Saturday, August 14, 2010


Now that I'm a partner of Orange County Ghost Tours and Events, I have been doing a lot of research on the Ghosts and Legends of Orange County. I'm putting together some tours for the future.

One of the places I've been scouting out is in San Juan Capistrano. This town has a lot of stories and claims of Ghosts being seen.

I thought you may be interested in a few of the places I've found that are said to be haunted and by whom.

Just remember that during the day, things appear much different then they do at night.

This is the Rios Adobe. It is now used as Law Offices.

The adobe was built in 1794 and was one of the first adobes constructed during the early Mission period.

It was first occupied by Feliciano Rios. He was a soldier from Spain who was assigned to the Mission guard troops.

The adobe has been passed down from generation to generation and is now owned by Stephen Rios.

Footsteps are said to be hear that proceed slowly from the kitchen, to the dining area, to the living room and then into the bedroom.

Many have claimed to hear things and get a feeling of being followed. It is believed to be on or more of the Rio's ancestors watching after the home and the family.

Perhaps this is why the adobe has remained in the family and no on has wished to sell it for over 110 years.

This building was once the home of Lupe Combs. It was first built in 1878 and was relocated to San Juan Capistrano in 1882.

It was shortly after the house was moved that, Modesta Avila moved in. She was known to be a lady of ill repute. The town wanted her out but she refused to leave.

She made sure to follow all the laws so they could not harm her. However, one day she hung her laundry out on the line that she strung across the train tracks to protest them putting the tracks through the property.

She removed the clothes before the train came through so the sheriff wouldn't have a reason to arrest her. However, she had hung up her under garments. The sheriff was quick to act on that as it was against the law to hang under garments out where the public could see them.

She was arrest and sent to San Quentin in 1889. She was two years into her sentence when she died.

The building has since been a home, general store and post office at various times.

There are several reports of shadow figures walking near the windows at night and rocking chairs on the porch that move by themselves.

Lights have been seen inside at night time when the shop that is now there, is closed and no one is inside.

Prior shop owners have reported having items moved from place to place during the night when the shop was closed.

The building behind this house used to house prisoners on weekends, in the late 1800's to early 1900's. Many of the prisoners were sick and died while waiting to be relocated. Some even committed suicide.

Perhaps it is the ghost of Modesta that has returned to avenge her arrest that lead to her death.

Or is it one or more of the prisoners coming back to tell their stories of mistreatment while in jail?

This is the area where, legend has it, at night, one can often hear the sounds of weeping, sobs and moans from a lady they say drowned her children, one by one in the dark waters of the river during a flood. Upon her death, she repented her deed, searching and grieving for the children she murdered.

Others claim she never repented and will drown others who get in her way.

They call this ghost llorona. She was a known prostitute and had many unwanted children that she felt the need to get rid of.

Some fear she has come back from the dead to search for another child to make up for those she murdered.

Ask those who live near by and you will be told "Do not walk the river alone at night. For in the mist ahead, you may hear a moan or see a bony hand beckon you. It is then you will know you have come across la llorona who walks the night".

Near this tree is one of the many spots where the "Lady in White" has been spotted. She is said to be a young, pretty woman with long black hair and a seductive smile. She wears a long white dress that ends in the mist around her feet. She moves with ease to different sections of the town.

She made her first appearance on Los Rios Street somewhere near the end of last century.

Often she is seen walking alone down the street or standing watching someone walking by. She is never portrayed as menacing.

However, at times she is seen with a dog who many call a devil dog. This dog has many stories of his own. All, not near as nice as the ones of the Lady in White.

Polonia Montanez lived in this adobe and was the village midwife.

She also taught the children catechism and had them say prayers for the souls of their peers who had died. Passerbys would often see the children in her yard kneeling in prayer with Polonia hovering over them with a long pointed stick in her hands ready to prod anyone who was not paying attention to his or her "duty to pray".

She was also known as the Rain Maker. During 1890 there was a terrible drought. This caused the crops to shrivel in the sun and the rivers to dwindle to dust. Polonia decided to do something about it.

