Booklet (c1929) generously provided by Brooks Hill; typed by Linda Fluharty.
WEST VIRGINIA PENITENTIARY
Compiled by “Work & Hope”
The Prison Magazine
Price 25 cents
(Note: Most Photos Omitted)
WORK and HOPE, in offering you this Souvenir Booklet of the West Virginia State Penitentiary, has endeavored to present to you, as fully available space will permit, West Virginia’s largest and most important penal and correctional institution.
Respectfully submitted - Editor - Work and Hope
Moundsville Penitentiary, by which name the institution is best known, has a National Reputation - having been used by the Federal Government as a place of incarceration for those convicted of offences against the peace and dignity of the United States, its laws and activities.
The Souvenir Booklet seeks, both by reading matter and illustration, to visualize for the reader the inner working and operations of a modern prison - to enable one to comprehensively grasp all information, data and statistics readily and clearly.
To see for themselves (those unable to visit it) the way in which correctional institutions are conducted - the activities of the inmates - the disciplinary methods in vogue, and the problems to be met and solved by those responsible for its proper functioning.
To do this properly, it has been necessary to present the panorama of the prisons and their systems as they slowly evolved from brutality to the more Christian like methods of today.
In days of yore, corporal punishment was the solution of all problems; in this progressive era, co-operation is the keynote that seeks to gain that great desideratum of all prisons - Reformation.
A visit to the prison, either personally or vicariously, by way of the Souvenir, would be incomplete without a word of the Famous Mound, from which the institution and the town have derived their names so the Souvenir therefore gives a comprehensive and pictorial history of this famous mound - said to be the largest in the world of its kind - compiled by archaeologists, who have made exhaustive research and study of the matter.
“The Prisoner’s Voice to You!”
THE WEST VIRGINIA PENITENTIARY
When the State of West Virginia was admitted into the Union in 1863, she had no penal institution of any kind except county jails. Therefore, all persons convicted of crime and sentenced to imprisonment were for a time kept in the county jail. In 1864 the legislature directed the Governor to have all persons convicted of felony confined in the jail of Ohio County. In 1866 an act of the legislature directed the Board of Public Works to select a sight for a penitentiary at or near Moundsville; to purchase not less than ten acres of land there and to appoint a Board of Directors. Fifty thousand dollars was appropriated with which to buy land and commence building. Since then additional appropriations have been made and buildings erected as needed. For some years no appropriations have been made for this institution, the proceeds of labor done by the prisoners, not only paying all expenses of the prison, but in fact, making a considerable profit for the state.
Reception of Prisoners
When a prisoner is received at the penitentiary he is at once enrolled and given a serial number. He is then required to bathe, given a hair cut and shave, and if it is winter, dressed in prison clothes of cadet grey; if summer, a lighter material is used. After a prisoner has been received as stated above, he is given a thorough examination by the Prison Physicians, who carefully note all defects and keep a complete record of his examination. He is then measured by the Deputy Warden according to the Bertillon system, and a complete record is made showing color, nativity, parentage, religious antecedents, habits, domestic relations and previous prison records, if any. A photograph is also made and filed with the record. If a prisoner is able bodied he is assigned to one of the factories operated within the prison, and is required to labor nine hours every day, except Saturday afternoons, Sundays and Holidays.
Discharge of Prisoners
When a prisoner’s term has expired and the day comes for his final discharge, he is given a complete new outfit of citizen clothes of good material. Transportation is paid him to the county from which he was sent and cash allowance of $3.00 is given him, providing he does not have any money to his credit in the office. Prisoners are frequently discharged who have funds to their credit. This represents the money made by “overtime” work in shops - prisoners being paid for all overtime at the same rate of State is paid for their labor. In this way many prisoners aid materially in supporting dependent families, and are encouraged to do so.
The buildings enclosed by the wall are located on a tract of five acres of ground in the city of Moundsville, fronting on Jefferson avenue, and extending eastward between Eighth and tenth street to Washington avenue. In addition to this, the institution has a farm of 300 acres located about one mile from the prison.
