sheriff’s residences with attached jails are unique to the Midwest. Built
after the Civil War, these buildings are truly interesting juxtapositions of
private-public uses. The Sheriff's Residence, located in the front of its site
and often adjacent to a courthouse, was the epitome of Victorian domestic living
in the Midwest; often built in a high style and out of quality materials, these
residences presented an appropriate presence for the residence’s occupant--the
county sheriff and his family. However, in the rear of the building complex,
there was the county jail; it was the complete opposite in both function and
appearance to the sheriff’s residence. Functional practicality justified such
an incongruent architectural composition; in Midwestern counties, it was
expected that the sheriff not only supervised inmates in the jail but his
family, or his (or her) staff, was also expected to feed and board the inmates
as well. Sheriff’s residences and jails were built throughout the Midwest,
from Indiana to Iowa, and as far north and west as Wisconsin and Minnesota,
during the last half of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the
twentieth century. Ford County was no different. It built its version in 1871,
the residence being a noble Italianate style residence, and the jail was a
foreboding heavy stone two-story rear wing. It appears that the wrap-around
porch was added on to the residence part of the building around 1900.
are eight solitary cells in the basement that were used until the cells were
completed on the first floor and then the doors from those cells were used in
the new part of the prison and the basement abandoned.
Once the oldest operating jail in Illinois, the building was used
until a new jail opened in 1993 just a few blocks north. Housed a serial killer.
Wilhelm Hoellman in Brandenburg, Germany in 1859, he changed the spelling of his
name to an English appearance of Frederick William Hollman when he and his wife
Amelia immigrated to America in 1883 and settled in Grand Haven, Michigan. There
are many victims of Frederick Hollman who may never be identified. Even after
his execution on May 14, 1897 authorities in other states were reopening
unsolved murder cases involving women in German communities where victims lived.
Some newspapers surmised the number of Hollman's victims could go as high as 17.
cursed the jurors and the judge who sentenced him, “Just wait till I am dead
and I will come back every night and visit these men who put me here, these
witnesses and jurors. I will haunt them to their graves. I will rap on their
windows at night and they will see my face at their windows!”
an unfinished poem entitled “Legendary”:
“My name is
I came from a
far off country which follows the River Rhine,
To America I
journeyed, in honest to toil
they’re gonna hang me, and raise a great turmoil on day 14 of May.
are in bloom,
I must meet my
They said I did
a murder, but that I will deny.”
statement he made with the rope around his neck was, “I must die and find my
deathbed in this way. I hold no malaise to anyone. I freely forgive as I ask God
for Christ’s sake to forgive me. Think not that I must close my lips because
another speaks for me. I am not guilty of the crime for which I die. I leave it
all with God which upon judgment day will give each rewards of his deeds. I
believe that one that does not confess to God his sins, eternally lost. I have
confessed to God and trust him. The rich, instead of spending money for theater
and opera, should build hospitals and almshouses for the poor. Someday those who
spend their money in this way may themselves in the condition of the rich man
who despise Lazarus.”
As he was being
marched to the gallows, he was singing, “Never my God To Thee.” A book was
written about Hollman entitled, “Final Doom” by Kevin Collier.
In 1937 a
47-year-old man from Gibson City, Burley Roarke (sp?) was a father of three sons
and had a 23-year-old step-daughter. Apparently after the death of some of his
children, he buried them on his property and was later arrested and jailed for
burying without a permit. It was said he eventually hung himself in his jail
cell with a wire coat hanger.’
officially closed in 1994 and there have been numerous attempts to gain
historical building status for this structure so that it could be preserved
Located at: 259 W. State St., Paxton, IL. 60957
Hauntings: There have been numerous reports of shadow people roaming throughout the building but especially in the basement area where the solitary confinement cells used to be, lots of EVPs captured and some disembodied voices, at least one good picture taken in a window that appears to be that of the condemned killer himself Frederick Hollman, noises and sounds and various pieces of paranormal equipment being set off by unseen entities. Some believe that there may be as many as five ghosts inhabiting this building.
Equipment setup: Since
this was a public event with lots of people traipsing through the area, only
hand-held equipment was used.
Experiments performed: EVP,
Ghost Box and Ovilus X sessions were conducted near where the gallows once
stood, an upstairs residence room, Hollman’s cellblock, a small solitary
confinement room in the basement and a large room where we also employed a laser
grid, a Melmeter 8704-REM in the doorway and IR camcorder along with Ovilus X
and digital recording devices.
The Ghost Research Society investigated Old Ford County Jail on February 22, 2014. Team members included: Kathie Para, Marge Sucha, Stan Suho and Dale Kaczmarek with help Bob Davies and CUPS.
Shortly before arriving we just had a light dusting
of snow. It was dark out when we
arrived. Due to the amount of people
there we were unable to set up our command center.
Along with some history of
this building we were given a tour of the gallows and jail cell area.
Dale, Stan, Kathie & I decided to do our first EVP Session was in the
Gallows area where one of the first known serial killers, Frederick William
hung. He came to
It was pretty quiet in this
area and after approx. 20 minutes we ended our session.
2nd Floor Bedroom - This
room had a small door near the upper portion of the wall.
Nothing was behind that small door. We
did have some interesting words on the Ovilus and at one point we (Dale, Kathie
& I) heard a small bell quietly ring. We
were unable to determine where this bell came from... Shortly after Dale notice
the battery drained on his camera. This session lasted approx. 25 minutes.
