Bethany's Home Sweet Haunted Home

Jackson, CA

History of a haunt

Jackson, CA is in Amador County in the Gold Country of Northern California. Known for great wines and great haunts, the gold rush towns in the area are notoriously haunted.  In a town where brothels and gambling were commonplace until the mid-1950s, when the Attorney General came into town and shut it all down, the wild west left a lot of spirits in its wake. While the house's age on record is 1906, we have deeds dating back to the 1870s.   During this time, we believe the house was a "female boarding house" or brothel (likely in the late 1870s-1890s) but most of its life was as boarding house.  It was a speakeasy, gambling den, and family home all mixed together. This means in the last 150 years, there have been so many different energies in the house.  While I do know of some deaths, and even murders, that occurred with the residents, there is still likely a lot of deaths I will never uncover since the only way I am able to search for them is based on the address and owners' names, which are not always listed and not all deaths made their way to the newspapers.  Most of the information acquired has been done over the last several months.  I have been continually checking out websites like,, going through the archives of the Amador Ledger newspaper and by other means. I have had to be creative as well as scrolling through pages and pages of searches.  I made a binder of the information collected, mostly for guests to read, and all of this was done as a way to humanize, remember and get to know more about the history of the house and the spirits who are still around.  Looking at a lot of this through the eyes of someone in the 21st century, has definitely been shocking.  The advances in medicine have me extremely grateful, as something as small as a cut or a cold could have been deadly before antibiotics were found just in my father's generation.  Also, as someone who is very socially liberal, I feel like the stigma many may have felt and concerns about judgements have gone away with the times (marital status and bootlegging are things we hardly even see as a crime) but certainly, the spirits seem to have kept many of their judgments.  While posting about crimes committed, or lifestyle choices, I think we see these differently now than they were during the early part of the 20th century.  I will lay out facts, and questions, about some of the people who lived in the house, but never with any sort of judgment.  I should add that I do feel a close bond and desire to protect the spirits in the house, I also do not think any of their choices in life necessarily reflect them spiritually.  Hopefully, we will all continue to grow and change throughout our lives and into our afterlives.  

Margaret Guerra - William Holder

Feb 1887

Margaret "Maggie" Guerra (likely originally would have been a de le Guerra and it was changed as her father and some of her siblings were born in Chile and came to CA with the gold rush) purchased the property as a single woman, from George Stasel for $450 in 1877. When looking at the Consumer Price Index as well as inflation, that would be approximately $357K  today.  At that time, it was extraordinarily rare for even married women to own property, so the fact this young unmarried woman (about 22 years old) was able to make this purchase is astounding really.   I was told the house was a brothel (or "female boarding house") in the past and this seems to be the most reasonable time for that to be the case.  Between a single woman buying and owning it, and a newspaper article from the 1990s which discussed the foot bridge crossing the river (next door) being used to bring people to the "female boarding houses" on North Main, it does seem reasonable this would have been the case.  But Maggie would not stay single too long.  In Oct. 1884, Maggie would marry a recent widow (he was single 8 months when his wife Fanny died) and English immigrant named William Holder.  They would welcome a son, also named William, the following year who died at 2 years and 7 months old. They would also go on to have two daughters (who would eventually run boarding houses as well).  Maggie died in 1896, but I am not sure of the cause as the newspapers for both mother and son just state the relation to William Holder and the fact that they died.   At that time, it appears if one of their daughters ended up staying in the home but being raised by Maggie's brother, Frank, and his wife Amanda.  The other daughter I don't find a record of until the 1920s, so I believe she went to live with another of Maggie's siblings out of the area (perhaps Lena Horton who had a single son in San Francisco).  William had his fair bit of trouble (usually being a victim of assaults but he was charged for at least one assault himself) and would end up dead in the North Fork Jackson creek in 1909 (the same creek behind the house but up the road just past Theresa's Italian restaurant).  This story seems a little suspicious to me, because his feet were in the water (and the creek does not go down quickly). Forensics were non-existent then and likely not a lot of concern was given for a drunk blacksmith anyway. Back then, they would just have a group of men make a jury and vote if it was accidental or something else.    Only one of his daughters would attend the funeral (as the Guerras had moved to San Francisco a few years before). As for Mildred and Della, only Mildred ever married and she married late in life and neither had children, so this Holder line ended here.    

