In 1888, Amelia Brewer and her husband George relocated from the scenic Lamoille Canyon to Carlin, Nevada, an arid, railroad community with about 400 souls. They rented an “unpretentious” house of three to four rooms. Amelia, who wrote to the Elko Free Press on occasion, sent this letter on Jan. 5, 1889 about their abode:
“… in addition to other matters of interest it is a little exciting when one has the good luck to move into a veritable haunted house. Not many persons have such a thing to happen to them these days. So far the ghost hasn’t scared any of us, but he is here just the same. Sometimes he taps on the headboard of the bed, other times he stalks across the kitchen floor and then he hammers away at the door, but nobody’s there. But the gayest capers of all are cut up in the cellar. There he holds high revels and upsets the pickles and carries on generally.”
Apparently, Amelia and George possessed clairvoyant tendencies. Amelia, while never mentioning any apparitions, declared the spirit a male. And, after weeks of increasing paranormal activity, her husband investigated the cellar to seek the reason for the haunting (he must’ve thought he’d discover a clue down there).
Using an iron rod to probe the earthen floor, George found the partially charred and severed remains of miner/rancher Miles Faucett, who’d disappeared a year earlier. George described what he found: “I saw something that looked like a rotten turnip. I pulled up some hair and the smell came with it.”
The story of Faucett’s demise is neither clear nor simple.
When Faucett visited Carlin, he’d stay at the home of Josiah and Elizabeth Potts (previous renters of the Brewers’ home). Elizabeth regularly washed Faucett’s clothes and for a time, he boarded in their barn.
On New Year’s Day, 1888, an argument ensued between Faucett and the Pottses when they confronted him about attempting to rape their four-year-old daughter, Edith. The fight ended with Faucett committing suicide, according to Josiah and Elizabeth.
Despite this declaration that Faucett’s mortal wounds were self-inflicted, the Pottses were charged with murder.
Miles’ friend, J.R. Linebarger, testified during their trial that Faucett told him he was going to the Pottses home to collect money they owed him. Further, Faucett claimed that he knew enough about Elizabeth’s shady past to force them to pay the debt.
Elizabeth, in defending herself and her husband, told a different story. She declared Faucett owed them $180 for room and board and that’s why he signed over his team of horses and ranch to them right before he shot himself.
Faucett wasn’t a poor man: Earlier on the day of his death, Linebarger said he saw him pay for feed and estimated there must’ve been about $100 in twenty-dollar gold pieces in his purse.
So what really transpired? Did Josiah Potts shoot Faucett for molesting his daughter? Did Faucett threaten blackmail and the Pottses killed him for it? Or did he commit suicide?
Yes, incriminating activity cast the Pottses in a suspicious light: After Faucett’s demise, his ranch house was stripped of all valuables, some of which were found in the Potts’ home.
But ultimately, in my opinion, what condemned them was weak evidence: The Elko Free Press reported that as Josiah was being extradited to Nevada, he’d stated Faucett had committed suicide. Officials said this was the “damning statement” which led to the trial’s murder conviction. It’s beyond me how Josiah saying Faucett took his own life could be akin to a confession.
Apparently, the county sheriff had concerns as well. Even though the Nevada Supreme Court upheld the death penalty, Sheriff Lou Barnard made it clear that he opposed executing a woman based on circumstantial evidence (I guess it’s okay to kill a man, though).
Josiah and Elizabeth were hung simultaneously on the same gallows on June 20, 1890 in Carlin.
So how did the trial and execution impact the haunting of the Brewer’s home? According to historian/author Janice Oberding, the spirit of Miles Faucett went silent once George Brewer discovered his corpse.
Is this a case of a spirit seeking justice? Or was Faucett was confessing? Whatever the reason, his spirit appeared satisfied.
For information on the incident and trial, read:
Janice Oberding’s Haunted Nevada
Elko Free Press, “Josiah and Elizabeth Potts Pay the Penalty of their Crime”
[…] One of my favorite historical ghost stories is that of Miles Faucett, who hung around after his death. His energy was very active in the basement where his body had been buried until the couple that murdered him was convicted and executed. (See my post: Unfinished Business) […]
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