​​​Clay County 1890 Jail Museum 

 

Escapes


There were several escapes and attempted escapes. One was a prisoner climbing out a window (don't know how he got through the bars), onto a tree that grew close to the wall and used bed sheets tied together to get down (perhaps this is a combination of two different escapes reported as one). Thereafter, no mothers in town would let their daughters spend the night with their friends in the house part where they lived.


One escape was through a hole knocked in the east wall. One guy was a little large, so they greased him with butter from their meals. It is believed they got about three blocks up the street west, before being caught and brought back. An interesting side note is, one of the escapees was found innocent of the crime he had been arrested for when someone else confessed, but he still had to serve time for the jail break. He reportedly, as a law-abiding citizen, returned many years later to see the jail he had escaped from. You can still see where the hole was patched.


One lady who as a young girl living in the house portion in the 1940's, told of a deputy walking across the foyer with a tray of food. It was a hot day and the doors were open. A trustee slammed the tray of food into the deputy's face and ran out the door. "Jail break! Jail break!" was hollered, and the escapee was caught within a block. There must have been people around the jail all the time.


One prisoner got the cell door open by using the wire off of a regular straw broom to reach the levers that opened the doors, in the box by his cell door. He may have been the same one that punched a hole in the south wall on the second level, and escaped in time to catch the 4 o'clock train which he had listened to often, and thus timed his escape. He was never apprehended.


Once a group of prisoners attempted to dig a tunnel near the east side. They dug at night and flushed the dirt down the toilet, and covered the hole with something during the day. Finally, another prisoner, not in on the scheme snitched on the others. The Sheriff suddenly had reason to take that prisoner to the courthouse for a "hearing". and the plot was un-earthed. We understand that's when the steel floor was installed in the holding area commonly know as the "DRUNK TANK". The floor still snap, crackles and pops when you walk across it today.