The following is an interview conducted with eyewitnesses of hauntings at the Colonial Williamsburg Jail, also known as the Public Gaol in Colonial Williamsburg, featured on our Williamsburg ghost tour. The Public Gaol was Williamsburg’s jail from 1707 to 1910.
The jail (public gaol) is very interesting. I used to think it was a slave quarters because it was always a real small building. It’s a wall that, I think, is about eight feet tall and I always thought that’s where the slave were held or whatever. I have always thought that when I walked by there it was the eeriest place in all of Colonial Williamsburg other than Peyton Randolph House because it’s literally on the other end, you know.
I took a tour one day and I found out it was the jail, and I was like wow, that’s kinda cool. It’s the jail but why is it so creepy? It is said to have had separate people in there, I believe, Blackbeard; pirates were in there and several other really bad people, I guess.
I went through it and I was like, that’s kinda cool on the inside and they show you little rooms and, you know, where everybody sits. Then I went to the courtyard, and the courtyard is really funny because it’s like, it’s a big square and there’s a small square inside of it. The small square has four rooms, one on each side, top and bottom so left, right then bottom left and right. Then there’s a little courtyard outside of that, I guess, where they go so they can’t escape.
I went in one of the rooms because they had the tours and they had all the doors open and I went in there and I was like this is kinda cool to see a jail that old. I went in there and I felt really, really, like there was something wrong, like something’s in there. I walked in further and further until I got to the very end where I could barely see light coming out from the door I walked in. I noticed the chains moving and the ball, because it’s the ball and chain that hangs on a wall, and I noticed it was moving and I was like that’s kinda cool. I went over there to go touch it and that ball weighs probably every bit of fifty to eighty pounds, it’s pretty heavy. The chain is not, you know, a small chain. I mean it is there to hold the people to the wall or the floor, wherever, they’re not moving.
I noticed it was moving and I was like wow that’s pretty cool. I went back and I told Charles who at that time worked in security for Colonial Williamsburg. He had said, you know, when I told him where it was he said let me guess, it was in the jail cell on the left top. I was like yeah and he said yeah, that’s the one that I hear moaning and groaning all the time. I was like that’s really cool. He said it’s hard to move those chains, isn’t it? I was like yeah. He said a lot of people think that the wind can come in there and blow them. You can’t because it’s literally like you’re in your house with a wall that’s outside your house and you’re not going blow what’s inside your house.
It was really creepy. I think maybe a year later I went back with Charles and we went back to the jail. We always go, you know, to all these different places looking around. We went back to the jail and the group was behind me; I just kind of went ahead of everybody. That’s when I got back there, I looked to the back, you know I went in through the gate. I heard a male and female talking and I was like wow, I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but I heard them talking. I got closer and closer and I could still hear them talking, but as I got closer, right up on the building, I could see inside of it, they stopped.
I told Charles, I think somebody’s in there and he said really? Well, why did you say that? I heard a male and a female, like you could tell it was a female and you could tell it was a male and they were, you know, talking. He said you don’t hear it anymore? I was like no and we were there for a while and we were being still and quiet. We never heard it again, but I thought it was very weird that the jail, and it was probably, what, 4:30-5:00 so it was getting dark. Didn’t hear anything else after that, but it was very weird that I had heard at that moment, again by myself when I shouldn’t have been, but that was my experience at the jail.