Sarah is a journalist for a small town weekly newspaper. She is currently enrolled in journalism classes, working toward her B.A. degree.
Bullock County's Haunted Pauly Jail
The historical Bullock County Pauly Jail Museum is located in Union Springs. Union Springs is the county seat of Bullock County.
The Pauly Jail has often garnered the attention of Paranormal Research teams with its allegations of being haunted.
My Friend,DeDe,and I wanted to explore several historical sites in the county, but the jail was top of the list. Largely because of its reputation.
The feeling we got when I turned down the alley leading to the jail was undeniably ominous. Nevertheless, we were very intrigued by the sheer size of the building, towering over us.
The Pauly Jail building, built in 1897, is located behind the 200 block of Prairie Street. It is listed on the Tourism Council of Bullock County’s website, www.unionspringsalabama.com/Historic-Buliding-Tour.html , as one of the must-see buildings while exploring the city of Union Springs. I can appreciate why. For us, it was definitely the number one building to see.
The Victorian Gothic style building is one of the oldest surviving jails in the state. The jail even now has gallows and a trap door visible from the third floor, although there had not been any legally ordered hangings at the jail. There had, however, been a few suicidal hangings. There also had been brutalities in and outside of the jail.
A few of the deaths that have been documented within the walls of the jail are those of Aberdeen Johnson, J. W. Mann, and Willie Upshaw.
Just Hanging Around
The first recorded suicide incident was In 1897. This was the first year the jail was opened. An inmate by the name of Willie Upshaw found himself locked up in Pauly Jail. Upshaw managed to escape, only to get himself murdered.
The man responsible for his murder was apprehended later. This unidentified man hung himself in his jail cell.
Other inmates and jail workers have reported hearing a swinging sound coming from the cell that was believed to be his cell.
Others have even reported an apparition on the third floor wandering around aimlessly with a noose around its neck.
Brutality at the Hands of a Lynch Mob
The most brutal murder was in 1911. According to the Huntsville Daily Times newspaper accounts, an African American by the name of Aberdeen Johnson had allegedly assaulted a Caucasian woman. According to the story, this was done in the presence of her two children.
After Johnson was delivered to Pauly Jail. The Sheriff was attacked, handcuffed and locked in a room on the upper story of the courthouse. Johnson was forcibly removed by a hostile mob. The men rammed the door open after forcing the local blacksmith, at gunpoint, to use his tools to gain access into the jail cell.
They then dragged Johnson out of his cell, and hanged him in a tree, just outside of the jail. While he was hanging, the mob proceeded to shoot him more than 150 times.
It is believed that Johnson's restless spirit wanders the property.
The Christmas Guest
The last known death in the jail was documented in 1960. J.W. Mann was arrested on Christmas Eve for disorderly conduct and was placed in Pauly Jail. Allegedly he was smoking and fell to sleep. A fire started, and quickly engulfed his cell, killing Mann before the guards could get him out. There have been numerous eyewitness accounts of an apparition of J.W. Mann spending Christmas in the Old Pauly Jail.
Visit Pauly Jail
The Pauly Jail is now a museum and can be toured upon request, during courthouse business hours.
In addition, A local tour group offers haunted tours of Union Springs, including the jail, the cemetery and St. Josephine Hotel, with appointments.
Also, a Wiregrass area paranormal group visits the Pauly Jail, to perform thorough investigations, every October. Periodically they even allow tours of the jail at this time. If your idea of a good Halloween comprises of a “haunted house”, October is your chance to come to visit a REAL Haunted Jailhouse.