READ MORE HISTORICAL ARTICLES FROM MARIPOSA
March afternoon in 1864, Andy Findstrup sat on the verandah of
Mariposa's Schlageter Hotel listening to some fine yarn he was quite
sure were spun for his benefit.
Well fed and fat, Andy was a drummer
who dealt in dry goods and notions. He was given to boast and
bluster, and the high opinion he had of himself generally was not
shared by others. But he'd been around and he was not about to be
taken in by rustics such as these. He smiled amusedly at some of the
stories and snorted in derision at the one about the haunted cabin.
A stranger, Andy was told in all
solemnity, had ridden into Mariposa 10 years before, exhibiting a bill
of sale for Sam Penders's Agua Fria gold claim.
MURDER IN STOCKTON
Now, it happened that Sam had gone to
Stockton a couple of weeks before on a matter of business and there had
been most foully murdered. The slayer had vanished and the boys
of Mariposa jumped to the conclusion he had brazenly come into their
midst expecting to profit from his iniquitous act by means of a forged
bill of sale.
It was not until lit was too late to
rectify their sad mistake that they found the document was dated before
the demise of Sam and had been properly and legally attested.
And ever since, Andy was assured, the
ghost of the stranger hovered over the mine of which he had been
deprived, and flitted mournfully about the cabin whose use inlife he
had been denied.
The salesman snickered and averred he
was afraid of no such phantom. And to prove it he offered to
spend the night in the shack.
This, of course, was what the tale
tellers had been waiting for. The trick long had been planned,
and its joyful consummation required only a likely victim.
Ziza Horton had practiced with white
sheet and flour dabbed face, the role of specter until he was letter
And so when evening came, the
Mariposans escorted Andy to the cabin. Before they left, they
pressed into his hand a revolver which, they said, might in case of
dire emergency come in handy.
They neglected to tell him that the
lead slugs had been removed from the cartridge cases and replaced by
bullets carved from a bar of soap.
A full moon at last rose over the
hills, bathing the shack in its mellow light. And when, about midnight,
the door creaked open, the wraithlike figure which entered clearly was
invisible to the man inside.
TOLD TO GET OUT
Andy chuckled and told his visitor to
get out, for he wanted to sleep. The apparition glided slowly
forward, Andy, with an ever so slight tremor in his voice, warned
that he had a gun and knew how to use it. THe figure advanced
still farther and Andy popped off a quick shot without aiming.
It had no effect. Forward the
phantom moved. Fright overcame bravado and Andy fired once more,
directly at the intruder. Nothing at all happened. In wild
panic Andy emptied the revolver. The distance was no more than
three feet but the specter neither fell nor paused.
The drummer, in a mighty leap of
terror cleared the door and run with a speed only fear can induce.
In the brush the Mariposa boys ahd
been watching and slapping their knees in glee. Then Ziba
Horton came puffing up the trail. The boys were generous with
their praise for his special accomplishment.
Ziba, obviously puzzled, stared at
"Whadda ya' mean?", he asked. "I
plum forgot the time and I'm just gittin' here."
This article written by Joe White-
a writer known to publish some "tales" of the Sierra, but
he insisted that there was always a bit of truth intwined.
This article was published in the Modesto Bee- Wednesday, Jan 15,
Research might prove that a Sam
Pender died in Stockton, or find reference to his claim in
Mariposa. Perhaps an old hotel register may note a fellow
named Andy Findstrup was once registerd at the Schlageter