Old Haunted Jail in St Augustine, FL

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The jail was finished in 1891 and was in operation until 1953. The founder of Standard oil, Henry Flagler, Rockefeller and the founder of the East coast railroad donated The majority of its money to build it. Being the oldest surviving government building in the St. John’s county.old-jail-museum-st-augustine-fl-oct-2009-07

Originally built to house up to 72 prisoners, the two-story northern wing of the Jail consists of a general population and maximum security area, a women’s section and a lower level kitchen. Maximum Security housed the most dangerous prisoners held at the Jail and includes a Death Row cell, for those condemned to die.

Only condemned prisoners had windows, but that was just to provide a view of the gallows. The most dangerous of the prisoners were locked up in maximum security, which included the death row cells. Many of the other many men and women died from the inhumane conditions that they were subjected to. Every prisoner was forced to work as a free farm laborer while they were incarcerated… and work was hard. Often, inmates would go months without baths or showers, and bathrooms were out of the question. Each man and woman were given one bucket which acted as their bathroom and toilet paper was not an option. Many times the inmates were not fed and would have to resort to catching animals while they worked in the fields just so they wouldn’t starve to death. At the jail, disease, violence, and death were commonplace.

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Death by hanging was the preferred mode of execution at the Old Jail. while there were only 8 men officially executed during the years that the jail was open. Unfortunately, authorities often got the physics of weight, rope length, and fall distance wrong, so the eight hangings here took up to 14 minutes.

The Gallows was by far the most interesting part of the tour. Because it was also the only place where the back of my hairs stood up. But also was the only place where I had camera difficulties. Just all around the Gallows, the camera seemed to have a hard time figuring out what it was picking up. 385854_315244175155604_982009748_n_zpsgmd6wco8

While my son and I were in the back taking pictures and I decided to snap a picture above the gallows aiming up into the tree and sky. However, after standing still the picture came out distorted exactly like this. I feel it is a time warp or maybe it’s exactly what the inmate had experienced the entire time they hung spinning.spirits_by_aquabubbleburst-d4fc201.jpg

Today, it is a living history museum, where a prisoner trustee or perhaps one of the deputies will take you through this nationally-recognized historic building. They will tell you tales of life back in the late 1800s for the male and the female prisoners. If you are lucky, they might even sneak you into the office and the living quarters of Sheriff Joe Perry, which was connected to the jail itself. He lived there with his wife and two young children during his two terms as a St. John’s County Sheriff.

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(The Castillo de San Marcos) in St Augustine, Florida

(The Castillo de San Marcos) in St Augustine, Florida

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A monument not only of stone and mortar but of human determination and endurance, the Castillo de San Marcos symbolizes the clash between cultures which ultimately resulted in our uniquely unified nation. Still resonant with the struggles of an earlier time, these original walls provide tangible evidence of America’s grim but remarkable history.

385165_314826368530718_675592050_n_zpse98a0eqe.jpgThe massive coquina walls of the
Castillo de San Marcos have
guarded St. Augustine since the
1600s.

The Castillo De San Marcos was the tenth in a series of forts to protect St. Augustine. The previous nine were constructed of wood. The work on Castillo began 1672 in the month of October.  A pirate attack in 1668 and the founding of Charleston by the English in 1670 prompted the Queen Regent Mariana of Spain to approve the building of a powerful masonry fortification to defend Florida. The Castillo is the largest fort ever constructed by Spain in North America.  Constructed using coquina rock quarried across the bay on Anastasia island, it took 23 years to complete.

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bert_by_snapcolorcreations-d56nz1a.jpg                   The massive walls of the Castillo de San Marcos were first tested in battle in 1702. An English army led by Gov. James Moore of South Carolina tried to capture St. Augustine. Queen Anne’s War was then underway and Moore came south to lay siege to the Oldest
City.

The 1,500 soldiers and citizens of St. Augustine took shelter within the fort and held off the English army for 52 days until they were relieved by a Spanish fleet from Cuba. Moore burned the city but became the first of many commanders that tried and failed to take the Castillo. 312606_315281931818495_1383588428_n_zpsudydeqle

In 1763, as an outcome of the Seven Years’ (French and Indian) War, Spain ceded Florida to Great Britain in return for La Habana, Cuba. The British garrisoned Matanzas and strengthened the Castillo, holding the two forts through the American Revolution. The Treaty of Paris of 1783, which ended the war, returned Florida to Spain.

312606_315281928485162_287063198_n_zpsbxgfnkxcSpain held Florida until 1821, when serious Spanish-American tensions led to its cession to the United States. The Americans renamed the Castillo Fort Marion and used it to house Indian prisoners during the Seminole War 1835-42. Confederate troops occupied it briefly during the Civil War and Indians captured in western military campaigns were held there later on. It was last used during the Spanish-American War as a Military Prison.321644_315264338486921_1164742333_n_zps5hknh0ui

Complete Timeline of Castillo 

 

  • 1513 Sailing from Puerto Rico, Spanish claim Florida.
  • 1565 Spanish found St. Augustine and destroy French at Fort Caroline and Matanzas Inlet.
  • 1672 Ground is broken on October 2 for Castillo de San Marcos
  • 1695 Castillo de San Marcos (curtain walls, bastions, living quarters, moat, ravelin, and sea wall) is finished in August.
  • 1702 War of the Spanish Succession pits Spain and France against Austria, Great
  • 374799_314826448530710_491578006_n_zps2pctcdi4Britain, and others. Coastal Georgia missions are destroyed by Carolinians en route to St. Augustine. Carolinians occupy and burn St. Augustine but the Castillo successfully resists their siege.
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  • 1738 Spanish governor at St. Augustine grants freedom to runaway, British slaves. Black families settle at, new town called Fort Mose.
  • 1740 St. Augustine successfully endures siege by British, Georgian, and South Carolinian forces.  Spanish attack and defeat British Highland troops camped at Fort Mose.
  • 1740-42 Fort Matanzas is built to block southern approach to St. Augustine.
  • 1756-62 Fort Mose rebuilt in masonry. Earthworks at Mose extended to complete northernmost defense.
  • 1763 Peace of Paris gives Florida to Great Britain in exchange for La Habana. Castillo becomes known as Fort St. Mark,
  • 1783 Peace of Paris recognizes independence; of the United States and returns Florida to Spain.385165_314826365197385_1497144677_n_zpsiw84tplw
  • 1821 Spain cedes Florida to the United States.
  • 1825 Castillo de San Marcos renamed Fort Marion
  • 1924 Fort Marion and Fort Matanzas are proclaimed national monuments.
  • 1942 Original name-Castillo de San Marcos-is restored.379470_314826845197337_816013998_n_zpsfw3kchwq