HAUNTED OLD LICKING JAIL
In September 2019 we were lucky enough to be able to investigate at the reputably haunted Old Licking Jail. Joined by Paranormal Quest, I think we had the best nights investigation that I have experienced in a long time. The following is an account of the night.
Brief History of the Old Licking Jail
Old Licking Jail was designed by J.W. Yost and built with distinctive brownstone (actually pink in colour) in 1889. It was at the time said to be the best the State had ever seen (there had been at least 3 before) and it was certainly the most intriguing with its Romanesque architecture of turrets and arches. It is no wonder Licking county jail is now one of the states most significant buildings.
The prison had living space in the front portion, for the Sherriff, the Matron and their families. This is certainly something that would not happen today. As well as the family living quarters, there were enough cells to accommodate approximately 68 inmates which included women, youths and men. One floor was set aside for the women and three others for the men. However, in the 1970s, the women were removed from the prison. Even with the women gone, it still suffered from overcrowded conditions, often with 6 inmates to one small cell. New standards had been set by 1978 and this jail failed every one of them. Even back then it was advised that the Old Licking Jail should be shut down. Instead of being shut down, attempts were made to improve the conditions which failed. As time went on the conditions got worse until in 1987 the Licking County Historic Jail officially closed its doors for good.
Why Would the Old Licking Jail be Haunted?
Many tragic deaths occurred in the Prison, including murder, accident and of course suicide. Four Sheriffs died from heart attacks during their time working and living there. However, the most tragic death was that of Carl Etherington who was lynched during the temperance movement. on July 8th 1910.
Carl had been a detective and came to Newark to raid speakeasies or saloons that were trading in illegal alcohol. Unfortunately one of the saloon owners, William Howard, attacked him and Carl had to shoot him to defend himself, killing Howard in the process. Carl was taken to the Licking County Jail to protect him as an angry mob had formed. The jail failed to protect Carl, as the angry mob stormed the building, beat poor Carl and then dragged him to a telephone pole in the Square and lynched him. Tragically when his father came to get his body, it turned out Carl had lied about his age and was only 17 years old.
Whether it is Carl still there or not, many people have experienced strange occurrences in the Old Licking Jail. Doors slamming, disembodied voices and dark figures have all been witnessed. Workmen have even reported being disturbed by loud screaming, to the point where they had to turn their music up to drown these unnerving sounds out.
The Paranormal Investigation
For this investigation, we were joined by our good friends Jason and Ryan from Paranormal Quest and Beth Darlington from Access Paranormal. It was a wonderful experience being able to collaborate and work together not to mention, so much fun!
Strange occurrences seemed to begin as soon as we started. Our lovely hosts Holly and Terri took us around the building to show us the lay of the land and also fill us in on the history and deaths there. Only about 10 mins into the tour, we all heard the giggling of a child in the room with us. This immediately got our attention. In one of the cell blocks, we also got the sound of somebody going “tssst” as if trying to get our attention. Now we were excited to get going with investigating the Old Licking Jail.
We started in the basement down in the ‘drunk tank’. Down in this area, we set up some equipment around the lone bed in the room and encouraged anything that may be present to let us know that they were around. The equipment remained largely silent until Ryan called out a name of one of the prisoners who had passed away down there. Immediately there was a couple of blips on the Rempod. Ryan continued to encourage and asked whoever it was to try really hard and light all the lights up. It wasn’t long before the Rempod fully triggered. It was interesting to note that the Rempod remained silent for the rest of the night. Shortly after, the shadow of a person was witnessed crossing the back wall and a door being slammed upstairs.
We decided to try out the Estes Method. This is where a spirit box is connected to headphones so that the wearer cannot hear the questions being asked. It is believed that this will take the bias out of what is being heard. On this occasion, our sessions were certainly curious, especially with the timing of the responses to our questions. [Please watch the video below].
We moved to the first-floor cell block and again set up the Estes method. Again the responses were curiously well-timed to the questions being asked and only when asked. I was the one on the headphones and had positioned myself down the cell block, well away from the rest of the group. It seemed quite chatty and informative at first but then I called out the word that I thought I heard, which was ‘tits’. Of course, this caused much amusement with the others and lead their questioning down another track. Suddenly I threw my hands up and stated ‘F#*$ it” as if in frustration. Now looking back I do wonder if I misheard the word ‘tits’ and the mucking around upset whoever was trying to communicate as after this it started to get abusive, especially towards Kag who had been more challenging after my call out. My most favourite response of the night…. when I pointed to Kag was Ryan spitting out “Old Bitch!” not once but twice.
Ryan asked if he could go on the headphones and the abuse continued, so relieved that it was not just me hearing it!
Old Licking Jail certainly produced one of the most curious nights with the Ghost/Spirit Box. Was it radio and coincidence… maybe. The timing of the responses was certainly interesting though. Whether radio or the dead talking to us, it was certainly a memorable night with amazing company. I think it was also one of the most fun investigations I have ever been on. In fact, it was so much so, that we are returning in Aug 2020. Hopefully whoever it was will be just as welcoming… not!
By Alison Oborn
Owner of Adelaide’s Haunted Horizons
Paranormal Researcher, Author and Tour Operator
© Alison Oborn – Adelaide’s Haunted Horizons – 2019