Old Natchez jail reportedly haunted

Published: Apr. 2, 2011 at 3:53 AM CDT|Updated: Dec. 26, 2012 at 7:25 PM CST
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NATCHEZ, MS (Mississippi News Now) - It's the antebellum homes and the flowers that are attracting the pilgrims to pilgrimage in Natchez right now. And the fresh azaleas and left over dogwoods are putting on a good show this year. But there's one old building downtown that a few curious folks have popped their heads into, because they've heard that "it" is still in there. The Adams County Board of Supervisors took over the old jail building in the mid 1990s after it sat deserted for 20 years. The last prisoners were housed here in 1975. But for the 85 years prior to that, if you went to jail in Natchez, you went here. And in here, along with the prisoners, lived the jailer and his family in quarters in the front. The jailer's wife cooked for all the prisoners.

In the back are two floors of cells. Tiny little cubes that held four people to a cell. At dusk-dark, walking back in the cell block, wind blowing, a piece of tin banging somewhere, you could see where the old building could get the reputation of being haunted. Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield has heard the tales.

Sheriff Mayfield: That's what they tell us. I know that talking to one of the older sheriffs said they had trouble keeping trustees down there. They would hear voices, people talking to them that weren't there.

Walt: And maybe one reason the place might be haunted is because of an article of jail equipment that was left in place along with the cells when the jail was re-fitted as office space for the supervisors. It's there in the little section of three cells on a floor off to themselves. The trap door in the floor. The gallows.

Sheriff Mayfield: Actually this room is death row. The cells have maximum security doors on the cells. They were brought out before the execution, taken into another room right behind me here where they could have their last meal, they could speak with their priest or preacher or whomever, and they would being them out to where I'm standing now. Stood on the trap door and the lever is right here and the executioner would pull the lever and the prisoner would drop down to the next floor where the inquest was waiting.

Walt: What a gruesome artifact. But I'd have to wonder about the building being haunted. I mean if YOU had been executed on the gallows in that building, would you want to just KEEP hanging around?

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