The Administration building of the penitentiary, together with the North and South hall cell buildings, take up the entire Jefferson avenue front, six hundred and eighty-two feet. These buildings are of cut stone, formidable in appearance. The Administration building, four stories in height, is occupied by the Warden’s apartments on the third and fourth floors, guards rooms and Warden’s private office on the second floor, while the first floor is occupied by the Warden’s general office, the Deputy Warden’s office, the clerk’s office, Record and accountancy Division; a public office for guards, visitors and visitors’ cage, where prisoners are permitted to visit with friends or relatives who may call to see them.
Extending north and south from the central corridor are two large cell halls. These halls are known as the North and South halls. The North hall contains 416 cells and the South hall 424. In addition to these, the female department contains 32, making a total of 872 cells. These cells are arranged in tiers, one above the other, there being four tiers of cells in each hall. The cells are of modern steel construction, each being supplied with running water, automatic toilet, electric light and steel bunk, all are well lighted and well ventilated. The halls are so arranged that the sun shines into practically every cell at some time during the day. All the cells are kept thoroughly renovated and painted, and the walls are regularly cleaned and whitewashed.
The enclosure is entirely surrounded by a solid wall of masonry, twenty-five feet high, five feet at the base, tapering somewhat toward the top and surmounted by six guard towers.
At the present time we have 2081 inmates. Of this number 1285 are white and 554 are colored. Included in this number are 58 females. The population of this prison has more than doubled in the last five years.
The chapel is situated on the second floor of a large pressed brick building within the enclosure of the prison walls. This building is seventy-eight by one hundred and four feet and is two stories in height. The basement of the building contains the cold storage, ice plant, laundry, shower baths, etc. The second floor contains the chapel, library, school room and photograph gallery.
The chapel is accessible by means of commodious stairways on either side, well ventilated and well adapted to its purpose, being furnished with opera chairs with a seating capacity of twelve hundred. There is a large balcony in the rear for the accommodation of female prisoners and visitors. A large pipe organ is built in the south end of the chapel and there is also a piano on the stage for use at entertainments.
A modern coal mine is located on the prison farm about one mile from the prison. This is a shaft mine and was started in September, 1920, and was complete and ready for operation in August, 1921; at an approximate cost of $15,000.00, exclusive of prison labor. The penitentiary has been getting its entire supply of coal from the mine since April, 1921; and based on the price of coal at that time, to say nothing of the present prices, the mine is saving the State an annual fuel bill of $15,000.
All work in and around the mine is done by prison labor, with one outside man in charge.
The prisoners are all trusties and stay at the farm camp, which is near the mine. Seven and one half days a month additional time is allowed them, the same that is given those employed in road camps and other outside work. They are much interested in the mine and do their work well.
On the whole we believe that the mine has proven to be both practical and profitable, and since the road between the institution and the mine has been paved, it will be an easy matter for years to come to get a sufficient fuel supply for the penitentiary at a very low cost.
In order to comply with the State mining Laws, another opening for an air shaft has been sunk, at an estimated cost of $2,500.00. In the fall of 1924 another shaft was driven to the Pittsburgh vein, which coal is a higher quality than that which was being mined at the original level of 90 feet. This work was done entirely by prison labor, under the direction of the superintendent.
At the north-east corner, apart from the main enclosure, is the Female Department, a modern brick building two stories in height. In this building are kept all the female prisoners, and their apartments are quite cozy; the cells more resembling the dormitories in some of our boarding schools than the prison cell as so many people picture it. A piano for the use of those musically inclined is also provided in this department. A modern Radio has been installed to enable the inmates to keep in touch with the outside world. The department is very crowded at this time, there being an average of 60 women confined within it. A branch of the shirt shop is located here and about 50 women are employed, making collars and cuffs for shirts made by the male prisoners. The balance of them are engaged in doing domestic work about the department. The female prisoners are accorded the same privileges as the men in regard to lockout, mail, visitors, moving picture shows, chapel services, etc.
In the same building occupied by the State Shop and Main Hospital, a small printing plant is maintained and operated by inmates. Here all the printing for the institution is turned out without cost to the State.
A monthly magazine, Work & Hope is edited and printed by the inmates. This publication has the reputation of being one of the best magazines in the field of prison publications. It is self-supporting, receiving no financial aid whatever from the State. It is devoted to the betterment of prison conditions and the welfare of those confined therein.
