The Olivas Adobe, historic and haunted!

Well, I’m not quite done extolling Texas, but I’m taking a break today and taking y’all back to Old California. To the Olivas Adobe, a terrific site left from Southern California’s Rancho Period. The home, or hacienda, is a prime example of adobe  (dried clay brick) architecture, made even mores unique with its two-story structure.  Don Raymundo Olivas added an unusual second floor during the rancho’s hey-day in the late 1840’s, and the house has been restored to its original stature. It’s something to see.

Making things even more fun, the adobe is said to be haunted! Although of course many locals dispute the idea, stories persist of  folks seeing a ghostly “dark lady” standing near the kitchen, of present-day tour guides hearing piano music in the empty living room, and of visitors encountering odd smells and strange footfalls on the balcony. She is referred to as “the Lady in Black.”  But “the Lady in White”  has also been seen…with no eyes but bloody sockets. A hundred witnesses saw a little girl, believed to be Maria Olivas,  in the children’s room on a recent Halloween night

Let’s start at the beginning, a very good place to start.  Don Raymundo was born poor in 1809 in the tiny pueblo that grew into today’s Los Angeles, and he joined the Mexican Army in California at 16. As a  Lancer (cavalryman), he was assigned to the Presidio (fort) at Santa Barbara, about two hours north of L.A.

It was here in Santa Barbara that Raymundo met Teodora Lopez and married her in November 1832. In gratitude for his loyalty and service, Mexican Governor Juan B. Alvarado granted Raymundo and a friend 4,670 acres of land in today’s Ventura County. Raymundo began ranching this land while Teodora began bearing children. 21 total, eight girls and 13 boys.

When gold was discovered along the American River about four hundred miles north, Raymundo found his own “gold mine” and made a fortune supplying those Forty-Niner miners with beef as well as hides.

These were the golden years for the adobe, with its remodeling and additions and glorious parties that lasted for days. Raymundo’s family prospered until drought in the 1860’s destroyed the cattle empires. He survived by raising sheep. However, drought may be just one reason for the decline in fortune. In 1855, legend claims the hacienda was robbed by a gang of outlaws with a take of more than $75,000 in gold.

Another tale claims that Don Raimundo saw the outlaws approach and gave his strongbox to a trusted servant to bury. Enraged upon finding nothing of value to steal, the bandits supposedly ripped Dona Teodora’s gold earrings from her lobes!  Some say she is “the Lady in Black.”  Departing in anger, the outlaws caught site of the loyal Indian servant with a shovel in his hands. Thinking he was about to use it as a weapon, the leader shot him dead.  This servant was the only person who knew where the fortune was –and is–buried. The treasure trove has never been found.

Indeed, Don Raymundo’s death in 1879 was the beginning of the end for the Olivas’ fortune, and the adobe house was sold in 1899. Some of the ranchland has become a municipal golf course, some strawberry fields, some subdivisions. After passing through many owners, the adobe itself was purchased by Max Fleischmann, of the yeast empire, who restored the building in 1927. Upon his death, the adobe was given to the City of Ventura, and it opened as a museum in July, 1972. Docent-led tours are frequent, and many fourth-grade schoolchildren take field trips to the adobe for a hands-on two-hour program that brings to life the Rancho Period of California History.

And at Christmas, locals enjoy a holiday candlelight tour that showcases the tradition of Las Posada where Mary and Joseph seek room at the inn.

Historian and professional ghost hunter Richard Senate believes the Adobe is one of the West Coast’s most haunted places. Check out  or his marvelous book, Ghosts of the Haunted Coast  from Pathfinder Publishing. I bought his book last weekend at a book festival and enjoy it immensely.

How about you? Any haunted places near your homestead?

Click on cover                                                                                                                                           Upcoming White Rose Pub. release

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47 thoughts on “The Olivas Adobe, historic and haunted!”

  1. Good morning Tanya, what a beautiful building and a fascinating history! We have plenty of legends of ghosts and treasure here in Nova Scotia, with perhaps the most famous being stories of Oak Island, off the South Shore, where Captain Cook’s treasure is supposedly buried and protected by ghostly pirate guards. People have been searching for it on the tiny island for well over a century. There is a complex network of man-made shafts which leads folks to believe something must be buried there, but it remains a mystery.

  2. I love haunted buildings–well, the stories, at least. 🙂 There’s an old lodge next to our property that is said to have a couple of “old souls” roaming around inside. Haven’t seen them myself, though.

  3. Isn’t it great the building survives. Also, I love the old pictures…thank goodness we have them even if no one has found the treasure.

    No ghosts here but, on a side note, my nephew will be in a program in college that trains him to be a battleground park ranger and one of their classes is paranormal activity!

