Real-Life Legend

Reverend Jozef Murgaš and President Theodore Roosevelt  


The following information was taken from the book…

 “Rev. Joseph Murgaš: Priest – Scientist. His Musical Wireless Telegraphy and The First Radio”

 A biography by Stephen J. Palickar, New York, 1950

What began as a study in chemistry during Murgaš’ seminary days in Slovakia developed into proportions of widespread interest of the entire scientific world and aroused the curiosity of a famous President of the United States of America. During an annual rally made up of members of “Father Matthew Society,” an organization in Scranton PA devoted, at that time, to strict sobriety prior to the very thought of prohibition in this country, President Theodore Roosevelt honored the gathering as its principle speaker. The celebration, usually held on October 10, for some reason was pre-dated for August 10, 1905. When more than 6,000 total abstainers passed in review, the first request by “Teddy” Roosevelt was that he be taken to the home of Father Murgaš in order that he might see there what it was the priest was doing regarding a new system of wireless telegraphy. The parade and rally was under the supervision of Father John J. Curren an early crusader against excessive intoxicants. And as a close friend of Father Murgaš, Rev. Curren accompanied President Roosevelt to Murgaš’ laboratory in Wilkes-Barre where a special demonstration of the new wireless telegraph system was given for the benefit of the honored guest. It was the first time President Roosevelt witnessed such a phenomenon. Father Murgaš was highly complimented and encouraged with a promise of government support.

In the early part of the following November, Marconi himself paid a visit to Father Murgaš. He was keenly interested in the operations of the “Tone System” and other features of Murgaš’ wireless method. Several people whom this writer interviewed attested to the fact that Marconi visited Father Murgaš’ laboratory a second time the purpose of this visit will be discussed in another part of this book.

Father Murgaš considered himself very fortunate and felt highly honored with Marconi’s visits. Being an honest and simple man, Murgaš no doubt explained with childish pride the details of his Tone System and other advanced discoveries in wireless, and it is here that he may have erred to his own detriment. It was later rumored, though without definite proof, that Marconi eventually introduced some of the principles of Murgaš’ method into his own new system and then called it the “Sonorous Method.” Professor Fessenden, another experimenter in wireless at that time, was likewise found later to be using a similar Tone adoption and other features found in Murgaš’ method, but Fessenden was never known to have visit Murgaš’ laboratory. Of course, Murgaš’ patents were filed with the United States Patent Office where anyone could have gained knowledge concerning them.

Occasionally rumors were current that Father Murgaš was “giving his secrets away,” and that science was borrowing his knowledge without benefit to the priest, but Murgaš would smile away all mention of “martyrdom” to the commercial urge. However, we are now treading on a matter that will be fully dealt with as a special subject in a later chapter.