The Hauntings of the Old Jail
The “Old Jail” can be found at the entrance to Main Street. It is the longest, continuously used jail in Virginia with 150 years of history. However, with all this history comes many paranormal phenomena.
The sanitary conditions in 1808 were not very adequate. This jail was not one you wanted to end up at because of many deaths because of illnesses, fights and other conditions. These deaths result in ghost haunting the jail to this day.
These ghosts may be inmates or the jailer’s children. Several children died of scarlet fever in the jail. The former director had many instances where she heard children laughing, and when she went to see where they were, no one was there. Her hair or shirt was often tugged every once in awhile.
When director Erin Clark took over, she also heard children laughing. Another incident occurred when she brought a brass door knob and placed it on her desk. While working, she would hear a dinging noise, as if someone was flicking the knob. Eventually, the noise stopped.
Another incident occurred when a painter came into the “Old Jail” to fix up the walls. He heard what sounded like a child running down the hallway. He went to check where the noise was coming from, but the hallway was vacant, so he continued working.
That night, before he left, the painter said, “Alright Josie, I’ll see you in the morning.” The next morning, when he found a child-sized footprint imprinted on the wall. However, “it was painted over, so we do not have proof of this,” said Clark.
There are a few well-known ghosts at the “Old Jail” that are continuously communicating with staff there. Josie, one of the jailer’s three daughters who passed away, is one of them.
Another goes by Mr. McGee, a man who lived in the Delaplane area and struggled with dementia. The court records report that he thought people were trying to take his house, so he burned his house with himself inside. He survived, however, he was brought to jail for arson and suicide attempts with severe burns. Eventually, he caught pneumonia and passed away in the jail.
10 years later, a woman was arrested and placed in the same jail room. In court, the judge asked if anyone visited her during her stay. She said no, however, every night a man with a white beard would come into the cell and try to steal her blankets.
Peach Shirley was the jailer at the time. When he heard this story, his first thought was that the description fit Mr. McGee. To this day, the lights will flicker on and off. “We’ve had paranormal groups come in, and they get lots of readings,” said Clark. “In this room, when they pull out cigarettes or alcohol the meters will go crazy.”
Hauntings on the Warrenton Streets
Gustavus Richard Brown Horner was known as the best doctor in Warrenton in the late 1700s. However, in 1795, Horner would receive patients who would later never be seen again, at least not alive.
When Horner’s son mysteriously died, the height of the suspicion was enough to ensure an investigation. Many rumors and accusations were heard, but eventually, his assistant told the truth. Horner was poisoning his patients.
Unexpectedly, all the charges were dropped. Nothing became of the situation, and that was the last that was heard of Horner. But to this day, his patients have been spotted haunting the street named after him.
There is another ghost who haunts 305 Falmouth Street. Elizabeth Hutton was a spinster who died in 1991. She lived in a house that was built in 1885 by Hutton’s parents.
Towards the end of her life, she lived on the second floor while she sold the house to Warrenton residents. The owners in 1998 took a photo when they bought the home. In the background you can see an image in the mirror, thought to be Hutton.
The owners did not notice a ghost until they went to the second floor. There, many unexplained things occurred, one being a coffee cup which appeared to be thrown off the mantle when the owner went to paint. The owner then believed Hutton left, but some beleive she is still connected to the house.
Spirits of the Post Office and Bike Shop
Two spirits have been sighted in Warrenton at the post office and what is now the bike shop in Old Town.
A Civil War soldier has been spotted on many occasions and even mistaken as a reenactment actor.
The post office building was originally an army recruiting base in the 20th century. The first known sighting was in the early 2000s. An employee working a late shift in the building across the street spotted the man pacing back and forth near the steps outside the post office.
After a few minutes, the man dressed in an old-fashioned uniform ran up the stairs into the building. The employee across the street went over to check on the man. When he entered the building it was empty. He later learned that the post office had been closed for many hours by that time.
The legend states that the man continues to wait for his orders outside the recruiting office.
The Authur Jeffries, the second individual, has been sighted at what is now the bike shop on Main Street. He was a man of the community who passed away years back. His family owns a farm in the country.
One day, a lady walked passed and saw him on the stairs. She stopped to talk to the elderly man, learning his name. After this encounter, she learned Jeffries had passed away 10 weeks ago. His daughter says he’s been seen multiple times and will have conversations with people.
Compiled by Catherine Smith – Student Life Editor