Gebhard Family

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Gebhard home in Elberfeld

The German Family played an important role in the history of the Theosophical Society. According to Readers Guide to The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett:

Gebhard Family, a German family living in Elberfeld, quite prominent in the early history of the TS in Europe. The family consisted of Gustav Gebhard, Mme. M. Gebhard, and sons Franz and Arthur. For full description see biographical sketch by Boris de Zirkoff in HPB VI: 434 and D, p. 592. ML index; SH index. [1]

The father, Gustav, was a consul and owned a manufacturing enterprise with a presence in the United States that was managed by his son Arthur.

According to the Collected Writings vol. VI:

The Gebhard Family had six sons and one daughter:

1. 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.

2. Fritz: b. July 15, 1854; d. July 6, 1855.

3. Arthur Henry Paisley: b. Dec. 29, 1885 [sic; should be 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). He emigrated to the United States in 1878; wrote and lectured about Theosophy.

4. Rudolf Ernst: b. Dec. 31, 1857; d. In 1935. As a friend of T. 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 U.S.A.

5. Mary: b. Sept. 13, 1859; d. in June, 1944. Married to Paul von Ysselstein, but had no issue.

6 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.[2]


  1. George E. Linton and Virginia Hanson, eds., Readers Guide to The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett (Adyar, Chennai, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1972), 231-232.
  2. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. VI (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 19898), 435-436.