Jan 15 1909

Do they remain in the house?

I believe that Maggie, William and perhaps little William do remain. There are many reasons I believe this, a previous tenant, whose family lived in the house for 2 years, told me he only was given two names (they are a family of empaths) and that was Maggie and William.  He hadn't researched the house or previous owners, so there is no reason he would have known those names.  He also said that one night when sleeping in the basement apartment, he woke up and saw a man trudging through the creek.  I have been told many times about a many in the hallway (where the washer and dryer is) that he is dirty and grimy (sounds about right for a blacksmith), and we often do get the smell of campfire up there as well.  While I cannot be sure, it would seem possible that William is still. We have also had childish behavior (like balls bouncing) and a footprint that appeared on the stairs that may be the right age for William Jr.  Overall, it is just a guess- but I think everything leads me to believe they are still with us.  

Mining deaths

John Guerra - Son of Frank Guerra - Nephew to Maggie Holder 

The deeds are a little confusing because it shows that Maggie sold the house for $350 to the President of the bank, who then sold the house to Frank for $5.  Frank had been a foreman at the mine (and the bankers all had large mining interests), but I believe Maggie and her family continued to live in the house until her death (according to one article in this time, Frank was given housing at the mine).  But Frank left the family to work in mines in AZ about the same time his sister died, and it is clear at that time that the rest of the family was then living in the house.  

John helped his mom, and sisters (and cousin who is referred to as a sister often in newspapers of the time) by working in the mine.  The night before his death, there was a political rally turned dance that kept people drinking and dancing until 2 am.  John partook in this night of fun, and then went to his work in the mine the next day as usual.  Likely his exhaustion led to his fall and death.  This would have been a big blow to the family.  

Manuel Gonzalez 

Manuel Gonzalez died in 1906 in the mines from a fall as well.   Working in the mines was (and still is) a dangerous job.  I am not entirely sure why they would have brought him back to the house after his fall, except it seems that the doctor did live across the street (the beautiful blue Victorian that I tell people I will live in one day).  This boarder eventually did go to the hospital and died there.  I do not think his spirit remains with us, but he is a part of the sad history of mining and this home. 

Do they remain in the house?

I do not think John or Manual are with us.  Although, there are quite a few spirits so maybe future investigations will say otherwise. 

The Guerra women left behind 

With the death of John (and Frank running off to Arizona), the women did what they could to support themselves. Louise had a leg amputated (the fact she survived that without antibiotics or anesthetics says she was a strong person) as a child and she never did marry.  Louise was advertising her sewing as far back as 1903, while Alma was finishing school (she graduated top of her class in 1906).  They did move to San Francisco, Alma joining her sister, however when the earthquake and great fire ripped through the city in 1906, they came back to Jackson, to try to find work while the city was rebuilt. Eventually, the sisters would move back to San Francisco and take their mother with them. She would die a few years later (in 1909).  

Do they remain in the house?

I do not believe they are.  I think I would have loved Louise especially, but I do not think they are any of the spirits who spend time with us.  

Jackson during prohibition

Jan 17th, 1920, the 18th amendment went into effect making the "intoxicating beverages" illegal throughout the country.  This federal law was in place until it was repealed in Dec 5th, 1933.  Through the country, bootlegging became a thriving economy, and Jackson was one of those communities that was never going to get rid of their alcohol.  One thing, however, that surprised me was that while reading the newspapers from this time, that bars were not only open, but advertising in the newspaper.  Some tried to be sly using the terms "wet goods" while others did not.  Seeing the name Lucot on the The Pioneer advertisement was a shock as well, that the Sheriff, who was supposed to be enforcing the laws, had his name right there without concern.  This was more complicated when seeing his name under the arrest records for others bootlegging. Mostly, before raids were done, the people were notified and would not be there when the law showed up, and therefore no searches could be done.  The newspapers mentioned them being tipped off.  I think we have all seem enough movies about other parts of the country, and see that same repeating theme is that often the local officers of the law knew what was going on but ignored it as much as they could.  If you go into Theresa's restaurant, you will see the trap door in the bar, which was used to escape so they would not be arrested (man I would love to go in there!).   For every time people were arrested, I imagine there were quite a few times that they got away with it.  

