History Nebraska Blog

The Alma Nightwalker

Source: 2 Chadron Journal 3/28/1902

Alma, Nebraska (RG3831.PH000001-000007) (above).

Alma, Nebraska, population about 1,100, is found near the Harlan Reservoir south of Hastings and just north of the Kansas border. Back on March 28, 1902, a most unusual story was being told. The “Alma Nightwalker,” as she was called by some, was not considered a ghost in the classic sense. Instead of illuminating as a white vaporous apparition, this specter was said to be dark, and dressed in black.

Most everyone in town had claimed to have seen this woman, who was believed to present no danger or seek harm of another. She also appeared determined to be seen, but elusive in her flight. Several well-known and respected citizens of the area reported seeing the apparition passing their place of business, or running in front of onlookers from the shadows of alleys, only to vanish like the wind or a fleeting shadow.

Alma, Nebraska (RG3831.PH000001-000004) (above).

The woman’s face was always veiled and unidentifiable, but a few possible suspects have been thrown around over the years. One was that of an Alma woman’s unquiet spirit who had passed away. In life she had suffered from a painful illness and some believed she was still suffering in spirit after death had taken the body. Another suspected answer came in the form of a deathbed promise made by the husband of a dying Alma resident. She made him promise not to remarry after her death, a promise made, but not kept. Some believed that revenge was the motive.

Whatever the origin of the story, she was a popular tale being told around the Alma area. The story was  eventually picked up by newspapers across the country and the tale became national. The “Alma Nightwalker” made no uncanny sounds, no moans or cries. Instead, it moved with incredible swiftness and disappeared into thin air before disbelieving eyes. The people of the town came to generally accept this event as being an actual disembodied spirit.

-Dale Bacon Assistant Curator

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