With Halloween just days away, it is time for a chilling piece of local history and its related ghost stories. The perfect candidate is the riveting circa 1890s Greenwood incident of a tragic home invasion as well as subsequent ghostly sightings.
Before delving into this story’s details, some background information about Lucina and John Greenwood is warranted. The facts about Lucina and her life, typical for her era, are minimal. A Missouri native, her maiden name was Larrabee. Also, her life ended violently when Lucina was murdered.
In her honor, John created a special memorial. Tom Gregory, author of the 1912 “History of Solano and Napa Counties, California” book, added, “Many large trees adorn the (Greenwood) property, and these were planted by him many years ago and stand as sentinels to the past.”
The Greenwood property was located at the southeast corner of Jameson Canyon Road and the highway. Their house was moved across the highway to allow construction of the Doctors Company campus.
John, a Maine native, began a seafaring life at 9 years old as the sailing master aboard his father’s Barbados-bound ship. A decade later, 1849, John arrived in San Francisco aboard the Saratoga. However John quickly tired of life ashore and built a schooner, the Lucina Greenwood to ply the California waters. Then in 1860 the Greenwoods purchased their 500-acre Jameson Canyon property to cultivate grain crops.
But on Feb. 9, 1891 the Greenwoods’ lives and serenity were shattered when Billy Roe and William Schmidt invaded their home. Late that afternoon, Lucina entered her kitchen to find John tied to a chair with Roe and Schmidt standing nearby. Lucina tried to run for help but Roe tackled her. He dragged the struggling Lucina into the adjoining room where he murdered her. Roe proceeded to drag John into the hallway, threw him on the floor and shot John in the head twice. Roe and Schmidt quickly fled.
Hours later, they returned to find John alive and next to the deceased Lucina. The furious Roe shot John in the head again. Roe and Schmidt parted company and fled again.
By sunrise John had dragged himself to his front gate and flagged down his neighbor. A large posse was quickly mounted but never found the murderers.
Years later, guilt compelled Schmidt to surrender. Following his trial and conviction as an accomplice, Schmidt was sent to San Quentin where he quickly went insane and died.
As Schmidt descended into madness, Roe roamed free until he betrayed himself to a southern California bartender by bragging about murdering the Greenwoods. That bartender, an off-duty U.S. marshal, assisted the drunken Roe to his room and then verified Roe’s story with Napa County authorities. Following his arrest, Roe was tried and convicted for murdering Lucina. His Jan. 15, 1897 hanging was California’s last public execution.
Later, it was disclosed Roe had concealed a gun so he could escape. But it was discovered and removed from his cell. That confiscation, it is said, is why the raging Roe haunts the courthouse at night. As he disparately searches for the gun, Roe terrorizes every mortal he encounters.
It is also said, Lucina and John visit their Jameson Canyon property and home. Purportedly, when the house stood on its original site, witnesses saw Lucina upstairs watching over them at night. After the house was moved, it is said, Lucina has been seen throughout the Doctors Company campus. She is also credited with causing a computer glitch that occurs at the exact time of her murder, 5:15 p.m.
As for John, he is said to occupy their home. Although never seen, people say his presence is felt and heard within the attic. Purportedly, the grief-stricken John had Lucina’s prized wagon placed in the attic where he slept until his death.
With these chilling accounts, I wish you a Happy Halloween!