Once upon a nightmare, many memories ago, there lived - and died - the town of Bridgewood. It existed here, on this hallowed ground.
The local hills were mined for the next few years and the little town
became one of the most coveted pieces of real estate in all of California.
It was home to many of the most wealthy and powerful people in the West.
In 1890, Bridgewood was purchased by an individual named Jedediah Smith.
While his origin is still unclear, many historians believe he came from
Louisiana, where his family thrived on old slave plantation money. Jedediah
lived alone, and rarely mingled with the good people of Bridgewood. While
scarcely seen in public, his presence was felt throughout the town as
taxes began to rise and the local lawmen were retired and/or run out of
town by gun slinging outlaws. No one opposed the laws of Jedediah Smith,
as he proclaimed that the higher taxes would help Bridgewood grow and
prosper with the coming turn of the Century. This was not the case, and
while the truth was never found out, many believe that Smith sank a great
deal of that tax revenue into Nevada, buying up saloons, gambling halls
By 1900, the community of Bridgewood was but a pale ghost of what it
once had been. Most of the shops in town had closed their doors. The school
was grossly neglected, and the children deprived of any formal education.
The hotels that once played host to the most successful businessmen in
America were now mere flophouses and places of ill repute. Gambling halls
sprung up, and honest citizens were slowly replaced with hustlers and
scoundrels. Bridgewood was dying, and the citizen’s spirits followed.
In 1901, a man by the name of Richard Foley publicly confronted Jedediah
Smith, as the town’s owner made a rare public appearance at Bridgewood’s
General Store. The legend says that Foley began following Smith around
the store, asking him repeatedly why he had destroyed the good community.
He demanded to know – in the name of the citizens – where
their money and good will had gone. Narrow-eyed and visibly irritated,
Smith continued examining the aisles of goods as Foley continued his barrage
of questions. Smith finally left the store and Foley followed, continuing
his verbal assault on the old miser.
Without warning, Jedediah Smith turned on his heels and came face-to-face
with Richard Foley. In one, sleek movement, Smith pulled a sliver revolver
from inside his coat and placed the end of the barrel against Foley’s
“Are you done yet?” hissed Smith. The breeze blew his stringy
dark gray hair across his face like tiny serpents.
By now a good-sized crowd had gathered around Smith and Foley. An eerie
silence fell over the group.
“When I bought this miserable land, I bought your soul,”
Smith snarled. “You are nothing to me. None of you. You follow me
around like a bunch of dogs and scatter for the scraps I toss your way!
I am your master.”
As Foley opened his mouth to speak, Jedediah Smith suddenly pulled the
trigger. The report from his revolver rang out loudly in the afternoon
as Foley dropped to the ground. Smith gazed down at him, disgusted.
“You’re not even worth the cost of my slug,” he whispered,
and spat on Richard Foley as the blood poured from his head into the dirt
For another year, anyone – resident or traveler – that opposed
Smith was publicly executed by a group of outlaws that Smith had surrounded
himself with. History tells that Jedediah Smith quickly went mad, and
drowned out any feeling of remorse with alcohol. On October 30th, 1902,
in a drunken rage, Smith ordered all of the town’s women to be executed;
some say it was a mad revelation of ending Bridgewood’s population
cycle. One by one, all women from young children to the elderly were dragged
out of their homes and slaughtered in the streets. The men of Bridgewood
were held at bay – or shot to death – as they watched in horror.
On October 31st, a group of twenty or so men from neighboring communities
rode into town at dusk. It was a lynch mob, coming to rid the world of
Smith’s men met the group head-on, and an incredible gunfight began
in the streets of Bridgewood. Overhead, thunder rolled and boomed heavily
as tongues of lightning lashed out at the hills. For nearly an hour, gunshots
rang out into the night and men fell one-by-one to the cold earth. The
mob grew as more men arrived on horseback and joined in the fight. The
men slowly made their way to the home of Jedediah Smith, where they found
him waiting inside, sitting in the darkness.
As the thunder rolled and the lightning flickered, the flames in several
lanterns blew out as a gust of wind came up around the men. A ghostly,
deep voice seemed to speak from all sides, rising and falling with the
“Too many lives lost…Too many families destroyed…Too
many promises broken,” the voice charged.
The group parted, and a lone figure dressed in a black cloak stepped
toward Smith. The hat that he wore cast a shadow across his face, concealing
his identity. He slowly raised his revolver at Jedediah.
“God damn you!” Smith suddenly wailed in the darkness. Lightning
flashed, illuminating his face, which was twisted and pale with terror.
“No,” replied the gunman. “Damn you, Jedediah Smith.
Damn you to Hell, where you belong.”
A single gunshot rang out, and Smith fell backward into the open grave.
As he lay there, gasping for breath, the gunslinger stepped forward, looking
down at Smith. Thunder clapped its approval as the mysterious figure stood
there, watching Smith slowly die.
“Shoot me,” Jedediah gasped. Part of his mouth had been blown
away, and thick dark blood ran in streams down the side of his head and
into the sacred soil of the grave. “Shoot me,” he begged.
As thunder rolled above and lightning flickered in the heavens, the gunman’s
voiced filled the night again.
“You’re not worth the cost of my slug.”
Jedediah’s eyes widened in horror just as Death claimed his evil
soul. The gunman turned and walked through the crowd into the darkness
of the cemetery. As he disappeared, his voice one final time filled the
“It is done.”
It took many years to heal the wounds that Smith had inflicted on Bridgewood.
After many decades of sorrow, The Irvine Company purchased the land, leveled
the remaining buildings and started fresh with the planned community of
Woodbridge. Legend has it, that each Halloween, the church and cemetery
where Jedediah Smith met his fate on October 31st, 1902, reappears for
just a short while so that the spirits of the past may mourn.
Of course, this is all quite simply a tale, A Halloween ghost story written
to spook the faint of heart.