Jamestown, California is a diminutive former California Gold Rush town that sits an hour east of Stockton. With a scant population that hovers a little over 3,400 people, Jamestown is not the busiest of California’s hot spots. However, situated just left to the center of town is the 1859 National Hotel and Restaurant. Considered to be the most frequented of all the hotels in the Jamestown area, the National is a treasured throwback of old-world California charm that can provide travelers with a timeless and elegant experience after a long day of shopping or wine tasting. The efforts to provide guests with a cozy stay is so ingrained into the very fabric of the National, that the ghostly attention of a spirit named Flora is there to make sure your stay is as memorable as possible.
Is The 1859 Historic National Hotel Haunted?
The National Hotel and Restaurant was built back in 1859 by a husband and wife proprietor pair named Heinrich and Hannah Neilson. They looked to capitalize on the Gold Rush era boom by constructing both a hotel and restaurant that would serve the constant wave of would-be prospectors. The scant few establishments that were in Jamestown during this time were meager temporary wood structures or in some cases under large tents. The hotel actually survived two dangerous fires within a span of twenty-six years in 1901 and 1927. With the town’s far-out location and reputation for gold in the area, this briefly became a speakeasy during Prohibition where gambling machines and prostitution along with alcohol were free-flowing until the government stepped in. A full-on restoration project at the hotel began in 1974 and is continuing in some capacity to this very day, but despite any repairs that haven’t stopped the tourists from coming and it certainly hasn’t stopped the ghost stories.
Flora is the name of the spirit that haunts the National Hotel and Restaurant and details of her origin are blended both from historical record and unforeseen tragedy. In 1859, Flora had embarked on a train journey from the East Coast out to San Francisco to stay with family. At some point during her journey on the train, Flora met a young attorney named Henry who was based out of San Francisco. It was love at first sight as this budding attorney and fetching girl of 19 connected with one another. In a short time after meeting, Henry proposed to Flora and she graciously accepted. The only issue with their soon to be marriage was the fact that her relatives had opposed her betrothal. However, Flora and Henry agreed to get married in Jamestown and had taken to staying at the brand new National Hotel. Flora promised her relatives in San Francisco that she was returning to the East Coast, when in fact she planned to meet Henry at the National.
Upon arriving before Christmas, they each had their own rooms booked at the National and had spent the majority of their time planning a very simple Christmas wedding. Flora acquired a beautiful and tailored lace wedding gown that she was to wear on the special day. Details are scarce, but before the wedding ceremony could ever take place at Christmas, a rowdy and drunk prospector had entered the National and for whatever reason shot Henry as he was descending the stairs to meet Flora. He died in Flora’s arms, at the foot of the staircase, both of them embracing in his freshly spilled blood. The shooter was never arrested or found, needless to say, Flora was struck hard with melancholia and she retreated to her room. For days she didn’t come down until the hotel staff checked on her New Years’ Eve 1859 and found her dressed in the unused wedding dress in a simple chair facing the window; she had truly died from a broken heart.
The Ghost of the National Hotel
All these years later, visitors to the National have obliged the in-room guestbooks by filing out in detail their experiences with Flora’s spirit. Activity is innocuous at best as lights turn on and off, doors gently open and close, and in some instances, traveler suitcases are mysteriously moved about. Throughout the hotel and especially in the adjoining restaurant, hotel staff has spoken of the lights flipping on and off as well as the pots and pans in the kitchen being tipped off counters or spoons being yanked about by an unseen force. Still, with the in-room guestbooks, visitors have remarked about experiences of being flushed with a guest of icy cold air in an otherwise warmed room. Some have claimed to see the ghostly visage of a young woman dressed in white who is seen smiling back at them before mysteriously disappearing.
Paranormal theorists seem to agree that judging from all of Flora’s innocent antics and given the nature of her untimely death that she is totally benevolent. The employees at the National Hotel and Restaurant seem to agree and have gone so far as telling those that have seen her smiling spirit about, to simply smile back and say hello. Flora’s young life may have ended in undue tragedy, but the fact that her spirit is living on to serve as a comfort to visiting guests is supernaturally admirable.