Lake Charles, Louisiana is known as the festival capital of the state. It hosts more than one hundred festivals and carnivals in a year! Aside from that, Lake Charles is known as the city in Louisiana where a lot of people gamble, where excellent food is served, and where blues music is still alive. Also, there are a lot of great places with breathtaking views here.
A scenic photo of Lake Charles in Louisiana. (Link: https://www.tripadvisor.com.ph/LocationPhotos-g40264-Lake_Charles_Louisiana.html)
Just like any other place in the world, Lake Charles also has a lot of history. One of the most visited historical place in the area is the Calcasieu Courthouse. Allegedly, the spirit of a former prostitute is haunting this courthouse.
The Calcasieu Courthouse today. (Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calcasieu_Parish,_Louisiana)
The History Of Calcasieu Courthouse
The Calcasieu Courthouse is actually the second courthouse built in the area. When the seat of justice was changed to Lake Charles in 1852, Sheriff Jacob Ryan, his slave and another friend of his started building a new courthouse. Within a year, a wooden courthouse was completed.
The courthouse was, however, replaced in 1891. It became a colonial-style brick building and cost around $20,000 back then. Eleven years later, an annex was added to the building. Nine years later, a fire destroyed the Calcasieu Courthouse and most of the downtown part of Lake Charles. By 1911, the Calcasieu Courthouse as it is known now was built. It was built on the same site where the older courthouse was destroyed by fire.
The Calcasieu Courthouse cost around $200,000 because it was a replica of Villa Copra, a structure that is famous in Italy. The Calcasieu Courthouse was designed by architects from Favrot and Livaudais of New Orleans and was made of solid copper. By 1967, there were more additional court rooms and other spaces in the Courthouse and by 2003, it house different departments like Office of the parish Administrator, Division of Engineering and Public Works, Division of Planning and Development, Records Department, and many more.
The Calcasieu Courthouse in an undated photo. (Link: http://courthousehistory.com/gallery/states/louisiana/counties/calcasieu)
Today, aside from the fact that it’s a busy establishment, many people visit it because of one famous ghost, who was a former prostitute. She is believed to be haunting the Calcasieu Courthouse because of a bloody murder she reportedly committed.
Toni Jo Henry in an undated photo. (Link: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/12689552/annie-beatrice-henry)
The Ghost Of Toni Jo Henry
Toni Jo Henry, who is actually born Annie Beatrice McQuiston, had a rough life at a very young age. She lost her mother so there was no one who would guide her. Eventually, she got involved with crimes, drugs, and sex work.
Henry, however, had her life turned around when she met a man named Cowboy. She was no longer a drug addict with the help of Cowboy.
An undated photo of Cowboy. (Link: https://www.facebook.com/Cowboy-Claude-Henry-1534463763453724/)
The two got married but she did not know that Cowboy killed a cop prior meeting Henry. Cowboy was then jailed and was sentenced to 50 years. Things took a turn for the worst because Henry worked as a prostitute again to make ends meet. She became a drug addict again and when she could no longer take being away from Cowboy, she devised a plan to get him out of jail. Henry loved him so much that she talked to a homeless man, identified as Arkie, so that they could break out Cowboy from the prison.
Toni Jo Henry and Arkie photographed together. (Link: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/12689552/annie-beatrice-henry)
It was because of her love for him that led to her killing a car salesman so they could get a car and get to Cowboy. Henry and Arkie hitched a ride with the car salesman and they shot him right in the middle of his eyes.
The duo went to a dive bar after the brutal killing of the car salesman and Henry and Arkie got so drunk that they boasted about what they did. People at the bar then reported them to the authorities. Both Henry and Arkie accused each other as being responsible for the death of the car salesman but eventually, Henry was the one charged with murder.
Henry was tried three times and was the only woman whose life ended in an electric chair at the Calcasieu Courthouse. She died on November 28, 1942.
Toni Jo Henry inside a prison. (Link: https://anomalien.com/a-courthouse-ghost-toni-jo-henry/)
Allegedly, even on the day that she was to die in the electric chair, Henry was very jovial. She only complained about her hair being chopped off but never about her dying.
A news article showing Toni Jo Henry all smiles during trial. (Link: https://murderpedia.org/female.H/h/henry-toni-jo-photos.htm)
The Paranormal Activities At The Calcasieu Courthouse
People working at the Calcasieu Courthouse claims that the place is really haunted because of the paranormal activities that they have experienced in the area.
It is believed by many that Henry is really the one haunting the Calcasieu Courthouse because there have been many instances where there was a sudden electrical malfunction. Such instances were always unexplainable as it could not be pinpointed what was the cause of the electrical malfunction. Visitors have also witnessed lights flickering on their own and equipment starting even if nobody is there to control them.
Another activity which makes the staff at the Calcasieu Courthouse believe that Henry is haunting the premises is the fact that they sometimes smell the scent of hair burning and a smell of cheap perfume in the air.
Other visitors and staff also claimed to have heard the screams of a woman echoing from a stair landing. Some noted that they feel like they were being watched by someone but no one else was in the room.