Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Escape of Prisoners

The Marietta Republican, December 6, 1861

About 7 o'clock on the evening of the 12th inst., seven prisoners made their escape from our County jail. They cut off one of the stones of the jail floor with a strip of iron, which they took from the passage way to the upper tier of cells. After getting under the floor they were in a cellar but about four feet deep, and from which they dug through the foundation wall and up through the ground outside of the wall. One of the prisoners was a stonemason and knew the condition of the foundation of the jail. To say the least, the foundation of the jail was poorly constructed and poorly built.

They had been gone about an hour when their escape was known. Active measures were taken to secure their return, and thus far three have been taken and safely lodged in irons in the jail. Henry Elder, indicted for murder, was taken in Lawrence Township, for whose capture and return a reward of $50 was paid. Richard Taylor, indicted for burglary, was taken at his own house in Lawrence Township. And Lafayette Lagrange, also indicted for burglary, was taken in Williamsport, Virginia. For the capture and return of each of the two last prisoners, a reward of $25 was paid.

A reward of $25 each is offered for William Swank and Harvey Fletcher. We learn there is good reason to believe that the missing will soon be caged.

The County Commissioners have ordered the jail to be repaired in a substantial manner, and put the charge of the work in the hands of the Sheriff.

Marietta Intelligencer, December 18, 1861:

Jail Delivery

The prisoners confined in our county jail made their escape on Monday last, the 12th inst.  They had been allowed during the day to remain together in a room on the first floor. Underneath this it has been supposed that there was an excavation of fourteen feet in depth, partly filled with water, while the foundation wall was believed to extend still lower, and to be of solid masonry, four feet thick. Both suppositions are found to be incorrect.

The prisoners, one of whom was a stone-cutter, and is thought to have been employed on the building when it was erected, cut their way through the stone floor and discovered, if they did not already know, that the ground was only four feet below them, and that the foundation was composed of rough stones, rather loosely united and probably not more than two feet thick. They very easily penetrated the wall and then burrowed their way to the surface. They took their leave early in the evening, some time before the hour for locking them in their cells, and had about one hour's start before their absence was discovered.

Our Sheriff, Mr. Winsor, had indeed suspected that something was wrong, but had made an examination which satisfied him that his charge could not have escaped by any ordinary outlet. The route which they actually took being, as above indicated, supposed impracticable. The door to the hall was fastened and Mr. Winsor was waiting for additional help, without which it would have been imprudent to force it, when the news arrived that the birds had flown.

One of their number, a soldier from Camp Tupper, confined for a slight offence, and who says he acted with them on compulsion, immediately reported himself to his officer and made known the particulars of the escape. The opening in the floor was behind the stove and their operations were concealed while in progress by ashes, etc. After the stone had been allowed to fall out, two days and a night before they made their escape, one of the party for a portion of the time at least, who was suffering severely from sores on his hand, had made a bed directly over the opening where he lay while the room was visited.

Two of the prisoners, Elder, a murderer, and another named Taylor, have been taken and some of the others doubtless soon will be. The facilities with which the prisoners made their escape seems to be due to the construction of the jail, and measures will be promptly taken to render it more secure. The names of those still at large are William Swan, indicted for grand larceny; Lafayette La Grange, indicted for burglary; and Henry Fletcher.

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