Halloween Haunt At The Old Jail In Jim Thorpe
November 7th, 2008
Ok so I don’t post many haunted happenings, but with a night like Halloween — well I couldn’t resist the adventure. Mostly, I deal with the spirits of those that have passed (i.e relatives, friends, immediate family members) who need to get some final messages to family members after a passing. Most of these spirits have crossed over to the other side, and some unsettled spirits that I connect with remain earthbound until unfinished business is tended to.
I normally don’t deal with “ghosts” or those caught in a time warp from different eras. But with the fall spirit growing in me, I thought a little paranormal investigating with a member of the Connection Beyond team would prove interesting to say the least. So Rich and myself set out to Jim Thorpe PA to take a tour of “The Old Jail” which is known to be one of the most haunted jails on the East Coast. For many that have taken tours of the jails, the experience left them believers.
Even though I am a medium, I still remain very skeptical at times. I need to experience these things for myself. We arrived there for the very last tour of the night. Before I get into what happened during the tour, I wanted to give you a brief history of the jail taken from historynet.com.
The Old Jail Museum, which sits high on a hill toward the upper end of the main street (West Broadway). From 1871 until 1995 the building housed the Carbon County prison, and it was one of the sites of the Molly Maguire executions starting in 1877. The two-story jail, built of hand-cut stone and set into the side of a mountain, contained 28 cells that each housed two prisoners, 16 dungeon cells for solitary confinement, and the warden’s living quarters. Three cells for women prisoners were added in the 1950s. When a new Carbon County jail opened in January 1995 and the old jail closed, local residents Thomas and Betty Lou McBride purchased the building. The couple restored theprison and opened it to visitors in April of that year. “I wanted to preserve a piece of history. It’s a landmark,” said Thomas McBride, a soft-spoken man with a passion for Molly Maguire history who sometimes conducts jail tours himself.
The main cell block has seen few changes since it opened 128 years ago. Visitors enter through the original wooden door and are met with a chilling reconstruction of the gallows used to hang all seven of the Molly Maguires executed in Mauch Chunk. On June 21, 1877, more than 250 people crowded into the cell block’s two tiers to watch the first round of executions. Reporters stood on the upper level for a good vantage point, while witnesses, officials, and doctors sat in rows in front of the gallows. (McBride noted that most of the medical doctors in the area asked to see the hangings.) The convicted murderers, Alexander Campbell, Michael Doyle, John Donahue, and Edward Kelly, were hanged simultaneously. Another Molly Maguire member, Thomas Fisher, was hanged on March 28, 1878; James McDonnell and Charles Sharp went to the gallows on January 14, 1879.
The jail’s main area is flanked by the 8-by-13-foot cells, each secured by two doors, an outer oak padlocked door and an inner door made of iron bands and locked by a bar and padlock. The cells, cold and damp, remain just as they were when prisoners occupied them less than five years ago. The main area is lit by a skylight, but the meager daylight that reaches each cell does so through a high, narrow, six-inch-wide window that is secured by bars.
The jailtour’s main attraction is cell number 17, which contains a faint handprint on the wall. According to legend, just before his execution, one of the Molly Maguires–either Campbell or Fisher–placed his hand on the wall and declared that his handprint would remain there forever as a sign of his innocence. McBride said that the wall has been cleaned and painted many times in the years since, but thehandprint always returns.
It was the final tour of the night. At 9:30 PM, a group of strangers gathered together in the room once used as the living quarters for the warden of the prison. Photos of orbs and poster presentations with historical facts were on display. Some of the ten or so guests were armed with video equipment and cameras looking to capture paranormal activity as proof that there were indeed spirits lurking in the prison. For others this was a repeat tour. When asked about their previous experiences, they spoke of terrifying events that happened to them during their first tour. The consensus was one word, “scary”. But in some ways, the prison kept bringing people back for more. There were stories of actual apparitions, people being tugged at or shoved and others who were told bluntly to “get out!”. I was eager to see what would happen.
Rich and I waited along with the group in the hallway near the large wooden door that entered the main cell block. The hangings also took place in this room. While waiting in the warden’s living quarters, I didn’t feel anything at all. As we all stood outside the door, I started to feel activity around me, and a feeling of swirling around me, as if spirits were concentrating in the area waiting for us to go in. The vibration was definitely hightening, as a medium, they are very aware that I am there because they are able to notice my vibration and light field which would present itself differently from the others.
