A guest post by Mary Jo Fister and Greg Bush from Offthetrails Paranormal investigations.
The old jail was built in 1893 and in use until 1986. It was the second longest running jail in the US. Electricity was installed around 1917, but not in the cells!
The town itself is full of history and folklore, and therefore, haunted places. The curator of the Old Jail Museum, Renee Daigle, escorted us to several places in and around town reported to be haunted. Renee gave us a tour of the jail and the “hot spots.”
Off the Trails Paranormal Investigations checked out to some degree 8 specific sites, but concentrated on the jail itself. We found varying activity at most places, but especially, the jail. The ovilus (ghost box recorder) was very active, still photos not so much.
On Friday when we arrived, Renee and her sister Marie, along with nephew Justin took us to Turner Boat Ramp, several miles outside of town. It was once the way people crossed the Suwannee River, before the highway was built.
They told us that nobody in town will stay there at night. Boats lose their power, voices are heard, and people experience a “creepy” feeling. “Everything goes weird”, Marie said. A medium told them the place was evil.
They didn’t know what happened there but Renee heard a little boy had drowned. With the ovilus, we heard the following words: current, bar, drown, bottle, disaster, wave, demon. Our Mel Meter registered some spikes.
We visited the Clardy Family Cemetery, where some of Renee and Marie’s family are buried. The first white woman born in Hamilton County is buried there. Words heard on the ovilus include compound, young, bury, graveyard, aunt, grandpa, care, Adam, and Sarah.
A group of people at the cemetery was named Young. Although we did not find any markers for an Adam or Sarah, there were a few stones that didn’t have names, but instead were marked “infant.” The cemetery could be called a compound since it is an enclosed area. Another word I heard was Indian, and there were indeed Native Americans there in the past.
Another cemetery was a small area for whites who died in a cholera epidemic in the 1850s and many slave graves that had been unmarked, but now bore small white markers. It was in a field on the former tobacco and corn farm of the Mitchell family. Renee and Marie are Mitchells.
As I walked among the markers and headstones, I asked who was with me. The name Nick appeared on the ovilus DTD. Other words were mistress, quarantine, care and sunrise. As I walked in the shade of a large oak tree, the ovilus said “dark” and when I emerged into the sunlight, it said “bright” as though someone, possibly Nick, was watching and commenting on my whereabouts. Greg and Rob had some small spikes on the Mel Meter, but nothing significant.
Saturday morning, we stopped briefly at the ruins of a shelter for abused women. The ovilus, as usual, began to react. The names Harriet, Jess and Meline came up, along with dominate and abort. Unfortunately, we found nothing of interest on the photos.
An old, but still working feed mill, owned by the Mitchell family was another brief stop. While Greg and Rob walked ahead to explore, I was taking videos and listening to the ovilus, which said the word run.
A moment later, Rob and Greg told me that three pit bulls were on their way from behind the mill, and we all went very quickly to the car. The ovilus seemed to have sent us a warning!
Renee took us to the Presley Church Fellowship Hall, due to a report of some activity. We felt very peaceful and had no activity there.
Finally, we began to set up at the jail. We did our baseline readings and decided where to place the cameras. Headquarters would be in the office. The museum includes the cells and jailer’s living quarters, which are 6 rooms.
The jail has 2 women’s cells, and segregated cells for white and colored men. Three people were hanged at the jail, the last one in the 1920s. He was the last person to be hanged east of the Mississippi. A woman prisoner committed suicide. While we were setting up, Greg and I, upstairs, heard a very loud bang, like a door slamming. Rob didn’t hear it downstairs!
We tried to slam a cell door, but they are so heavy, we couldn’t do it. That ruled out wind or another person. Also, Rob didn’t hear it. While our cable was on the floor ready to be hooked up to the camera, it somehow became all tangled! We had to untangle it.
Rob reported that while he was setting up cameras, he felt a hearty slap on the shoulder! Greg and Rob had some spikes on the Mel meters. Rob had a 10.6 in the office, where we had set up! Greg had a 4.8 in the front museum room, which contains many artifacts. In the women’s cell, I heard cloister, melody, reverend and holy on the ovilus.
A woman had been held prisoner there with her infant at one time, charged with poisoning her husband. That might account for the melody! Outside, near where we believe the gallows stood, the ovilus register the words redemption, holy, and bible. When I heard mistake, I asked, Did you make a mistake?” The answer I got was “government.”
In one of the cells, the ovilus clearly said chlorides. When I asked, “Did you say chlorides?” we all heard the answer “Yes!” When we asked what that meant, we got silence. Although Rob and Greg commented on the heat, I felt cold in that cell.
As I investigated the various cells and rooms, I often heard the word demon. Other interesting words were anomaly, paranormal, poltergeist, and levitation. In the family living quarters, I heard uncle, mommy, papa, and grandpa via the ovilus. It was the same words more than once.
I received no answers or elaboration to my questions, so it might have been residual energy. Once while I was sitting in a cell, there was an unexplained squeak. Another time, while I was alone, tapping is heard. I didn’t hear it at the time, but it is audible on the videotape. Finally, there are unexplained footsteps. None of us were walking at the time.
Late in the investigation, we decided to try the flashlight method of communication. If the spirit turns the flashlight on, we know there is someone with us. We can then ask a series of yes/no questions, asking him/her to turn it on for a yes answer and leave it off for no.
We did manage to connect with one prisoner in the colored men’s day room briefly. We spoke at length to a spirit calling himself Charlie. He told us he was a partner of Durham, who was the last person hanged there. Durham had shot the deputy.
Charlie was not a nice spirit! He did turn the light on to full intensity! He told us that he liked to scare people. When I asked him if he was the one who kept repeating the word demon, he replied in the affirmative! When I asked if that was meant to scare me, he again answered yes. One word that I had heard was brown.
When we asked Charlie if he knew Brown, he replied that he did. He told us that eleven others were with him. The number 12 had come up on the ovilus earlier when I asked who was here. Renee’s sons and a few family members were helping by watching the monitor with our various cameras.
As we chatted, they told a story about a medium who had visited. So I asked, “Are you the one who told the medium that you would rape her and then touched her?” The light immediately went on brightly, as though Charlie was proud of that! I asked him to complete the “shave and a haircut” rhythm and banged on the bunk. He completed it by using the flashlight. He turned it on and off quickly, in time!
He confirmed that he knew he was dead, but wanted to stay in the jail and scare people. He didn’t want to cross over. Rob asked him to make a noise: to knock, bang, or even touch one of us. He promised a cigarette to Charlie if he would do that. When it seemed Charlie didn’t comply, Rob took back the cigarette.
He then began to feel sick, and had to go downstairs and outside for some air. At one point, while outside, he even vomited. Greg and I remained for a moment to tell Charlie to back off from Rob and leave him alone.
When we related the story to the young people, they told us they had heard footsteps, and thought we were coming down, but then realized we were all still sitting in the cell. We went back up to return the cigarette to Charlie and apologize. We hadn’t heard a thing, but maybe Charlie did make some noise. Rob felt better almost immediately afterwards.
Was Charlie getting even? We saw some intelligent orb activity on the cameras. By that I mean that orbs were going in a different direction than would be expected, at a different speed than expected or even changing direction. We have a photo of one orb, a bright ball of light, moving along the floor outside a cell.
We had a great 8 hours at the jail, with lots of evidence to review! 14 static night vision cameras, FLIR images, video, and EMF recordings! Our thanks to Renee and her family for all their help and Southern hospitality! We hope to return at a future date to gather more evidence at the jail and at some of the other sites in town that we think might have paranormal activity!
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