The subscription price is one dollar a year.
The prison library contains about 5,000 volumes, the greater number being well selected works of standard authors.
A large number of books have been donated and some have been purchased. According to the report of the librarian, during the past year, more than 3,000 volumes have been read by the inmates. Books of fiction seem to be more in demand than any others, but about twenty-five per cent of the books read have been on religious subjects. The library has recently been reclassified and catalogued, rendering it more useful. The privilege of the library is accorded all inmates. A large number of current magazines are donated to the library monthly and these are freely distributed, A library club has been organized by a prisoner and for a small monthly fee the prisoners may read all the latest books and magazines.
In addition to this many newspapers are taken by the prisoners. A prisoner conducts a news agency and delivers daily and Sunday papers from about fifteen different cities on the same day they are published. On an average of 8,500 newspapers are delivered monthly in this manner. Our records show that over 2,400 papers are delivered to the inmates monthly by mail, some being subscribed for by the prisoners themselves and received from friends on the outside. Around $500.00 is spent monthly by the prisoners for reading matter. Over 5,400 letters are delivered each month.
All prisoners, excepting those sentenced to life imprisonment, upon entering prison are given a certain amount off their original sentence for good behavior. This sentence is known as “goodtime” and is deducted from the prisoners sentence the day he enters prison. The law covering West Virginia’s “goodtime” system is as follows:
Deductions From Sentence For Good Conduct
All prisoners sentenced to the penitentiary for a definite term, and not for life, who may faithfully comply with all the rules and regulations of the penitentiary during his or her confinement, shall be entitled to a deduction of his sentence as follows: Upon a sentence of one year, five days from each month, upon a sentence of more than one year, and less than three years, six days from each month; upon a sentence of not less than three, and less than five years, seven days from each month; upon a sentence of not less than five years and less than ten years, eight days from each month; upon a sentence of ten years or more, ten days from each month. When a prisoner has two or more sentences, the aggregate of his several sentences shall be the basis upon which his deduction shall be estimated. (Acts 1871, c, 81; 1882, c, 154; 1893, c,46; 903, c, 45.)
This good-time allowance is the most important factor in keeping discipline, as it may be taken away for disobeying any of the rules. It is usually taken in small amounts, say five, ten, fifteen and up to sixty days at a time, all depending upon the nature of the offence. Of course, for major offences; all good-time is taken and the prisoner must serve his sentence flat.
All the prisoners strive to keep their good-time as it shortens their sentence considerably and is in aid to them when making application for executive clemency in any form. The following table gives the number of days that are deducted from each sentence for good behavior. It shows the number of years months and days that must be served for each sentence, less good-time allowance. (Table Omitted)
All prisoners serving over ten years, and not life, get ten days off per month. The above table is figured on a 30-day-month basis and, in some cases, may vary from one to four days, all depending on how many 31-day months are included in the prisoners term of servitude.
Federal prisoners are accorded the same privileges as State prisoners and receive the same amount of good-time. A federal prisoner is eligible for parole after serving one-third of the entire sentence imposed.
Prisoners may make application for pardon at any time.
Most pardons issued in this state are conditional.
West Virginia was one of the first states in the Union to put into operation a parole law.
This law has been in force some twenty-two years and has been uniformly successful, although it is somewhat antiquated and should be revamped and modernized. During this time the Parole Board has been considered thousands of applications and a great many have been released on parole. The conduct of about 95 percent of those paroled has been good; fully demonstrating the wisdom and propriety of such a law.
The operation of this law has been a great factor toward securing discipline in the prison, as only those with a good prison record are likely to be paroled.
All prisoners, except those serving life, third terms, or who have received the lowest sentence provided by law for their particular charge, are eligible for parole.
Prisoners who become eligible for parole are eligible are eligible after they have served the minimum sentence, less the good-time allowance on the amount of time actually served. Good-time allowance for eligibility for parole is figured on the amount of time actually served, and not on the entire sentence; except where the prisoner is serving an indeterminate sentence, then he is eligible after he has served the entire minimum sentence. That is to say: If a man is sentenced to serve from two to ten years, he is eligible for parole after serving 24 months, or two years. (Table omitted.)
