Thursday, June 16, 2022

HGB Ep. 439 - Historic Scott County Jail

Moment in Oddity - Sculptures with Human Teeth (Suggested by: Chelsea Flowers)

There is a factory worker who spent 50 years of his life filling a garden with otherworldly sculptures. Veijo Ronkkonen was a recluse who worked in a paper mill but spent his free time on his farm in a Finnish forest. As it's told, he wasn't a people person (Diane and I can relate) and he never studied art, but at the time of his death in 2010, he had covered his land with 550 sculptures. Many believe Viejo's artwork was his way of communicating with the world. Once he received his first paycheck at the mill, it is said that he purchased apple seedlings and concrete. This is where his first artistic garden creations were born. His garden draws 25,000 visitors annually. Although many describe it as eerie, we'd venture to guess that our listeners would describe it in more provocative ways. Some of these sculptures have the interesting addition of actual human teeth along with speakers buried within their 'frozen in time' bodies which emit sounds some of us would relate to a class C EVP. Clearly this artist was a great observer of humanity, even if he preferred to sculpt instead of interreact with others.  It is said that his sculptures represent his exploration of self, but also what he viewed of the world. Regardless, adding human teeth to several human sculptures, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - First Sustained Untethered Flight

In the month of June, on the 4th, in 1783, the first sustained untethered flight occurred as a hot air balloon was launched in Annonnay, France. Brothers Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier were the inventors of the first practical hot air balloon. They had discovered that heated air contained within a paper or lightweight cloth bag, caused the bag to float into the air. The brothers made their first public demonstration of this discovery on the 4th at a marketplace in Annonnay. They created the heated air by burning straw and wool under the opening of the bag which rose to a height of 3,000 feet and hovered for about 10 minutes before floating towards earth about 1.5 miles from its point of origination. This experiment expanded in following months to include their first passengers of a sheep, rooster and duck, which took flight for approximately 8 minutes, landing safely about 2 miles away. Shortly thereafter, their first untethered manned flight sailed over Paris for 5.5 miles in about 25 minutes.

Historic Scott County Jail

The Historic Scott County Jail is located in Huntsville, Tennessee. The jail is nearly 120 years old and housed inmates until 2008. Huntsville is a small town and the jail isn't very substantial, but the stories about this place are big. On this episode, we are joined by Dr. Kristy Sumner, founder of Soul Sisters Paranormal and History, Highways and Haunts, LLC. She and her business partner - Miranda Young aka Ghost Biker - run tours, events and ghost hunts at the jail and Kristy shares the history and many of the unexplained things that have happened in the jail!

Huntsville, Tennessee is located on the Cumberland Plateau in northeast Tennessee. This is the home of the Cumberland Mountains and the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area. Twenty-five acres of land purchased from George McDonald and Emanuel Phillips gave Huntsville its meager beginning. Forty-seven lots were platted out and the first courthouse and jail were built in 1851. The name is in honor of hunting, either for the long hunters who once lived in the area or a hunter named Hunt. By the early 1900s, Huntsville had its own newspaper, three hotels, four stores, a feed store, two blacksmith shops, a woodworking shop, a meat market, a lumberyard, a bank and a small public park. Despite being founded in 1850, the town wasn't incorporated until 1965. A courthouse square was built in 1906 and included a courthouse, First National Bank and a county jail, all built from the native beige-colored sandstone. That jail was added to the National Register of Historic Places and is known today as the Old Scott County Jail.

That jail was used until 2008 when a new justice center was built across town. The jail sat abandoned until 2017 when the Huntsville mayor, Dennis Jeffers, petitioned the Scott County Commission to transfer ownership of the jail to the town of Huntsville. In 2018, the Town of Huntsville received a $50,000 tourism enhancement grant from the State of Tennessee and restoration work began. This jail is a very personal project for many people, the mayor being one of them. His mother learned to cook biscuits and gravy from the wife of a former sheriff in the old jail's kitchen. This building also became a personal project for Dr. Kristy Sumner.

(Interview with Kristy) Kristy sent a couple of EVPs for us to share. The first is the EVP that Vickie Norris captured in their drunk tank when she was all alone. (EVP from Vickie) Sounds like a guy hollering some stuff. The first one sounds like, "Get out now, let's go!" Then, "Stand up!" And then, "Get out the door!" Very interesting! The second is the EVP that they captured on their security camera in their gift shop and we have amplified it so it is easier to hear. (EVP gift shop) They thought it said, "Not so loud next time."

Based on what Dr. Kristy Sumner shared about the jail, it seems that something unexplained is going on here. Is the Historic Scott County Jail haunted? That is for you to decide!

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