"Becoming California, a series that brings the California Gold Rush alive with the people who lived it."
A Ghostly Scent of Lavender

by Don Baumgart

Placerville, south of Nevada City, was called Hangtown in Gold Rush days and some think restless spirits still call the place home.

The Cary House in on the main street in Placerville. It's two stories, red brick and has a balcony. It's very old. There are some great ghost stories about the desk clerk named Stan who was killed at the foot of the stairs in the 1800s and is supposed to still be around.

Barbara Bastrup stayed in the Cary House, now a Bed & Breakfast establishment. She didn't meet up with "Stan" but she did have some rather unusual experiences there.

"I am not the sort of person who thinks it's a ghost every time my lipstick falls off the counter," she says, "but on the other hand I have seen full apparitions three times in my adult life and am very sensitive.

"Since I've been a little girl my bed has rocked and woke me up with the knowledge someone was standing over me, and I have never been comfortable about it. Spirits seem to seek me out."

It runs in the family, she says.

"My dad was a police chief, a very credible person. He saw and spoke to a fallen officer in the department before the man disappeared on him."

Barbara had seen a Travel Channel TV show about haunted hotels and the Cary House was one of them. She decided to visit.

"I checked in and was given room 201 on the front left balcony. There was no one in the next room. The first night someone tried my door about 10 p.m. It jiggled pretty hard. I took it as a matter of fact, staying in an old place like that.

"I said out loud `If you are around please leave me alone, I need my sleep and do not want to be frightened'. That first night I was a little uneasy, but slept o.k.

"The second day I was exhausted from my trip. I walked downtown and went into the bath & body shop. While there I suddenly was compelled to buy lavender products. I generally don't buy scented products because my husband is dead allergic and I cannot use them at home. Seeing that he was in Orange County, I splurged on bath oil, moisture lotion, body spray and hand lotion in Lavender. I spent a lot of money considering I couldn't use them unless I travelled.

"Back at the Cary House I took a long bath and used the products, then went outside for a walk. When I returned I was almost overwhelmed at the odor of Lavender right outside my door. I tried to open the door three times but it felt jammed. I said `knock it off' and it opened.

"Once it opened, I noted that the odor wasn't as strong in my room as it was just outside, but made a mental note of it and let it go.

"After checking out on Sunday, on my way out of town I went to Coloma. I bought a book in the gift shop on local ghosts. It said that room 201 at the Cary House was haunted by a woman who leaves the scent of lavender.

"That's a little more than coincidence to me."


Copyright Don Baumgart, 2006

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