James Kidd: A Prospector’s Soul

James Kidd, a copper prospector and visionary spiritualist, worked and lived in the Globe-Miami and Phoenix areas in Arizona. Born in New York in 1879, the lure of a fortune in minerals brought Kidd west in 1920. He worked for the Miami Copper Company as a Pumpman and also at the Old Dominion Mine in Globe. He maintained two prospecting licenses believed to be located in the Superstition Mountains. Kidd was also fascinated with the human soul and left a famously much-contested will, due to the absence of an heir, and valuable estate with instructions to be gifted to “research or some scientific proof of a soul of the human body which leaves at death.”

This exhibit covers the Kidd saga, including his work, disappearance in 1949, assumed death and discovery of his will, property and legacy wishes in an Arizona bank safety deposit box in the early 1960s, and court determinations in 1971, over 20 years after he was last seen alive. The publicity brought over 100 separate claims to the sizable estate, then estimated at $250,000, from individuals and institutions promising varying degrees of ability to prove the ‘soul’ issue. 

The resulting Arizona Superior Court hearings, transcripts and news articles detail the public’s collective interest, dedication and competition in finding a deserving beneficiary, presumably able to scientifically carry out Kidd’s wishes.

See the James Kidd Exhibit in the Bullion Plaza Cultural Center & Museum lobby.