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Historic Haunt

Beverly building has rich history as jail, private home

May 11, 2013
By Beth Christian Broschart Staff Writer , The Inter-Mountain

If walls could talk, those of the 1813 jail in Beverly would have plenty to share. Those walls are very large - more than two feet thick, supported by a foundation spaning four feet underground - in the brick building that turned 200 years old this year.

Back in the 1800s, the building was constructed by William Marteny and William Steers at a cost of $250. They built two cells on the first floor for regular prisoners, while the two second-floor cells were for debtors. A cell in the back of the building served as the jailer's residence.

In 1841, the jail was sold as a residence to Bernard L. Brown and his family. Their home had been destroyed by Union troops during the Civil War.

Article Photos

The Inter-Mountain photos by Beth Christian Broschart
Trudy Kingston’s grandparents purchased the old Randolph County Jail in Beverly as their home in 1940 for $3,000.

The current owner of the jail said her grandparents purchased the building as their home in 1940 for $3,000, and with that came some extras.

"My mother woke up and a woman with long flowing hair and a long dress was standing by her talking," said Trudy Kingston, the building's current owner. "She thought it was me until the woman started walking toward the fire place and just went through it."

Kingston said after inquiring, they found out when their house served as the county's jail that one inmate was a woman.

"They said the woman's daughter was in labor and having a hard time," Kingston said. "So, the woman took a gun and shot her son-in-law in the head and killed him. At the time, there was nowhere to imprison women for that type of crime, so they put her into one of the upstairs cells with the debtors. That bedroom would have been the cell she was in."

Another time, Kingston was taking her friend upstairs in the home to show her a picture. She said what happened next still gives her cold chills.

"As we walked toward the closed door, I reached out for the doorknob," Kingston said. "Before I could turn the knob, it turned itself, and the door flew open. It was weird."

"My grandparents, Raymond Guy and Trudy McClellan, bought this house, then bought the store next door for $500," Kingston added. "Five generations of my family have lived in this home."

Kingston said her grandfather ran the store next door so he was close to the house and his wife.

"One day while my grandparents were eating dinner, the third floor bedroom in the cell collapsed into the kitchen," Kingston said. "So, they removed the cell and added on the kitchen and the back bedrooms."

Kingston said when she was young, she loved to sit in the deep-set window ledges and play.

"You could really get into the ledges and it was a great place to spend time," she said. "We always were crawling into the cubby-holes and spaces, thinking we would find treasure or a skeleton."

"One day, my siblings found some bones and were sure it was a skeleton," Kingston said. "When they showed my mother, she just laughed. They had found the skeleton of a mouse."

Kingston said she intends to live in the home as long as she can.

"My grandmother, Trudy McClellan, lived to be 97 years old and died while she was living in this home. My mother, Faye Ugalis, lived to be 84 and also died in the home. My mother could not communicate well, but on January 1 of this year, she kept saying 200, 200. I asked her, do you mean the house is 200 years old this year and she nodded yes."

Kingston said her grandmother was an indentured servant from age 9, and was 15 when she met and married.

"Grandmother was from Upshur County, and met and married my grandfather, who was from Punxsutawney, Pa.," Kingston said. "He worked on the railroad, and was better known as Poker McClellan."

Kingston also said when her mother was small, a tornado touched down in the back yard.

"She told me she went out to feed the chickens, and the sky grew dark," Kingston said. "She said her mother grabbed her and her siblings and they hid in the house."

Fortunately, the house and family members came out unscathed.

Kingston said there have been repairs on the foundation and corners of the 1813 jail.

"The original building contained a stoop," Kingston said. "Now, there is a large porch across the front."

Today, the 1813 jail is part of the walking history of Beverly. The home is pictured on many antique postcards, and is featured on the Beverly Historic Blanket and a plate from the 1970s.

"They say only one person ever broke out of the jail," Kingston said. "They put the man who installed the bars in the jail in with the debtors once. Since he put the thick bars in the jail, he knew how to remove them, so he did escape."

 
 

 

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