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Writing History & Mysteries

When I'm not delving into historical research, I'm planning a character's demise.

Friday, April 11, 2014


If you've read letter "E" ESCAPING From County Jail, you'll know by the 1870s that the 1840s jail was getting in run down condition with no attempt to fix it. Aside from minor repairs the thinking was to let it go, this way it made a better case to the public for building a new one. Unfortunately that did not happen until the early 1900s. In the meantime, the more clever of the prisoners were escaping on a regular basis.

April 28, 1857


The jail in the county is located in the village of Warsaw, and is so commodious and well arranged as to enable the keeper to classify the prisoners according to law. It contains eight cells, four with iron slat doors and four others of wood, perforated by a six inch square hole. The jail is not ventilated. The average number confined is four; at the present time there are but two in confinement, both of whom are native born. The prisoners have no employment and are supported at a weekly expense to the county of three dollars each. Those now in prison are committed for larcency [sic], and of the whole number committed eight-tenths are so consequent upon habits of inebriation. At night each prisoner is locked in a separate cell; during the day two or more are permitted together. The jail is considered healthy and is supplied with Bibles.

Considered healthy with no ventilation? Whew. Must have smelled great in there. Still the jail at this point was less than 20 years old.
From the 1852 Wyoming County wall map. Main St. runs north/south and has the Clerk's Office and Court House on the corner. You can see the jail building to the left.

This image is from F. W. Beers History of Wyoming County, 1841-1880. You can see the Court House to the right of the monument. Behind the monument, part of the Clerk's Office is seen. The whitish building, left of the Clerk's Office is the jail.
July 4, 1878

Burroughed Out.
     The two men charged with highway robbery at Attica, one of whom gave Sheriff Gage the slip at the time of his arrest, dug out of jail on Monday night. They commenced operations at the privy and came to the surface in a henery about 15 feet from the jail. The hole was a small one but it seems to have been large enough for their purpose and through it they made their escape.
     The sheriff  left home early in the morning, before their absence was discovered. Deputy Cornell at once went in search o them, but they have not yet been found. It will be seen by an advertisement and hand bills that the sheriff offers $100 reward for their arrest.
    Welch, one of the escaped prisoners, was re-arrested at Gainesville and is again in Jail.


You think the jail may have been a bit stinky in 1857 with no ventilation, can you imagine escaping through the privy chute? I'm guessing they were tracked by their smell. 



  1. those escapees were certainly on the nose. Another entertaining and enlightening post. Thank you :)

  2. Jailbreak stories can be a lot of fun. There are so many possibilities. Who's being held, who's trying to break them out and why?

  3. I too thought they might be tracked by their smell & they might have left a trail of feathers too.

    I love your posts.

  4. The amazing things you read in old newspapers. Dropping by from the A to z challenge.

  5. We don't live that far from Fishkill's Correctional facility so I would not think of Jail breakers as funny. No ma'am !

  6. Creeping out the crapper...ha ha ha!


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