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Going Courting

A Colorado Ghost story

  J. Dawson had two goals in life: to find a rich vein of gold and to find a bride. So far, he hadn’t had any luck either with the gold or the ladies. His smooth, eastern manners seemed rather sissy and irritating among the rough miners and rowdy residents of a wild western town. He’d courted the schoolteacher, the local farmers’ daughters, and even took to visiting a few of the other entertainers at the saloon. All to no avail.Then one day, J. Dawson’s lifeless body was found at the bottom of a cliff. He had fallen several hundred feet off the mountain, where he was prospecting for gold. He was buried in Buckskin cemetery with a small service and everyone forgot about him.  Until two days after the funeral, the sheriff found the remains of J. Dawson in the local saloon, lying in the bed of a lady of the evening that he had courted a few months back. She had been sleeping off another busy night when she awoke to find J. Dawson’s remains beside her. The sheriff calmed the hysterical woman and then took J. Dawson back to the graveyard to bury him again.Naturally, no one knew anything. The miners avowed their innocence, and the shopkeepers and businessmen claimed their ignorance. The town treated the matter as a joke, speculating privately on who had dug up poor old J. Dawson.  Three days later, J. Dawson was found at the schoolhouse. He was propped against the doorpost, a love note addressed to the teacher in his hand. After being dead a week, he was not a pretty sight. The sheriff removed the corpse a second time, and had the body buried as deeply as possible. He piled heavy stones atop the grave, and J. Dawson remained in his grave for several weeks.

Then came a spate of activity. J. Dawson was found sitting on the porch of the local advocate’s house, clutching flowers with a note addressed to the eldest daughter. Next, he was found sitting on his favorite barstool, with a box of sweets addressed to one of the pretty lady entertainers. He visited several prosperous businessmen’s daughters with love letters and bouquets of wildflowers. Finally, the sheriff hired a couple local boys to watch the grave.

One night the boy roused the sheriff form his bed.  “He came up out of the grave! I swear!  It was J. Dawson. He came out of the grave and started picking wildflowers.” The boy was hysterical and wouldn’t calm down till the sheriff went to the graveyard and saw for himself that the earth of J. Dawson’s grave was disturbed. The next morning the sheriff, found the rotting corpse at the home of his own sweetheart. And that was the last straw.

“I have had enough of his shenanigans,” the sheriff said. “If he is going to behave like he belongs in a cesspool, than that is where he belongs!” The sheriff grabbed the moldering body of J. Dawson and dragged it down the road to an old outhouse that stood near an abandoned shanty town. He ripped off the wooden seat and threw J. Dawson down into the muck. Then he tore down the outhouse and buried J. Dawson inside.  That was the last time J. Dawson ever went courting.


S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser is the author of the Spooky Series published by Globe Pequot Press. She has been telling stories since she was a child, when games of “let’s pretend” quickly built themselves into full-length tales acted out with friends. A graduate of both Houghton College and the Institute of Children’s Literature, Sandy received her MLS from Rutgers University while working as a full-time music teacher and a freelance author.