Two separate and complete hospitals are maintained inside the prison walls. One of these is used entirely for the treatment of tubercular prisoners. The other for general purposes. Each hospital has its own steward, nurses, kitchen, dining room and cook.
In connection with the general hospital, an up-to-date drug store is conducted for the use of the inmates. Adjoining the drug department is located the operating room where surgical operations are performed whenever the occasion demands, which is quite frequent.
Two of the most competent physicians of Moundsville are employed to cater to the medical and surgical needs of the prisoners. Dr. O. P. Wilson, one of the prison physicians, is a graduate of the Kentucky University Medical Department at Louisville. Dr. Wilson is a very capable man and has been looking after the ills of the inmates since 1919.
Dr. Robert A. Ashworth
Dr. Robert A. Ashworth came to this institution in 1913, but left in 1916, to return in May, 1918. Dr. Ashworth is a graduate of the University College of Medicine at Richmond, Va. He is past president of the West Virginia Medical Association.
In addition to the two civilian doctors, several prisoner doctors assist in the drug department, hospitals, and operating room. These men are quite capable and render valuable service both in the presence and absence of the regular doctors.
Every prisoner, if they are ill, may see the doctor each morning when he leaves his cell and before going to breakfast. If the complaining prisoner is found to be ailing to a degree that warrants his not working, he is excused from work for that day. Otherwise he is given such treatment as his ailment demands and is sent to work. Of course, if a man’s illness is such that the doctors believe it needs close attention and treatment the prisoner is admitted to the hospital.
Every prisoner many see the doctors again at noon, immediately after dinner, when they can get a permit form their guard and go to the drug department, where both civilian doctors and several prisoner doctors administer to their needs. Then every evening, after recreation period, two of the prisoner doctors make their rounds to the cells and administer first-aid treatment to any man who might need it at the time. It is readily apparent that the medical needs and the health of the prisoners are very well taken care of at this institution, which cannot be said of many other state institutions of like nature.
The female department is visited at regular intervals by the doctors, but they can get medical attention at any time, day or night, by calling the doctor’s office on the telephone.
Many of the prisoners abuse the “doctors call” in an endeavor to shirk work, but if the doctors find no temperature or other signs of sickness, they stand a slim chance of “putting it over on the doctors,” as they call it.
A great amount of credit is due Dr. Ashworth and Dr. Wilson for their untiring efforts in behalf of the health and well being of the inmates. And although they are not “full time” doctors, (having their outside practice to take care of), they perform their duties with religious sincerity. They never let anything stand in their way to administer aid to a prisoner whom they think is really in need of treatment, be it medical or surgical. Indeed, it would be a difficult matter for the State to secure two men who would take such sincere interest in the health and general welfare of its prisoners.
The present administration in keeping with its policy of turning the inmates back to society, without confiscating anything from them except the time and labor, that their conviction of crime has forfeited to the State and alive to the fact that many ills of a serious nature to which flesh is heir, have their origin in the teeth, has established and maintains a complete Dental Clinic in charge of a Doctor of Dental Surgery of wide experience.
Upon their entry all inmates are given a thorough examination and condition of teeth and tissues recorded to be followed up with prophylaxis.
The figures below will give the reader an idea the amount of work that is performed in this department during the past year: Treatments given (including examinations) - 7,000; Extractions for year - 32,000.
MUSIC IN PRISON
The present administration in keeping with its policy of co-operation and helping the prisoner to help himself, has sponsored musical and athletic activities in addition to other educational opportunities.
Moundsville prison has its own Concert Band of nearly fifty pieces of Brass, Wood and Reed instruments.
Regardless of the fact that the personnel of the band like all prison population is a changing one, the progress being made and the quality of program rendered would do credit to any musical organization in our State.
Daily practice and drill, outside of work hours is part of the routine of the band. Concerts are given in the Cell Halls at stated times and on the recreation yard whenever favorable weather prevails.
The band does not receive any financial aid from the State; its instruments are purchased and other expenses are met by voluntary contributions of the prisoners and from the proceeds of the annual musicale and minstrel show, given by the inmates.
