Haunted Places: The Jailer’s Inn
Bardstown, Kentucky is many things. It is the one of the oldest cities in Kentucky with a charter dating back to 1790. It is historic as the downtown area is list on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the Bourbon Capital of the World with several distilleries including Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, and Heaven Hill. It is also haunted. One of these haunted places is the Old Nelson County Jail which is currently a bed and breakfast known as the Jailer’s Inn or to some the haunted Jailer’s Inn.
The 30 inch stone walls, heavy steel doors slamming and iron bars on the windows all add to the ambience of being “locked up” as you book your stay at the Jailer’s Inn Bed and Breakfast. If that is not enough, there is also a Jail Cell room that includes two of the original bunks and decorated in black and white.
This property served as the jail from 1797 to 1987. The jail basically came in three phases. The first phase in the late 1700’s was just a log structure and outside was a stockade for those commenting minor offenses. A woman wanting to liberate her husband burnt down the original structure. Next, what is now called the front jail was built-in 1819. It was two stories and included a place for the jailer to sleep, two cells and upstairs was where they kept the dangerous prisoners shackled to the floor like in a dungeon. This was accommodating enough till 1874.
In 1874 what was called the “New Jail” was built. It was also two stories but included five cells. The “Old Jail” was converted into the jailer’s house and a stone wall was built around the entire structure. This arrangement was used up until its closing in 1987. It was sold at public auction in 1989 and purchased by the McCoy’s, restored and turned into the current bed and breakfast.
Serving as the jail for all this time, there were executions that took place in the courtyard. This and the limestone used in the construction could be possible explanations of all the paranormal activity that has been claimed there.
One of the most popular paranormal stories from the jail is that of Martin Hill. He was imprisoned for shooting his wife and was set to be executed in the courtyard. Unfortunately for him he never was. Instead he became ill and died in his cell a very painful death. Guards and other prisoner’s claimed to hear him moan and cry out obscenities from his cell before he finally died from the illness. Claims of hearing those cries and moans are still reported today as well as in an article about ghosts dating back to 1909.
Many tour guides have reported seeing apparitions, hearing voices throughout the building, unexplained footsteps, lights mysteriously cutting on and off and a piano in the old jails entrance playing by itself. In the area of the old cells people claim they hear banging and the heavy doors will swing open on their own.
One of the oddest paranormal claims comes from what is now the Colonial Room. In that room is a red globe light. Guests claim this light will come on by itself but only between the hours of 3 to 4 am. Though many could come up with an explanation as to why the light may go on and off (like wiring) explaining why this happens only between certain hours though makes it a little harder.
The haunted Jailer’s Inn offers a unique opportunity to look back in time while staying in one of its 6 quest rooms in what was once a jail house. The back jail from 1874 is basically unchanged for those who want to see how the jail operated all those years. Who knows, maybe one of the most haunted places in America will leave you with an experience as well.