Because of my personality type and the degree at which I do my work, I find that most spirits retreat back when I enter an establishment — and come out slowly as if they are peeking around the corners. They definitely don’t want to be told to leave and go to the light if they are not ready, and know with the communication of a strong medium that it is possible. They also know it is not good for them to remain earthbound because they cannot spiritually progress. Some ghosts have been earthbound for hundreds of years! With others who have passed by trauma, they may not even be aware of the time period, and may exist energetically in a space time continuum that is overlapping the present dimension like a hologram.
Like a broken record, they replay the same events of the day over and over again with the same emotions from the day of the trauma. They have no sense of it being 2008 and as we can’t see them, many times they can’t see us either, because they are existing in a parrellel time zone. They are in essence stuck in “replay” over and over again. One of these spirits of the jail, a woman who’s husband was hanged is noted as an apparition of the “woman in white”. She runs up and down the stairs looking for someone to tell that her husband is innocent. She is running and crying frantically, and according to those who have seen the woman in white, she is in the same emotional state looking for her husband all the time.
This is a good example of a woman stuck in the time parallel, and may not even be aware of the tours that are going on. The other spirits are very aware of the tours and the fact that they have indeed died, but continue to remain attached to the prison. These are the spirits that feel they have unfinished business or feel they do not want to move on. There are also other kinetic forces at work in the prison, and some may feel a deep sadness or terror as they move through the prison. This does not have to be spirits, but may be psychic imprints of energy that has remained there from all the horrible events. A lot of prayer and clearing is needed for those psychic imprints to dissipate.
The level of activity that was noted that night from other touring guests was not represented energetically when I entered the hallway of the main cell block. My personality can be very strong willed at times and my auric field a bit expansive due to being a full time medium. I also prayed and protected myself prior to entering so that I didn’t leave with something I didn’t plan on taking with me. The spirits know that a weaker personality can be more overpowered, just as in life a negative person can sense who they can target without consequence. The tour guides remarked how quiet everything seemed to be once we entered.
Upon first entering the main cell block foyer, we were taken into the first cell on the left to show us the conditions of the prison. This is where I felt the most activity, although the prison stated that the most haunted cell was cell 17 with the handprint on the wall. I’m not sure which number this cell was, but upon entering, I felt spacey and a heaviness and swirling feeling came upon me. If you’ve ever felt car sick, it was the same feeling multiplied by ten. It was too uncomfortable to stand in, and my physical body just felt weird all over, but I didn’t sense a specific spirit in that cell. Due to this feeling, I stepped out earlier than the rest the group, and immediately as I stepped out of the cell itself the feelings vanished. Rich stayed in for a few more minutes, and then also came out due to being uncomfortable. He said to me that he didn’t know if we were going to be able to make it the rest of the tour. Since he is more empathic than me, the feelings were even more overwhelming to him. As soon as he left the cell he went back by the entrance and stared off and stood away from the group. He did not want to move from that point. I encouraged him to look around a bit more, but he was a little weary to move forward.
The guides looked at both of us a little strange and I explained that we were both mediums, and felt a bit too much in the cell. Rich continued to stand against the wall and I could tell he was very uncomfrotable but agreed to stay for a bit. The one tour guide handed me her flashlight and told me to look around in the other cells to see if I picked anything else up. She told me that the laundry room was supposed to have a lot of activity. At this point, I was completely separated from the group and was looking into the other cells.
When I first looked in the laundry room (remember, I don’t see the spirits visually). I get clairvoyant images of them, and also symbols and names as I communicate. I saw a tall man, almost 7 feet standing in the corner of the room in the back, with a handle bar mustache. He was wearing almost all black except for a white tailored shirt with a thin black tie that came down, and a fedora like hat. He was not a prisoner, but looked more like a caretaker, or janitor type person. He seemed like a loner, and stayed away from most of the other spirits. He also seemed like he watched over the main cell block and knew all the activity that was happening. I believe I also heard the name Jimmy or James in association with him.
Next I moved on an felt an almost evil presence in another cell block a few cells to the left of the laundry room. I asked the owner and one of the guides why I felt such an evil feeling from that cell. It was almost as if evil presences were in there and attached to whoever was in that cell, making them think and act of of character. The owner validated that a young man hung himself in that cell, and that there was definitely a strange feeling that always came from there.
The most vivid image I got in the main cell block was the barking of two black mastiffs on very heavy silver chains walking through the main corridor. The dogs looked extremely volatile and they seemed to be walked by a man with a strong presence who was either an officer there, a warden, or some form of disciplinarian. I never got an image of the man’s face, just his shoes which were very loud and heavy and then two very heavy chains that served as leashes for the dogs. In the vision, the dogs were barking violently, as if he was scaring some inmates with them. The man walked up and down the center line of the cell block. I asked the owner about this, and she said she would have to do some research on it. The owner wrote a few books on the history of the jail, and sensitives who come in remark on various experiences. Once she hears the same story on two different occasions, she adds it to the roster of paranormal events that happen in the jail.
