They Say There Are Ghosts in That Old Elkton Jail

The old Cecil County jail has always been a place for some good ghost stories. And this evening was no exception, as the Elkton Historic District Commission held a long hearing on whether a developer could demolish most of the building, while preserving the front facade. As motion after motion failed to get enough votes to pass and the commissioners debated weighty legal and procedural matters, an old sheriff’s deputy lightened things up a little by sharing some accounts of strange late night occurrences.

Back in the 1960s, in the middle of long Cecil County winter night when one elderly jailer, Elwood Racine, guarded seven prisoners while the one deputy working the graveyard shift patrolled the county, the road-man would get a radio call to come back to office to help the turnkey. While all the prisoners were  securely locked down and sound asleep on this particularly quiet night footsteps were echoing through the cell blocks, as if someone was aggressively running around. Both of them clearly heard the noises so they were sure a prisoner was outside the cell.

The two grabbed those big keys and carefully opened that heavy door, the one that secured the prisoners in the 1870s lockup, in case an offender was attempting a jailbreak. A careful search would find nothing on those quiet 1960s night as the handfull of detainees were sleeping soundly. But back at booking, those heavy footsteps would start again as if someone was descending the metal steps going down to the main cell block. At other times they’d hear those heavy iron barred doors slam shut. These sorts of things occurred periodically, but those two lawmen never did find anyone out in the block on those dark, lonely nights so long ago.

The officers eventually got used to things going bump in the night so they’d shrug it off, assuming it was a ghost of prisoner who’d breathed his last in the old prison as he met the hangman’s noose or that it was some other unsettled spectral type of thing.

While the Historic District Commissioners continued mulling over the technicalities of changing ordinances so the project could move forward and debated whether the old jail had any historical and architectural value, one thing was obvious. It’s still good for stories..

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7 responses to “They Say There Are Ghosts in That Old Elkton Jail

  1. “debated whether it had any historical or architectural value…” of course not, tear it down like every historical building in town and then complain about what anyone else does in the so-called “historical district”. what a load of nonsense…i am fed up with the discriminatory policies of the town of elkton…i guess if i handed enough money over to the right people, i wouldn’t have to be harrassed by the town officials either…i can’t even paint my own front door w/o being told that the color might have to be changed…

  2. old elkton jail bird

    That deputy is telling it to you straight i saw that ghost when we was trying to sleep mr racine i knew him to that board did the write thing saving dewitts old hotel hey which deputy was it that told you i was friends with most of them cause they locked me up nothing serious just a little to much to drink so I slept it off till that ghost started baing riound in there

  3. Good to hear your story too Old Elkton Jail Bird. Sorry that ghost kept bothering you at times when you were a guest at “DeWitt’s Hotel.” Oh the officer talking about that was Deputy Newton. Keep us advised if any additional stories come up.

  4. Elaine, that’s similar to an argument two of the HARC members were making. Should the rules be specific so anyone knows what they are or vague so they’re up to the judgement of whomever is hearing the case. The same issue about eliminating the specificity of the rules kept coming up for vote after vote. It almost looked like the House of Representatives when they keep voting on the same issue time after time, but know the vote is going to fail. Heck at one point the discussion even turned to whether the members were Republicans or Democrats. Regardless, it’s an interesting public policy debate about whether the regulations are clear or vague.

    Also that old debate came up again about the role of the historic district in protecting Ekton’s cultural resources. A few months ago HARC appeared before the town commissioners and recommended elminating or grealty reducing the powers of the committee as these two members though Elkton had already lost too much or as they called it suffered from the “swiss cheese affect” so there was little reason to have a historic district.

    • sadly, Elkton has (and did have) many beautiful historic buildings. the rules should be clearly defined, yet flexible enough to keep the historic district also a living community. my gripe is that the rules change based on money or the idea of financial gain rather than appropriateness. the fact that an individual has to abide by an arbitrary decision while a developer can finegle their way around anything is nothing less than discrimination.

  5. old elkton jail bird

    ralph yeah i know ralph. ralph will member me from the manor tell him that i heard that ghost to. how about that ralph newtun

  6. Old Elkton Jailbird, we’ll pass your message along to Ralph Newton the next time we see him. Will he know who you are? We’ll also let him know that you heard those ghosts too.

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