The home was a looming, three-story, adobe and river rock concoction built in 1854 by Rebecca's great-great-grandfather whose instant fortune was dug from Gold Rush mud. Scattered among the tarnished pickle forks, orphan keys and preserved bird eggs of several generations, building diagrams covered in faded pencil notes rested in the bottom drawer of a marble-topped bureau inherited from Rebecca’s
great-great-aunt. The intent had been to build something grand and lasting. The creased plans were all signed "Trapper Butterfield."
Of course there
were rumors of ghosts, with locals claiming that on clouded, windy nights a spectral figure paced past the tall windows, huddled and weeping. But most folks knew the mansion simply as the home of an eccentric loner, a crazy lady who'd finally died and left the ramshackle heap to Rebecca's parents, Nate and Dorothy Butterfield. The young couple arrived from Los Angeles and soon spent their savings installing modern plumbing and electrical appliances. They kept the family
antiques, added finds from rural flea
markets and had the occasional modern piece delivered. The eclectic result was a delight to look at but
difficult to dust.
With it’s wrap-around balcony, ornate carved trim and widow’s walk-topped tower, the house and overgrown riverfront acres that twined into great swathes of oak and sycamore woodlands, was owned in full without mortgage. But Rebecca’s father had no life insurance and his death left them with a bank account that was now, twenty years later, nearly deplete. Rebecca would have to get a job.