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The hauntings of Atlanta

The tales behind some of the city's most ghostly places

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THE SONG OF THE CELL

The Place: Old Lawrenceville Jail, Calaboose Alley, Lawrenceville. Visitors to Lawrenceville's historic business district probably don't spare a second glance to this unmarked building with white paint over granite blocks on Calaboose Alley. Built in 1832, it served as the town jail until 1940.

The Source: Cynthia Rintye, Lawrenceville Ghost Tour

The Story: In 1840, a local slave owner prone to fits of violent rage attacked a servant named Elleck in his quarters. Elleck fled to his sleeping loft and his master pursued him, only to fall from the ladder and impale himself on his sword. Elleck chose not to flee, and instead went to the sheriff to explain his owner's accidental death. Rather than take the word of a slave, the sheriff arrested Elleck and charged him with murder. After the speedy trial the jury found him guilty and sentenced him to hang.

Awaiting his execution, Elleck sought to chip through a weakness in the granite wall to make an escape. He was caught, although the indentation remains on the wall to this day. In punishment, the sheriff chained Elleck to the floor by his wrist and ankles, and the prisoner sang to his beloved Betsy as the hours wound down. On the fourth day the guards took Elleck to the gallows and hanged him.

Over 150 years, however, visitors and passersby claim to feel a presence from the building, and even to have heard bits of song from an unseen presence. Frequently on the Lawrenceville Ghost Tour, a guide will show the visitors the cell and sing the following song:

"Oh, Betsy will you meet me

Betsy will you meet me

Betsy will you meet me in heaven above..."

One noiseless night, everyone on the tour, even the skeptics, heard a faint voice echo the word "me..."

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