; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

County Jail Haunting - Asheville, NC - 1908

I received an inquiry from Jon Wyatt, who regularly submits articles for this blog, in reference to a newspaper clipping he came across:

The county gaol at Asheville, North Carolina, is about to be abandoned, on the ground that it is haunted. The entire body of prisoners, numbering over two hundred, some weeks ago presented a petition to the authorities appealing for protection against the demons and evil spirits infesting the building. When the sheriff opened the doors he found the inmates in hysterical excitement. Two of them had fainted, and all declared that their experiences 'had been most harrowing. Every night, they said they could hear a trap from which a negro was recently hanged, fall with a loud crash. After the crash, from midnight until three o'clock in the morning, an evil spirit swung to and fro along the iron grating of the cells, grinning and moving its lips, but not speaking, while tho inmates moaned and prayed. The sheriff and gaoler admit that the prisoners' fears are justified, they, too, having heard unearthly sounds and seen unholy sights.' Accordingly the prisoners have been promised that they shall be removed at once to a new gaol. - June 4, 1908 - The Catholic Press - Sydney, NSW, Australia

Jon wrote:

Hi Lon,

While I was reading old Australian digitalised newspapers I noticed reports of a 1908 haunting of the Asheville County Jail, North Carolina. According to the reports, demons and evil spirits were terrorising the prison inmates and staff, and the facility was closing down. The hauntings began after a prisoner was hanged there.

A book called 'Legal Executions in North Carolina and South Carolina' by Daniel Allen Hearn says the last person hanged at the jail was James Rucker, an Afro-American child rapist, on August 20, 1907. Over the years there were six legal hangings and several lynchings.

The prison was later demolished and the sole surviving building is today home to Joshua P Warren's 'Asheville Mystery Museum'...its website briefly mentions the 1908 hauntings.

I was wondering if you know any more about this story. Was the Asheville County Jail closed because it was haunted?

Jon Wyatt

If anyone can offer information on the incident or the jail, I appreciate the effort...and will forward it to Jon. Thanks...Lon

Legal Executions in North Carolina and South Carolina: A Comprehensive Registry, 1866-1962

Lethal Punishment: Lynchings and Legal Executions in the South

A Festival of Violence: An Analysis of Southern Lynchings, 1882-1930

Haunted North Carolina: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Tar Heel State (Haunted Series)

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