  Deborah Coleen Cook, a local historian with books about Jackson and other towns in the area, also wrote a series in the local newspaper about gambling and drinking in Amador. She mentions that Steve Tofanelli owned the Garabaldi Saloon and later goes on to say that "the Garabaldi was the 'most popular and patronized speakeasy and illicit drinking spa on Jackson’s North Main Street' in 1921."  We know Steve liked gambling, as this was one of the first things his remaining daughter (who is in her late 80s) told me was when thet sold the house they had left the craps table behind.  Steve also ran bars (until he was caught up in a scandal and the liquor license was taken away from his brother) for decades as well. 

Gambling was (I should say IS since we have two casinos very close by and is one of the industries that keeps this town afloat now)  also very important to the area.  This wild west town thrived on alcohol, prostitution and gambling.   We will see the police in the town continued to turn a blind eye for decades when it comes to illegal activities especially when it comes to vices (which apparently seemed to be appreciated in town for that business).   

Steve- bootlegger, gambler, felon and family man

Everyone who has heard me speak of Steve, has heard me speak of him fondly.  He was living his best life in the 1920s and 30s and got into a fair amount of trouble, but much of this (through the lense of the 2020s) loses the drama it would have had then. I still see Steve as a protector to the house, the spirits within, and even to me. Many people would hate having spirits around, but I feel better with him to keep an eye on the place when I cannot be there.  He spends his time in the basement, his one living daughter did tell me that people had seen her father in the basement after his death, and I have a video in which he actually told us his name (using Necrophonics).  Without this, I do not think I would know anything about this man, whose legal name is on the deeds, but not listed in any of the articles I have found.   I admit, because he still has family around, I understand that this is a bit sensitive.  But history is what it is, there is no judgments on them or the ones they left behind, and again, I have a weird attachment to Steve, so I clearly do not think that any of the information I am about to share says anything other than, he was a boss, and he was always trying to get money and have the best.  As someone who basically works two jobs, I feel like this resonates deeply with me (of course I do it legally). 

Feb '25

Maggie and Frank Guerra's brother, Alfred, broke his leg out front of the Garibaldi. Is it chance that Steve and Albert were involved with this Saloon? I have been trying to figure out where this is located but have been unable to (is this at the house or down the street?).  North Main is everything North of California St, so when you turn off the Highway everything to the left (where we are) was considered North Main. 

Steve goes to the Supreme Court 

Steve, his "wife" (they were not married until 1926 and she used a fake name Maria Rolleri when they did tie the knot), her niece and her niece's husband, and Maria's brother or father (there are different accounts) were all nabbed in a highgrading case.  Basically, highgrading is conspiracy to sell stolen gold to the government.  In 1925, Steve was melting down the gold he was getting from the miners (for lodging but also alcohol and gambling) and sending it to the niece of Maria (or "Mary") who lived in San Francisco.  Louise (the niece- not related to Louise Guerra) then would go to the mint to sell it, and she did this for 11 weeks, and then the employees at the mint got suspicious to where Louise (who was using a fake name) got all this good quality gold. An investigation was launched and during that Mary said that the miners only make $4/day so you have to expect they steal gold when they can.  With that statement, the state made a case that they were selling stolen gold.  The trial happened in San Francisco, and they were found guilty.  Steve was given 18 months in Leavenworth and spent 15 of those months there before the supreme court ruled in Steve's favor and he was freed.  We would like to think that Steve would put all the shadiness in the past but what fun would that be? 

