Barkerville Houser House

Note:  Upon reading the Barkerville report, John Savoie, author and researcher,  wrote to me with his own experiences in Barkerville in August 2010 and subsequent research into the Houser family. 

Upon entering the Houser House there was an immediate feeling of someone at the front door. The door was open, as was the screen door, but it felt as if someone was physically in the way. Entering the home I felt a feeling of longing, betrayal and loneliness. I picked up the name of Adalene and Janie or even John. As I walked through the house, the names kept repeating as well as the feeling of depression. When I felt the depression I immediately felt very cold as if a cold chill ran through the house. The temperature outside the home was well above 25 Celsius and there was a soft breeze. As I placed my recorder on a window ledge I also felt an immediate reversal of the depression feeling and felt a happy, almost elated feeling of joy. I felt that there was the spirit of a young(er) woman present. There was a softness here, and the smell of perfume filled the front area of the house. There were no noted flowers in the front of the house. The smell remained for several moments and then dissipated.

This was the same feeling I felt at a previous house that was reported to be a bordello. I sat and concentrated on the feelings and tried to make a connection. I was tempted to read the brochure the store provided for reference and to go outside and read the sign that provided information about the building, but I held off until I left the property.

I took several photographs and reviewed my recording to find nothing out of the ordinary.

When I returned home, I did research on a Barkerville and the houses that felt different.

It is then that I discovered that John Houser had built this house and others in Richfield. He owned several properties and had a few mining claims, but his main livelihood was music and entertainment. He brought over poor, young girls from Germany to provide entertainment to the miners. Some were known as Hurdy Gurdy Girls, which charged a dollar a dance to the miners. Others were of a different attraction – prostitutes.

In the archives I found that the Houser family also operated a “Hotel” which lends to the stories that John Houser was in the entertainment business.

In 1891, the census has an Ada Janes Houser, aged 8, living in Barkerville. She married Edwin Delos Fargo, accountant, aged 46, at age 20 and was said to be John's daughter, either through marriage or adoption. Other histories note her as a niece. There are conflicting histories here. Ada Janes is said to have lived in Barkerville for many years, but I cannot find her death records, or a historical account of her death. It may be that Ada was a prostitute and the “daughter” or “niece” description was there to cover up.

s/o means son of and d/o means daughter of.

BC Heritage Marriage Collection:

04-09-172619 Edwin Delos FARGO, 46, accountant, Busti NY, Barkerville, s/o Corydon A. FARGO & Lucy B., married Ada Jane HOUSER, 20, Barkerville, same, d/o John HOUSER & Janetta, witn: M. BAILEY & Mrs. L.F. CHAMPION, both of Barkerville, 24 Feb 1904

However, in the death notice of Jeannette Houser, Ada Janes is not listed as a daughter.

John Houser's wife Jeannette Nee Ceise died in Barkerville in 1933 (according to records) and is buried at the Barkerville Cemetery. Her epitaph reads: In Loving memory Jeanette Houser 1848 – 1933 MOTHER. She herself came to Barkerville at the age of 16 and was a Hurdy Gurdy Girl. John had taken her as a wife while in San Francisco and returned to Barkerville to mine and to offer entertainment.

Jeannette died in the house in 1933, alone. She was not noted as being ill, but when her son Joseph came calling on her he found her motionless on the floor, by the front door.

So who is the female presence at the home? Ada Janes or Jeanette? Or perhaps another girl?



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