The Ghost of Assemblyman Chalmers

Assemblyman Robert Chalmers

Sorry we missed Halloween with this one…

As research continues into the biographies of California’s legislators, occasionally a story emerges that we just have to share with you. Today: The story of Assemblyman Chalmers.

Robert Chalmers was born in Scotland and came to America as a young man. After his arrival in California, he was a successful miner and businessman (later operating a vineyard  in El Dorado County). In addition to being the father of at least nine children, Chalmers was a prominent citizen in his area (Elected Treasurer of El Dorado County in 1867 and to the Assembly in 1871). In 1879, Chalmers “went mad” (some websites indicate that his madness was the result of syphilis) and, to protect herself, his wife chained him to a brick wall in the basement of their home. Two years later, Chalmers died of starvation (still chained to the wall).

The Chalmers home, now known as the Vineyard House (in the town of Coloma) is reportedly still haunted by the ghost of Assemblyman Chalmers. The haunting was made a bit more famous when the location was featured on a 1979 episode of the show “In Search Of…” (hosted by Leonard Nimoy). In the episode, titled “Ghostly Stakeout“, a medium attempted to communicate with Chalmers and his wife.


Senator Voorheis
I’m only familiar with one other instance of a legislator remaining to haunt the living (other than the obvious lobbyist jokes) is State Senator Edward Converse Voorheis, who is claimed to haunt the Sutter Creek Inn (in the town of Sutter Creek). Senator Voorheis lived in the building for several years, but it’s unclear if he would have as convincing a reason as Assemblyman Chalmers to hang out. If you know of any other “legislative ghost stories”, please let us know by commenting below.


  1. […] was also the Ghost of Assemblyman Chalmers, an 1870s Assemblyman who died of starvation after his wife chained him to a wall in their […]

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