Next stop was in front of the gallows which were in the main cell block. There were four nooses that were hanging down and we were told that four people were hanged at one time during a hanging. Everyone had to watch this horrible act. Strangely enough, I felt the most peace around the gallows and the hanging apparatus. The guide then told us that a prayer service is conducted every year in that same place for the spirits who passed there.
Next we were headed down into the dungeon, where most of the activity is supposed to take place. These were the solitary confinement cells, and the tour guide remarked that before each tour entered the dungeoun she would leave the one cell door opened and when she returned downstairs with the next group the cell door would be shut. She said that this happened on every tour that night. When I came down the stairs, there wasn’t much activity but I picked up on a lot of kinetic psychic impressions. On the first cell to the left I saw an emaciated man chained to the wall, looking like he was deprived of food or water, or perhaps very ill. I saw him shaking in the corner, and got the message that he passed there. It seemed like post cognitive imformation, or psychic impressions that I was receiving from past events there. I did not feel that the spirit of the man was actually present. When I told the tour guide about this, she remarked that another medium had told her the same thing about someone passing in that same location. So that was interesting to have validation about that.
While I was downstairs looking at the cells, Rich had the same look on his face and remained glued to the back wall. He didn’t want to move, but seemed to want to stay there at the same time. It was clear he wasn’t going to go looking around. To the cell adjacent to the one I felt the death in, I felt as if it was used for storage of dead bodies, and I felt them stacked there until they found burial for them. I believe this was something illegal that was not known to outsiders of the prision. None of the cells had doors on them except for the one further down the dungeon. This is where I felt the most activity and there was a certain line that I didn’t want to cross. Rich felt this too. Although I felt a “do not move forward” feeling, I wandered down to the back of the dungeon anyway and looked into the rear cell. I didn’t actually feel presences in the back cell, but rather a strong evil presence eminating from behind the furnace. I definitely felt active presences there. Although I ventured past the line I felt was going into bad territory, I quickly moved back to the entrace of the dungeon, because of the powerful energy coming from behind the furnace. I was not willing to go back there, as I felt something very negative. Just looking at gave me a horrid feeling. Noone was going behind the furnace and the tour was lead back upstairs. As we were walking up the stairs, I told the tour guide about what I felt behind the furnace and she looked me like a deer in the headlights. She said twice, “How did you know that?” I said I didn’t and that was what I felt. She told me that the guides were told not to go back there under any circumstances. The area was known for negative activity and was believed to be the place where inmates were tortured. There was believed to still be activity of these spirits there to this day.
The good thing is that Rich made it through the tour, but he was not himself. He still had this frozen stare on his face, and I could tell he was a bit overwhelmed. What was interesting in the dungeon was that as we came down we could feel activity, but as people started having fun roaming around and laughing, the activity almost completely ceased. They seemed to be a bit intimidated by all the good energy! They are used to people being afraid and vulnerable which fuels them. I think there were a bit confused that this group was having fun, and didn’t really know what to do, so most of them went away!
As we went upstairs, they brought us into the kitchen with refreshments and told us some final tales. Then we would proceed into the gift shop. I thought Rich would be ok by this point, since we were in a more happy place, but as I looked behind me in the corner, there he was staring off and almost glued to one spot in the floor. I tried to talk to him and move him but he wouldn’t budge. I was very confused, because he is normally very talkative and excited about all this stuff. I had to literally peel him away from the floor and take him outside. I thought the fresh air would help. I was totally amped and had a bunch of energy.
As we got in the car, he said that he thought someone was following him. I looked in the back seat and sure enough it was this young kid, around 16 in knickers, and a paperboy cap, sitting in the back seat. He was hoping that Rich would help him get out of there, because he hated the jail, and was trying to run away. He told me he stole from someone and that’s why he was there. Why someone would follow Rich was confusing to me because we did a protection before we went in. I asked him if he protected himself, and he admitted that he didn’t believe he needed to do all the stuff that I did. So, no he didn’t. Now he was a bit freaked that someone with with us outside the jail, and was willing to do any protection needed!
So I got out of the car and opened the back door, and explained to the boy he must go back, because the spirit was attached to the jail, and if we went to far, he would disappear and may not make it back. He reluctantly knew what I was telling him, and slowly got out of the car with his head down and walked back up the stairs to the jail. He was a fun little kid though, but we definitely couldn’t take him with us! There would have been a time/space continuum issue with that one.
The owner asked that I write about my experiences and send them to her, so you never know if some of these tales will be told to you when you visit!