During the last 1/2 of the session the Ovilus became very talkative.
It was hard to make out most of the words.
It was suggested that maybe it was speaking in German.
Frederick William Hollman's Jail Cell &
Solitary - In both these areas when I went to pick up my
recorder to leave I noticed after approx. 2 minutes of recording my recorder was
Basement- Big Room to the left of the staircase -
We were told shadows were seen in this area so we
used the Laser grid scope in this area. During
our Ghost Box session the Ovilus turned on.
Several times after it was shut off it turned on again.
Overall this was a
beautiful building that had a lot of history.
I would definitely go back again with a smaller group.
visited the old
present were I, Dale, Marge and Stan. We also teamed up with CUPS for this
had planned on a full set up of equipment but on arrival found that this was a
public event and with more than two dozen people there we used hand held
equipment only. There was much noise contamination throughout most of the night,
which was disappointing.
got some pretty interesting responses from the Ovilus’ and ghost box. During
the night there were unusually high incidences of our equipment malfunctioning
and batteries draining, probably the most I’ve ever experienced.
be excited to return to this location for a private investigation.
On a side note, while reviewing evidence I was listening to my audio from the
second floor bedroom when it suddenly stopped for a few seconds. When it
continued, there was an echo. I had to end and start over. Common sense tells me
this probably was a malfunction in my computer but with so many different
equipment malfunctions happening during our investigation I felt the need to
Stan Suho: Another sturdy
old Jail House built in the early 20th century style that was popular at the
time. Bob Davis hosted that evening along with several members of his group. The
public was also invited, and we had quite a large turnout. Because of the large
size of the group and rather cramped quarters, a regular setup was decided
against. After the guided tour and walk through, which I videotaped, the
investigation began. The crowd although large was well behaved and quiet. Marge,
Kathy, and Dale broke out the EVP equipment. I took out my Sony IR camera and
began taking pictures. I pretty much filled my time up with photographing the
GRS as well as other several other groups.
interesting place was solitary confinement down in the basement which was
somewhat difficult to get to. With no doors or windows, it was very dark and
quiet. If we ever get back there, I would like to do a G.E.I.S.T. setup down
there and see what turns up. So this was how I passed the time until departure.
With a smaller group and better weather conditions, there
is no telling what we might come up with a full G.E.I.S.T. and several cameras running.
Since there was at least one suicide in the place, I think there are possibilities in this jail as they usually produce results. I would recommend a follow up investigation.
Dale Kaczmarek: I myself did
not come across anything paranormal in the building. The inside was very cold
due to the time of the year we investigated and internal space heaters were
being run constantly. Noise was a bit of a factor due to the amount of people
taking part in the investigation so there was some minor contamination of EVP
sessions but all in all most of the time it was quite doable. There were a few
instances of loud interference namely someone upstairs in the command post
screaming while we were in the solitary cells and later much heavy walking and
loud talking when we were exchanged in an EVP session in the large room at the
bottom of the stairs. We decided not to investigate the attic partially due to
all the possible contaminants and dust in the air.
only area that I did not feel very comfortable was downstairs in one of the
solitary cells. I’m not claustrophobic but I did feel that after a while, I
did need to get out of that area. This hasn’t happened anywhere to me in the
past so I just note it as being a bit strange. This would be an interesting area
to possibly revisit with a smaller group and more equipment and cameras during a
warmer time of the year.
area.MPG – the Ovilus in phonetic mode said “jail area.”
air.MPG – while conducting an Ovilus session a small solitary confinement room
in the basement the Ovilus X says, “…need air.”
– while conducting a Ghost Box session in Hollman’s cell a question was
asked, “Were you here for murder?” A faint response is heard.
2.MPG – while conducting a Ghost Box session in Hollman’s cell a question
was asked, “Did you kill someone?” Another faint response is heard.
3.MPG – while conducting a Ghost Box session in Hollman’s cell a question
was asked, “Why did you help the prison guards build your gallows?” Another
faint response is heard in the background.
Frederick’s cell.MPG – (see Response.MP3) Captured on another digital
– while conducting an Ovilus X session near where the original gallows were a
question was asked, “Can you tell us what happened right here?” The Ovilus X
responds with, “Shaken.”
are both here.MPG – the Ovilus X in phonetic mode says, “They are both
– while conducting an Ovilus X session in a small solitary confinement room in
the basement, the Ovilus says, “Up.”
gallows.MPG – while conducting an EVP session near where the gallows used to
be, a faint EVP is picked up.
like.MPG – while conducting a Ghost Box session in the large room in the
basement, a comment was made, “I think you’re afraid to walk through that
door.” The Ghost Box responds with, “Walks like.”
Ovilus X in dictionary mode by the gallows said the following words: witch,
cage, shaken, southern, maybe and channeling.
we did get some interesting responses during Ghost Box and Ovilus X sessions,
some of the faint responses are very hard to discern, even with the aid of
headphones. I did feel that “Shaken” response was pretty interesting near
the gallows area and that earlier the Ovilus did use the word “Cage” as well
since a prison is much like a cage for a human being. It would be beneficial to
uncover more information about the man who allegedly committed suicide in the
jail since I wasn’t able to find sources for that during my searches on the
Internet. It would definitely add more mystique and validity to at least one
other possible haunting in the building.
Ghost Research Society (www.ghostresearch.org)
© 2014 Dale Kaczmarek. All rights reserved.
Web site created by Dale Kaczmarek