In 1881 the cattle Anton Starck was taken to the city of St. Elmo, so that he and his family quickly moved to life. Anton became head of a department at one of the local mines, and his wife, Anna, ran a general store and a hotel called Home Comfort, which later became the post and telegraph office.
Anton and Anna raised three children in St. Elmo, Tony, Roy and Annabelle, who worked in a hotel and shop. It was claimed that the hotel was in a cleaner city, the best meals and stores were more abundant than other establishments.
The Stark family was part of the Elmo elite. Anna was seen as a heartless woman who had a strong control over children, believing that they were better than other townspeople – miners, railroad men, prostitutes and hard women. Children were rarely allowed to leave home, were prohibited from attending local dances or social activities, and were alone with one another in company.
The destruction of many mines and the closure of the Alpine tunnel began in 1910 with the St. Elmo's fall. But the Stark family remained, believing St. Elmo would flourish again, buying property, selling taxes.
For many years, Ryan and Tony Stark tried to influence developers by reopening mines, but when unsuccessful, they turned to tourism by renting empty cabins to holidaymakers and continuing to run the department store.
After Anton Stark's death, Anna realized that tourism in St. Elmo was not conducive to the family, and sent Annabel to work for a telegraph office in Salida, 20 miles south of St. Elmo.
Shortly afterwards Annabel met a young man named Ward and in 1922 they married. Unfortunately, the marriage did not take place and, just two short years later, she returned to St. Elmo, where she spent the rest of her life.
Three eccentric Starka children, along with their mother, continued to run a general store and rent cabins for tourists, although the city's overall condition deteriorated. By 1930, St. Elmo's population had fallen to just seven.
In 1934, Ryan Starck died and his mother Anna died shortly afterwards. The only remaining residents were Annabella and Tony, who lived in the deceased city without indoor plumbing and electricity. The store, which was said to be "sour-smelling," contained faded out-of-date food cans and out-of-date tobacco.
Although Annabell was always told she was kind and generous to the few who still visited the store, locals called her "Dirty Annie" because of her dirty clothes and tangled hair. She was also known to wander the Old Town with a gun in her hand to protect her property.
Eventually Tony and Annabelle were sent away to a spiritual institution. However, after a few weeks, a sympathetic friend convinced the authorities that they had hurt no one and were released.
Tony died shortly afterwards, and in 1958 Annabelle was sent to a nursing home, where she died in 1960. Their property was left to a sympathetic friend who had helped them.
Shortly after Annabelle's death, a friend's grandchildren announced they were playing in a hotel room when all of a sudden the door closed and the temperature dropped by almost 20 degrees. The frightened children again refused to play at the hotel.
Another grandchild, a young woman in her twenties, decided to take on the hotel as a project, tidying up the premises, making minor repairs and washing the walls and floors. After cleaning the day, she and her friends put down their tools and cleaning supplies just to find them in the middle of the floor when they returned the next day. After this continued, they began to place the items in the hanging closet, but on their return they would be in the middle of the floor.
Source by Donna Graham