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On a cool March afternoon in 1916, Stratton’s wife and daughter returned to the house after doing outside chores to find Stratton on his bed with a revolver next to him and a bullet hole through his heart. The news made headlines across Michigan with a March 17, 1916, edition of the Kalamazoo Gazette reading, “Former Sheriff of Allegan Suicides. Suffers Nervous Breakdown.”

Joseph Stratton served as sheriff between 1893 and 1896. Suicide ended his life in 1916.

Courtesy of Old Allegan JAiL Museum

Such a tragic end, I thought. Here was a well-respected man who appeared to have everything but, in the end, wealth and prestige had nothing to do with his inner demons.

Turning from the portraits, I joined Lorena in the back cellblock. Sitting on the hard metal of a lower bunk in one cell, I listened while she began another EVP session in the cell next to mine.

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