|On April 23, 1872, the Fourteenth General Assembly appointed William Ure, Foster L. Downing and Martin Heisey as a Board of Commissioners to locate and provide for the erection of an additional penitentiary for the state of Iowa. The board met on June 4, 1872, at Anamosa, Jones county, and selected a site within the corporate limits of the city. Fifteen acres were donated by the citizens of Anamosa to the state of Iowa. Also donated were 61 acres "of good pastureland" close to the area. Among the other reasons for its selection, three nearby quarries were sufficient for all state demands for high quality limestone for public buildings.
Photo: Lorie Vogel. Long known as the Iowa Men's Reformatory, the facility has recently been renamed the Anamosa State Penitentiary. Let's hope the inmates are suitably penitent.
For history, photos and stories of the prison, check out Steve Wendl's Anamosa State Penitentiary web site.
Reformatory Staff, 1903
Iowa Men's Reformatory staff, 1903. This classic photo was taken at the back steps of the dining hall. First row (l-r): George Walker, George Beaman, A. A. Fife, Harry Smith, Harry Powers, Dr. Samuel Druett, H. H. Kratovil, Wm. D. Thomas 2nd row: Martin McCarty, C. I. Nelson, W. A. Hubbard, John Edwards, Michael Boos, J. Mitchell. 3rd row: J. A. Brummitt, Benbow, C. W. Pulley, H. G. H. Harper, Conner, Oscar Svanberg 4th row: B. G. Rees, C. E. Bauserman, Charles Gould, H. F. Hardt, G. Gwehle, Tip Patterson, George Seeley. 5th row: Graham, J. N. Noel, Lieberknecht, B. F. Morse 6th row: James Taylor, J. H. Lowe, C. D. Stout, Bert Waggoner.
Recognize any of your ancestors in this 1903 photo? You can click on it anywhere to enlarge that section. My great-granduncle, J. W. Albert "Bert" Wagoner is far right in the back row. Kind of short, but he has the best moustache! The 1895 census lists him as a prison guard, so he worked there quite a while.
For a great selection of prison photos go to Steve Wendl's Web Page.
Photos: John Balster
|April 6, 1893
Death of a Female Convict
Caroline Thomas died at the prison last Thursday at the age of 22 years. She was brought from Des Moines last December for keeping a house of ill repute and her sentence was for six months. The prison physician's certificate states that she had a stroke of paralysis February 16 and another March 31. She was placed in a room fitted up for her and two of her associates took care of her night and day, manifesting every kindness possible under the circumstances.
The burial service was held in the women's department, conducted by Chaplain Crocker and assisted by Rev. L. U. McKee, of the M. E. church. About a dozen kind ladies of the city were also in attendance. The women's apartment was tastefully decorated with flowers, under the guidance of Mrs. Powers, the matron. The services were very impressive, the lessons of warning and exhortation being set forth in a most tender yet direct and forcible manner. Interment was made in the potter's field in Riverside cemetery, Warden Madden saying that no female convict would be buried on the farm while he was in charge of the institution.
We add a word that we would much prefer be not spoken save for the solemn warning it conveys. The father of Caroline Thomas lives at St. Charles, in Madison county. He was informed of the sickness of his daughter before her death. A letter from him dated the 4th says, among other things, that Caroline would not follow the advice of her parents but persistently disregarded their wishes. He could not come because too old and poor, having seven boys in the family.
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