Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Angry Man in the Powhatan Courthouse

The old Powhatan Courthouse
The Powhatan, Arkansas courthouse, built in 1885, is a majestic building sitting on a hill overlooking the county it once served. The original courthouse on this site was built in 1873, but it burned to the ground and had to be rebuilt. In a little park next to the courthouse is the original jail. The building now houses a county museum and is part of the Powhatan Historic State Park, but the visitor's brochures don't tell you there is something very strange happening here; something unexplained; something sinister.

After years of whispers and rumors of ghosts being seen, unexplained moans and screams coming from the walls and mysterious lights in the locked building late at night, a well-respected group of paranormal investigators were invited to dispel the stories. What they experienced though was far from what the town's officials had hoped for.

Right after getting set up for the evening, one of the psychics claimed to have encountered the spirit of a young boy playing in a corner of the courtroom. The spirit told her he was sad because he had been murdered and that he stayed at the courthouse because that is where the man who killed him went on trial. He then said he was scared and broke off contact.

Several of the psychics reported unseen hands grabbing them the way a child trying to get an adult's attention would do. They heard muffled noises in almost every room, but when they went into the rooms to investigate, the noises completely stopped and no source could be found.

The most frightening encounter of the night happened in the belfry. One of the female investigators had climbed up the narrow, rickety stairs to see if there was anything up there. She asked out loud, "Is anyone here?" Suddenly she was attacked by an unknown, unseen entity. She began to have trouble breathing and felt as if there was an invisible hand closing around her throat! At the same time this was happening, she felt an overwhelming sense of sadness and heaviness, like a huge amount of grief had been suddenly cast upon her. She managed to run from the belfry and down the stairs to the courtroom where there were other people. As soon as she left the belfry, the feelings started to subside and she could breath again. The next morning, she and others found a bruise on her neck right where the invisible hands seemed to be attempting to choke the life out of her.

Later that night, with a video camera recording, several investigators heard heavy footsteps on one of the staircases. When they arrived at the foot of the stairs, the footsteps stopped. Several minutes went by and they were about to leave when the footsteps began again. As the investigators began climbing the stairs, they suddenly heard the high-pitched scream of a woman! They ran up the stairs to investigate the source of the scream, but after thoroughly searching the upper floor, nothing was found that could have made the heavy footsteps and no one that could have issued the blood-curdling scream.

Nothing else happened the rest of the night, but a follow-up session was planned. The 2nd night of investigation occurred two months later and just like before, there was no lack of paranormal activity. The first spirit that made contact was a black female who said she was going to stay at the courthouse with her brother until he moved on. According to her, he had been a young man who was falsely accused of raping a white woman and an angry mob of men had abducted him by overpowering the jail guard and had hung him from an oak tree. Although none of the psychics were from the area and knew nothing of the detailed history of the courthouse, later investigation into dusty records revealed that a young freed slave by the name of Andrew Springer had worked as a sharecropper after the civil war and had indeed been arrested for rape in an adjoining county and brought to the Powhatan jail for trial by that county's authorities who had been trying to keep him out of the hands of vigilantes. The vigilantes had taken him out and hung him from a nearby oak tree. The oak tree still stands today a few yards from the courthouse. The female spirit who claimed to have been Andrew's sister had died in the jail. Records indicated that after the lynching, she had attempted to kill several of the men who were suspected of being in the lynch mob. She had been arrested and had died of an unknown illness while awaiting trial.

The belfry where Andrew's spirit lives
Two of the psychics decided to investigate the belfry where the female psychic had been physically harmed during the first investigation. Almost immediately upon climbing the stairs the air became extremely dry and there was a high amount of energy that could be felt. It was almost as if a charge from a lightning strike was in the room. Then the temperature went up until both men were dripping with sweat. After a few minutes, the spirit communicated via a knocking sound and by moving metal rods held by the psychics. The spirit claimed to be Andrew and he did not approve of the psychics being in "his house." He admitted it was he who had attacked the female psychic the last time as he especially hated women because it was a woman who had falsely accused him of rape and had thus condemned him to a horrible death by beating and hanging. The Andrew spirit suddenly told them to leave or he would hurt them. One of the men then felt like there were fire ants crawling on him and furiously biting all over his body. Both men were by this time exhausted as they felt the spirit had been sucking their energy. They both were so unnerved by the encounter, more so than any they had ever experienced before, that they decided to beat a hasty retreat immediately. As soon as they had left the room and started down the stairs, everything returned to normal. They all packed up and left the building shortly afterwards.

Is the old Powhatan courthouse haunted? Those who don't believe in spirits hanging around after physical death will say no. Others will be unsure. But for a few psychic investigators who were brave enough to spend several long, dark nights there, the answer is an unequivocal yes.