SJGR ghost captured

American Ghost Hunters: Best Evidence

by Roger Marsh


01/21/09 - Chicago UFO Examiner

MOUNT HOLLY, NJ - JAN. 21, 2009 - Joel Clough apparently wasted no time turning his sad life into a mysterious haunting. Guards and inmates who knew the 28-year-old death row captive at Burlington County Prison here reported moaning and the sounds of rattling chains coming from his empty cell after his hanging on Friday, July 26, 1833.

Fast forward 166 years later as the prison undergoes a 1999 restoration into a museum, and construction workers report loud noises, voices, quick temperature changes, and objects moving or levitating. Some were careful never to be in the structure alone.

Today the Burlington County Prison Museum is open for tours, and has been a nine-year investigation for South Jersey Ghost Research.

The story behind the haunting here begins 12 miles away in June 1831 in Bordentown, NJ, when contractor Joel Clough arrived in town and engaged the boarding house services of a Mrs. Longstretch, where widowed daughter, Mary W. Hamilton, and her young daughter also resided. Joel took a liking to Mary and attempted to court her. The relationship never took - with new suitors lining up - at the same time Joel's drinking and gambling habits led to an arrest and humbling financial times.

The distressed Joel took a short dagger - a dirk - which once belonged to Mary's late physician husband, and given to Joel as a gift - and stabbed the unsuspecting woman in his second-floor room multiple times. Mary managed to get away from Joel and move to the first floor - where she died. Joel was arrested on the property and a sensational trial followed where he pled not guilty for reasons of insanity. But he was found guilty, sentenced to hang, and moved to the death row piece of Burlinton County Prision known as the "dungeon" where he was typically chained to a floor eye hook.

The then 22-year-old jail was designed by architech Robert Mills - who also designed the Washington Monument - and was considered the first fire proof building in the U.S.

During his incarsaration at Burlington County Prison, Joel wrote the story of his life and the reasons for killing Mary, in a book called The only true and authentic life and confession of Joel Clough, containing his life and confession, from 14 years of age, anecdotes, letters, escape, capture. The details in the book provide a glimpse into a young man's life who lost his father at age 14, was moved to a work situation by his poor mother, and who often resorted to violent behavior when things did not go his way. The available trial transcript also adds a bit of color to understand who this man was and why he might have murdered this woman.

The following page links provide more information about this fascinating case. Most interesting are two SJGR photos by Dave Juliano from the prison's second floor near the death row cell - depicting the outline of a man.

South Jersey Ghost Research investigation

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