Archive for Williamsburg

Public Gaol

Posted in Virginia with tags on April 18, 2010 by Haunted History Blog

A postcard manufactured by Genuine Curteich depicting the haunted Public Gaol in Williamsburg.

The Public Gaol is a two-cell brick prison located in Colonial Williamsburg. The jail was built in 1701 to hold runaway slaves and convicts scheduled for branding, hangings, and other forms of punishments.

Several famous criminals spent time in the Public Gaol during its 109 years of operation. 15 henchmen from pirate Blackbeard’s crew were sent to the jail in 1718 and Henry “Hair Buyer” Hamilton was imprisoned in 1779 after purchasing pioneer scalps from Indians.

The Public Gaol gained a reputation for being haunted as a result of the 100s of executions which took place on the property. In the jail’s courtyard, both a hanging tree and a two-person pillory still stand where convicts were executed for their crimes.

Tour guides and visitors frequently report hearing banging and laughing sounds coming from areas of the jail where prisoners were once chained to the wall. Paranormal investigation equipment is also very active in the Public Gaol, as cameras often develop blurry photos and K2 Meters produce high readings.

Today the Public Gaol has been restored to its original 18th century façade. The prison is open to tourists seven days a week and is regularly featured in Colonial Williamsburg’s ghost walks.

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