I Took a Walk in a Graveyard at One of California’s Most Haunted Locations

001Curiosity persuaded me.  Inquisitiveness overpowered me.  These feelings called out, or rather screamed out, to my writer’s imagination.  I just had to stop and take some photographs of this particular spot at San Miguel Mission, which gave me the opportunity to enjoy one of my favorite activities as a shutterbug.  I find that photography compliments my writing skills to a degree because I have to concentrate on what is in the frame.  It simplifies a story in my mind and sometimes it adds to a narrative that I’m mulling over.  That little piece of information or added depth from research can push any storyline forward.

Travelling toward Southern California, I would see this intriguing location many times zooming by on the freeway. 013 In fact, California is known for the many historical missions scattered throughout the landscapes.  San Miguel Mission has quite a history and has been quoted as one of California’s most haunted locations.  Paranormal enthusiasts and ghost “type” hunters have investigated this location and claimed that it is indeed haunted.

According to the history of San Miguel from the official mission website: Father Fermin Francisco de Lasuén founded Mission San Miguel on July 25, 1797.  From the church building, the property extended 18 miles to the north and 18 miles to the south; the property extended 66 miles to the east, and as far as the Pacific Ocean, 35 miles to the west.  006Tiles and adobe blocks were made and stored for 10 years before the stone foundation of the church was laid in 1816.  On July 4, 1846, Petronillo Rios and William Reed took possession of the mission Buildings and the Reed family occupied the recently abandoned mission. Following the murder of 11 Reed family members and household staff, the mission rooms were converted to commercial stores such as, a hotel, saloon, and retail shops.

It has been said that the ghost of Mrs. Reed has been seen roaming the grounds looking for her children, and she is mad.  Not only does this site have some unexplained hauntings, strange lights, and sounds, but there is also the story of buried gold.  Makes one wonder?  It has all of the elements of a mystery thriller with murder, greed, buried treasure, and ghosts.

I took a walk around the exterior grounds first to try to gain some perspective.  I love to photograph gates and parts of the adobe structure.  009In the back of my mind, I imagined a story about all of the people who had visited the mission and how it must have looked two hundred years ago.  The courtyard was beautiful.  Every entrance and gate had the amazing architecture of the old adobes, which reeked of history.  I then meandered around, walked through the church, and then ended up in the graveyard near the bell tower.

I took many photos and read several of the old gravestones, but what piqued my interest was the walkway up to the tower.  I’m not sure why, but I had to see more.  The stones carefully assembled were remarkable – at least to me.  039I took a couple of steps and peered up toward the bells.  The staircase was blocked off by an iron gate, but I could see a glimpse of the sky (see photos below of me and the view up the staircase).  I imagined what it must have been like in the 1800s to climb to the top and ring the bells.

I spoke with a few visitors and told them that they could see up the stone staircase, but no one would dare to ascend the few steps in order to take a look.  Perhaps it was too scary?  Maybe this was an area where Mrs. Reed would appear?  Maybe they knew something that I didn’t know?  Nonetheless, I approach interesting locations with the same tenacity as my heroine Emily Stone.  I enjoyed my visit to the San Miguel Mission.  It inspired me for upcoming stories.  I highly recommend visiting historical or even haunted locations to recharge your writing skills.  You never know where it might take you.




I would love to hear about some of the historical or haunted locations you’ve visited.


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About jchasenovelist

Published thriller author, criminologist, and blogger.
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5 Responses to I Took a Walk in a Graveyard at One of California’s Most Haunted Locations

  1. James Enix says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience and photography with us.
    I was born in Fresno and grew up there until age eight. I remember walking through a field with my father once and seeing a couple of cow skulls, not a single spirit that I was aware of.
    We have been back to the see the Queen Mary and other places, but I have not had any supernatural experience that I recall in California.
    There are several experiences that I have had with spirits. The one that I have found most interesting took place at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, MO. My family and I were wondering around viewing the different pieces of art. We had separated to look at different displays.
    I was in the Asian art section. One of the displays, had its own room and held art made of wood. There were benches, wooden structures and a carved piece named, “Guanyin of the Southern Sea” from the Liao Dynasty. I felt as if it or someone was watching me as I walked around. There was no one else in the room. I noticed, when someone would come in they would quickly look around and leave. Maybe they were not interested or there was some other reason not to stay longer.
    The spirit that I felt was not evil, maybe protective of the work, like a guardian. I have always wanted to go back to investigate more.
    The last time that we visited the museum, the display was on loan to another museum. Maybe the next time that we visit it will be back on display.
    The Nelson-Atkins Museum is not know for its haunted displays, but it holds a number of different pieces from around the world. Who knows what is attached to those pieces? There may be more there than meets the eye.


    • Thank you James for sharing your comments and experiences. It’s interesting that some people are more aware of things that can’t be readily explained, while others either ignore or completely miss it.

      Thanks so much for stopping by! 🙂


  2. I’m from Cali and lived in a Craftsmanship house on the beach in Santa Monica. Wonderful creaks and moans and ghosts. It helped that my grandmother had lived during the spiritualist movement of the 1930s and filled me with wonderful stories of seances and such. Now we’re in Arkansas and recently visited Ft. Smith and the gallows there. Lots of shivers up the spine and visions of those imprisoned there. I really enjoyed your recounting of your visit to the Mission. Vivid and nicely told. There’s been talk about Indigo Children (and adults) who can see and feel things others can’t. Books about these children are now classified as “children with special needs,” but the more I read about introverts, the more I suspect the introverted individual is what’s mistakenly called an Indigo. They watch. They see.


    • Thank you Cyd for sharing your experiences. Indigo children (as well as adults) proves to be a fascinating subject and I suspect we will hear much more about them in the future. I appreciate you stopping by! 🙂


  3. The most haunted place I’ve ever been was the Dachau concentration camp in Germany in 1981. I was in college in Paris and my mother joined me for a tour of Germany and Austria during spring break. Dachau was just a few minutes away from Munich by train but a world away in terms of sensibility and landscape. The main administration building and the ovens, including a child-sized one, were still intact. As we walked through the strange, barren place, both of us felt tense and nervous. Afterwards, we both felt as if there had been people whispering all around us.


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