9 Oct '28

Nov '25

May '27

Steve's family life 

Steve and Maria's relationship did not last, and they divorced in 1935; however, Steve had his first child with Marilda (who was 13 years his junior) in 1933. I could not find any marriage license for these two, but they would spend the rest of their lives together and had 3 children together.  I am confident in saying that they still remain together now as Marilda seems to be the spirit who hangs out mostly in the kitchen, and I think she is what gives it the really inviting energy it has. When speaking to their last living child (who now is in her late 80s), she did eventually say that she thought her dad, mom, sister and brother-in-law were all in the house, and I actually very much believe this is true.  It is a little confusing because Steve's mom was named Maria and went by Mary, his first wife is the same, and is seems that Marilda also went by Mary, which of course makes pinning it down more difficult.  Steve's mom did live with them, and she died in 1935. 

I love this picture so much. Between the pit bull looking dog, Steve's mother looking like Mrs. Doubtfire, and this appearing to be the front porch of the house, I immediately cherish this photo! 

Zelinda (Linda) as a small child, no wonder why my dogs have always been comfortable at the house!

The picture shows Maria Bellini Tofanelli (Steve's first wife), Steve's mother Maria, and Guy's wife Irene.   

Murders and Mayhem

Feb. 4, 1927 - A. Ruiz came into the Garabaldi Saloon seemingly looking for a fight.   Although there were many witnesses who saw Ruiz threaten Porres, ultimately it was Porres who shot a drunk Ruiz (hitting a bystander as well). Steve loaded up Ruiz and drove him to Sacramento to the hospital where he lived a few days before ultimately dying.   They found Porres guilty of manslaughter (even though Ruiz would not speak to police) and sent him to San Quentin.

I am honestly shocked that this man was found guilty with all the accounts of Ruiz' behavior.  I definitely would have  expected him to be freed.  

May 7, 1931 - Micheal Tuff, who had only been living in the house for 5 days, went fishing with Steve's brothers and their wives and ended up drowning.   I can find no other record of Michael or articles about his life or death. I find this a bit suspicious and was given a different story from the spirits.                             

March 29, 1931- California Hotel Burns to the ground.   The Quad plex next door was a hotel from right before the turn of the century until it burned down. Steve had rented that hotel from 1921-1927 and ran it as a boarding house. He rented the whole hotel for $140/month and then rented the rooms out.  There were 20 rooms, 2 men to a room, each paid $35/month.  This was quite a successful business but ultimately his landlord would sell the property.

Dec 27th, 1935- Husband kills new bride's ex-boyfriend by shooting him 7 times in the front room of the house.  Now, I do not know which room then would be the front room now, but unfortunately, one of Steve's boarders (Amado Ledesma) struck up a relationship with an unmarried (although in a relationship - which would have been actually illegal back then with the morality laws) Carmen Perez. Carmen left her boyfriend (Francesco Pimentel) and within a week was married to Ledesma.  Francesco came looking for trouble and started a fight, he was saying that he wanted to return Carmen's belongings, and it was broken up originally, but then he showed up at the house.  Someone had gone to get the sheriff, but it was too late. A fight ensued and Ledesma killed Pimental.  The doctor (living across the street) was called and Ledesma was asked to help move the man he shot to a bed nearby, but Ledesma did not help him and ended up taking off, not to be seen again.  I really would love some follow up, how did Carmen's life go from here?  Unfortunately, the announcement of the wedding was in the same newspaper that the murder appeared in as well.  

Steve nabbed for highgrading again!

in 1939 Steve has a new wife and children, so you might think he would have changed his ways, but unfortunately, that was not the case.  Once again, Steve and several other defendants were found guilty of highgrading, but there were some differences. This time the gold was shipped to Los Angeles to go to the mint there and it totaled $320,000 (approximately 7 million dollars today).  Steve was given a fine of $1,000 and 6 months in jail, because of his previous charge (which is perplexing as that was overruled by the Supreme Court so that should not have been considered), while the others got half the fine and no jail time.  I should also say that this seems like a light sentence still considering how much money was moved, but again his previous case should not have been considered.   From here, there would not be any drama for another 16 years.    

