Helen Patterson, a.k.a Nellie Paget Helen Patterson left Illinois in 1863 and came to Bannack, the territorial capital. She left her boyfriend, Howard Humphries in Illinois. She worked in a dancehall, and was killed by an old lover in 1864 as she danced with a new lover. Howard Humphries came to Bannack in 1922 to visit her grave. She was known as Nellie Paget in Bannack.
This song is "based on Miss Nellie Paget, Star of Bannack. The story of her experience in Sunday Creek and the circumstances of her death are here drawn from the traditional folklore of Bannack, Montana. She is also a representation of a type of frontier prostitute. An addendum to the “Star” story, according to my sources, originates in the late 1920’s or early 1930’s. This addition to the story says that about that time a very old man driving a new car arrived in town and made inquiries concerning the whereabouts of Star’s gravesite. He drove up to the old cemetery and spent most of the afternoon there. He drove away about dusk and was never seen again. Those to whom he spoke that day put it about that this old man, a retired doctor from Chicago, had been Star’s fiancé." - Jeff Streeby
Under the lamp lights flicker and gleam
In the dirt of a dance hall floor
The beautiful Star of Bannack lies
Never to shine no more.
Beauty that once was pure and sweet
As that of the maiden you wed
Now lies at the dust of the miner’s feet
The beautiful Star is dead.
She had a lover good and true
In the east which she left behind
She came out west as so many do
Her fame and fortune to find.
Fame was found on the dance hall floor
Where her beauty would turn men’s heads
She was a queen of them all, but now
The beautiful Star lies dead.
She was young, light-hearted and gay
Played the game as she knew it, square
She never dreamed that while she danced
A bullet would find her there.
Many an eye with tears is wet
And many a laugh lies still
With the beautiful Star of Bannack, lies
In a grave on a lonely hill.