RELIGIOUS WORK BEHIND PRISON WALLS
I am asked many times by “outsiders” about the religious condition of the prisoners and about religious work as it is conducted in prison. Let me say there are two ways of thinking about religion and religious work.
First, the ideal - - as it ought to be at its best.
Second, the actual - as we find it in every-day life.
On the outside we find very little of what we would call ideal religion or religious work. We find many splendid Christian men and women who are consecrated to service and sacrifice, but when we compare them with all the living millions we find they are a very small per cent of the whole. So it is with our religious work. We have many who are doing splendid service considering what and whom they have to work with, but when you measure the work done by the “ideal” you find it falls short of the standard.
We may safely say the same thing for religion and religious work on the inside of our prison walls. We have some who would compare favorably with those on the outside as to Christian is not so easy anywhere. Again, the number of Christians compared with the number of inmates would give us a small per cent.
As to religious work done in our institution, do not expect it to be ideal. Those who are trying to do the work realize they are not ideal workers, and we sure do not have an ideal equipment or conditions. So you see in some respects at least, we on the inside are very much like the folks on the outside.
Many of our men on the inside are interested in religion and quite recently some have made as intelligent professions and confessions as I have ever witnessed on the outside, I wish I might tell you the story of one man’s experience and conversion.
Let me answer another question here that I am often asked; “How do you stand to do that kind of work?” I think I am standing it rather well and the reason is that I know of no other work I would rather do. It is a joy and an inspiration to work with these men. It is a joy and an inspiration to work with these men. I think Christ would like to be a prison Chaplain if he lived in Moundsville.
The religious part of the work consists of a splendid Sunday School under the direction of Mrs. Emma Moore Scott, and the chapel services conducted by the chaplains. This work has been carried on for quite a number of years and has been pleasing to the men. Chapel services are held each Sunday morning at nine o’clock. The Protestant Chaplain has charge of the services each Sunday except the last Sunday in each month, which is conducted by Rev. M. J. Coughlin, Catholic Chaplain of the prison. I wish to commend the men and women for their splendid behavior and strict attention in our chapel services. You cannot beat it in any church on the outside.
The night school work is in charge of the Protestant Chaplain. Our lack of time and equipment make it very difficult to do good work. Many of the men made splendid progress during the past winter, considering the little time we had for school room work. We have so many men who neither read nor write that we find it impossible to enroll all of them.
The prisoners render excellent service as teachers. Many of them help their cell buddies when school is not in session. One of the real needs of our prison is more time and better equipment for our school.
While the work is a joy, it is not what you would call an easy work by any means. In addition to a church membership on the outside we have more than 1,800 on the inside to minister to. There are many village and towns in West Virginia with a smaller population than we have on the inside of these walls and who have from two to four churches and ministers, and each church and minister think they are overworked.
Since I have been working here with these men I have thought many times of the poem by Sam Walter Foss - “The House By The Side of The Road.” An almost endless stream of humanity is ever passing through our doors. Many of them saddened, disheartened and discouraged; many of them friendless, despised and disowned. I love to sit in this “House by The Side of The road” and be a friend to these men.I know there are brook-gladdened meadows ahead
And mountains of wearisome height;
That the road passes on through the long afternoon,
And stretches away to the night;
But still I rejoice when the travelers rejoice,
And weep with the strangers that moan;
And live in my house by the side of the road
Like a man who dwells alone.
“THE PRISONER’S VOICE TO YOU”
Work & Hope is a 40 page magazine published monthly by the inmates of Moundsville Prison. It’s only source of revenue to purchase the necessary supplies to “Keep the pot boiling” is from subscriptions - Most of the material published is original - written by the inmates -
It subject is for the betterment of Prisons and prisoners everywhere - to establish contact between the outside and those behind prison walls - so that when a prisoner has paid his debt to society he will have a better chance to make good when he returns home and loved ones.
Work & Hope is truly “The Prisoner’s Voice to You. Subscription rates, Postage paid, is One Dollar per year. Single copies 10 cents. A trial subscription for a year, will convince you of its merit and that it is “The Magazine that is Different.”
Send remittance (One Dollar) to Editor - Work & Hope, 818 Jefferson Ave., Moundsville, West Va. Thank You.
