About the Ghost Walks Team
Over a decade and a half ago, Catherine Miller fell in love with Santa Barbara and moved to her new home near the Mission. Through the years she heard many great ghost stories from locals and it occurred to her that visitors might also like to hear about the colorful past … and the ghostly residents who haunt historical sites. After meeting historians Neal Graffy and Julie Ann Brown, Catherine knew that she had found the perfect collaborators to create a fun filled, highly informative venture … hence, the birth of Santa Barbara Ghost Walks!
Catherine Miller’s entrepreneurial spirit mixed with her passion for “other wordly” stories was initially inspired in the 70’s, when as a child she would work at her mom’s health food/ESP store after school. This unconventional yet entertaining enterprise was combined with growing up in a very haunted house, and it set the tone for a life of insights into a world that we can not simply experience through the limits of our five senses.
After achieving a five year degree in biologies, Catherine balanced her background of alternative and mainstream wisdom to launch one of the first integrative health magazines, back in the early 90’s. Before she knew it, Holistic Health Journal was on the magazine racks of every major book chain in the US and CAN, with a review board of best selling authors, doctors, healers and celebrities. This launched her career as a publisher, producer and spokesperson in the field of health and wellness, and as the founder of Passionate Living, a media company focused on inspiring people to fall in love with their lives.
Julie Ann Brown
Julie Ann Brown is a full time professor at Santa Barbara City College. At a young age, she fell in love with people (aka: ghosts, saints and angels) who lived and loved many years before her time. Julie Ann became a tour guide on the Queen Mary while in college at USC. During her Queen Mary tours, Julie Ann became bored with describing how the engine room and AFT steering worked on the ship. She began collecting materials and stories about this grand ship, as well as talking to security guards who had worked there for years. Julie Ann discovered that there were many ghosts on the Queen Mary and began adding these stories to her tours, for which she was mildly reprimanded 🙂 However, the stories she collected and was told not to share at that time are still being used today for ghost tours of the Queen Mary.
Repeating her own history, Julie Ann became a volunteer docent at Mission Santa Barbara. She decided to collect stories of Santa Barbara’s famous characters of the past, whose graves she passed during her tours at the Mission. Julie Ann came across many first hand accounts by locals who had ghost experiences and this brought these figures of Santa Barbara to life for her. She has since taken these stories and crafted them into fascinating ghost tours, which are shared with anyone possessing an interest in history, mystery and legends of Santa Barbara’s rich past.
Writer & Tour Guide
“Delightfully unfettered by convention” pretty much sums up Neal Graffy’s approach to history. Whether it be in print, radio, television, documentary or live, his audiences always find his presentations to be entertaining and fun, yet educational.
Neal first gave voice to history in 1989 when he premiered a slide show talk on Santa Barbara History. He eventually crafted over 24 different talks on Santa Barbara history resulting in over 300 presentations including a sold-out monthly series at Santa Barbara’s Victoria Street Theater. Graffy has had numerous appearances on local, state and national radio and TV including Huell Howser’s California Gold, KCET TV’s Life and Times, PBSs City Walk, and nationally on This Old House and C-SPAN’s Cities Tours. He has been featured in several documentaries including the Emmy Award winning Impressions in Time.
He has authored numerous monographs for historical organizations, as well as articles in regional and national publications. He has written three books, “Historic Santa Barbara,” “Santa Barbara Street Names” and “Santa Barbara Then & Now,” and co-authored a series of “Santa Barbara History Mysteries” (historical fiction), taking place in the early 1900s – “A Murder at the Potter Hotel,” “An Unfortunate Incident at Castle Rock” and “Our Lady of Sorrows 1782 – 2004.” He is currently completing “The Great Santa Barbara Earthquake of 1925 – The Disaster That Built a City.”