For three generations, fathers in the Elkins family have told their sons never to sell a tract of land on the east side of Elkinsville because one day the village will spread east. By 1948, the town continues to expand only west, but Henry Elkins, the latest descendant, still refuses to sell his inherited land. Although his wife Nora pleads with him to accept the highest offer for the land, Henry is determined to build what he calls a “poor man’s paradise” of affordable housing there. Henry’s latest offer for the land comes from the National Transit Airways of Chicago, who hope to build an airport. A charlatan swami, who wants to profit from the sale, promises NTA agents Harding and Eddie that he will convince Nora to sell. The gullible Nora excitedly hosts a séance with her girl friends, but Henry remains unconvinced and turns down Harding’s offer. After Harding threatens to buy the adjacent Rasmussen property, Henry buys the Rasmussen tract by cashing in his endowment policy. Henry next buys life insurance from his brother-in-law Alvin in order to assure the financial security of his family, and goes for the required doctor’s check-up. Henry overhears the doctor discussing the case of a man with a terminal illness, and believes he is going to die. Meanwhile, the swami double-crosses NTA by making a deal with the Elkins’ neighbor, Roger Wingate, to buy the land himself and sell it to Harding for a profit. After Henry receives a fake telegram from the swami canceling the NTA offer, Hunter, the town banker who hoped to be part of the NTA deal, accuses Henry of deceit and chicanery. More concerned about her social standing than her husband’s predicament, Nora leaves Henry, taking their daughter Janie with her. Believing Nora is leaving him for the swami, Henry dejectedly goes alone to the river. Although Henry merely spends the night drinking with two hoboes, the police find his clothes in the river along with a goodbye letter to his family and assume he committed suicide. At a séance, the swami tries to convince Nora that her husband’s ghost agrees to the sale. That night, Henry returns home and finds Harding waiting for him. Harding assures him that the NTA bid still stands, then offers to build housing next to the airport for the construction workers, which would fulfill Henry’s dream. Henry arrives at the séance, and by pretending to be a ghost, exposes the swami and Wingate as “chiselers,” and scares Wingate into returning the sale agreement papers. When Henry’s family realizes he is still alive, they are overjoyed. Alvin then announces that Henry’s insurance policy is solvent and that he is in perfect health. When Henry suggests that his father and grandfather are probably so happy about the Elkins tract that they are turning over in their graves, the dead men do.