NOTE: This poem has brought nation-wide comment from natives of West Virginia.
This was written for the prison Magazine, Work & Hope.
West Virginia! the State I was born in,
The best little State on the map,
Where outsiders like to “horn in,”
And gather its wealth in their lap.
But many outside our borders
Ever make it the butt of abuse,
And call it a place of disorders,
Where hundreds of wild men are loose.
We get lots of free advertising,
When two little kids have a scrap
Before there’s another sun rising,
It’s published all over the map.
There are some of the ignorant classes,
Not a hundred miles from our State,
Who think all our roads are just “passes”
Where robbers are laying in wait.
They think we are living in jungles,
That we are low-minded and rude,
That all of our efforts are bungles
And all of our implements crude.
They think that we men are all “grubbers,”
They call us “hill billies” and make “snakes,”
They call our women “snuff-rubbers”
And the men folks nothing but rakes.
They laugh at our “you all” and “yander”
“I reckon” and “I calculate,”
And it always gets up in my “dander”
To have them belittle our State.
We acknowledge to our old fashions,
We never turn strangers away,
“If you can put up with our rations
I reckon you’re welcome to stay.”
We have great natural resources,
No wonder they covet our wealth,
And thousand of people endorses
Our summer resorts for the health.
We are proud of our School and Churches
And our numerous State institutions,
And in scientific researches
We give to the world contributions.
I love these stately old mountains,
I love every hill, rock and tree!
When I drink from their health-giving fountains
I drink West Virginia to thee!
But to you in the State that are level
Who care for only our pelf
“YOU ALL” can go to the devil!
This State will take care of itself.
This institution still has what is commonly known as “contract labor shops” yet in a very modified form and the working conditions are as food as can be found in 90 per cent of the work shops on the outside. All the shops are exceptionally well lighted and ventilated and are kept in a scrupulously clean condition. Each has a sufficient number of citizen foremen who oversee the work.
On average about 644 men are employed in the Tailor Shop, 450 in the Shirt Shop, 117 in the Broom Shop, and 80 in the Whip Shop. All the shops have guards to see that proper discipline is maintained. All prisoners are paid overtime for all work done over and above their daily piecework assignment. Some of the prisoners make as high as $30.00 each month and it is a rare case where a prisoner is not able to make a little overtime. The prisoners have $27,000 to their credit in the Clerk’s Office at the present time.
PRISON MANAGEMENT PAST AND PRESENT
Many of our readers will no doubt be interested to note the many improvements that have taken place in the West Virginia Penitentiary since its beginning in 1866. The building shown elsewhere, and now used as the Wagon Gate to our modern prison, less than fifty years ago was the entire West Virginia Penitentiary.
To this little building at one time all the men convicted of felony in the State were sent, and more than a hundred men were there-in confined; many of them for several years, and when worked outside they were only allowed out in stripes and chain, and strongly guarded. The photograph of the front of our modern prison on the other page conveys a better idea that could be expressed by a mere written description of the wonderful improvements that have taken place in prison architecture during the last half century.
But more wonderful that all has been the improvement in prison management and reformative method brought about within the last twenty-five years.
No doubt it is hard for citizens of West Virginia to realize what within that time men have been beaten to death, or other wise slaughtered, while undergoing brutal punishment in their state prison, yet such are the facts.
Since prisons first were built, flogging has been recognized form of punishment for refractory prisoners.
There were several methods by which this torture was inflicted.
In some prisons the unruly prisoner was forced to stand in front of a post, to which his hands, extended above his head, were tied.
Then with a cat-o’-nine tails, a whip of at least nine cowhide lashes, often with wire interwoven so as to cut the flesh with every stroke, a husky prison guard, lashed the prisoner across the bare back.
These whips cut deep - each of its burning tongues digging through the skin of the victim. Blood spurted from the cuts as the prisoner howled in pain. Often the flogging went on until the prisoner fainted.
Many men have died under the tongue, and there are many men in and out of prison who carry deep scars on their backs caused by the wounds of the cat-o’-nine tails.
Another instrument of torture which was once used in this prison was a big strap about two inches wide made of pieces of harness leather sewed together.
