A Ghost in Tuolumne County – 1859

Reported in the Daily Alta California – December 12, 1859

We have been aware for some weeks past that there were rumors of a ghost having been seen at Lyons’ Ranch, situated on the Mountain road, about four miles from town; but have not been able to gather the particulars until this week.  Lyons’ Ranch, it will be remembered, was formerly the property of Jim Lyons, who assassinated one of the Blakely brothers there, after having sold the property to them.  It is now owned and occupied by Mr. Gilkey.  It appears that some five or six miners, with Mr. Gilkey’s permission, were in the habit of sleeping in the barn attached to the ranch, but have now abandoned their lodgings, in consequence of having their slumbers disturbed by the pranks of a ghost.  According to their story, it appeared to them in the shape of a huge man, about sixteen feet high, who arose from amidst the hay piled up in the barn and tossed bales around as if they were light as feathers in his grasp.  The story goes that this unwelcome visitor, on several occasions, chased the lodgers from the barn, making giant strides after the fugitives.  On one occasion, one of the men fired at the ghost, but the ball had no effect.  The upshot of the story is, that his ghostship remains master of the field (or rather the barn).  It is rumored, that some gentlemen of this place, who are deeply interested in the subject of spiritualism, intend paying a visit to the barn some fine night, for the purpose of questioning the ghost, and ascertaining whether it is a “spirit of health, or goblin damn’d.”  The investigation will doubtless be highly interesting and we await the result with most intense anxiety. – Sonora Age.

Published in: on October 31, 2011 at 5:22 am  Leave a Comment  

A Ghost in Vallecito – 1859

As reported in the Daily Alta California – 16 February 1859

Vallecito has been excited for two weeks about the supposed doings of a ghost occupied by a family in that town.  Every night, says the Calaveras Chronicle, loud knockings have been heard in the house, sometimes in the garret, at others against the partitions, and again upon the tables – sometimes upsetting tables, chairs, etc. and raising a general row throughout the house.  The neighbors have watched, night after night, with double-barreled guns, revolvers, etc. without being able to get sight of the midnight intruder.  Latterly they have come to the conclusion that it is a spirit from the other world, who is desirous of communicating with the occupants of the house.  A medium was sent for, but the spirit refuses to communicate with any but the gentleman of the house, and he refuses to communicate with the spirit.  How they will settle matters remains to be seen.  The spirit informs the medium that he will not leave them in peace until he obtains an interview with the person desired.  The editor of the San Andreas Independent, referring to the same ghost, says: “He will rap and stamp upon the floor and weather-boarding, each knock of his invisible mallet increasing the amazement of the watchers.  So far he (or perhaps she) has baffled every effort at detection.  The “critter” is absolutely intangible, invisible, uncomatible (sp.?), and pronounced by judges a ‘genuine ghost!’ – an institution never before dreamed of in the philosophy of this practical age and country.”

Note:  Vallecito is a small former mining town located in the Mother Lode of the Sierra Nevada, southeast of Sacramento.

Published in: on October 30, 2011 at 1:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Historical Ghost Story

The San Francisco Call, Tuesday, January 4, 1910


– Stand By in Awe as Furniture of Mission Street House Begins to Dance –

With an evident desire to cut up fittingly on New Year’s eve, a healthy and energetick and adult spook of playful tendencies and obstreperous sense of humor injected himself into the festivities of the family of Max Barnett, a tailor at 2487 Mission street, last Friday afternoon and in the presence of two pale policemen, two popeyed detectives and several neighbors and friends proceeded to upset the furniture, open windows and generally prove itself a nuisance.

So impolite and ungentlemanly was the demeanor of the spirit that Detectives Burke and Gallagher were officially detailed on the case, but though they watched the spirit perform its tricks they have yet no clew (sic) on which to work.

Barnett, after seeking his furniture banged around promiscuously for two days, packed up his belongings and fled, hoping to put the spook off his trail. Contrary to all the rules and regulations of spookdom the wraith appeared in the afternoon. It did not wait for the witching hour. It started the fireworks in broad daylight and then, evidently talking a liking to Barnett’s furniture, hung around for a couple of days having a perfectly giddy time.


It floated in through a closed window about 3 p.m. Friday. Mrs. Barnett, with her two children, was downstairs and hearing a commotion upstairs proceeded to investigate, but when Mrs. Barnett saw a chair doing a cancan on the floor and a blanket trying a skirt dance without outside help, she decided it was time to call up her husband on the telephone.

“I reached the house about 3:30 p.m.,” said Barnett “and went to a rear room. There I found the furniture overturned, the beds unmade and everything in an awful mess.”

According to Barnett he, scouting the idea of spirits, proceeded to fix things up, but the pillows would insist on hopping to a chair, and finally a suitcase jumped upon the pillows. With a groan he turned for the door, and as he did so chairs were turned over, the bed clothes were ripped off and the bureau began a waltz. Also the bedding tried a twostep.

“My first act was to call the police,” he said. Policeman M. H. King and James Drennan responded and on their heels were Detectives Gallagher and Burke.

“Come out of that,” said four stern voices. The bed gave two hops and the pictures began dropping from the wall. With their own hands the policemen tidied up the room, but no sooner had they finished than the spook overturned the furniture. Then they wiped their brows and grew pale and popeyed. In the meantime the statue of Hiawatha took a stroll to the bathroom from the dining room, and a mattress in another bedroom started physical culture exercises.


“I am a skeptic.” Moaned Burke, “but what can a fellow do when he sees such things?”

Brett Pratt, a brother in law of Barnett’s, who was called in to take in the show, openly scoffed, but as he did so a bureau rolled over and hit him on the shin. Carl Schulz, a nephew, also was present, and another scoffer went through the front door like a chain of greased lightning when he saw Hiawatha taking his constitutional. The last act of the spook was to hurl a box over the banisters as the Barnetts were moving out Saturday afternoon.

There is a belief that the spook was the spirit of the old year moving out. “But why does it pick on me?” asked Barnett.

Published in: on October 26, 2011 at 6:56 pm  Leave a Comment