Caryn Haller

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October 30, 2012
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A haunting in Genoa

There's something about standing on a deserted Genoa street in the warm fall air that plays tricks on the mind.

Adding to the paranoia are the stories of Genoa's history and hauntings as told by Genoa Historic Ghost Tours guide Kim Copel during an Oct. 5 tour.

"I've learned things from her. She's fascinating. I have ghosts at my house," Genoa resident Deby O'Gorman said. "I didn't realize the reason my closet has always been colder is because there's some sort of presence there. Every once in a while we'll hear a door close. There's definitely something going on in my house,"

The gripping anecdotes Copel relates on the 2-hour tour leave guests questioning what they believe to be fact or fiction.

"I know ghosts have a connection with history," Copel said. "If we can communicate with them, we can find out some of the answers to questions we have about this town or wherever we are at. They're just people living in a different realm."

Having heard ghosts before via Electronic Voice Phenomenon, Copel witnessed one with her own eyes four months ago at the Genoa Country Inn.

"It was a shadow ghost," she said. "I actually saw something with my own eyes that I've believed in, but never seen."

Others have also encountered strange occurrences at the hotel, coming from room 205 specifically.

Copel said tenants have heard someone banging on their door and running up and down the stairs when there were no other guests staying there. A housekeeper also confirmed strange happenings.

"A building doesn't have to be old to be haunted," Copel said. "There's a little boy and his mother, and they like to stay in that room. We think these ghosts moved in because it's a nice hotel."

In the J.S. Childs building, a man in a dark suit has been reported standing in the window when furniture inside that room would prevent anyone from doing so.

"He's just simply looking out the window," Copel said. "This is something local citizens have reported seeing on an irregular basis."

Copel also relates the story of "Bad Man" Sam Brown who was so bad that, "by 1860 he had 26 notches in his pistol belt for every man he had killed."

The story goes that Genoa resident Henry Van Sickle shot him dead during an altercation.

His body was buried in an unmarked grave in the old cemetery on Nixon Street across from Van Sickle's town house.

"Through recent investigation we realized Sam Brown was coming over to Henry Van Sickle's house looking for him," Copel said.

Livermore, Calif., resident Jeanne Kelly enjoyed hearing the history of Nevada's oldest settlement during the tour.

"She's got great facts. She brings it alive," Kelly said. "The ghosts are cute, but I like the history. The ghosts add the spice."

Another stop on the tour is the Genoa Courthouse Museum built in 1865.

After serving as a courthouse, the building was used as a school for decades until it was restored to a museum.

"It's haunted. It's very haunted," Copel said. "We had some criminals on death row downstairs. There's a lot of emotions in the courthouse."

Copel added that when pictures are taken outside the building, orbs, or spirit manifestations, can be seen in the photographs.

There have also been reports of a little boy and girl lingering inside.

"We have found some interesting things in there from when it was a school," Copel said, "but nothing bad."

Toni Rodriguez from Modesto, Calif., was entranced by the spooky tales.

"I love it," she said. "I like the ghost stories and the histories."

Her favorite haunt was behind the Genoa Antiques store where a man was allegedly hung.

"We've gone back there and we've felt a sense of just to get out of there," she said. "But we stick around because we like the ghosts."

Genoa Historic Ghost Tours are 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Friday through Monday. Other tours can be made by appointment.

Copel also offers historic-only tours on request.

For information, call 220-0605 or visit

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The Record Courier Updated Oct 31, 2012 07:19PM Published Oct 30, 2012 06:47PM Copyright 2012 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.