When soaked in water overnight, dipped in sand and vigorously applied to the bare flesh this caused most excruciating pain. In this, as well as most all other prisons in the country these forms of punishment have been discarded.
It is recorded here that women were paddled in this manner, also. The only difference being that the women were dressed in a very thin gown before the paddling was administered, but this gown was generally torn to shreds before the punishment was over.
In looking over the police court records of the prison it is found that paddling and buck and gagging were used daily in punishment, men and women for such petty offenses as laughing, talking, short task, impudence, not keeping step in line, looking at visitors, and many other trifling violations of the rules at that time.
Another form of punishment once used here was known as the “water cure.” This punishment was inflicted by suspending the prisoner in the air and playing a stream of cold water over his naked body form a local fire hose.
This torture often resulted in fatal cause of pneumonia, and it is recorded here that at least one man was killed by having this powerful stream of water forced into his open mouth, his jaws actually being bursted! This Brutality, also, has long since been discarded.
Underground dungeons in which men were alternately frozen and suffocated were also employed. Bucking and gagging was another dreadful form of punishment which has likewise been abolished by all humane prison officials.
This torture was inflicted usually in the following manner: The prisoner was handcuffed, his hands slipped over in front of his knees, his mouth forced to open and filled with a large piece of cork or wood and left in this condition until life was almost extinct.
The only method of punishment now employed at this prison is taking “good time,” and loss of special privileges.
In “ye good old days” there was no such thing as a “lockout” or recreation period on the yard or in the cell. From the shops the prisoners were marched back to their cells and kept locked up until they were marched back to their next day’s task. Nor were they allowed to march comfortably along with arms swinging at ease. The Lock-step march, a very unpleasant and tiresome method of stepping, with one hand upon the shoulder of the man in front was universally employed. To break this line or cause any disturbance in it, even by so much as missing a step, resulted in sever punishment.
In contrast with the Lock-step March, notice the picture of the men on the recreation yard, (appearing elsewhere in this booklet) and one can readily see the changes that have taken place for the bettering of prison conditions in this place.
The old forms of punishment didn’t pay. The brutal treatment hardened the men, filling them with a spirit of revenge which almost invariably made them seek to wreak their vengeance on society when once again they were released.
The old forms of punishment didn’t pay. The brutal treatment hardened the men, filling them with a spirit of revenge which almost invariably made them seek to wreak their vengeance on society when once again they were released.
Also, in former times, it was generally thought that men who were convicted of wrong doing were devoid of honor and could not in any way be trusted. In those days when it became necessary to work prisoners on the outside of the walls they were always shackled or worked with a ball and chain riveted on their limbs or around their necks besides being constantly kept under the eyes of armed guards. And we have records of numerous attacks upon guards resulting in loss of life and the escape of scores of prisoners. We now have many men, including life-termers, working on the outside, coming and going almost at will and it is seldom that one of them causes any trouble, proving that the more trust placed in a man and the more like a human being he is treated, the better he becomes and the further he can be trusted, we predict that in the immediate future he can be trusted, we predict that in the immediate future still greater improvements will be made.
THE MOUNDSVILLE MOUND
Note. We are indebted to Millard F. Compton, M. A., D. D., for much of the
The State of West Virginia, by Legislative appropriation, secured possession of the famous Grave Creek Mound in 1909; and although there has never been an appropriation to restore this relic of by-gone centuries to its original and primeval semblance, it has been the State’s special aim and desire that the mound be kept beautified and preserved.
following information, and which is taken from his booklet "The Mound Builders."
This immense tumulus is the largest found in America and one of the greatest monuments of America’s ancient people. It is nine hundred feet in circumference at the base and seventy feet in height, and is located directly opposite the front entrance of the West Virginia penitentiary.
The country surrounding the mammoth mound is a rich alumina plain of many hundreds of acres. This, in turn, is surrounded by a high range of hills on the east, while the Ohio River bounds on the west. It is said that at one time, when the earth was young, these prehistoric people occupied this country and their headquarters or capital city was at Moundsville, where lived the patriarch or chief, and whose burial place the mound is supposed to be.