California shuts down the brothels and gambling houses

The Tofanelli brothers are all brought into the investigation.   

Gambling and prostitution were still a main industry in Jackson in the 1950s.  In August of 1953, chief of police Milardovich was fired, he said publicly, because he was trying to shut down prostitution and gambling in the city.  An election was held and Guido "Guy" Tofanelli (who previously was a bar owner and fight promoter and sometime police officer in the Bay) was elected to be the new Chief of Police.  According to local historian Deborah Cook "Despite a plea from the Attorney General, Tofanelli got off scot free, the city council stayed seated, and James Fregulia was reinstated as night patrol officer."

Aug 53

Why are there so many spirits?

 Steve's daughter once asked me why I cannot simply just ignore the spirits and "let them rest in peace," but I do not think that hanging out in my basement is what we think of when it comes to peace, and nor do I think they are interested in that.  I think the spirits enjoy interacting with people, if they did not, they wouldn't be doing it daily.  Originally, I thought Steve's shady past kept him here, some spirits are afraid of judgment so would rather stay then worry about wrath. I now think that mostly the house is an alive thing and it forms attachments, and so people (and spirits) feel compelled to be there.  I know I am attached to the house in a way I have never been to any other house before.  I also know my teants also feel it, and so does our housekeeper (who drives by it and checks on it almost daily).  When it comes to the spirits, I think that they make opinions known on my decoration choices (not turning on the motion activated lights the entire time we were hanging the mirrors on the mirror wall). When I did some light remodeling to the bathroom, I got daily activity on the cameras for about 6 weeks after (orbs, camera being moved, other items being moved and all sorts of random things). When I hung the curtains in the solarium, that really made someone mad and there was lots of banging and stomping when we were working on it.   But ultimately, the spirits know I care for the house, and I believe they appreciate that.  Also there are portals or vortexes, and also spirits can form attachments to objects, which are further reasons for all the spirits in the home. 

Zelinda Jean Cardinal (Tofanelli)

Birthdate: February 23, 1933

Birthplace: Sacramento County, California, 

Death: June 02, 1996 (63)

Linda seems to spend a lot of time in her old room (the rose room) but also has been known to go other places. She seems to fight with Fred at times, especially when he is touching people. I think she is a protector and I love having her around. 

Frederick Norman Cardinal

Birthdate:  July 08, 1932

Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Death:  December 22, 1979 (47)

Fred seems to be all over the house.  Besides in the rose room he shared with Linda, he will be in the basement and all over. I think he might be the one who likes to touch women.  He seems to be the jokester, so I blame all annoying activity on him (which may be someone else, but with this charming smile, I think he is a good suspect).  

Marilda Catherine Toffanelli (Jones)

Birthdate: January 22, 1904

Birthplace: New Jersey, United States

Death: January 27, 1989 (85)

Mary seems to spend more time in the kitchen, I am not sure if she goes anywhere upstairs but I think she is the no-nonsense yet maternal figure who gives the downstairs a peaceful feel to it.  

Stefano Giovanni Guiseppe Tofanelli

Birthdate: February 15, 1891

Birthplace: Antraccoli, Near Lucca, Toscano, Italy

Death: May 04, 1981 (90)

Steve is our protector. Although his story has been the largest part, his spirit usually stays in the basement.  Since we have the portal down there, I believe he stays in there to make sure who is allowed in the house.  

How many Spirits do you see?

In this picture there is one alive person (plaid shirt). A paranormal investigator kept seeing things in the mirror so took this picture.  On the bed I think I see 5 (4 sitting in a row and one laying across from them).  While this may be representative of Maggie's family, and Maggie would have had dark hair, I am more inclined to think these spirts are attached to the furniture. It originally came from Toledo, and likely was from the 1920s. I have been told that the bed feels crowded and some people felt snuggled at night, but nothing malicious, just from a time when whole families would share one bed.