Devin Sisk, center, leads a ghost walk tour in downtown Suisun City on the back steps of the Lawler House. Sisk has been hosting ghost walking tours through downtown Benicia for years and has started expanding his investigations to Napa and Suisun City last year. (Adam Smith/Daily Republic)

Suisun City

Ghost tours delve into Suisun’s paranormal past

By From page A1 | April 02, 2014

SUISUN CITY — The spirit known as Victoria was apparently drawn to the Lawler House’s front porch by the metal sculpture of the jester whose legs were bent as if he was dancing.

“She identifies with this because her own legs were twisted up by polio,” said paranormal investigator Devin Sisk who, with his group of fellow paranormal investigators, has spent the past several months researching old town Suisun City’s supernatural past.

Victoria, Sisk said, died in 1923 when she was 7 and had a brother who also died young. Sisk first encountered her across Main Street, but said he noticed she was more often found at the Lawler House.

Armed with K-2 meters to detect spiritual energy and dousing rods to communicate with the spirits, Sisk has been tracking down what he contends are spirits of those who lived and died here all the way back to the town’s early days.

While the meters find the presence, the dousing rods allow Sisk to play a supernatural form of 20 questions with the rods crossing if the spirit’s answer is yes and bending apart, if it’s no.

In the case of Victoria, Sisk asks her to move the rods when his count-up reaches the age when she died. The rods twitch together at seven. The same goes when he recites the alphabet. The rods finally move when he reaches V and then one of the psychically sensitive members of the group starts calling out names starting with V. The rods join together when she offers the name Victoria.

Sisk, in conjunction with the Suisun City Historic Waterfront Business District, is getting ready to invite both the believers and the skeptics along for ghost walks to introduce people to those spirits and to tell their stories.

Given Suisun City’s history as a rowdy railroad town, those stories can be pretty sordid and unusual.

One is Michael, who, Sisk said, was murdered by drowning in 1924 after he got involved in rum-running operation that resulted in him losing some of the illicit booze and paying for that mistake with his life.

There are a series of prostitutes he identifies as Iris, Hillary, Eleanor, Sweet Marie and Frances, whose spirits can be found at various spots along Main Street near the hotels and pool halls where they plied their business in the decades before World War II.

In what is now Waterfront Comics, there’s the spirit of a 16-year-old named Robert who “saw something he wasn’t supposed to see” in 1887 and ended up getting strangled for it, according to Sisk.

John Harter, who runs the comics store, said he didn’t know he had a ghost in the building his family owns and said he is fine with having it there.

Sisk has been conducting ghost walking tours through Benicia’s historic old town for years and was involved in organizing the first Benicia Ghost Conference in August 2013.

His investigations in Benicia have uncovered spirits there such as Ben, who was a worker at the Benicia train station; Francesca, a young girl whose spirit is particularly attached to a rocking horse in The Tannery Building on First Street; Jenny and Rosie, prostitutes who once lived in the Washington House; and Irish John, a boxer who shanghaied sailors on the waterfront but ended up drowned.

He started expanding his investigations to Suisun City and Napa last year. Downtowns in both cities have long histories complete with their own supernatural lore.

Sisk is still in the midst of researching more of Suisun City’s past as what he called “a pretty rambunctious town” with a history of railroading, brothels, saloons and the running of booze during Prohibition.

“I am not there yet with sharing all of their stories yet,” Sisk said of his research of the spirits he said he and his team have detected.

He was invited last fall by downtown Suisun City’s business association to look into the possibility of hosting ghost walks here.

Laura Cole Rowe, Suisun City Historic Waterfront Business Improvement District coordinator, heard about the Benicia walks “and thought it would be perfect for Suisun since the merchants and building owners said they have felt presences in their buildings,” she said.

Whether you are a skeptic or a believer of the supernatural, Rowe called the walks a good form of entertainment. She also notes that many of the business owners, especially the artists in the 157-year-old Lawler House itself, have said several times that they have felt presences there.

The ghost walk tours are tentatively slated to take place the second and fourth Fridays of the month through October, Rowe said. Those who want to sign for the tours, information about reservations will be posted at www.suisunwaterfront.com by this weekend, Rowe said.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson has worked for the Daily Republic longer than he cares to remember. A native of Oregon and a graduate of the University of Oregon, he pines for the motherland still. He covers Vacaville and Travis Air Force Base for the Daily Republic. He is an avid military history buff, wargamer and loves the great outdoors.

Discussion | 9 comments

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  • Susan BrowerApril 02, 2014 - 6:42 am

    I lived at 201 and 200 California St, in Old Town Suisun, I am telling you we had ghost in each of the homes. My son use to hear people in the vent talking from the crawl space under the house.

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  • SuzanneApril 02, 2014 - 6:54 am

    The Lawler House Gallery Artists have long shared stories of unusual murmurings, sounds, scents and steps... Kind of cool that Suisun's own BID has brought someone into investigate. Adding to the stories of old town, for anyone that loves history, is a gem!

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  • ? Maybe we should not invite the Devil to our Party?April 02, 2014 - 7:49 am

    What may this mean....... That thou, dead corse, again, in complete steel,..... Revisit'st thus the glimpses of the moon........ Making night hideous ; and we, fools of nature,...... So horridly to shake our disposition,....... With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls?....... Say, why is this?

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  • JApril 02, 2014 - 12:25 pm

    Anyone who conjures spells, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead are an abomination to the Lord. Please read Deuteronomy 18:10-13.

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  • Danny BuntinApril 02, 2014 - 6:04 pm

    Let me guess, your wizardry trumps their wizardry.

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  • Mr. PracticalApril 02, 2014 - 7:29 pm

    Good one Danny! I was at the event (my pants are in one of the pictures next to my wife holding the dosing rods). Even though you could say I'm a big skeptic, it was a lot of fun. If it brings people downtown and they spend a little money while they are there, I'm all for it.

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  • Danny BuntinApril 02, 2014 - 8:13 pm

    @Mr P: I know my son and daughter would dig it. I followed the link as soon as a read the article late last night, but no schedule has been posted yet.

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  • Mr. PracticalApril 02, 2014 - 8:18 pm

    They still have a little historical research to do. It will be pretty quick. He's a really good guy and very funny. I know they get a good crowd for the Benicia tours. Like 20 to 30 people each time.

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  • (sound effects) Ohhhh! Yewww! .... Wolf Whistle... Tight Pants?April 02, 2014 - 10:55 pm


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