Friday, February 13, 2015
The Ghosts of Shakespeare
Dressed in white as she exits the old hotel, a lovely woman of graceful form walks down the street and is lost along the curving track of the long dead rail line....
It is now little more than a cluster of adobe buildings, including a hotel in which Billy the Kid worked as a dishwasher, but the small New Mexico community of Shakespeare was once a bustling town where people lived, loved, and died. Like many mining settlements, this one rose, bloomed, and then passed into oblivion as the years went on and the mines played out. In time, the railroads whisked away what few residents remained.
At one time there were a reported dozen ghosts remaining to occupy the old town.
Writer Ted Raynor shared in 1969 that there was a famous “lady in white” who haunted the town. She was reported by longtime residents, who had first heard the story from their own ancestors.
It was the classic story of long lost love. In the 1880s a woman came to the community in search of her fiance, a notorious gambler. She discovered that he had gone south into Mexico and so she remained to wait for his return. Soon, however news of his death reached her and she walked away from her room one day, leaving behind her only a wedding dress in her room. No one ever saw her alive again in Shakespeare but her ghost became a regular feature.
When seen she was she was usually in white but sometimes in black causing some to wonder if she grieved at times for her lost love and unused wedding dress?
The small community is said to be home to at least a dozen specters who return from time to time to provide a glimpse of the unknown under the desert skies. There were the ghosts of three murdered African American miners who were robbed and their bodies dumped in the spot that took their name, Arroyo de los Negros.
A gambler who, despite warning to the contrary, carried his winnings on him as he headed out into the night. And a man who must have enjoyed meals at the local spot called the Grant House. His shadow could be seen there, looking like a man casually smoking after a delicious meal long after the last meals were ever cooked and prepared.
Other reported sightings, some that seem to have faded away, and some that remain included the ghostly canine capable of putting fear into the husky heart of a police dog and a strange ghost thought to be made of sulfur fume that would crawl up from beneath the basement of the old general store, and a gentle ghost that seemed merely to guard the resting sport on the hillside where so many were laid to rest over the years.