which played an important role in the history of the
was headed by Gustav Gebhard, eldest son of
Franz-Joseph Gebhard, Pres. of the Board of Trade,
at Elberfeld, Germany.
He was born in that city, Aug. 18, 1828, and
died in Berlin, May 6, 1900.
He owned a silk manufacturing factory in his
native city, was co-rounder of the German Bank and
of the Bergisch-Märkische
Bank, and Persian Consul.
He acquired much of his business experience
travelling abroad, lived in Paris and London, and
made trips to the U.S.A., Constantinople and Asia
as a linguist, he spoke French and English without
far-sighted business-man, he was also known for his
warm hospitality, broad-mindedness, and readiness to
help others, even when their views differed from his
On his first journey to America, he met in
New York the widow and only daughter of the British
Major Thomas L’Estrange (of the 36th
Reg.), who belonged to the Protestant branch of this
old family, descending from Rollo, First Duke of
had married a Catholic Irish lady, Sarah Egan, which
brought about strained relations with his family.
His daughter, Mary, never met any relatives
on her father’s side.
At the conclusion of the Spanish campaign
against Napoleon, he had gone to Paris, where his
daughter was educated at the Sacré Coeur, and
presented at the Court.
Having lost his property, he left for Canada,
where he bought some land near Montreal. After his death in 1850, his widow sold the land and went to
the U.S.A. with her daughter Mary.
It is in New York that Gustav Gebhard married
Mary L’Estrange, Sept. 4, 1852, the ceremony being
performed acc. To both the Catholic and the
Together with Mrs. L’Estrange, the
newly-married couple settled in Elberfeld, Germany,
where their seven children were eventually born.
Mary Gebhard was not too happy living in a
small town. Owing
to the many business trips of her husband, she was
left very much to herself.
Her father-in-law, Franz-Joseph G., was the
only member of the family who had a sympathetic
understanding of her outlook.
She had an inborn inclination towards
philosophical and occult subjects, and studied
Hebrew with a clergyman, to become fitted for
independent research in the Kabalah.
She made the acquaintance of the Abbé
Alphonse Louis Constant, who, under his pseudonym of
Éliphas Lévi, wrote well-known occult works, and
remained his pupil until his death in 1875.
She visited him several times in Paris, and
he visited the Gebhards twice in Elberfeld.
After the death of Éliphas Lévi, Mary G.
sought other occult connections.
She heard of the T.S., and after an exchange
of letters with Col. Olcott, became a member therof.
In 1884, H.P.B., Col. Olcott, Mohini M.
Chatterjee and Bawajee came to Europe.
Col. Olcott established connections in
Bavaria, and broached the idea of the formation of a
Branch Society in Germany.
Accordingly, the Germania Theosophical
Society was organized at the home of the Gebhard
Family at Elberfeld, Platzhoffstrasse 12 (Vide
photograph of the building, facing page 267 of the
present volume), on July 27, 1884, with Dr. William
Hübbe-Schleiden as President, Mary Gebhard as
Vice-President, and Franz Gebhard as Corresponding
the members of the Gebhard Family, except their
daughter, joined the Theos. Society.
H.P.B. and her party arrived in Elberfeld on
Aug. 17, 1884, for a stay of about two months at the
Gebhards’ home which became the center of
Visitors came and went, some of them from
abroad, and all the available rooms were frequently
occupied by guests.
(Consult pp. xxxiv-xxxvii of the
Chronological Survey, for data concerning the period
when Col. Olcott and H.P.B. stayed with the Gebhards
in 1884). At
a later date, namely in May and June, 1886, H.P.B.
stayed with the Gebhards again.
This was an interim between her stay in Würzburg,
and her residence at Ostende, where she journeyed
after leaving the Gebhards’ home.
