July 18, 2013

The Spirit of Sam Bond

By Maegen Cook, Digital Collections Assistant
 
We see it today—people gathered together, telling stories around a campfire on a warm summer night. Exciting stories. Funny stories. Ghost stories. While working on the Montana Digital Newspaper Project, I came across the following piece in an 1893 issue of The Anaconda Standard.


Saw a Specter Stalk
Anaconda Standard, November 27, 1893, page 4.
Six men gathered in a saloon, trading stories from the old days of mining. The last one to speak, Bill, shared a tale dating back to 1883, when he encountered a "ghost." Some years earlier, a man named Sam Bond had been blown up in Butte's Magna Charta silver mine. Ever since, the dead man's spirit was said to haunt the drifts, but Bill paid no attention to these silly superstitions.
One day, Bill’s boss sent him to work in "the Mag.” Inside, he found himself alone in the area where Bond had died. He worked steadily until the afternoon, when his candle went out. Heading into the drift to relight the candle, he paused. Were those footsteps ahead of him? Hearing nothing more, he moved on. Suddenly he was assaulted by “the most awful cry that it had ever been [his] misfortune to listen to.” After composing himself, Bill gathered his courage and decided to investigate. Cautiously, he stepped further into the tunnel. As he looked up, he saw a sight that made his blood run cold. With his hat "raised fully two inches by [his] hair,” he spotted a pair of green eyes floating in the blackness. Terrified, Bill turned and ran. Approaching the mouth of the tunnel, he was sure he heard footsteps behind him. Then he felt the ghost touch his legs! In his panic, Bill grabbed a rock and threw it hard. The ghostly eyes disappeared, and Bill was able to return to work.

Back in the saloon, Bill's pals gawked and demanded to know what the ghost looked like. Bill gazed at them casually, winked, and said, “Well, it looked like a big...black....cat.”

Hundreds of stories like these can be found on the Library of Congress web site Chronicling America, where over 75,000 pages of historical Montana newspapers are available for searching and viewing.





 

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