    Peace, Julie

  4. Oh, Tanya! You made me homesick! I love southern California. I can practically feel the adobe bricks… I grew up near the mission in San Fernando and remember picnics in the nearby park. It’s amazing what we take for the granted as kids.

  5. Tanya, loved your blog today. I love a good ghost story. And there are plenty of haunted places here in Texas. One place that’s reputed to be one of most active haunted places is Jefferson, Texas. My older sister lives there and I love visiting her. One time my husband and I stayed in the old Excelsior Hotel. Lots of ghostly activity there. There’s the ghost of a child, the railroad tycoon Jay Gould, and one of a women who’s dressed in a wedding gown. But, I didn’t see anything. Very disappointing. I was all geared up for an encounter. Maybe my husband blocked the ghosts with his negative vibes. He definitely didn’t believe in spirits.

    I LOVE your cover for REDEEMING DAISY!! It’s great. The colors and graphics really pop. Should help you sell a bunch of copies. When does it come out?

  6. Great post.
    I wonder about the 21 children. They probably make up the entire city of Ventura by now.

    The most spooky haunted place I’ve ever heard of is the Dark Room in Yuma Arizona. A solitary confinement cell with no doors and windows.

    There were also rumors of ghosts in the Squirrel Cage Jail in Council Bluffs, Iowa. I went there but nothin’ spooky happened.

  7. Hi Jennie, always so glad to see you here! I learned a bit about Oak Island for a wip…some even think the treasure might be the Templar riches from medieval times. I’d sure love to see the place. It keeps flooding every time they dig 90 feet down or something. Sure sounds like it belongs in a book! Actually I’d love to see any place in the maritime provinces. Thanks for the post.

  8. I love reading about haunted buildings. I don’t think there are any where I live. Least I have not heard of any lately. I think I would enjoy visiting places like you speak of!

  9. Hi Julie, what a fascinating part of forestry! Yay. I wonder if your nephew has to learn about all that ghost-sensitive gear ghosthunters wear. There were ghost-hunter tours when I was in San Antonio recently, but I was there alone and too skeered LOL. It supposedly is a very haunted city! I actually didn’t know Olivas was until I read Mr. Senate’s book. Yowza.

    Yes, the adobe is beautifull preserved and completely furnished to the period of its heydey. Thanks for posting.

  10. Hi Vicki, oh, I know how you feel. I’m a California girl at heart. The old missions sure are something. The adob isn’t too far from the San Buenaventura Mission which is still an active parish and also beautifully preserved. Thanks for stopping by today. oxoxo

  11. Can’t say that I am aware of any haunted buildings near here but love hearing stories of such places.

  12. Hi Linda, you’re right, Texas has plenty of haunts! I love learning more and more about the Lone Star state. San Antonio sure had some great ghost stories. Hmmmm. THe Excelsior, a setting for a book, huh? Thanks fot the compliments. The cover turned out just as I imagined. I don’t have a release date but as it’s a short novella, for now it’ll be in e-form. And I’m already at work on the next brother’s story.

  13. Hi Mary, yeah, I know! I hate being in haunted places when the spookies don’t show themselves. Our daughter’s wedding venue last summer has a mischievous ghost but he behaved himself that night.

    I can’t even imagine 21 children. Whew. I hope she at least had ten sets of twins. Yikes. oxoxox

  14. Hey Quilt Lady, always so good to have you at Wildflower Junction. I’ve heard of some famous hotels that are haunted…wouldn’ta wanna sleep there but it could be a cool blog topic! Thanks for stopping by today.

  15. Thanks for sharing this bit of history Tanya..There are not buildings that I know of that are haunted where I live, but again it is not something I pay too much attention to. I will have to check out some facts at our historical society to see if there is.

  16. Hi Kathleen, I totally understand. I’ve known about the Olivas Adobe for three decades LOL and have visited it a number of times, and jus found out a teaching colleague got married there! And yet I didn’t realize it has a reputation for ghosts until I bought Mr Senate’s book last weekend. The YouTube video was awesome and I found it while searching for pictures!

    I hope y’all take five minutes to see it.

  17. I’m having a hard time getting over the 21 children too but I guess she had servants to help. I wonder how long she lived? I love “ghost” stories because I think all things are possible 🙂

  18. That was a great blog. I live south of the Ghost town of Bodie. I live in a house that has three old Indian women who wander about, especially in the summer. (Only on one side of the house). It must have been their path. I live on the REZ. I have never seen them, but I get goose bumps when they are around and I talk to them.
    Your nephew’s job sounds like something special. And to get paid to do it—-wow.

