"Becoming California, a series that brings the California Gold Rush alive with the people who lived it."

Nevada City Victorian Had Three Ghostly Visits

by Don Baumgart

When Karen Zoller and her husband Bill bought their Nevada City Victorian home almost a decade ago, the real estate people told them there could possibly be a ghost on the premises.

"I said that's fine, that doesn't bother me," Karen Zoller says today.

Their first year in the house a friend was staying with them, sleeping in the front bedroom. The next morning when she came down to breakfast she said, "Karen, why did you come in my room last night?"

"I told her I didn't and if I needed to I would have knocked," Karen says. "My friend said, `no, no, no...you were standing at the end of my bed last night.'" The house guest was adamant that a woman was standing at the foot of her bed.

A year later the Zollers were hosting a young musician who came to Nevada County under the auspices of Music in the Mountains. He had been housed on the 130-year-old Victorian's third floor, just above the Zollers' bedroom.

"I thought, oh this poor kid can't sleep, because I heard him walking around and around up above our bedroom," Karen says. "The next morning at breakfast he asked my husband, `Did you find what you were looking for?'"

The student assumed Bill was the man walking around in his room during the night. "Bill was sound asleep beside me when I heard the walking overhead," Karen says. "They were definitely a man's footsteps. They were loud, almost like boots, walking in circles."

The third occurrence was on a Sunday afternoon. The couple had done a lot of yard work and Karen was ready for a long hot soak in their huge old bathtub. "I filled the tub with water. I was aching and tired from gardening so hard for two days."

Karen poured herself a glass of port and slid into the bubble bath filled tub. A bookcase built into the bathroom wall held an old framed picture of a man wearing one of the detachable collars that were popular with men a long time ago. There were two or three glass knickknacks in front of the framed picture.

"I was soaking in the tub thinking, `It doesn't get any better than this' when I heard a crash! I turned around and thought, `Oh, the picture fell down' and went on with my bath."

When she finished her soak and left the tub she noticed that the picture had flown three or four feet, leaping over the knickknacks that were in front of it. "It flew. There is no way it could have simply fallen where it was lying."

It's been six years now since the flying picture episode and no new ghostly evidence has appeared.

Karen doesn't find the ghost sightings, if that's what they were, to be disturbing. Just very unusual.

"The first time, my friend could have been dreaming," she adds. "But the second time, two different people heard the same thing."

As these stories go, hauntings are usually attributed to a restless spirit. Rumors Karen has heard refer to a man who once lived in the Victorian who was "quite mean to his wife."

Perhaps the wife remains troubled by her treatment, or maybe the husband regrets his actions. Whatever the case, the appearances have not bothered Karen Zoller, whose family members read coffee grounds for mysterious messages at the dinner table, when she was younger.

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Copyright Don Baumgart, 2006


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