Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to explore the Old Jasper Jail located on Main Street in Jasper as part of a paranormal investigation hosted by the Southern Ghost Girls.
It was something I would recommend to any of you ghost-hunting buffs out there as a really unique experience to be had.
When I saw the advertisement via Facebook, I contacted owner and head “ghost buster” Lesley Hyde to see if I might join her team of ghost hunters, at least just for the one evening.
Along with her two proteges and fellow investigators, Kristen Blanchard and Ashley Chewning, we all had a great time and an eye-opening experience.
About 40 people attended the investigation held at the old jail, now registered under the National Register of Historic Places.
Pickens County itself has a steep legend in Georgia’s historical towns as first being chartered in December of 1853. Jasper is also known as the “Marble Capital of the World” with its rich marble mines and quarries, and the jail is also located on the main route through the town that is also associated with the Trail of Tears because of the Cherokee Indians who resided and traveled through there.
The jail is also located near an old cabin that dates back to 1838. Once inhabited by Cherokee Indian Charles Dunbean, the cabin was also part of the tour. Now restored, the 200-year-old cabin was moved to its current site after its discovery and preservation by former Congressman Ed Jenkins. The Southern Ghost Girls also held investigations there and captured some great evidence of the possibility of spirits there as well.
The tour began at the old jail, which was built in 1906 and remained in use until 1982. It replaced the original old rock jail which had become uninhabitable.
The two-story jail includes an upper level with four steel cells with four bunks each, allowing up to 16 prisoners to be housed, although admittedly it was often used to house many more. A side for women had space for eight females. Gallows were also installed although they were never used and are now sealed shut.
The Ghost Girls wore period attire while gathering everyone into a room where the paranormal experience and the instruction on the instrument’s usage could be explained.
Once the lights were off the guests had access to the lighted meters which would periodically blink when close to a spirit wanting to communicate.
The session began in the main living room of the jail house, where the sheriff lived with his family. Leslie began showing how to communicate with the spirits using a pair of glowing divining rods and asking “yes” or “no” questions to make the rods cross for yes or open for a no.
The guests all sat semi-circle with the lights off taking turns asking questions to any of the potential spirits that may have been present.
After a short break in the sessions, the experience could begin again in a different room of the jail.
Lesley explained that while the jail cells were upstairs the sheriff and his family lived on the main floor with all their children, sometimes 10 of them! The wife would cook for the prisoners from the small kitchen and send it up through a special carrier in the floor.
One of our hosts, Benny Ledford, had only heard of one prisoner ever escaping from the jail. He also explained that most of the prisoners were there for petty crimes such as making the typical moonshine of the period and some women for prostitution or petty thefts.
The types of detection instruments that were used were pretty typical for ghost hunting and paranormal investigations, including electronic devices for recording voice responses, electronic light meters known as spirit boxes that would flash, electro-magnetic field detection devices and a special camera known to pick up glimpses of a spirit.
According to the Ghost Girls website:
The Southern Ghost Girls Tours and Paranormal Investigations, LLC is a tour and paranormal investigation team led by founder and investigator Lesley Ann. The team investigates homes, historical landmarks, museums and other places in the southern United States that are known to have or have had a history of unexplained happenings and paranormal phenomena. We use a scientific approach in our tours and investigations to record any findings that we get using specialized equipment.
After years of doing tours and investigations with other groups, founder Lesley Ann decided it was time that she start up a group of her own to lead her own investigations. She has always enjoyed history tours of fascinating places so she decided to merge that with paranormal investigations that others could also be a part of.
Ever since Lesley Ann was a child she has had happen to her what people call “experiences” of the unknown. She has always had the gift of having a very good intuition about things and has used this gift to her advantage to help others. The team does not delve into participating in any dark or evil phenomenon and strictly uses a scientific approach when doing investigations and research. Our teams are all women of faith and of good moral character. We are all just curious to see if we can record metaphysical phenomena or unexplained happenings.
Another Paranormal Palooza Ghost Hunt at Jasper’s Old Historic Jail is set for Friday, Sept. 30 and Saturday, Oct. 1. For ticket information, visit southern-ghostgirls.com. Other similar events are planned in Alabama during October.