“I will protect your Inn.” A spirit told Jane Way in 1966, soon after she purchased a 16-room New England style home in Sutter Creek, California, with hopes of creating a beautiful Inn. And he kept his word. He also brought his friends along. What he didn’t tell her was with the package she would find her life forever changed. She now intermingles with guests from today and those from another time. The idea of an Inn apparently appealed greatly to her non-paying guests. And Jane took it in stride and made her ghosts welcome.
Sutter Creek is beautiful in its well-kept stores and stately old homes along the main strip, the most majestic one, the one that makes you feel most at home, is Jane Way’s Sutter Creek Inn. It came into being sometime around 1851, when Leland Stanford was lucky enough to extract nearly one-half-million dollars in gold from a mine just outside what was then little more than a ramshackled town. Sutter Creek was to operate many mines during its day, including the last to operate in the Mother Lode, the Central Eureka, which closed its doors in 1959 after producing a whopping $25 million in gold.
The graceful white mansion, which is now Jane Way’s Sutter Creek Inn, was first built in 1860. A labor of love, it was built by John Keyes as a home for his beautiful young bride, Clara McIntyre. Longing for her native New Hampshire, he built it in the New England style. Sadness came when their child, a mere infant, died of diphtheria. Then, at the age of thirty-four, Clara became a widow. Two years later, a dashing State Senator came to town. With all his finery, Edward Convers Voorhies wooed her. The marriage was a happy one, producing two children.
Jane Way purchased the house from their daughter Gertrude, aged ninety, before she moved to a rest home. The evening the ghost appeared she had been invited to a costume party. She was getting dressed when an eerie feeling of being watched enveloped her. She turned around and there, standing in the doorway, was a tall man in old-fashioned clothing. For a moment she though he was going to the same party. It was then she heaard the words, “I willl protect your Inn.” He managed to smile as he faded away. She didn’t feel frightened, just warm all over. What more could she ask for?
It was later that she saw a photograph of Senator Edward Voorhies. She recognized him immediately as the man who visited her and promised to protect her Inn. Gertrude also stops by the house, starting right after she left her earthly body. She apparently loved the house so much she just couldn’t stay away.
Another strange thing happened after Jane Way’s cat had kittens. The mama cat woke me in the middle of the night and I suspected she was hungry. We went down to the kitchen and as we the approached the entry, the cat bolted and arched, refusing to go into the room. Jane looked into the kitchen and found it empty. She still couldn’t get the cat to go inside. Jane was annoyed at the cat’s strange behavior and tried to coax her with a little push. The cat hissed and raised her claws at something unseen. Jane jumped back as the cat was literally picked up and flung across the room. The cat took it all in stride and soon was willing to go into the kitchen as if nothing happened and ate her food. Jane Way learned later the original owner of the house hated cats. The incident never happened again.
From Gold Rush Ghosts by Nancy Bradley and Robert Reppert