Belton, Texas is home to legend that could very well be historically accurate. The Old Bell County Jail in town dates back to the 1850s, but the jailhouse did not gain fame until May 25, 1874. According to oral legend, it was on that fateful night when a group of citizens rallied together and marched to the jail as one.
The Bloody Belton Massacre
Inside Old Bell were nine criminals—charged with various crimes, including horse theft, robbery, and a man who was convicted of murdering his wife with an axe.
The Civil War had ended less than ten years prior, and Texas was still in a state of unrest. Shocked and dismayed by the final outcome of the war, legal regulations and consequences had yet to hit the state. Indeed, this period felt like a tribute to the wild west days of old.
So on that fateful night in 1874, a group of local citizens took it upon themselves to seal the fate of nine convicts who rotted away in Old Bell County Jail. The criminals were allegedly gunned down by an array of gunfire and not one of them survived the attack.
In the years following, the United States entered a state of reformation and re-evaluation. A sense of order seized the land, but nobody in Belton, Texas forgot what happened that fateful night in 1874.
Today, Old Bell County Jail is no longer a prison, but a private residence. The full history of the jail, once seen as horrific, is not known by most Belton residents.
The Prison Ghost Uprising
For local dog-walker Sam, the story was as removed from her life as any myth or legend.
“One of my history teachers had talked about that night, and I do remember thinking it was awful at the time. But it was so long ago, it is hard to take such a distant history lesson and turn it into something that really and truly happened,” she admitted, looking downcast. It was getting late, and I had my last dog to walk that evening.
“She’s a huge husky, lots of energy, so we usually jog a couple of miles before I bring her back home. We happened to be right outside the Old Bell Jail when I tripped on one of my shoelaces and skidded a few feet on the pavement. The dog was loyal enough to stop with me, and I could tell right away I wouldn’t be doing anymore running that night,” Sam said.
“Blood started to ooze down my jeans when a woman came scurrying out of the the Jail house towards me. She asked if I was alright, then explained that she was a realtor and had come to check out the property for one of her clients. She insisted that I come into the house with her so she could wash out my wounds,” she nodded.
“I tied the dog to the front porch and followed her into the house. ‘She told me to wait while she located some rags in the kitchen. I was just starting to calm down when this…pale looking apparition appeared on the ceiling above me. I was about to scream when another appeared from the hall, and another from where the woman had disappeared to.
“They were all around me, terrifying and horrible looking,” she shuddered. “I sped back outside, grabbed the dog and quickly limped all the way back to her house. After that night, I found a different route to take when walking dogs around Belton.”
201 North Pearl Street