Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Elinor Knott

For me, October means telling ghost stories by the dozen, which is what I'll be doing tomorrow night. Join me here at the Historical Society at 6:30 Thursday evening for "How We Miss Them." In the mean time, here's another ghost story to tide you over until then.

Elinor Knott was one of the many madams at the Dumas Hotel in Butte. On a winter night in 1955, Knott packed her suitcase, put on her hat, and sat down to wait. Her lover had promised to leave his wife and come for her. They would leave Butte to start a new life together. But the next morning a friend discovered Knott’s body in her rooms at the Dumas. The coroner pronounced her dead of natural causes. Dark whispers among acquaintances suggested that something was amiss. Although officials declared her destitute, friends knew Knott owned jewelry, a red Cadillac, and a Harley Davidson motorcycle. These never surfaced and there was no inquest into her death. The coroner pronounced it suicide by a lethal combination of alcohol and drugs. A few years ago, a woman who had worked at the Dumas in the 1970s returned to Butte on a visit. She told of a curious experience. She said she was staying alone at the Dumas one night. She was in the bathroom upstairs at the end of the hall, with the door open. She had a clear view of the hall and the corner stairway. She saw a woman wearing a hat and carrying a suitcase walk past the bathroom door and descend the stairs. She was so shocked she didn’t move until the top of the woman’s head disappeared. She hurried down the stairs after her, but there was no sign of the woman. The front and back doors were locked and barred shut. Some time later, an artist commissioned to paint a mural for the city of Butte rented Knott’s former apartment to use a studio. Something compelled her to paint portrait after portrait of a woman she had never seen. She couldn’t seem to paint anything else.

Courtesy F.O.G (Friends of Ghosts)
 One of the canvasses, rescued from the trash, shows a middle-aged woman with a coy smile and a quaint little hat.

From Montana Moments: History on the Go

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