclaimed abilities, including her capacity to heal the sick and resurrect the dead. However, Edith died of Cancer in February, 1935. Marie claimed Edith rested between worlds and had not died at all. For four months Edith's body was ritually bathed in salt solution, force fed eggs and milk, and blessed with the hands of her brethren - all part of the resurrection process asserted Ogden.

Ultimately, while preservation succeeded, resurrection did not. Edith was well on her way to mummification when a county sheriff paid the colony a visit in June, 1935. The sheriff allowed the colony to keep the body, but two years later when Marie again made it publicly known she intended to resuscitate Edith, the authorities stepped in.

Marie refused to tell the authorities what had become of the body, stating Edith still lived. A past follower of Ogden's finally shared that Edith had been cremated. Doubting Ogden's revelations and abilities, her followers largely abandoned her by 1937. All but seven stayed. Marie Ogden lived at the Home of Truth for nearly forty more years before dying in 1975.

Brought home for Burial, Edith Peshak now lies in Section N of Morris Hill Cemetery next to Elmer.

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