We recently got the chance to take a peek inside the historic Old Licking County Jail! Built in 1889, the imposing structure housed not only inmates, but the sheriff and his family, along with a matron who cared for females prisoners.
It’s rumored to be haunted, and the intrepid Ghost (*cough* douche) Adventures crew filmed an episode here. (Seriously, if you’d like to see how to parody proof yourself–because any efforts would simply be repetitious– check them out. I recommend starting at the beginning for full comedic effect).
I can’t speak to whether or not it’s haunted, but it’s easy to see how spooky the place would feel at night.
The second and third floors at the front of the building were living quarters for the sheriff’s family and matron. It seems like an uneasy arrangement, living so close to people who might happily cut your throat given the chance, but wasn’t uncommon at the time.
The crudely gated doors in some of the living quarters are not a reflection of living conditions, but rather a newer addition to keep prisoners inside while on work duty. The jail remained in use after the sheriff moved out, and some jail employees were put to work fixing up the rooms.
Over the years, the jail saw its share of violence. There’s a fascinating story about the mob murder of a private detective in 1910.
Apparently Newark, Ohio was quite the den of sin, with officials on the take, ignoring everything from liquor law violations to prostitution. When the Anti-Saloon League sent private detectives to help raid the saloons, chaos quickly ensued. 17 year old detective Carl Etherington shot an assailant in self defense, and was taken to the jail. It’s not clear if there’s a chance he would have been charged, or if the move was for protection, but if so, it wasn’t effective. After the man he’d shot died that evening, a mob pushed their way into the jail, dragging Etherington out and lynching him on a telegraph pole. This, in a town of 25,000 people at the time.
Two rows of cells sit in the middle of each floor, with narrow walks on the outside that provide a view into the cells. The cells doors (on the opposite side) are solid, so while it’s bright in the walkway, the cells stay fairly dark.
If you’re interested in visiting, check out the LC Historic Jail Facebook page for more info. They’ve got a Halloween event coming up too!