Kern County Museum Pioneer Village

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Spirits of Pioneer Village are still enjoying their homes and places of business, trying to keep a low profile.




On these sixteen acres of land, visitors can walk around this small, late-1800s Kern County town collection of over 50 historic buildings, including a log cabin of one of the founders of Bakersfield, Thomas Barnes. Other buildings that were donated to the Kern County Museum include the General Store, a Drug Store, a Funeral Home, businesses offering services and products, a Fraternal Hall, a hospital, an Episcopal Church, a school or two, some lovely homes, and other places that were once a vital part of a 19th Century Kern County life.

Three prominent historical Kern County family homes can be found here. The beautiful two-story Victorian style 1891 Howell House, the early 1900s, Lopez family and Hill family house, and country music legend Merle Haggard’s family boxcar home.

Howell House: This 1891 Queen Anne Victorian is a beauty indeed! After it was built at a cost of 7,000 dollars, William Howell, who was a banker among other things, lived here with members of his family, a few servants, and also some boarders. Inside, there are lovely wooden staircases, stained glass windows, and other treasures.

Weill House: Built in 1887, it was considered to be modern and stylish in its day because of its high ceilings, a long hallway that ran the length of the house, and its indoor plumbing. The rooms of this one-story were each off the long hallway. There is a lovely, wide porch at the front of the house, and another wide one on the back.

Norris School House: This is a 1882 one-room school house built on land donated from Robert T. Norris, an important pioneer. It is solidly built to last the ages. Inside, visitors will see a well-equipped classroom with everything needed to teach children from the first to the eighth grades, including desks, large blackboards, the familiar dunce cap for sluggards, water, a stove, and areas for coats, and books.

A railroad engine and oil recovery equipment also found a home here, among other important sources of work for the Kern County populace.

All of these buildings and homes were rescued/donated, and brought to this Kern County acreage, where they were restored with the help of a variety of groups and businesses. The Kern County Museum does a great job in offering family and school activities that teach about the time period.

For example, visiting school classes can experience learning a lesson in a one-room school house, instructed by a docent dressed in period costume as a teacher. Check out the family and school activities that are scheduled on their website.



The Kern County Museum started in the 1920s with a donation from the Historic Chamber of Commerce, which included a large clock tower. By 1941, the basement had come to be used as the first museum of artifacts. By the 1950s, the museum had grown to include the main floor.

Right behind the museum was sixteen acres originally used by the County Fair. When it moved to another location, they became home to The Pioneer Village.

Howell Queen Anne House: It originally sat on the northeast corner of 17th and H Streets in Bakersfield. In 1891, William Howell hired a local carpenter, John Singleton. After it was built, he lived there with his family, a few servants and some boarders. In 1902 he married Elizabeth Dugan and they raised their daughter Elizabeth and a son, William Howell Jr. William died in 1960.

The Bakersfield California Newspaper donated the house to Pioneer Village in 1969 at the urging of William’s daughter, Elizabeth. The Howell family paid for the new foundation of the house in the Pioneer Village.

Weill House: Located in Bakersfield, this house was built for Alphonse Weill, a successful merchant and French immigrant, and his San Franciscan born wife, Henrietta.They raised their four children in this home.

Henrietta became involved in charity work, belonging to several civic organizations. She dedicated herself to improve the lives of the needy through education and social services. The Weill family donated the family home to the Kern County Museum Pioneer Village, and donations from Mayor Harvey and the LaVonne School made it possible to structurally restore this treasure.

Norris School House: From 1882-1913, this one-room school house was used to educate children in the Rosedale area. In 1914, a new school was built, and the old School House was moved to the Rosedale Ranch and used for storing grain. Why let such a hardy building go to waste? In 1958, The School House was donated to the Kern County Museum’s Pioneer Village.



BakersfieldPeople who loved their homes while alive often like to visit or stay in them after they pass over to the spirit world. They sometimes form a sentimental bond to the structure itself, and travel with the house if it is moved. People who have loved working in their business in life, sometimes like to try to help the living continue in business.

Apparently, many spirits are still attached to the the buildings and homes that are now part of the Pioneer Village. During the 1800s and early 1900s, children were often victims of diseases or epidemics that occasionally blew through towns. Or, they had deadly accidents. Their spirits like to stay in the places where they had fun playing and/or felt love.

Spirits of children apparently are attached to this school house, and the area around it. When spirits choose to stay in a place in this world, other spirits who care for them will often stay too, to look after them out of dedication and love.

The spirit of a former teacher who worked in this one-room school house feels like she still needs to provide an education for the spirits of children who are still attached to it.



Many spirits are apparently still enjoying their homes or places of business. There are two structures that have had paranormal activity.

Weill House

I personally felt a welcoming feeling when I went inside – a presence or two. The air felt a little thicker.

Auditory – Sounds of a birthday party can be heard from outside.

Apparitions have been seen on the porch and in the front yard.

Norris One-Room School House

People have heard children singing inside.

Apparitions of children have been heard and seen playing outside in front of the Norris School House.

The spirit of a teacher has been heard writing on the blackboard, getting a lesson ready to teach.


Many visitors have felt like they were being watched…

Event-Crashing Spirits

People who rent the Pioneer Village for their events may have had the most exposure to the spectral residents who like to watch what the living are doing, especially if it is a social event!

Weddings and receptions may inspire the crashing of spirits who want to feel the joy of the occasion.

Business events may draw spirits who once ran businesses and who have their old shops in the Pioneer Village.


Probably so! While many people have witnessed the paranormal activity described above, and one paranormal investigation group, Golden Empire Paranormal Research Society, reports high activity of spirits, the hard evidence hasn’t been produced yet and /or hasn’t been shared with the public.

Many possible personal experiences of docents and other staff members haven’t been reported or shared because The Kern County Museum won’t allow it, as they don’t want to attract a flurry of ghost hunters that would disturb their main goal of being a community resource for education and social events.

Golden Empire Paranormal Research Society describe Pioneer Village as being “one of the most concentrated areas of active houses and buildings ever assembled.” They gave it a rating of “high” in regards to the “severity of haunting.”

While no one who works there will comment, visitors and perhaps participants in social and business events have seen and experienced the manifestations described above.



3801 Chester Avenue
Bakersfield, CA 93301

The Kern County Museum Pioneer Village is located on the 16 acres behind the Kern County Museum building.


  • HAUNTED PLACES: The National Directory by Dennis William Hauck
    Penguin Books 2002
  • YouTube Video: “Inside Kern – Kern County Museum”
    Published: October 1, 2015
    Retrieved: November 1, 2018
  • feature page on Kern County Museum
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    Published: October 23, 2007
    Retrieved: November 1, 2018
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    Published: October 30, 2017
    Retrieved: November 1, 2018
  • “Top 9 Most Haunted Places in Bakersfield, CA”
    Published: unknown
    Retrieved: November 1, 2018
  • “Kern County Ghosts” page on Weird California website
    Published: unknown
    Retrieved: November 1, 2018
  • “Norris School – One-Room Schoolhouses on”
    Published: November 5, 2013
    Retrieved: November 1, 2018

Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

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