written by Joe Ganger, 20 Nov 2000
Can you throw me back into jail? I'll pay for it!
It makes me chuckle to myself when I hear people talking about how crazy things are now. Nutty things have been happening for a long, long time. For example, here is an incident copied from the 1877 History of St. Joseph County Michigan.
"At the May meeting, 1832, of the board of supervisors in White Pigeon, they voted to build a county jail in Centreville, after the following plans and specifications: The jail is to be made of hewn or sawed timber one foot square and dovetailed at the corners, and laid close; to be built in two square blocks, with a space of eight feet between the whole to be covered with one shingle roof. The building is to be of two stories of seven feet each in height, and the lower floors of the same thickness and materials as the framework; the second floor eight inches thick, and the third floor six inches. The doors to be of four-inch plank, and grated windows.
In July, 1833, the jail was accepted from the contractor, A. H. Murray, upon his making the doors and windows more secure.
The first man incarcerated in this jail was committed without formality or warrant; he had committed an assault on Mr. Langley, the landlord of the town at the time, and was "collared" by Sheriff Taylor and thrust into an apartment of the jail, and the door closed, but not locked, upon him. He was considerably more than "half seas over," and finding a good supply of shavings on the floor, at once lay down and fell asleep. The jailer, Walter G. Stevens, forgot all about his boarder till nearly noon the next day, when he went over to the jail and found his tenant gone. At night the fellow came round and offered Stevens a quarter of a dollar to let him sleep there again."
As comedian George Gobel once said, "My uncle was the town drunk and we lived in Chicago!"
This jail did service for 21 years, burning on August 14, 1854. But that is another story!
Special 'thanks' to Joe Ganger who generously submitted this historical review for inclusion on the St Joseph Co., MI USGenWeb website