She gathered the children and they climbed the hills and made their way to the Ocean. Praying the whole way.

As they approached the beach a heavy mist feel and it soon turned into a torrent down pour. This is a true story and the report of it can be found in the old news papers that report it.

For over a century there have been reports of ghostly figures of children being seen kneeling in the yard of this old adobe.

Also, many claim they have heard sounds coming from inside the adobe, which has no windows, even though it has not been occupied or lived in for many, many years.

This building is now known as the O'Neill Museum and is run by the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society.

However, back in 1870, it was built by Jose Garcia, a saloon owner, for his wife. It was one of the first frame houses in San Juan Capistrano.

In 1896, Jose was murdered by Metizo Flores who was tried and convicted. He was sentenced to hang but was later reduced to life in prison. That sentence was also reduced and he was free in just a few short years.

In 1903, Albert Pryor purchased the house from the Garcia family and lived there until 1955. It was then rented out periodically but the tenants were always frighten away by a ghost that was said to sit on the porch and it was believed to be the ghost of Albert Pryor.

In 1976 the house was donated to the Historical Society. The Society raised funds to move the house it it's location now. Since the O'Neill family donated $72,000 of the $100,000 that was needed to restore the house, it was renamed The O'Neill Museum.

There are still reports of footsteps being heard, sounds of voices talking, a woman crying, items being moved and even sightings of ghost that roam the halls.

It is not known who is haunting this building today. It could be the same ghost of Mr. Pryor that scared people for years. Though the sounds of a woman crying leads one to believe it could be the ghost of Jose Garcia's wife who is said to be to still be mourning the loss of her murdered husband.

Most likely it is more then one ghost that still resides here. Perhaps even Jose has come back to search for the one who took his life.

This is only a small amount of the Ghost Stories and Legends you will hear about on our tours.

If you are ever in the Orange County area and want to go on a tour, please let me know.

The old adobe home of Polonia Montanez is now open for the public to tour. Also the O'Neill Museum can be toured.

In my next post I will share photos of the inside of both of these homes that are said to be haunted.



Connie said...

You always give us such fascinating tips on things like this, sugar! I loved reading about our home state that we only visit once a year now to visit our kids. This was one of your most fascinating, chick!!! Loved this post.

The Charm House said...

Very interesting post!! Thanks for sharing all of this!
Have a wonderful and blessed day!

Leave a Legacy said...

I love reading your ghost stories. Can't wait to see the inside of the houses. You should have a television show on A&E!

Donna @ Party Wishes said...

Your stories give me the chills and I'm sure you will be an amzing tour guide. How often do you host them? How long do they last? What is the cost? I think it would be fun to come along with you.

Rach said...

I would not want to be spending any extra time here!! Too spooky for me!

We had a great time at Eat Love Pray. It is a great movie. Very inspirational. It also has humor, romance, and lots lovely scenery!

Rechelle ~Walnuthaven Cottage~ said...

Loved that you touched on the folklore of La Llorona. That "tale" has been in our "culture" a very long time and can be traced back to the Aztec time. I remember my mother telling me her tale and while the location of the drownings change, and the history of the woman changes, most of the story stays the same.
We've had some activity in the home but nothing spectacular. I had a girl walk in here one day and the her baby was laughing and waving at somethign across the room. I just chuckled and said "she must be playing with "him"", and the girl said "you have an old man here!". I just smiled and said "one of them is a man, but I don't know if he's young or old". lol!

Patty said...

I just found your blog while looking for something else and I had to read this post because I live in San Juan Capistrano. I love Los Rios Street and all the history there but had no idea it was haunted too. How interesting! I have to check out more of your blog now.

California187 said...

omg i live around there. & its seriously creepy when you walk by those houses at night.
i would LOVE to go inside them.!

Aztek1969 said...

I used to live in Mexico city and when I was a kid I heard La Llorona couple of times. La Llorona is known to try to take you to places where there is water to drown you, and it is true, because she tried to take me and my brother. Well, it is a long storie that some other time I will share.

Lorna Collins - said...

On October 25 & 26, Ghost tours of old San Juan will be conducted. Contact the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society for information and reservations!