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Ghosts roam Old Sac

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There are many stories about Old Sacramento that have yet to be told. Fights, lovers quarrels and bad business. Some say that the spirits of the people who died there still haunt the streets. Is it true? Maybe. You might find out for yourself one night.

Old Sacramento’s deadly history dating back to the 1800s was brought to life Friday as the Haunted Ghost Tours began.

Costumed actors were scattered throughout Old Sac to tell the interesting stories of their characters’ demise. One of the most interesting stories was that of Assemblyman John Bell, who was shot and stabbed in the stomach over an El Dorado boundary dispute with Dr. W. H. Stone April 11, 1860. The two men argued about the stabbing and eventually made their way to the River City Saloon for whiskey. The Grunnet brothers, the only "living" characters, told a funny story from their mortuary records about an accidental poisoning. Characters re-enacted the sheriff’s shooting at the train tracks with a robbery complete with gunfire.

The ghosts sat around Old Sac in dresses with petticoats and old-fashioned suits, talking about how they died as if no one were around.

Eleven stories were told, including one as recent as 1998 that still spooks audiences of the Eagle Theater. None of the stories were revealed as true or false until the end of the tour, when all but one story was said to be true. The veracity of the remaining tale remains unknown.

A veiled woman in a black dress guided the tour, telling ghost stories and jokes. The group moved in a circle around Old Sac, stopping at sites such as the old bath building, Lady Adams building and a decorated cemetery. A visit to the old brothel included a lively interaction with owner Madam Johanna, who shared details about her death after chasing a customer who failed to pay.

Most of the group consisted of families in high spirits, laughing at the humorous tone of the odd deaths of historical figures and well-known members of society.

"It was really fun," Cindy Saechao said. "I didn’t know that that many interesting and bizarre things happened in Old Sac."

The tours are conducted in groups of 20 and last one hour. It is not recommended for children under age 6. The tours will run Oct. 17, 23, 24 and 30, on the half hour from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30. Tours are adults are $15 and $12 for children under 12.

"The kids will love it," Saechao said. "It’s a fun way to hear ghost stories about a place that people always go and rarely think about its history."

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