Burlington County Prison Museum Ghosts

The Burlington County Prison in Mt. Holly, NJ opened in 1811 and continued to operate until 1965. The prison had gallows located in the prison yard where there were public executions. On the third floor there was a single cell that was used as death row. Called “the dungeon”, there were 8 prisoners that spent their final days in that cell until the death sentence in NJ was overturned in 1908. There is a lot of tragedy associated with the Burlington County Prison which makes it one of the most haunted places in America.

The Burlington County Prison is a prime example of a building that, by looks alone, should be haunted. It is the history of violence there however that has been credited for contributing to the many paranormal occurrences that people have claimed happened within the walls. There has been at least 8 hangings there and allegedly there are all buried on the property.

One of the men that were hung was a prisoner named Joel Clough. He was a convicted murderer and after being caught trying to escape, was sent to “the dungeon” cell and reports say he was often chained to the center of the floor naked as punishment for misbehaving.

There were also two occurrences of non-prisoners who have died in the prison. There were two separate instances of prisoners trying to escape. In one attempt a trustee was murdered and in the other a security guard was killed. These two instances had one common thread however, in both instances the murders happened on the lower level basement close to the kitchen.

The Burlington County Prison was turned into a museum in 1999. There have been many stories that have been reported by visitors, museum workers and ghost hunters that have come from visiting this place. One of these stories from museum workers is that they have seen a legless apparition floating from the main entrance straight into the prison yard.

Other stories include another ghost reportedly being seen in the basement. This apparition is of a tall male wearing some sort of uniform walking around. Some have contributed this as being the murdered security guard. Many have reported seeing shadows move out of the corner of their eyes and voices talking as well as hearing the sound of footprints from the floors above and the occasional web feeling that goes along with being touched by a ghost as they have walked the basement area.

The third floor and particularly the cell dubbed “the dungeon” has been said to have the most activity. It stands to reason as this was the very last place 8 men saw before going to the gallows. Joel Clough is said to be the main spirit to haunt this room. Reports of moaning sounds and of men crying out have been reported emanating from the cell. Others have gotten remarkable EVP’s (Electronic Voice Phenomena) from within the cell as well as spikes in the EMF meter (electromagnetic field).


  • Sandy Bates Bell


    I am the curator for the Freestone County Historical Museum in Fairfield, Texas. Our jail complex is very similar, we have had four documented hangings (many went undocumented) since the 1850’s, 2 documented murders (one a sheriff in the 1880’s, a prisoner beaten by a cellmate in 1888 etc..). The grounds were also once part of the county’s poor farm, with much despair and sorrow. We also have two cabins from the 1840’s and a historic church that was used as a cover for bootlegging operations (we were the epicenter of bootlegging for Texas and supplied moonshine to Al Capone for redistribution in Chicago).
    Wide Awake Paranormal, S.P.I.R.I.T , Reporter Chicks (ParaXvision/CBS), Mike Roberts etc…have all investigated.
    No one has come out disappointed. Captured on audio and video – class A evp’s , disembodied voices and conversations, knocking, footsteps, shadow people, object manipulation (light switches , heavy duty, coming on by themselves then toggling up and down, caught on video), K2 and EMF anomalies, photographs etc..
    Two sets of visitors (beginning in the 60’s) have seen a full blown apparition of a man in the upstairs of the jail.
    I work there every week and had a hard time staying in the buildings, but since the investigations, I have now joined Wide Awake Paranormal as a team member. Instead of running away from the activity, I know go toward it.
    If you would like to see some of the audio/video…Wide Awake Paranormal has some footage on their facebook page and we also have a Freestone County Historical Museum fan page.

  • Ghost Writer

    I follow Wide Awake Paranormal and S.P.I.R.I.T. on Facebook and recommend them to everyone reading. Though I may not have put two and two together for this one I have seen some of the footage they have posted. I was born in San Antonio – maybe a trip back to Texas is n order :).

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