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One of the first things that visitors should know when they visit the old jail is that several prisoners lost their lives at this location. The most common culprit behind the death of the prisoners was the ever-popular “noose” in which several were hung. Charles Joseph Perry served as the Sheriff from the time the jail was opened in 1891 until the year 1919. This individual took his job very seriously. He was a firm believer in the fact that if people were sent to his prison, they would serve their time in a punitive manner. There were not too many inmates that dared to differ with his way of thinking either. He was a startling large man, measuring in at six and a half feet, and weighed approximately three hundred pounds! In order to make extra certain that no one escaped a large amount of dogs was kept behind the Old Jail.
The conditions at the structure were relatively harsh. One of the first issues was that the only water source in the jail was for drinking. This meant that individuals housed here were not Haunted Old Jail St. Augustineallowed baths. Weather conditions on the external area of the structure were often much the same on the inside. If it was hot, it was even hotter indoors. The same occurred in the winter months, in which it was exceptionally hot. Most beds were composed of the Spanish moss that grows rather rapidly in the Florida area. This moss was used to fill mattresses, but red bugs and other pests that are native to the moss often infested the beds. To receive a blanket was practically unheard of in the days of the prison, and to receive a pillow for the beds was completely unheard of. Sickness and death were extremely common in the Old Jail, especially the disease of dysentery.
There are two places that you will find the Old Jail listed. This includes the “National Directory of Haunted Places”, and the “National Registry of Historic Places”. The following indicates some of the spectacular hauntings that seem to occur at this haunted place in St. Augustine:
1. There is a sweet smell that seems to consistently hang in the air of this haunted prison. It reflects that of molasses. Regardless of the cleaning efforts, this is a smell that seems to be related to the hauntings that occur in this structure.
2. Many individuals that reside in the neighborhood of the jail, visit the museum, and even work in the structure have heard the barking of dogs on a regular basis. It is believed that these are the spiritual hounds of Sheriff Perry.
3. Certain tunes have been heard in the Old Jail – almost as if someone is slightly humming them. One of these songs distinctly reflects that of “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”.
4. In many areas of the Old Jail, you can hear footsteps with a sound of distinct chains moving in motion with the steps. It is believed that these are the souls of the spirits that are still held captive, even after death.
5. Many individuals have heard the sounds of shouts and wails only to discover that there was no physical person present to have made the sounds.
If you want to visit haunted places in St. Augustine, make sure to take a stop in at the Old Jail!
A Night at the Old Jail
Experience for yourself what it takes to be a paranormal investigator at one of the most active sites ever documented, The Old Jail of St Augustine. Join the professional group, The Paranormal Seekers, and spend 2 hours locked-in at the site that few have ever dared to!
Places of incarceration; (insane asylums, prisons) soak into its walls negative residual energy, because of all the problems, misery, stress and pain that comes along with being cooped up/confined in an institution. (Waverly Hills Sanitarium * Fort Pulaski)
Prisons have long been dangerous places to be, for convicted people, from the earliest times to the present. (West Virginia Penitentiary * Idaho State Penitentiary)
It is not surprising that prisoners died in prison here.
Disease caused by poor sanitation; Dysentery and by communicable infections took its toll. As it was/is in many prisons, inmates also died from abuse and accidents, and from the hands of other more violent prisoners.
On the gallows, men convicted of murder were hanged in a painful way.
These kinds of incidents and imprisonment in general have been known to cause hauntings in other former jails/prisons:
(Ohio State Reformatory Prison * Whitley County Jail and Sheriff's House * Burlington Prison)
Sometimes prisoners who die in "the joint", are afraid to pass over, because of the things they did while alive. (Alcatraz Prison National Park)
It seems that perhaps a sheriff warden's daughter was the victim of disease or accident. People who die before their time, sometimes choose to stay in this world. (Lafitte's Guest House * Bullock Hotel * Collingwood Art Center)
The paranormal activity found in this building offers the full package of experiences felt, seen, heard and smelled by human beings in haunted places.
At random and at different times, two awful odors can loft through the building; The smell of sewage, causing stomach upset in some and a sickeningly sweet smell that makes the living uncomfortable have been reported.
Intelligent hauntings by entities — Apparitions/shadows appear to the living, on occasion.
An apparition of a man was seen sitting on a chair
A cowering apparition was spotted in a cell by a tour guide, but disappeared through a wall.
Unseen presences are not only felt by the living, but they also tug at, blow on and talk /whistle to those folks who come inside the building.
A male presence was sensed by a psychic, pacing the hallway by the kitchen.
In one of the women's cells, a very grumpy unseen presence has been known to push and trip people.
During a tour, a tour guide first felt a punch in his side, and then a cold hand move down his back; but being the professional that he is, this terrified tour guide managed to finish his spiel.
A psychic medium found an entity that had been seen around the building. She found out that this entity was executed by hanging for a crime he didn't commit, and was afraid to go to the light because of all of his misdeeds.
Voices of unseen presences have been heard directly by the living.
Wails, yells and moans have been heard by people.
A VP of a nasty laugh was heard by a man opening the safe in the office there.
The sound of a little girl's voice has been heard in one of the children's bedrooms used by the sheriff warden's family.
Other sounds related to the prison life:
Shuffling, footsteps and the jangling of chains are heard around and on the steps of the Jail.
Neighbors of this jail have heard disembodied barks of dogs coming from the back of the jail, where the prison dogs were kept.
Yes Indeed!
The Old Jail Museum is a certified haunted building, and is listed in the “National Directory of Haunted Places”.
There are plenty of personal experiences reported by staff, tourists and management that happen in the same places in the building. Paranormal investigation groups have gathered some hard evidence that support these reported experiences.
Some of the paranormal groups who have investigated:
TAPS held 2 investigations here.
Northern Florida Paranormal Group and NBC News affiliate went on an investigation of the jail, and gathered some interesting evidence, and had experiences as well.
GHOST of Pinellas Investigation Group caught some photo evidence, showing a face, an apparition, orbs, and all heard the VP of a little girl in the room that was occupied traditionally by the sheriff warden's children.
The Old Jail Museum have been able to put their ghosts on the payroll, by allowing the Paranormal Seekers, an investigation group that leads ghost hunts in the building, in their Ghost and Graveyard tours: "A Night At the Old Jail". Many are not disappointed.


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