Sunday, July 10, 2016

Delaware County Prison 110 years ago.

The Delaware County Prison stood on the East side of Orange St. between Front and Second St.  About where the Fronfield Building is today, where you walk to the courthouse.


 A Well-Managed Institution Complete In All Its Appointments

Words of Praise For The Prison At Media

 How The Inmates Are Cared For and The Workings of the Big Building Described

                The big stone building at Media, used as a place of confinement and workhouse for transgressors against the law, is located on Second Street, overlooking the Court House Square.  It is of light gray stone, constructed throughout in the most substantial manner, and is regarded as one of the safest jails and one of the hardest to “beat” in the State.  On the outside strong iron bars and bolts secure every opening where the light streams in, and outside a thick wall, over twenty feet high, extends around the jail portion.
                The cells, eighty in number, are arranged in three tiers, and the doors of all can be seen by the attendant or watchman in the corridor on the first tier.
                There are at present forty-two prisoners in the jail, and of this number only four are females.  Tom Rodgers, to be tried at the September term of Court, for shooting his father and attempting to kill his mother and sister, is the most important prisoner.  Most of the inmates now are in for short terms.  The jail at present holds no such distinguished guests as did a few years ago when it sheltered “Big Charley,” “Dutch Gus” and Samuel Johnson.
                The terms of the prisoners range from thirty days to two years and every week new recruits arrive and others are discharged.  When a prisoner arrives he is taken to the bathroom where he gives himself a thorough washing and cleaning.  He is not compelled to work until after trial and sentence, and nearly all go to work at either stocking making or carpet weaving at their own request as soon as they come in.
                After conviction and sentence the suit of clothes worn by the prisoner when he arrived is exchanged for the striped prison suit, and the suit taken off is tied in a package and labeled with the owner’s name and returned to him when his term expires and he walks out again to freedom.
                In both stocking making and carpet weaving each prisoner is allotted a certain task daily, and for all that he makes over that amount he is paid so much per dozen or per yard, and when the time expires those who are diligent often have a good little sum coming to them.
                The prisoners who use tobacco are served with a certain quantity every Monday morning, and when sick can have medicine to suit their case from the prison pharmacy, or, if very sick, can have the services of Dr. J. H. Fronfield, the prison physician.
                The prison rules show a certain brand of reading matter.  This comes from the prison library, and is distributed among the inmates every two weeks.  No daily papers or sensational reading matter is allowed there.
                Visitors are admitted on Tuesdays and Fridays, or a permit signed by one of the prison inspectors.  The most accessible inspector in Media is H. D. Pratt.  He can nearly always be found at his harness store, on State Street.
                The appearance of the prison in all its departments showed that a master hand was at the helm in the person of Warden John J. Rowland, as genial and as whole-souled a man as ever lived.
                In the bake room, the kitchen and everywhere, neatness and cleanliness were apparent, and all the articles of metal glittered like burnished steel.  The keepers in the jail are John J. Rowland, Jr., assistant warden; and John Holmes, second assistant, and Samuel Morris, night watchman.
                The most important meal is dinner, when they are given a large dish of bean soup in which are three or four white potatoes and a slice of beef.  For breakfast each prisoner gets a pound and a half loaf of bread and a pint of coffee; the loaf being the allowance of bread for the day.  In the evening they get a pint of tea with their bread.  They are served with three pints of molasses a month.  The hours for feeding are 6:00 a.m., 110 a.m., and 5:30 p.m.  On Christmas Day the prisoners are served by Warden Rowland with a turkey dinner.  The bread is made by the prison baker and is of good quality.
Note The jail closed in 1950 and was torn down shortly afterward

No comments:

Post a Comment