Story Excerpt from “Hauntings from the Snake River Plain”

Dead Man’s Shoes

by Patricia Santos Marcantonio

Silver City, Idaho 1863

William Manford held onto the handful of mud.

Father McFallen motioned to the open grave. Reluctantly, William threw the mud onto the coffin holding his wife Irene. He cursed her for leaving him to cook his own dinner, wash his clothes, and sleep alone on cold nights. He spun around and walked briskly down the hill, not waiting for the priest to finish the service.

Once the funeral was completed, the small gathering started back down toward Silver City. Their boots made deep prints in the April muck.

Constance Hawker, a robust woman who cooked at the Idaho Hotel, pulled up her skirt to keep it dry. “Poor Irene. I know influenza killed her, but living with that miser all those years is what really put her in the grave.” Betsy Hillard, the slight wife of a luck-poor miner, nodded. “If William Manford had a heart, it was Irene. Now that heart is six foot under.”

They watched the new widower walk ahead of them. “He did give her beautiful shoes to wear to heaven.” Constance said.

“Yes, he did. But he’s still the meanest man in Silver City,” remarked Betsy.




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