Posts Tagged ‘Courthouse’

Cornwall Jail, Ontario, the jail had it’s last official prisoner in 2002, before the war of 1812 the original courthouse was used as barracks, the courts were held in St John church and local taverns. 14 years later it burnt down, the new jailhouse was completed in 1834. It has a plan for 50-60 prisoners but was often over capacity with around 100.

Only 3 guards were on duty at any time and exercises in the courtyard for example, could not be controlled. It’s possible this led to some of the suicides in the jail. One of the suicides took place in the building, belts and shoelaces had been removed but he still found a way to hang himself from the bars, after his suicide Plexiglas was installed. The second was a suicide that took place overnight in a busy prison, and it seems strange that even with it being overcrowded it took a while for anyone to find them, did they have a cell mate I wonder?

Ten inmates were hung at the gallows before executions ended in the courtyard in 1954. Peter Balcombe, a 24 year old man, was the last hanging at the jail on the 25th May 1954, he had been found guilty of murder. Many of those executed were buried in the courtyard, a new section was added in the 1960’s, three ‘cells’ were laid in the ground, supposedly they were used for punishment but there appears to be no record of their existence.

In 2005 the jail opened as a tourist attraction for Ontario, whilst it is there for a historic purpose there are also those who are interested in the paranormal side too. Reports have included hearing the sounds of trolley movement, cell doors that were closed the night before would be found open the next day; or vice versa. Numerous orbs have been caught on photography or film, staff have reported hearing a humming from a male, some believe that woman and children also haunt the jail. TAPS investigated and aired a show from the site.

Cornwall Jail

In New York, 1788 a riot broke out aimed at the physicians and medical students by the poorer New Yorkers. The riot was about the illegal procurement of corpses from the graves of the poor and slaves.

In April 1788 a student named John Hicks could hear children playing outside the building. The physician, Richard Bayley, was known to exhume corpses from the two cemeteries nearby. John Hicks was dissecting an arm and waved the arm out of a window, at the children, he told a boy that it was the arm of his recently deceased mother.

The boy ran home and told his father what had happened, the coffin was exhumed and found to be empty. A group amassed around the hospital, the mob broke in and found several bodies in different mutilated conditions. They dragged out Richard Bayley’s assistant, Wright Post, and other students into the street. The mayor of New York, James Duane, was forced into intervene and ordered them to be escorted to the jail house for their own protection.

2,000 people rioted and news spread fast, the few physicians remaining in New York were forced into hiding. A large group of the rioters set off down Broadway to find John Hicks, they assembled at the courthouse to throw rocks and caused a disturbance. In the end the militia and cavalry had to repel them.

At least three rioters and military men died, an estimate of the total dead was given as 20 people. Some students were brought to trial but the taunting Hicks was not one of them. With the riots came a statute law that only condemned criminals could be used and how corpses were to be treated. With the demand for new bodies the physicians then turned to hiring resurrection men, a practice which continued for some time.

An Interrupted Dissection.jpg
By William Allen Rogers – http://thumbs.media.smithsonianmag.com//filer/c8/ef/c8efdc9b-ffc8-4c93-a435-1573d2799633/an_interrupted_dissection_harpers_1882_copy_.jpg__800x600_q85_crop.jpg, Public Domain, Link