Beyond Spirit Tailings: Montana's Mysteries, Ghosts, and Haunted Places
Book Will Keep Readers Up At Night
The master of Montana's mysteries, ghosts and haunted places is back with another book about things that go bump in the Big Sky night.
In her first book, titled Spirit Tailings,author Ellen Baumler introduced Montanans to their haunted past with stories of the mining communities of Virginia City, Butte, and Helena.
In her second book for the Montana Historical Society Press, Beyond Spirit Tailings, Baumler takes the reader across the state with stories of the unexplained.
Baumler came across these ghostly and mysterious tales in her work as interpretive historian for the Montana Historical Society. As she traveled the state researching historic houses and other properties over the years, Baumler heard stories that weren't necessarily the kind of thing one puts on historic signs.
She began keeping files and later looked into the facts behind the tales. "Whether you believe in them completely or not, these stories are a part of Montana history," Baumler said. "The stories and legends that spring up around unusual events become part of the fabric of our communities."
In the "Bishop of All Outdoors," Baumler presents the gruesome story of Havre clergyman L.J. Christler that includes details and an illustration of the original banner headline from the 1922 incident: "HAVRE WOMAN KILLS MINISTER AND TURNS GUN UPON HERSELF."
After recounting the fascinating details and, later, rumors and ghostly sightings in the wake of the murder, Baumler takes it forward, noting "the Christler's handsome home at Hill Top Farm was never finished, never sold, never lived in except by wild creatures."
The house eventually burned under mysterious circumstances leaving only the chimney. "Such ruins draw the curious, and this one has a magnetism like that of its long ago builder. It is a ruin, as the Bishop of All Outdoors himself might have said, with 'the charm of invincibility stamped upon the tragedy.'"
As with all of the 23 stories in the new book, Baumler follows this tale with a list of sources providing more information for the curious to pursue in tracking down the story of the bishop.
"These kind of stories draw many people into community and state history, sometimes for the first time," Baumler said. "It is my hope that these historical ghost books will get more people interested in local history."
Baumler is also the nationally award-winning author and editor of Girl from the Gulches: The Story of Mary Ronan., also published by the Montana Historical Society Press.
Baumler's first Spirit Tailings book has become one of the Montana Historical Society's best sellers and is now in its third printing.
Beyond Spirit Tailings is a 200-page book that includes 20 illustrations sells for $13.95 and is available at local bookstores across the state, or can be ordered directly, plus shipping and handling, from the Montana Historical Society by calling toll-free 1-800-243-9900.