Darby's Haunted Jail

Old time newspaper articles tend to give a different look into the background of a story than our modern papers do. Here's a classic from the late 1880's. It would be interesting to know more about what happened in this case.

A Flute-Playing Ghost

Darby, in Delaware County, just on the borders of Philadelphia, has a sensation. The village lock-up is haunted by queer looking spectres, and the excitement caused by the Sharpless murder has given way to the discovery made by Policemen Carroll, who went to the village lock-up the other night and was almost paralyzed at the apparition he saw in the second story of the dungeon keep. It was in the shape of a ghastly old man, who was playing on a flute, belonging to the Darby flute and drum corps; which up to the night of the discovery had made night hideous in the second story of Darby's little jail. The discovery of ghosts in the lock-up has had the effect of causing villagers to stay indoors at night, and those who venture out after dark go about well armed. Policeman Carroll is the solitary officer who constitutues the force of Darby. He stalks the lonely roads and lanes at night. He is the chief of police, lieutenant, sergeant, and patrolman of the Darby police force. He also said:

"I don't believe in ghosts nor in signs or dreams, but about 11 o'clock the other night I was walking up New Street thinking about the Sharpless murder and on the lookout for long-nosed negroes. After I put out the light at Bridge avenue I walked over to the lock-up. The night was dark. When I got to the lock-up I heard somebody playing on a flute. The flute and drum corps I knew were not practicing, and I couldn't account for the music. It was music, too. 'Climbing Up the Golden Stairs' was the tune. I knew the flute and drum corps couldn't play that and I began to shiver. I braced up and drawing my club with one hand and my revolver with the other, mounted the stairs leading to the band room over the lock-up. I first peeped through the keyhole and there, sitting on the big base drum, I saw a little old man with funny big eyes and a great big mouth and crooked legs playing on a flute. I never heard such music. You could go hungry for a week to hear such music. The longer I looked at the queer-looking man the bigger his eyes got. Suddenly I fell against the door and made a noise. The music stopped and when I looked through the keyhole again, the man had vanished. I've heard that flute every night since, but I stay down the street and listen to it. It's the greatest mystery I ever knew of."

The Darby flute and drum corps have not visited their practice room since the night of Policeman Carroll's discovery. The policemand is known through out Darby as a sober, conscientious man, and the story of the spook in the village lock-up is generally believed from one end of Darby to the other. Henry Jamison said tonight that other spooks have been seen in Darby within a week. Jamison is a milkman and declares that a figure wrapped in white stopped his horse the other night on the Darby road. When Jamison got out of the wagon with a club the figure vanished.

Source: The Idaho Avalanche, 1886-03-13