During this short stay at Elberfeld, H.P.B.
slipped on the polished floor and badly hurt her
ankle; this must have delayed her departure for
Ostende, which was her ultimate destination at the
While Consul Gustav Gebhard was of course the
official host during these visits, the most dynamic
personality of the household was Mary Gebhard, who
combined refinement and culture with rare capacities
for occult studies.
She remained a faithful worker for many
years; on more than one occasion, she received
letters from the Adept-Brothers, and most probably
performed at the time some important work on their
vital strength was sapped as a result of the suicide
of both of her twin-sons.
After several strokes, she passed away, Dec
15, 1892. Her
remains were cremated.
(Vide facsimile of her portrait,
facing page 000 of the present volume.)
The Gebhard Family had six sons and one
Franz Gustav: b. July 1, 1853; d. April 29, 1940. Married Aline Jordan, by whom he had three daughters (no
issue), and a son, Kurt Alfred Thomas (b. June 27,
1881), who died as lieutenant in France, 1914.
His son, Dr. Torsten Friedrich Franz (b.
March 12, 1909), is at present an art-historian in Münich,
and is unmarried.
July 15, 1854; d. July 6, 1855.
Arthur Henry Paisley:
b. Dec. 29, 1885 (sic, 1855);
d. at Newton-Abbot, England, Oct. 11, 1944.
After an earlier marriage, he married a
widow, Marie-Josephe von Hoesch, née von
Carlowitz (b. Jan. 7, 1888; now residing in
Germany), by whom he had two sons:
Rollo, b. July 7, 1921, married to Hildegard
Freyer (no issue); and Vidar Arthur Eward, b. Oct.
2, 1928, when his father was already 73 years of
age. In 1913, Arthur Gebhard added officially to his own name that
of his mother’s family, and became known as
He took out American citizenship in Boston,
some 25 years, he represented his father’s factory
in New York, and was during part of that time on
close friendly terms with Mohini M. Chatterjee and
William Quan (sic) Judge, with whom he
was in partnership for a while, publishing The
He took active part in the Theosophical
Movement, lecturing on Oriental philosophy.
He frequently came to Europe to visit his
relatives as well as H.P.B., and was one of the
first patrons of Wagner’s musical dramas, at
Bayreuth, Bavaria, recognizing their occult
At one time, he fell under the influence of Mohini
M. Chatterjee, who was then in a very critical mood,
and drew up in collaboration with him what H.P.B.
called a “Manifesto,” entitled, “A Few Words
on The Theosophical Organization,” which contained
a rather severe criticism of Col. Olcott for alleged
wrote a powerful reply, embodying an outspoken
defense of him, and a statement on the basic
platform of the T.S. and its policies.
For lack of any definite title, it ahs been
called at some later date, “The Original Programme
of The Theosophical Society,” which it
Neither the challenging “Manifesto” nor
H.P.B.’s Reply were published at the time.
They were later issued in booklet form, with
an Introduction by C. Jinarâjadâsa (Adyar: Vol.
VII of the present Series, together with all
pertinent historical data which form their
far as is known, this little “tempest in a
tea-pot” eventually blew itself out, and nothing
more was heard of it.
Much later in life, namely, in 1940, Arthur Gebhard
published a little book entitle The Tradition of
Silence, in which he paid tribute to H.P.B. and
Rudolf Ernst: b. Dec. 31, 1857; d. In 1935.
a friend of Subba Row, stayed for a while in India,
where he went with Col. Olcott, in October, 1884.
His son, Wolfgang, is still living in the
Sept. 13, 1859; d. in June, 1944.
Married to Paul von Ysselstein, but had no
and 7. Hermann
and Walther, identical twins, born Oct. 16, 1866.
Both shot themselves:
Hermann on March 16, 1881, and Walther on
April 10, 1886.
See in connection with these tragic events,
and their occult background and implications, The
Letters of H.P. Blavatsky to A.P. Sinnett, pp.
145, 299, 300-301.
(Complied from information supplied by Madame
Marie-Josephe Gebhard-L’Estrange, widow of Arthur