  19. Hi Catslady, I’m interested in Dona Teodora’s history, too. I wonder how old she was when she had her first child. I’ll try to find out. So glad you came by today. I agree, I like to think of endless possibilities!

  20. Howdy, I just ofund out that Teodora lived to be at least 80 but I don’t know yet how old she was when she married. Or even birth and death dates. I’m sure it’s out there somewhere LOL.

  21. I visited this adobe with my parents many years ago. There have been reports of ghost sightings on my son Nate’s place in NE, originally purchased by my great grandfather Thees Moehlmann. Thees built the barn in 1880. My daughter-in-law Kayla and family lived there in the 1990’s and her sisters say “Old Man Moehlmann” haunts the barn. Kayla’s mother also says she has heard a baby cry in the house built by Thees’s son. So far Nate and family have had no ghostly experiences.

  22. HEY TANYA!!!

    Great post as always–you always have the most interesting things to write about! The museum where I worked was haunted–they say it was built on some Indian burial land, but oddly enough, the ghosts that most people saw were not Indian.

    Very interesting–I always learn something from your posts–and great covers on your books, too, girl!!! CONGRATS!


  23. what a very interesting story
    i feel so bad for the faithful servant 🙁

    ghost stories are not a favorite of mine…that’s why i stick to western romance :)….i’m a big baby when it comes to ghosts and such so i pray there are none living near me…though the first house i owned my husband and brother swore was haunted…they had strange things happen to them when they were there alone…and my brother lived there for a bit with his family and his little girl played with an imaginary friend she called dory…at times they would play well but often at night she would come terror stricken into my sister in laws room to sleep with her because dory was trying to hurt her
    it was very creepy and still gives me chills….

    ps–love the daisy cover like the pp mentioned…

  24. Neat-o! Right up my alley, Tanya. I’ve got the first of a trilogy in at TWRP about the Rancho heritage! Our ranch in Southern California was on Rancho Monserate, which was next to Pio Pico’s rancho…and that covered thousands of acres. Every day, I passed by Pio Pico’s old adobe on my way to high school. There are so many old, restored adobes in Southern California. Rancho Los Cerritos is one that’s beautifully restored. Rancho Los Alamitos, and Leo Carrillo’s adobe is, I believe, open for tours near Carlsbad.

    My older daughter was married to a Bixby. And ancestor of his bought Rancho Los Cerritos in 1866 for 20K in gold, which worked out to about seventy-five cents an acre for the 27K acres. He didn’t allow a penny for the adobe hacienda itself!

    As for ghosts, back to Texas we go to my great-grandmother’s house. My great-grandpa’s wallclock stopped at the moment of his death in 1960, and never worked again. It hung next to the front door ever-after until Great-grandma Bond died and the old homestead was eventually sold. And I have nooo idea who in the family ended up with that treasure.

  25. Hi Tanya – Love your Redeeming Daisy cover! It’s so vibrant. Perfect match for the title.

    Is that the Adobe by our fav restaurant Sagebrush? I can’t remember. Great post!!

  26. This is another fascinating blog by my friend, Tanya. I love ghost stories and haunted places. I’ve written before about a ghost named Rebecca who haunts The Lodge in Cloudcroft, NM. I had a ghost in the house my hubby and I lived in in Virginia. He hid an important key once, froze shut the front door, cracked a vase, and returned that important key weeks later in the toe of my shoe. Thanks for a fun blog, Tanya.

  27. First of all, love the Hearts Crossing covers! I think this is the first time I’ve seen the one for Daisy.

    Fascinating story. I love hauntings! And they’re such good fodder for writing, too :).

  28. We live in an 1898 Victorian farm house that has at least 3 ghosts. There is supposed to be a young lady in white that appears on the upstairs landing if someone is going to die. A former resident of the house told us that. One of our children says she say it the night before our old cat died. Our son, who was in about 5th grade at the time, woke up one night and said a girl of about 10 was standing next to his bed. Our middle daughter has had several incidents and will not sleep in our house. She was house sitting for us one and was sleeping in the family room which is a new addition. She never felt comfortable in the old part of the house. Her baby was a few months old at the time and in a porta-crib near the sofa. She woke up in the wee hours of the morning to care for the baby. She had a feeling she was being watched by something malevolent. When she turned around there was a green mass taking shape in the hallway that led to the old part of the house. At about the same time, our black lab who was sleeping on the floor near the crib, got up and started growling. She was stiff legged and every hair on her back was up. She ran for the green mass growling and barking. Just before she got to the hall it disappeared. and the feeling of evil was gone. No one else has had a negative experience. Our grandson (the baby) is now 12 and stays with us all the time, sleeping upstairs in the old part of the house. He has never had a bad experience.
    Our first night in the house, I woke in the early hours and felt a presence in the bedroom doorway, just looking at us. It wasn’t threatening, just the opposite. It was more a feeling of “Yes, you’re the right ones for this house. Welcome.”
    The library where I worked had a ghost hunting team spend the night with all their equipment. The library is located in a 1925 train station. According to them we have 16 ghosts.
    When we lived near Washington DC, the ghost stories and strange happenings were numerous and very strong. Some interesting and frightening events.

