Monday, November 5, 2018

Terror behind the walls of the infamous Eastern State Penitentiary.....

If you search the internet for the world's most haunted places, you will find that Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP, weird, right?) in North Philadelphia will be on EVERY list you find.

Could it be because of the numerous accounts of the sound of crying as if someone is in extreme pain?

Cell block 1
Could it be the random streaks of light or orbs that appear and disappear reported by multiple witnesses?

Could it be the abundant descriptions of hearing someone walking through the prison halls when no one is there?

Could it be the countless statements from visitors to ESP hearing someone calling their name, again, with no one being present to do so?

Could it be the infinite recollections of various people feeling tapping on their shoulders only to find no one there?

Could it be the sadistic laughter, the slamming of cell doors, the jiggling sounds of the cell door handles, stones being thrown, the sound of furniture being dragged around?

Could it be that multiple visitors have fallen ill while visiting the penitentiary?

Could it be the too numerous to count reports of hearing babies screaming from inside Cell Block 7?

Could it be due to the 50 suicides and over a dozen murders which occurred within the prison walls?

Or could it be the hundreds of people saying they have seen ghosts or shimmering blobs appearing and fading away while visiting?

I am no expert on hauntings, evil, or inhumane treatment of others but ESP does look like the perfect breeding ground for being a notoriously haunted place.

The penitentiary was built in 1829 and was the first "real" penitentiary in America and was the largest building in America at the time.
The architecture for the penitentiary was a new wagon wheel concept which was the model for hundreds of other penitentiaries that were built subsequent to ESP.

The concept of the wagon wheel design was accompanied by a new idea of punishment.

Instead of lumping all the inmates together in one large cage or holding pen, the key idea here was based on solitary confinement; inmates were kept away from other inmates.

The yards were enclosed by extremely tall walls.  Inmates were assigned times to be outside that would never overlap with other inmates.  They even had sound-proof doors.

It was felt that if the wrong-doer was completely alone, they would actually be able to feel remorse or regret for their actions (spiritual reflection, if you will).

If a prisoner ever left their confined space, a hood was placed over their head so the other prisoners would not see their face.  Basically, the entire concept for the solitary confinement was a social experiment that was created at the home of Ben Franklin by a group of Quakers.

ESP is on the list for most haunted places because of its over 140-year-history of disease, murder, punishment, torture, suicide, and complete madness.

The punishments/torture the inmates endured include:

The mad chair.  So the mad chair was used to strap an inmate down so tightly that all circulation to was cut off to one or more body parts with resultant need for amputation.

The iron gag, an iron collar was placed in an inmate's mouth and that iron collar was attached to a strap that was tied to an inmate's hands.

Basically, any movement would cause tearing of the tongue, lips, and gums which caused profuse bleeding and unparalleled

The "hole," an underground cell with no light, no toilet, no exercise, no human contact, barely any food, and barely any air.

And finally, the water bath.  This punishment was used during the winter months.  Inmates were dunked and hung out on a wall.  They basically hung around until ice formed on their skin.

It is not hard to image why ESP would be haunted with the crude cells, decaying corridors, and depraved execution of punishments inflicted on inmates.

The penitentiary closed in 1971.  Between 1829 and 1971, there were an estimated 75,000 inmates 
include a few famous evil-doers.

Famed Chicago mob boss, Alphonse Capone, spent eight months in ESP.  He was a guest on the "Park Avenue Block" of the prison.  His cell was furnished with lamps, plants, paintings, a radio, rugs, and two skylights were put in at his request.  He also had his tonsils taken out in the medical wing free of charge.

Having a lot of money afforded him the luxury to have access to the things he was used to on the outside but it did not help him with his sanity.

Rumor has it that by the time Scarface had served his eight month at ESP, he was reduced to a terrified, blubbering wreck of a man.

Yeah, the deadliest mobster not scared of one living thing was extremely fearful of the ghost of a man he killed named Jimmy (James Clark).

The other inmates report that he would frequently yell out in a high-pitched wailing voice at night for "Jimmy" to leave him alone, and he must have been pretty scared since as you will recall these cells were practically sound-proof.
Slick Willie

Slick Willie Sutton, one of the most famous bank robbers in American History with 50+ bank robberies to his name.

Willie spent 11 years at ESP and in 1945, he and 11 other inmates dug a tunnel 100 feet underground.

Even though he was captured minutes after his escape attempt, he was successful in escaping from other prisons on 3 separate occasions.
Escape tunnel

He ended up serving 30 years behind bars and died in 1980.

Leo Callahan

Over the years at least 100 inmates tried to escape but only one was actually successful, Mr. Leo Callahan.

He was in ESP for assault and battery with the intent to kill.

Callahan and five other inmates tried to build a ladder to scale the east wall of the penitentiary.

They all made it out but he was the only one that was not captured and returned to ESP.

Callahan was never seen again and if he were still alive today, he would be over 110 years old.

Freda Frost
ESP also housed female inmates and Ms. Freda Frost was the last of them.

She was transferred in 1923 to a home for women.

She served 20 years for the poisoning death of her husband. 

There were a few more interesting inmates at ESP but I think the most fascinating inmate for me was hardened criminal #C2559 accused of murdering the cat of Pennsylvania Governor Pinchot.

He went by the name of Pep and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.  Sounds incredible I know.

The other inmates actually embraced and loved Pep, they even called him Pep The Black.

But did I mention the part about Pep being a black Labrador?  Yes, a cat-
murdering dog who also belonged to Governor Pinchot.  He literally had his own dog arrested and placed in prison for allegedly snuffing out his feline, what a nut!

Pep The Black spent 10 years locked up for the grisly kitty murder.  When he died he was buried on the property of the penitentiary.

If you pay ESP a visit, you can buy a stuff Pep in the museum's gift shop.

I think it is pretty clear why ESP is on the world's most haunted list year after year with the thousands of prisoners who were in agony daily.  They were abused, tortured, and left for dead behind the bleak grey walls of ESP.  Click here for ESP's awesome website to plan your trip at the world's most historic and most expensive prison.  You can click here for an online tour.  Scroll down and click on an area to explore.  Click here for Hands on History.  Also, check out this audio tour.  Former inmates, guards, staff of the prison when it was open, and several wardens of the prison take you on an audio tour of the prison.

I know Halloween is over but there is never a bad time to learn a little history, especially when it involves the disembodied supernatural.

Thanks for horsing around with me. You really never know what you will get when you read my blog so thanks for stopping by.