top of page

1859 Jail, Marshal's Home & Museum - Public Investigations

Location Information

Date: October 2022     Type: Museum

Location Title:1859 Jail, Marshal's Home & Museum

City/State: Independence, Missouri

Status: Analysis


Investigators Present

Becky Ray

Christina Quentin

Edward Quentin

Angela Hodge

Julie Burch

Sarah Crowe

Jennifer Sprague



"In 1859, construction was completed on the new Jackson County Jail and Marshal's Home. As the twelve new limestone jail cells were opened, hostilities between free state and pro-slavery forces were reaching a boiling point in the area. In 1854, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which opened the Kansas Territory to settlement. The act provided for popular sovereignty in determining the issue of slavery. This act resulted in violent guerilla fighting, terrorizing local populations on both sides of the Missouri and Kansas lines as abolitionists poured into the Kansas Territory. In Jackson County, the Battles of Independence and Lone Jack in 1862 ended in Confederate victories. The state of Missouri was held in the Union by military force even though the elected Governor and legislators had voted to secede from the Union. In Jackson County, old grudges erupted between families, and neighbors turned against neighbors. Women and children were arrested and placed in the 1859 Jail now under the command of the Union Provost Marshals, nicknamed the "Little Gods" for their power over the population. When the Jail overflowed with the residents of Jackson County, other buildings were used as jails. One of those buildings collapsed, and several young girls were killed. Historians believe this action resulted in the raid on Lawrence, Kansas, in 1863.
The raid resulted in the infamous Order No. 11 being issued, depopulating Jackson County and other counties along the Kansas-Missouri border. The enforcement of this order resulted in terrible hardships for the residents. Many women and children had to walk to Texas or Kentucky. Many were killed in the act of obeying the order, Union and Southern families alike. Many families never returned to Jackson County after the war. Independence artist George Caleb Bingham captured their misery on canvas (and another copy was painted on a tablecloth). He later produced an engraving of the painting and sold signed, numbered copies of "Martial Law." One of his signed proofs is on display at the 1859 Jail, Marshal's Home and Museum. Reproductions are available for sale.
Decades after the war ended in Missouri, Jackson County's citizens felt the lingering bitterness and uncertainty of that great conflict. Out of these tumultuous times rode Missouri's most notorious outlaws. Outlaws like the James boys and Youngers used the remaining animosities from the outrages of the war to stay a step ahead of the law for nearly twenty years.
In the spring of 1882, Jesse James was murdered. His older brother, Frank, began negotiations with the Missouri governor to surrender because he feared assassination. Frank James spent almost six months in the Jackson County limestone jail. In 1901, a brick jail was added to the back of the limestone jail to house chain gangs. Chain gangs were used to build roads, sewers, and other tasks assigned to them. They left six days a week at sunrise and returned at sunset. One inmate spent a year on the chain gang for stealing a cow. You can see the Marshal's home from Main Street, but the two-story limestone jail and the 1901 chain gang jail join the rear of the house. Take a self-guided tour of the jail and museum for a first-hand look at frontier justice. Tour the beautifully decorated home where the wife and children of the marshal lived. Guided tours are available upon request in advance." 
Visitors have reported feelings of nausea and extreme cold. Guards sometimes hear phantom footsteps, growling noises, and the sound of a man gasping for air. In addition, a spectral man in a blue uniform has also been seen in the center south cell.
It has been thought that the man in the blue uniform may be Henry Bugler, who was the Jackson County sheriff. He was killed at the jail in 1866 and was the first law officer in Jackson County to be murdered.

Investigators Notes

These public investigations were led by members of Paranormal Activity Investigators for the Jackson County Historical Society in October 2022. 

Public Experiences

Previous Investigations at this Location:

1859 Jail, Marshal's Home & Museum, Visit 3

1859 Jail, Marshal's Home & Museum, Visit 2

1859 Jail, Marshal's Home & Museum, Visit 1


bottom of page