[Ads-l] Ghost Town

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun May 3 21:16:15 UTC 2020

Bill Mullins  wrote:
> I saw that quote, and did not use it because I wasn't sure if it meant
> "deserted town", as we use the phrase "ghost town", or a town literally
> associated with ghosts (and I did find several examples of "ghost town"
> where it was clear that "association with ghosts" was the intended meaning).

I think it is a valuable citation because it may show the evolution of
the label "ghost town". The town is abandoned, and it is also
associated with ghosts.  The connection to ghosts stems from the
spiritualist founders and also from the singing hermit.

Spiritualists are associated with ghosts, but the article states that
the abandoned town is 'now known as "Spookville"'. The article does
not state that the town was known as "Spookville" when the
spiritualists were actually present. That suggests to me that the
abandonment of the town is pertinent to the meaning of "Spookville"
and "ghost town".

> From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of ADSGarson O'Toole [adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM]
> Sent: Sunday, May 03, 2020 2:58 PM
> Subject: [Non-DoD Source] Re: Ghost Town
> ----
> The citation below from 1894 contains the phrase "all that remains of
> the ghost town". Interestingly, the phrase "ghost town" has more than
> one interpretation. Spiritualists attempted to found a town, but their
> enterprise did not succeed. The remnant was called "Spookville", and
> the journalist also referred to it as a "ghost town".
> Date: April 22, 1894,
> Newspaper: The Times
> Newspaper Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
> Article: A Spiritualists' Boom Town
> Quote Page 22, Column 7
> Database: Newspapers.com
> Caution-https://www.newspapers.com/clip/50148310/ghosttown/
> [Begin excerpt]
> Now It Is Known as "Spookville" and Town Lots Are Very Cheap There
> Because the Town Was Struck by a Storm Late One Night.
> From a Correspondent of The Times.
> Los Angeles, Cal., April 20.
> One of the many amusing features of the "boom" towns and colonies of
> California was the recent attempt of a number of spiritualists to
> found a colony, where those who could not see into the future were not
> permitted to dwell. A few of the leading Spirits bought a large tract
> of land on a promontory overlooking the ocean, about twenty miles
> south of the Santa Barbara.
> . . .
> The dismantled place is now known as "Spookville," and as the train
> whirls by the passenger who is looking for California curios is shown
> a tent on a hill—all that remains of the ghost town.
> The only occupant is, or was, a hermit, who for a time lived in a
> cave. The neighboring ranchers reported strange noises, and at once
> the report spread that "Spookville" was haunted—a sure-enough spirit
> had come to the deserted town-site to mourn over the losses of the
> colonists. But it was only the hermit, singing or talking to himself,
> while sitting out upon the front steps of his cave on moonlight nights
> and enjoying the cool breezes from the ocean.
> [End excerpt]
> Garson
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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