[Ads-l] Ghost Town

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon May 4 03:22:39 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).

Excellent point, Bill. The OED and other dictionaries may be unwilling
to accept the 1894 citation.

The bracketed citation for "ghost town" in the OED is intriguing. The
town itself is ghostly.

[Begin excerpt]
[1875   Cincinnati Enquirer 2 July 5/1   The deserted mining towns,
like the ghosts of their departed prosperity.]
[End excerpt]

An early citation containing a deserted town labeled a "ghost town"
because of a spectral presence would be entertaining I think. Perhaps
you might share a citation - if you wish. Citations of this type would
illustrate one conjectural transitional path to the modern sense of
"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

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list