Hometown Haunts: Bay St. Louis Courthouse

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Bay St. Louis, Ms. – Bay St. Louis is known as “A Place Apart,” but we found it can also be a place for the dearly departed.

The Bay St. Louis courthouse is restless, as explained by Shay Raphael and Mary Biehl, two former courthouse employees. Shay told us of a drop-down door, once used for hangings falling down every once in a while, but it wasn’t just due to a broken latch. Shay said you could actually hear the noise of a rope popping like someone was being hanged. But the rope has been removed decades before.

But that wasn’t the only disturbance. A ghost lady in the courthouse would turn the lights on and off – making herself known to Mary. Oftentimes, once the courthouse had been locked up for the night, the lights would turn back on. It wasn’t an easy task turning them off, Mary says. “It would never fail, if she was in a mood, that light wouldn’t go off.” Mary even saw the ghost several times – she would appear on the mezzanine dressed in white with a pencil skirt. Mary only found out who the ghost was because there was a picture of her in the newspaper. She was…or is Valena c. Jones. Her husband and she had advised the last person hung in Hancock County, a black man named Silas Richardson.

Mary told us that there’s still a lot of dissension on whether or not Richardson got a fair trial. Valena and her husband were his spiritual guides through the process, and Mary says that she thinks Valena hasn’t left because she has a lesson. “She’s here to tell us that we need to be more careful with our judgment.”

The man who was hung, Silas Richardson, might sound familiar because last year, we did a story at the Bay St. Louis City Hall,  where his spirit is believed to currently reside.


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