  29. Hi Nancy, thanks for posting today. I love the stories of your ancestral haunted home! Whenever I get to Nebraska to visit, I hope to hear the ghost-baby cry! oxox

  30. Hi Cheryl, thanks for the good words! I enjoy finding out new stuff…I actually thought I knew a lot about the Olivas Adobe but not until now did I realize there were ghostly sightings! Yowza! oxoxox

  31. Hi Tabitha, your own haunted house sure has some stories to tell! Write them down LOL…but sorry for the chills.

    Thanks for the compliments on the cover. I had some inpurt but the final design just blew me away with its beauty. So glad you came by the Junction today!

  32. Hi Joyce! You mention some SoCal areas I know pretty well from my childhood! And Carlsbad is presently a favorite place to visit good friends.

    Your story about the stopped clock made me shiver. There’s an old song…the clock stopped never to go again when the old man died. And in your case, it turned real! Yikes!

    Thanks for posting today and best of luck with your trilogy. I know I’m going to enjoy it heartily! oxox

  33. Hi Charlene, I love the colors too. No, this adobe isn’t too far from the book festival last weekend. The Sage Brush one is Leonis. I remember how much fun we had when we toured it! I got some great ideas about the bathhouse. Thanks for posting today, my dear friend! oxoxox

  34. Oooooh, Stacey, such great fodder for your future stories. And to think you actually lived there! THe ghost who haunts our daughter’s wedding venue once left a burning cigar. They have it on display! He’s a friendly ghost, they say LOL. Thanks so much for posting today, my Bandera friend! oxoxox

  35. Hey Helen, always so good to see you here. Yes, the Daisy cover is new and I just love it. Now we’re hashing out ideas for the other Ranch siblings.

    I’ve never really written paranormals, although on my hard drive is a YA about the Salem Witch Trials which has some auras in it LOL…but maybe I’ll try a ghost one of these days. Thanks for posting! oxox

  36. Dear Patricia, WOW. What fascinating details. Hope you incorporate them in a book, whether fiction or nonfiction. Sixteen ghosts…I wonder if they are all someone who has lived in your wonderful old house. Thanks for sharing your spooky adventures today!

  37. Howdy all, thanks for posting today. I’ve had to leave for a while as we have contractors painting ceilings and adding recessed lights inside and it’s just easier to get out of their way. I so appreciate hearing all your ghostly goodies!

  38. It is believed that our subdivision was built over
    an old burial ground. Several of the original home
    owners would tell of a variety of incidents that
    occurred in their homes. One told of seeing a man
    in an old uniform that appeared in their hall, also an woman in an old-fashioned dress was seen. My sister had an extremely cold spot in her living room and a photograph disappeared from that area and has never been seen to this day. We heard doors opening and closing when there was no else in the house, but our most frequent visitor was my younger sister. She passed away in 1975 from breast cancer and would announce herself
    with a cloud of her favorite Nina Ricci perfume.
    My eldest son was getting ready for school and came to tell me of an occurrence. He said Aunt Audry just said Hello, David. He said all I could do was say Hello to her. He wasn’t frightened, just rolled with the situation. We were raising
    her daughter so we think she was just stopping
    by to see how Shan was doing!

    Pat Cochran

  39. Wow, Pat, what a post. I’ve got chills, good ones LOL, reading this. Premise for a book, no? Thanks so much for posting today.

    I’m definitey going to refer back to today’s topic and comments if I ever decide to try a paranormal! You guys have such wonderful, evocative experiences–even if they’re eerie!

    Thanks, everybody, for a wonderful day. My contractors are in the closing stretch…all the recessed lights are in and up and running. Yay!

  40. I have started a geneaology for my daughter. Don Raymundo Olivas is as far back as I have found. This is going to be very in depth at the time of completion. What I can tell about the line to my daughter, Raymundo was her great great great grandfather, her great great granmother was Rebecca Olivas (Raymundo’s youngest daughter), her great grandfather Raymond Yanez (one of the three who invented team roping/penning), grandfather Daniel Yanez, father Brian Yanez… With other ancestors, it seems each individual had several children (average of seven or eight), there are still many in California and I have found clear to Italy.

    Thank you so much for this article, there are several pieces that exist in published books. I am only beginning… so if anyone has more information it would be greatly appreciated!

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