Ellen Baumler has again traversed the state, interviewing and researching carefully to present history with a ghostly twist. Her first book, Spirit Tailings, brought Montana's colorful historical tapestry to a new range of readers who will be delighted by this second volume. Beyond Spirit Tailings again offers ghostly encounters from Montana's heritage places, but Baumler also branches out to explore such historical mysteries as the monster said to lurk in the deep waters of Flathead Lake, the power of an ancient object revered by native peoples, and a possible explanation for the suspicious death of Thomas Francis Meagher. Richly embroidered with Montana's unique historical legacy, these eerie and mysterious tales will leave readers looking over their shoulders, sleeping with the lights on, and always craving more.
|Publisher:||Montana Historical Society Press|
|Edition description:||First Edition|
|Product dimensions:||6.14(w) x 9.04(h) x 0.50(d)|
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An urban legend commonly told in Helena involves Father Paul B. Kirchen, one of Carroll College's most revered professors. Besides teaching languages there from 1929 until his retirement in 1973, Father Kirchen was a familiar community figure known for championing the downtrodden and outcast. He fed transients who camped behind the college in the 1950s, collecting student leftovers to distribute among the men, which earned them the nickname "backdoor alumni." Everything he had he gave away, including a coat off his back that once belonged to a bishop. He distributed his Social Security checks to the needy, saying, "It's God's money." The priest continued his cause well after retirement, walking all over town in shoes that didn't fit him to visit the poor. He also had a way of enlisting aid from the people of Helena, coaxing people into giving him rides around town so he could do his work. "He was irresistible," said former Helena mayor Russ Ritter. "People never refused him anything."
When the beloved father died of a heart attack in 1989, the entire community mourned. Flags at Carroll and over city offices flew at half-mast in remembrance of the saintly priest who, just a week before his death, had still been calling on Helena's needy.
After the father's death, unusual stories about him began to emerge. People reported sighting an elderly priest walking the streets of Helena. He wore shoes that were too big for him. Occasionally, someone would recount the story of an aged father soliciting rides from passing motorists. The motorist would stop, the priest would climb into the backseat, and the driver would take him to whatever destination he requested. Upon stopping to discharge the passenger, however, the driver would discover that the backseat was empty.