Ingersoll Lockwood is a late 1800s-era author who wrote a series of eerily prescient books that appear, in some people’s minds anyway, to have foretold the rise of Donald Trump.
It is pretty odd; three of Lockwood’s books, written before 1900, feature a character named Baron Trump, and the third is about the “last president.”
One of Lockwood’s books features an aristocratic boy protagonist by the name of Baron Trump who some feel bears a resemblance to presidential son, Barron Trump. Even weirder, Lockwood’s Baron Trump journeys to Russia and is guided by a character named Don. The tome is called Baron Trump’s Marvelous Underground Journey, and you can find it for sale on Amazon. Another Lockwood book, Travels and Adventures of Little Baron Trump and His Wonderful Dog Bulger, is out of stock on Amazon. It was published in 1890.
Lockwood also wrote a book called, 1990: Or, The Last President, which features a controversial political candidate in, you guessed it, New York. Two of the books can be read in full on Archive.org.
All of this has sparked bizarre conspiracy theories on the Internet alleging that the Trump family has the secrets of time travel, with theorists using Trump’s uncle, John, and his real-life connection to Nikola Tesla to add heft to the loony charge and casting Lockwood as a newly found literary Nostradamus. However, Snopes notes that the names Baron and Don are the characters’ titles in Lockwood’s books, not their given first names.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. One of the Books Sees the Protagonist, Baron Trump, Journeying to ‘Arctic Russia’
The Amazon blurb for Baron Trump’s Marvelous Underground Journey is pretty jarring by modern standards. “An opening in Arctic Russia conveys Trump into the interior world. He passes through the strange countries of the Transparent Folk and the Rattlebrains among others. Written tongue in cheek, adults will find it amusing, as well as children,” it reads. The book was written in 1893.
The opening of the book calls its protagonist “Wilhelm Heinrich Sebastian Von Troomp, commonly called Little Baron Trump.”
The book reads:
The ‘Little Baron,’ so called from his diminutive stature, was born some time in the latter part of the seventeenth century. He was the last of his race in the direct line, although cousins of his are today well-known Pomeranian gentry. He began his travels at an incredibly early age, and filled his castle with such strange objects picked up here and there in the far away corners of the world, that the simple-minded peasantry came to look upon him as half bigwig and half magician.
The word Don appears in the book at least 59 times through the character Don Fum, who guides Baron. The protagonist says he “had been reading of the world within a world in a musty old ms. Written by the learned Don Fum.” Newsweek notes, “Trump’s adventures begin in Russia, and are guided thanks to directions provided by ‘the master of all masters,’ a man named ‘Don'” and adds, “Before leaving for his voyage through the unknown, Trump is told of his family’s motto: ‘The pathway to glory is strewn with pitfalls and dangers.'”
2. Lockwood Also Wrote a Book About a ‘Last President’
After writing about little Baron Trump, Lockwood ventured into a story about a last president that some also are taking as a prophecy.
The blurb on Amazon for 1900: Or, The Last President reads, “A work of political satire, it chastises the rise of socialism and populism, inferring their fictional rise here as disastrous and leading to chaos. It is of note here that this work, along with others by Lockwood, appear to prognosticate the current political climate of the United States and West at large- and for an apparent religious Catholic of his era, it is not altogether impossible that Lockwood- wittingly or unwittingly- tapped into some mystic forces.”
The book starts,
1900.That was a terrible night for the great City of New York – the night of Tuesday, November 3rd, 1896. The city staggered under the blow like a huge ocean liner which plunges, full speed with terrific crash into a mighty iceberg, and recoils shattered and trembling like an aspen.
The people were gathered, light-hearted and confident at the evening meal, when the news burst upon them. It was like a thunder bolt out of an azure sky: “Altgeld holds Illinois hard and fast in the Democratic line. This elects Bryan President of the United States!”
Newsweek notes that the book also says, “The Fifth Avenue Hotel will be the first to feel the fury of the mob,” which is the current location of Trump Tower. “The president’s hometown of New York City is fearing the collapse of the republic in this book, also titled 1900, immediately following the transition of presidential power. Some Americans begin forming a resistance, protesting what was seen as a corrupt and unethical election process,” Newsweek reports of the book.
3. The Odd Coincidences Have Sparked Goofy Conspiracy Theories About Time Travel That Center on Trump’s Uncle, John & Nikola Tesla
Conspiracy theorists on Reddit and 4Chan have spun a bizarre theory: That the Trumps somehow had a time travel machine, and they got it from Trump’s uncle, John, who got it from Nikola Tesla. Trump really did have an uncle named John, and John Trump really did have a connection to Nikola Tesla, but that’s where that one ends.
Snopes picks apart the conspiracy theories, noting, “Although these books contain some seemingly bizarre coincidences, they are not evidence that Donald Trump has access to a time machine. Time travel conspiracy theories such as this one pick and choose material that supports their conclusions while ignoring everything else. For instance, these books also contain giant turtles, alternate dimensions, a battle with a big white crane, a dog named Bulgar, and a little smiling man frozen in time.”
John Trump was a professor and the younger brother of Trump’s father, Fred, according to The New Yorker, which quotes Donald Trump as saying of his uncle, “My uncle used to tell me about nuclear before nuclear was nuclear,” referring, the magazine theorizes, to the hydrogen bomb.
The New Yorker describes John Trump as a “brilliant scientist” who “was at M.I.T. for decades” and who helped develop X-ray machines that helped extend the lives of cancer patients. “Trump was involved in radar research for the Allies in the Second World War, and in 1943 the F.B.I. had enough faith in his technical ability and his discretion to call him in when Nikola Tesla died in his room at the New Yorker Hotel, in Manhattan, raising the question of whether enemy agents might have had a chance to learn some of his secrets before the body was found,” wrote the New Yorker, in a passage driving a lot of the conspiracy theories.
There was fear, the New Yorker reports, that Tesla was developing a “death ray.” In a report, the magazine notes, Professor Trump doused speculation that Tesla was working on something big. Tesla is well-known for his interests in time travel, and therein, a conspiracy theory was born. According to Biography.com, Tesla was an engineer and inventor who invented a coil still used in modern radio technology and briefly worked with Thomas Edison.
4. Ingersoll Lockwood Was a Lawyer Born in New York
There may be a much simpler reason that Ingersoll Lockwood focused on New York: He was born there, in Ossining, in 1841. Lockwood died in 1918.
A short biography of him in the Science Fiction encyclopedia says he was involved in domestic drama. “As lawyer for Mrs Margarette Todd, who died under suspicious circumstances in 1905 soon after changing her will in order (it seems) to exclude him, Lockwood was in conflict with a second lawyer, George Gordon Hastings (almost certainly the author George Gordon Hastings), who represented (and later married) Todd’s daughter, herself married to Frank Tousey, and who had become the beneficiary of her mother’s substantial estate as well as the Tousey publishing enterprise.”
You can see a photo of Lockwood in this article.
5. Lockwood Wrote About Surreal Fantasy Worlds Similar to The Wizard of Oz
The bio also says that Lockwood mixed science fiction and fantasy in his books, creating “domains of various surreally described races” in a “manner that anticipates” The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.
Other Ingersoll books included Transparent Folk and the Rattlebrains, The Extraordinary Experiences of Little Captain Dopplekop on the Shores of Bubblehead (1892), and Wonderful Deeds and Doings of Little Giant Boab and His Talking Raven Tabib (1891), the bio says.
There is an effort online to raise money to film the books.