by Rain Trueax
2010, my husband and i were on a freewheeling trip through Montana,
with no set destinations. He suggested we stop at Bannack. I wasn't that
excited at the possibility, since I knew little of its history as a
mining town. When we got there, I learned it was where Henry Plummer met
his end, and I instantly got more interested.
was supposed to be Bannock, for the Native American tribe. When
registering it, someone misspelled it. After stopping at the visitor
center, paying the admittance and getting a small pamphlet explaining
some of the buildings, we were free to wander through the town. It was
very picturesque, perfect for the camera with structures in better shape
than many other ghost towns I have visited.
several of the buildings, I wondered if there might be ghosts. Mining
towns of that time had many sudden deaths with much potential for a
spirit hanging around. I didn't actually feel any energy from a ghost--
despite being open to it. Maybe a nighttime visit would have a different
result. Do ghosts have a preferred time to come out? Especially in the
hotel, I took photos wondering if something more would show up-- it
of the more likely possibilities as a ghost would be Henry Plummer. His
story is filled with all the controversy as is found with other bigger than life people of that time. Was Plummer a
murderous outlaw or in the end victimized by the vigilantes who
were the real robbers and killers. Online, you can find many opinions as
to who he was and his history. Here's one-- [Henry Plummer].
I decided to write about Bannack, I went looking online for 'ghost
hunters' who had been there. Although I have never seen a ghost myself, I
have been places where I've felt strange energies. I can't say it was
true at Bannack. When I return someday, which I'd love to do, and camp
in the lovely campground with our vacation trailer, I would at least
know who might have been unwilling to leave even after death.
Dunn was in her teens when she drowned in the dredge pond August 4,
1916. Her friend, who had been with her that fateful day, was the first
to claim she appeared to her as a ghost. Today, it appears children are
most likely to see her wearing a blue dress. She has talked to some in
Hotel Meade, which had been her home, as her father was hotel manager at
the time of her death.
the hotel has other apparitions. An older woman haunts the second floor
as well as Dorothy. Crying children are also supposedly heard by some.
Are those ghosts or impressions left by past energies. The hotel was
used for a time
as a hospital-- places very likely to have ghostly manifestations.
Saloons like the one alongside here have sudden death stories of
shootouts and bullets gone astray.
building with ghostly stories is Chrismans' Store. It had offices at
the back used by Henry Plummer. Some, who do this kind of research,
claim to have photographed hauntings with fuzzy figures. This though is
the kind of thing that always makes me wary, since photos can be so
easily faked. Still, are there even today ghostly meetings there where
the men chew the fat-- so to speak?
Bessette House is another claimed location. Abed Bessette, who first
owned it, was one of the vigilantes. He raised sheep and owned several
buildings, including the hotel. He died in Bannack in 1919. Did he not
want to leave?
possibilities for ghosts in his home go beyond him. During typhoid,
diphtheria, and other killer epidemics, his home was used to quarantine
patients and many died there. There is supposedly photo evidence of a
In terms of becoming
a ghost, one of the most exciting potentials has to be Henry Plummer.
After a checkered history (read link above) in 1863, he had arrived in
Bannack where he was appointed sheriff. Was he using that as a way to
also rob and murder with his posse, named The Innocents? Whoever was
doing the violence, 102 people were murdered in mining camps and along
the road between [Bannack and Virginia City].
December 23, 1863, a vigilante committee was organized, formed a posse,
captured him, put him in his own jail before they hung him on a gallows
above the town, along with two of his deputies. That gallows is still
there or so goes the story. He'd done a lot in his 27 years but was he
trying to do right by Bannack? Questions remain as to whether the real
robbers were the vigilantes since the robberies didn't stop with his death.
Plummer wronged, and he hangs around the town out of anger at a tragic
miscarriage of justice, a desire to find vindication, or did he have
nowhere else to go after a misused life? There are those who claim they
have seen him in the Skinner Saloon, Chrismans' store and other
buildings in the town. His grave, higher up the gulch with the gallows,
has been robbed twice. The second time it is claimed his skull was taken
and put in a saloon. That saloon later burned to the ground.
I believe in ghosts? I don't know. I have friends who claim to see
them. I've watched a couple of the cable shows where they search for
them, knew one of the psychics who was on a show when they went to
Tombstone ghost hunting. I haven't been convinced ghosts are a reality--
don't know that they're not either.
I've put ghosts in only one of my books, A Price to be Paid.
It's an Arizona paranormal/metaphysical romance that goes into reincarnation and whether one lifetime is
enough to pay for wrong deeds. The possible man needing to pay for his misspent life was in one of my Arizona historicals, where he met a fitting end.
For me, such thinking comes under the
heading of speculation and mystery. I won't go ghost hunting... well,
unless I head back to Bannack to camp in that lovely campground.