Chapter 3: Knox County Jail

Haunted Central Illinois

GALESBURG, Ill. — The Knox County Jail is probably the only, if not one of very few, jails to sit on a college campus.

Built in 1874, the former jail is part of Knox College. And while it has not been used as a jail for decades, there is one story that suggests the jail has not released all of its prisoners yet.

Assistant librarian for the special collections at Knox College Micaela Terronez said one prisoner that died by suicide and became lost in the jail’s history, has been known to allegedly cause some spooks.

“There is this overwhelming feeling of dread that people experience, in the certain area that he did commit suicide,” Terronez said. “That has been referenced by former owners, as well as staff members of Knox College.”

Besides a sense of dread, some people also report hearing someone knocking around the building.

While the old jail is used in classes and for storage, it is also a place for meditation.

Knox College associate professor Carol Scotton has been using the cell block as a place for silent meditation practice for 14 years. She believes the main culprit behind the haunts is the building itself.

“Like any old place that has steam heat, the pipes, and everything bang,” Scotton said. “That is a delightfully horrifying and jarring experience, until you realize that’s what that is. It’ll go on for several minutes.”

While she does not believe in ghosts and said she has never felt that sense of dread, that does not mean there is nothing there.

“I feel there’s a lot of power here,” the associate professor said. “Life has been lived here, and you can feel that. I think because of the confined space and the ambiance of it, you can’t not acknowledge that there is something that is here.”

Zazen meditation is held every Wednesday at 5 p.m. this semester and is open to the public. However, if you join in, remember to be quiet and respectful, or you might disturb something no longer able to find peace.

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