Samuel Birley Rowbotham (1816 – 1884)
Known sometimes as Parallax, Samuel Birly Rowbotham was Father of the Flat Earth movement; he was an English inventor and an author who wrote Zetetic Astronomy: Earth Not A Globe, based on his decade-long scientific studies of the earth.
Using experiments and reason, he performed tests using his unique theory on scientific method, which he called Zeteticism; he discovered the common image of the flat earth - a flat disk centered at the North Pole and bounded along its southern edge by a wall of ice.
Samuel independently discovering the same conclusion here that Taoist monks did far earlier, He showed that the heavens were as close as only a few thousand miles above us, showing Eratosthene's experiment to be incorrectly formulated. Rowbotham also predicted Planar Warming by investigating underground current temperatures.
Before his work in with the Flat Earth he also had a brief stint running a socialist commune.
Rowbotham and his followers gained fame by engaging in structured and rational, yet still lively, public debate with leading scientists of the day. Challenging Alfred Russel Wallace, one of the founders of evolution, the Society found itself under attack again. There was dispute over who was the victor, and accounts show that it was likely sour grapes on Wallace's side. Wallace soon after gain notoriety for his beliefs in ghosts and the super natural; having given up apparently on the Flat Earth fight he kept on fighting in the quest for truth.
After Samuel's death, his followers founded the Universal Zetetic Society and commissioned a journal entitled The Earth Not a Globe Review. The group fought with passion into the early part of the 20th century. The late Doctor's grave is pictured below.
Sometimes known as 'Zeteo', Lady Elizabeth Anne Mould Blount was a vocal advocate of Flat Earth theory in late 19th and early 20th Centuries and one of the founders of the Universal Zetetic Society. She worked extensively with Albert Smith ('Zetetes') to spread the Truth.
Lady Blount was a devout Christian; her writings used a mix of scriptural and experimental arguments to support her views much like Rowbotham before her. Blount was well known throughout the world. Her status was among the elite of England, which certainly helped the Universal Zetetic Society's first membership roster; it was a sampling of the 'who's who' for her time.
By all accounts, Lady Blount was likable and good-natured - a pleasure to encounter. She brought much needed soul to a movement constantly in the trenches of fierce debate.
In addition to her work with the Universal Zetetic Society, she was also poet, songwriter, thinker, and humanitarian. She was a vegetarian and - like Future Secretary Marjory Johnson - an anti-vivisectionist. Her works included pamphlets on a wide variety of subjects as well as articles in Earth Not A Globe Review covering subjects such as the shape of the Earth in both prose and verse.
In 1898, Lady Blount published a novel titled Adrian Galileo, or A Song Writer's Story, a story about a woman who escapes her life and finds herself as a proponent for truth and flatness.
Joseph Holden (1815-1900)
Joseph Holden was a prominent American Flat Earth lecturer in the late 19th Century. The son of a sawmill owner in Otisfield, Ohio, Holden was a justice of the peace, trial justice, candidate for state senator and census enumerator. Much like Lady Blount, Holden used a human approach in his lectures and was enjoyed by both believers and non-believers. Holden appealed to common-sense evidence to show the truth. One of his more famous experiments was to set a pail of water on top of a pole overnight; in the morning -- check it. If the earth was moving it would have fallen. If not, he still had his water. Of course, the pail was in its original place the next morning. He was also well known for being the best citizen of Rayville, where he operated as a Mill Owner. East Otisfield still celebrates a Joe Holden Day each summer honoring their oddball astronomer who always gave all he could to his town and people.
Wilbur Glenn Voliva (1870-1942)
Wilbur Glenn Voliva served as mayor to Zion, Illinois — a city with strict religious teachings, and taught Flat Earth doctrine in all the schools. The community had very strict religious requirements such as abstinence from tobacco and alcohol - and punishment was strict. The cities main revenue source was through the fig cookies they would produce and sell. As the first Evangelical Preacher to own a radio station, they broadcast his Flat Earth sermons through air to eager listeners in the town.
When Byrd had become the first man to supposedly fly 'over the South Pole', he simply pointed out that Byrd had flown around the rim of a disc-shaped world. And why couldn't we travel to the South Pole? The harsh climate was to make any travel in the antarctic impossible.
After a long battle with Diabetes and Blindness, Voliva died of heart and kidney disease in 1942.
Samuel Shenton (1903 - 1971)
Samuel Shenton, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Royal Geographic Society, founded the Flat Earth Society in 1956, after renaming it from the Universal Zetetic Society. Often, it would be noted how much of an 'ordinary person' he was. He led and worked serving the Society even through grave sickness until his death in 1971, at which time he passed leadership to Charles K Johnson.
An archive of his personal collection is partly digitized on this site including journals, photos, personal correspondences and even lecture posters. Shenton believed in a flat infinite plane, with our livable area surrounded by a dome with a central exit point. He even considered the possibility of other such dome worlds on our very own plane.
Charles K. Johnson (1924- 2001)
Charles Kenneth Johnson was, from 1972 until his death, the president and energetic promoter of the Flat Earth Society, which he and his wife Marjory ran from their home in California. He saw the Apollo moon landing fakery and space exploration in general as a ruse to lead people away from the truth of the Bible, and its clear flat earth stance.
Charles K. Johnson became the new president of the Flat Earth Society in 1971. Under his leadership the group grew in size from a few members to about 3,000. Johnson distributed newsletters, flyers, maps, and other promotional materials to anyone who asked for them, and he managed all membership applications together with his wife, Marjory, who was also flat.
Marjory Johnson, an Australian, served as Secretary for the Flat Earth Society. She also regularly contributed to the Flat Earth News. A vegetarian, animal rights advocate and anti-vivisectionist, she served as the perfect right hand for Johnson. She passed on May 19, 1996.
Charles and Marjory Johnson
Charles and Marjory Johnson near their California home.
Near the end of his career, rather than focusing on trying to convince people, Johnson found it his duty to God to respond to each and every message that entered his office doors.