Old Blackford County Jail

Phantom prisoners and sheriff spirits still reportedly linger in this small Midwestern jail

Note: This location is sometimes also referred to as Old Hartford City Jail

Paranormal Activity at
Old Blackford County Jail

  • Disembodied voices have been heard and many potential EVPs have been recorded
  • Sounds of footsteps have been heard patrolling the jail
  • Moving shadows have been seen
  • Sounds of cell doors slamming and keys jingling have been reported
  • Child-like voices have been recorded in the building
  • Visitors have reported being grabbed and having their hair pulled by the jail’s ghosts
  • An apparition of former Sheriff has been encountered

Haunted History of Old Blackford County Jail

While the main attraction on Hartford City, Indiana’s Main Street is the imposing county courthouse, a more modest piece of local justice history nearby draws in more…paranormal attention. Old Blackford County Jail housed the criminals of Hartford City for over 100 years. But to some it might not even look like a jail, at least not a modern jail.

It may be plain looking, but Old Blackford County Jail housed notorious inmates

A brick structure with a large Italianate home at the front, Old Hartford City Jail blends in well with the residential area around it. But don’t let the look fool you, it might be one of the most haunted places in Winchester, Indiana.

Ever since closing in the 1990s, Old Blackford County Jail’s ghost stories have swirled around town and the country alike. And paranormal investigations at the haunted jail over the years have further supported these stories. Now, many believe the cells are filled with inmates from beyond the grave.

Timeline of Old Blackford County Jail's History

Swipe or use timeline points to see Old Blackford County Jail through the years


Hartford City began as a small group of cabins by a river in the 1830s. For years after its founding, Hartford City grew slowly, and it didn’t need much infrastructure for its justice system. After being named the county seat of Blackford County in the 1840s, a courthouse was built in the middle of town.

But an organized jailhouse would have to wait a few more decades. It wasn’t until the mid-1870s when work began on Old Blackford County Jail. The first section, a home for the sheriff, was completed in 1877.


The rest of Old Blackford County Jail was opened in 1879. Soon after, the new jail saw extensive use as the population of the area exploded – from 1,5000 to 6,000 by 1900. The Indiana Gas Boom of the 1880s and 90s drew many workers and businessmen to the area.

And with them came many opportunists and vagrants, filling the cells of the jailhouse. Even as the gas boom passed, Hartford City still flourished, as did its jail.


Old Blackford County Jail served the county for over a century. In that time, countless killers, robbers, drunks, and vandals spent time in lockup. John Dillinger even spent a bit of time there, but not as a prisoner. He was only staking out the jail while preparing for a robbery in a nearby town.

Many Sheriffs also passed through over the years. In 1977, the county saw three of them. The first, Sheriff McCollum, died in February. His successor, Sheriff Townsend, followed just two weeks later of a heart attack while working in his jail office.


In 1995, the jail finally closed. But, not long after its closure it was purchased by Richard and Dann Allen, who hoped to restore and preserve it as part of Blackford County’s history. As of 2023, it seems they have succeeded, with the building being well-maintained for its age and continually managed.

But, as the jail’s hopes have risen, so too have its reports of paranormal activity. Old Blackford county jail hosts ghost hunts regularly, with many visitors leaving with new ghost stories to share.

Is Old Blackford County Jail haunted?

After so many years as a jail, perhaps it’s no surprise many say Old Blackford County Jail is haunted. Many strong emotions have quite literally been locked into the building, and souls have even died within its walls. And, as paranormal investigations in recent years suggest, the ghosts in the jail want to be heard.

The jail is known for its disembodied voices and its EVPs. While many of these voices are said to sound like adults, there have been numerous instances of child-like voices being heard.

Most often, these child spirits are reported around the basement. More chilling still? Some have reported hearing their names being called out from the shadows of Old Blackford County Jail.

Ghostly Guards of Winchester’s Haunted Jail

Going along with the reports of disembodied voices within this haunted Winchester, Indiana historical landmark, other strange sounds have also been heard. In the attic, a voice is heard yelling loudly. Throughout the building, strange ghostly moaning has been heard by visitors.

Some of these sounds are said to come from spirits of jail guards and Sheriffs. Loud footsteps have been heard in the jail, as if a guard is still on patrol. Additionally, the sound of keys jingling and cell doors slamming have also been reported.

Old Blackford County Jail Poltergeist Activity

As if the unexplainable sound of cell doors slamming in the night wasn’t eerie enough, visitors have said some cell doors really do close on their own. The main cellblock is accessible by a unique turn style door, and this door is said to be closed by unknown forces.

This door is known for making noise, but in these instances, those in the building reported that the door closed in complete silence.

The Shadow Figures Of Hartford City’s Haunted Jailhouse

Shadow figures and strange moving shadows are some of the most common visual reports around the haunted jail. These shadows are often seen moving very quickly, darting from place-to-place out of the corner of your eye.

Corroborating these reports, shadow detectors brought in by investigators are said to be triggered by unseen entities in the cell block. Along with shadows, detailed apparitions have also been spotted. The figure of the Sheriff who died in the building in 1977, Sheriff Townsend, has been seen around the former Sheriff’s quarters. He is said to appear as a large gentleman in a white shirt, lingering listlessly in the old Sheriff’s house.

An area referred to as the Dungeon beneath the haunted Old Blackford County Jail

The ghosts of the haunted jail and museum are also known to physically interact with the living. Many paranormal investigators have reported being touched and grabbed by unseen hands while on the Old Blackford County Jail ghost tour or during a private overnight paranormal investigation.

Others still claim their hair was suddenly pulled by unknown forces during their visit. And in another instance, an investigator reported having a police baton grabbed by a spirit.

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Old Blackford County Jail:
A Paranormal Hotspot

Many people can now tell you just how active the hauntings of Old Blackford County Jail are. And more people learn all the time, as the jail’s investigation calendar is often filled with eager ghost hunters. Booking an investigation slot at Old Blackford County Jail is as easy as just giving them a call and reserving a date.

The dungeon beneath Old Blackford county jail

So if you happen to be hankering for a haunted jail experience, you can find one in Hartford City. Just don’t be too surprised if the cell doors close behind you. It’s just the spirits wanting you to stay. After all, nothing says ‘stay awhile’ quite like jail.