You’ve been granted free access to this subscribers only article.
Investigating the Paranormal
Gloria Garcia with Atascosa Paranormal Investigators employs, among other equipment, a headlamp and special “apps” on her cell phone to locate paranormal activity.
WCN CorrespondentJanuary 30, 2013 3,931 views Post a comment
‘Ghost hunters’ spend the night in the slammer
FLORESVILLE -- The quaint, historic old jail sitting on the courthouse square in downtown Floresville holds many stories, some of them untold, and lost to the passage of time. Until recently, that is. The jailhouse, once home to the county’s sheriff and those who operated outside the law and were brought to justice, has seen an influx of visitors in recent months, most in the dark of night...
The historic Wilson County Jailhouse Museum features unique items from the late 1800s through the early 1900s, including household appliances, clothing, photographs, and personal memorabilia. The jailhouse operated from 1887 until 1974. One of the most unique items in the museum is a book containing photographs of one of the jail’s former prisoners, Maximo Martinez, who was hanged outside the jailhouse in 1897. His was the first legal execution in Wilson County. An article detailing the execution was featured in the San Antonio Light on July 30, 1897.
By day and night
By day the museum looks much like any other historic building, but by night, the museum takes on a much different appearance and feeling. This is what is attracting the newest visitors to the jailhouse: paranormal investigators. Several such teams have “camped out” for hours and hours after the sun goes down to capture what they hope are spirits of inmates or other people who are part of the jailhouse’s history. Infrared and motion-activated cameras, gausmeters, light thermal leak detectors, night-vision cameras, microphones, K-2 meters, even dowsing rods, are all standard equipment with these modern-day ghost hunters. Cameras are set up in all the rooms and the crews split up to take different shifts in the jail cells, kitchen, dining room, and bedrooms to see if they will be visited by the spirits of folks who might have lived in the building or been incarcerated there.
In the slammer
The jail cells have a central latch connected to each door. When museum docent Ralph Gerhardt with the Wilson County Historical Society threw the switch to close the cell doors, a resounding boom! echoed throughout the jail, jarring the senses. The jail once had a gallows installed; when the trapdoor malfunctioned, they took the prisoner outside to be hanged.
Inside the cells are names and dates of former prisoners that were scratched on the walls through layers and layers of paint. The cells are very small and each one holds four beds. The toilet is out in the open where privacy is nonexistent. The sheriff in bygone days lived on the bottom floor of the jailhouse with his family. The sheriff’s wife cooked all the meals for the prisoners. The family’s bedrooms are in a separate part of the building on the second floor.
Gloria Garcia, the founder of Atascosa Paranormal Investigators, said she has been very successful at capturing sounds and images of specters. She and her team worked through the wee hours one morning, capturing words and messages on their equipment. (For more, see “Atascosa Paranormal” on this page.)
The night I witnessed this team in action, we saw and heard some interesting things. Some of the objects in the rooms, such as a pair of old shoes and an antique dress, moved from one place to another when none of the team members had been in that room since photographing it.
The team will use certain items as “triggers”-- such as cigarettes, food, paper, and a pencil placed in strategic locations -- that might generate a reaction if spirits are present. Electronic apps on cell phones also were used to capture words and reactions to “yes and no” questions posed by the team. It was a very long night, but very interesting to be part of a real “ghost hunt.”
So far, four paranormal organizations have visited the jailhouse. In addition, a film crew set up shop for several hours recently for a movie, “Devil Deal Blues,” a project being filmed by a Columbia University graduate student for his thesis.
Paranormal groups can arrange a night visit to test their paranormal investigation skills. Gerhardt requests only a $10 per person donation to the museum. It is pretty astonishing that a building that has so much history continues to make history in the present day.
Gloria Garcia with Atascosa Paranormal Investigators offers home visits for people who believe their homes may harbor another “presence.” She does not charge for this service. Gloria’s “day job” is in the mental health field, so she reassures people they are not crazy if they experience something unusual involving “things that go bump in the night.”
Contact her at 210-232-6764 or visit www.atascosaparanormalinvestigators.com.
