Hotel National Jackson in California
The Story of Our Special Guest, Flo
Back in the late 1800s, when Jamestown was a bustling enclave in the prosperous heart of the Gold Country, a striking young woman stepped off the train and checked into a cozy room at the Historic National Hotel. Time has erased her surname, but “old timers” remembered hearing her first name as “Flora” and guessed her age to be around 19. According to historians of Gold Rush history, sheriff reports, and witness accounts that also became local lore, we have a sketch of her story. Flora, later known as “Flo”, made mention to fellow hotel guests that she had been raised by her grandmother, a wealthy woman on the East Coast. After her grandmother died, she left New York and embarked on a trip to live with a relative in San Francisco. On the train trip westward, she met a dark-haired, handsome young lawyer named Henry, who worked for a group of San Francisco mining investors. It was love at first sight, and by the time they reached California, Henry had proposed marriage. Knowing her relatives would be outraged, they made plans to meet six weeks later in Jamestown, where Henry often traveled on business, to be wed. He had grown to love this area, and had a particular fondness for The National Hotel, first established in 1859. So, after a short stay with her relatives, Flo secretly boarded the train for the trip east into the rolling foothills. She arrived in Jamestown, in a state of happy anticipation, again staying at the National Hotel. Details of her stay are sketchy, but we do know that the bride-to-be met her future husband with a joyous embrace at the train depot a few days before Christmas and immediately hired a local dressmaker to sew a lovely lace-trimmed wedding gown. Of course, they stayed in separate rooms and met for breakfast each morning to plan their wedding and on Christmas day, Henry presented Flo with a beautiful diamond ring. The day after Christmas Flo was waiting for Henry to come down when she heard a shot ring out. By some accounts, what happened next was a crime, although no one was ever caught or prosecuted; in others, it appears a tragic accident involving a town drunk. The accounts are sketchy, but all agree on one point: On the sometimes raucous streets of Jamestown, a drunken young man stumbled into the front doorway of National Hotel and shot
Henry as he descended the stairs from the rooms above. In the cold air of that December morning, Flo ran to find Henry lying at the bottom of the stairs in a pool of blood by the opened door. The hotel staff heard uncontrollable sobs throughout that sad day and night, and the next night, and the next. Then, on New Year’s Eve…silence. Alarmed by Flo’s sudden silence, hotel staff entered her room and inside they found the young woman, dressed in the lace-trimmed wedding gown, with no breath coming from her lips, neatly seated in a chair at the open window. Cause of death was recorded as heart failure, but those who bore witness to her loss knew that a heart had not failed – it had been broken. Revelers later told of seeing a floating “woman in white” in an upstairs window as they staggered past the hotel that night. As sad as those long-ago events were, tragedy does not seem to be part of Flo’s modern-day persona. However, she is a bit of a mischief-maker. Some of our visitors, invited to share their thoughts in journals kept in each room, have reported doors slamming, lights flickering, and items tossed from suitcases and shelves. Our staff has also witnessed the other-worldly shenanigans. Chefs have reported pans tumbling off shelves, and spoons and ladles suddenly swinging wildly from wall hooks. Guests tell of entering their rooms to find the heater unexpectedly on and the room warm, yet feeling an icy blast of air brush past them into the hallway. For the most part, though, Flo is a cheerful presence who seems intent on a long and happy stay – a fate we wish for all our guests. As for what keeps her here, we can only guess she is here with her memories of her beloved Henry. Perhaps for Flo, The National Hotel and the beautiful plans of that Holiday season long ago,+ are simply too dear to leave behind. Perhaps some loves are too strong to fade in the course of a mere century. If you happen to see Flo, please say hello and wish her well. As a point of interest, she seems to favor the second story rooms, but on occasion has been seen downstairs in the pre-dawn hours – floating through the dining room walls.