A guest on the Princess Anne Ghost Walk snapped a photo of the old jail with her smart phone. The image she snapped appears above. She then turned to me and asked if I saw a face in the window. As we expanded the picture, the face was not only present … it was amazing.
The face appears to be that of a small boy – and unlike the orbs, streaks of light, misty fog and scratchy laser-like images that typically appear in images with supposed “ghostly” anomalies, this image shows the outline of a hairline, eyebrows, a nose, cheeks a mouth – all appearing in the lower center pane of the building’s center window.
What makes this image even more strange is that the window, itself has no flooring in front of it. The first floor has a steel staircase directly behind it leaving the second floor window – shown above – open to the first floor. There’s no possible way anyone could have been standing in that window. There is no floor to support a body.
At the beginning of every walking tour I lead, I always ask who believes and who doesn’t believe in ghosts. There are always a few non-believers – there to have fun or learn the history. But on this particular tour of nearly 30 people, I had only two who admitted to being non-believers. The woman who took this photo was one of the two. I believe her mind was changed after she captured this image.
The gray stone building, also known as The Gray Eagle was built just after a 1902 fire destroyed a previous jail on the same site. The fire was started by prisoners, so this stone building would serve as a fireproof fortress that would keep prisoners put.
This jail was the scene of two brutal murders – one where inmates killed another inmate, but the other – more famous murder – was the lynching of George Armwood in October of 1933. Actually, the murder itself occurred outside the jail, but the extraction of Armwood by an angry mob was exceptionally violent.
George Armwood, an African American male from Pocomoke who was working on a farm in Somerset County owned by a white man who encouraged Armwood to rob an older white lady who would be collecting her rents at a specified time. Armwood robbed the woman and she was able to identify him. He was arrested, but law enforcement feared a mob situation and took Armwood to Baltimore.
Judge Mac Duer of Somerset County asked Maryland’s governor to return Armwood to Princess Anne for the trial to be handled locally. Judge Duer – a well-respected judge and community leader – believed he could handle the situation peacefully. But he was mistaken.
A mob showed up at this jail and broke down the door with a battering ram, then attacked Armwood in the jail cell cutting off his ear, then dragged him by the feet down the steel stairway allowing his head to hit each step. Hauling Armwood outside, they tied him to a car, dragged him around town, hung him from a tree in front of Judge Duer’s house and finally set his dead body on fire in the center of town. None of the mob participants was ever prosecuted.
The jail fell into disrepair but was remodeled and renovated to be used as the Princess Anne Police Department. During the remodeling so many strange occurrences happened – windows opening and shutting, voices, footsteps, tools being projected across rooms – that workers wouldn’t work alone in the building and nearly no one would work after dark.
The police also have their own stories of televisions coming on by themselves, shadows appearing on walls with nothing there to cast the shadow, phantom voices showing up on recordings of investigation interviews – and even of children visiting the station seeing apparitions on the second floor.
Princess Anne seems to be a town where this world and the afterlife mingle. The phantom face in the window photo is just one of several strange photos guests have gotten in this town on the tour. Probably our most well-known image is the hanged man image taken at the graveyard of St. Andrews Church by guest, Bridget Perry. But there have been less shocking, but still impactful images taken of the Francis Barnes House, Teackle Mansion and the Washington Inn & Tavern.
~by Mindie Burgoyne
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