The old jailhouse is well worth a visit -- by day or night! Day visits to the Wilson County Jailhouse Museum are $2 each and free for children 12 and under, accompanied by an adult.
The museum is open for tours from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the Floresville Peanut Festival and some other dates during the year.
For tours or more information, call:
•Ralph Gerhardt, 210-413-1158
•Louise Thurman, 830-216-2225
•LaJuana Newnam-Leus 830-393-2166.
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
South Texas Living Archives
Austin’s oldest museum offers daily tours (June 22, 2016)
Dine out with The ROCK (June 22, 2016)
Esparza reunion planned for July 9 (June 22, 2016)
Free guided hikes at Enchanted Rock (June 22, 2016)
Getting your hands dirty — in the garden with Iris Seale (June 22, 2016)
Men: Pay attention to your health (June 22, 2016)
Movies in the Park (June 22, 2016)
New Pioneer Playroom offers hands-on learning (June 22, 2016)
Old newspaper makes memories ‘Local and Personal’ (June 22, 2016)
Poth church to celebrate 90 years (June 22, 2016)
See Legacy of Leadership exhibit in Washington (June 22, 2016)
SS museum plans meeting (June 22, 2016)
Tips for a safe trip to the beach (June 22, 2016)
Wall pocket (June 22, 2016)
Area seniors invited to Bingo Tuesdays (June 15, 2016)
Art Walk America contest deadline is June 23 (June 15, 2016)
Attend picnic at Dewees-Remschel House June 15 (June 15, 2016)
DRT receives honors at state convention (June 15, 2016)
Hear patriotic tunes in Pleasanton (June 15, 2016)
It’s gone! The Spot is gone! (June 15, 2016)
Join WASP for summer season (June 15, 2016)
Jubilee offers fun for the whole family (June 15, 2016)
Martinez Social Club keeps you dancing (June 15, 2016)
Meet 2016 Stockdale Watermelon Jubilee, rodeo court candidates (June 15, 2016)
Moms walking group invites members (June 15, 2016)
Napoli Glass (June 15, 2016)
Oak Hills Church plans yard sale (June 15, 2016)
Ramirezes celebrate golden anniversary (June 15, 2016)
See free movies at Arcadia (June 15, 2016)
Sutherland Springs seeks volunteers (June 15, 2016)
Vendors needed for Freedom Fest (June 15, 2016)
Witness Summer Solstice performance (June 15, 2016)
Add amphibians to your landscaping (June 8, 2016)
Enjoy free summer movies at Rolling Oaks Mall (June 8, 2016)
Enjoy Pilgrim Opry (June 8, 2016)
Gene Watson in Kerrville (June 8, 2016)
Hear ‘Bach to Luckenbach’ (June 8, 2016)
Hummel plate (June 8, 2016)
June dances in Geronimo (June 8, 2016)
Meet for Play Dates in the library (June 8, 2016)
OLPH names 2016 Mother of the Year, May Queen (June 8, 2016)
Prepare to enter cool creation in Ice Cream Freeze-off (June 8, 2016)
Remember Flag Day June 14 (June 8, 2016)
Running group plans June 11 run (June 8, 2016)
St. Ann Teen ACTS plan 5K Color Run (June 8, 2016)
Take Dad out to FatherFest June 19 (June 8, 2016)
The old Wagenfuehr house in Bleu Casa Village (June 8, 2016)
Tracking an icon in the ‘horned lizard capital of Texas’ (June 8, 2016)
Building communities (June 1, 2016)
Cowboy penknife (June 1, 2016)
Garcia receives Linda West Scholarship (June 1, 2016)
Garner State Park celebrates 75 years (June 1, 2016)
Libraries prepare to launch ‘Reading Is So Delicious!’ summer program (June 1, 2016)
Lutheran Church windows relocated for a little TLC (June 1, 2016)
St. Helena Men’s Club plans picnic (June 1, 2016)
Stockdale’s early beginnings (June 1, 2016)
The progression of the classic ‘koozie’ (June 1, 2016)