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Forgotten Messiahs: Hannah Martin

Throughout American history, many individuals have appointed themselves as religious prophets. In many cases, some of these self-styled messiahs even managed to amass legions of faithful disciples. While these now-forgotten cult leaders only live on as footnotes of history, their stories continue to captivate and entertain to this very day. One such forgotten messiah is Hannah E. Martin, who, at the end of the 19th century, led a bizarre sect of Christian zealots known as the Perfectionists.

In Spring Grove Cemetery, just outside the city of Cincinnati, dozens of cult members kept watch night and day over the mortal remains of their leader, Mrs. Hannah Martin, in May of 1895, waiting for her reanimated corpse to jump out of the grave. Hannah had told them often that she was immune from death, and her devoted followers-- comprising some of the most prominent and educated members of Cincinnati society-- could not be persuaded otherwise.

What was it about this strange woman-- the divorc…

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