On the hills overlooking the city of Moundsville three small stone towers have been found, evidently points of observation that commanded every entrance to the valley. These towers were circular and had a diameter of about twenty feet while fallen stones showed their previous decay. The tower has been built without the marks of tools and were innocent of mortar. One of them stood high upon a high point in Ohio, and the three formed a giant triangle with the mound as the center. They are supposed to have been watch towers and from their vantage points any movement upon the expansive plains below would be plainly discernible, and also for miles up and down the Ohio River. If the reasons given in this article are correct, we are justified in saying that this mound has been standing for more than three thousand years, and was built before the beginning of Hebrew, Grecian an Roman national life.
Go to Europe to see ancient things! Look at this American mound, the storms of thirty centuries have passed over it!
This mound was virtually undisturbed by the white men until the year 1838.
The mound belonged to Mr. Jesse Tomlinson, whose father had discovered it.
The work of opening the mound cost $2,500.00; an amount which in that day was a fortune. The work was carried on under the direction of Abelard B. Tomlinson. Actual work of exploration began on March 19, 1838, over eighty-nine years ago. The explorers started on the north side and dug a tunnel ten feet high and seven feet wide toward the center of the mound. At one hundred and eleven feet they came to a room or vault eight feet wide, and twelve feet long and seven feet high.
Here they found that the great mound was not built on the level ground, but on a small elevation or knoll ten or twelve feet high. This elevation became the center over and around which the mound was built. The Mound Builders, before they brought any soil from the outside, doubtless excavated the center of this elevation in much the same way that we dig a cellar, so that when it was completed they had a room in the center of this elevation flush with its top. In this room made of natural soil they placed upright timber along each side and end to support the roof. When the room was completed and filled, timbers were thrown across the top. These timbers were covered with loose unhewn stone, common in the neighborhood. When opened, the walls were in a bad state of decay and partly fallen in, the timber showed considerable charcoal at the ends that they had been severed by fire instead of tool proving that iron was unknown to the builders. The lack of any of this metal in the mound also held out this theory.
In this vault they found two human skeletons, far gone but yet enough bones to enable them to decide the size of the dead. They were of average size, if anything, rather a little under size. One skeleton had no ornament near it; the other was surrounded by six hundred and fifty ivory beads and an ivory instrument some six inches long.
Let us again try to reproduce the further building of the mound. After the first vault was filled and finished, the real building of the mound began. How many thousand toiled in carrying the soil will never be known. When the mound from the base of the vault had reached some forty-one feet, a second was built like the first. When the explorers, working now from the top of the mound down, came to this room, again there was great excitement. In this vault was found a single skeleton, somewhat larger than the other, but in no sense a skeleton of a giant. This was evidently a person of importance, a royal personage, a great chief, or a high priest.
This skeleton was ornamented with copper rings, plates of mica and bone beads. Over two thousand disks cut from shell of an involute species were found here. The copper rings and bracelets weighed about seventeen ounces. The beads and shell were about the neck and breast of the skeleton, while the bracelets were upon the arms. These latter show the advance of the builders from the stone to the copper age. An ivory ornament of irregular shape was also found in this vault. It was six inches long, 1 5/8 inches wide at the center and tapered to small ends, having one oval and one flat side. A peculiar white exudation of animal matter overhung the ceiling, evidently caused by the decay of the body. The entire cranium of this skeleton was sent to Dr. Morton of Philadelphia, and it is featured in his “Crania Americae.”
When the second room or vault was finished and the body placed in position the building of the mound was resumed.
From the color and condition of the soil from this second vault to the summit, it is inferred that an altar was erected upon which offerings, and perhaps human beings, were burnt as sacrifices to their gods. One interesting feature of the excavating was the formation of the ground composing the mound.
It resembled the surrounding soil and was of a sandy nature to a depth of eight feet then blue spots were noticed; these increased upon the near approach to the center until they were so closely laid a to make a clouded appearance. Examination showed that the spots contained bits of bone and ashes, which led the investigators to believe that the entire mound had been built of cremated bodies of the dead builders, piled about and upon the vault of their dead chief and queen; while the other chief, who died later, was interred in the top vault.
Others maintain that the earth to build the mound was taken from a large and regular shaped basin at no great distance from the mound.
At many places near the mound human bones have been found; relics in large numbers and great variety have been picked up. A number of beads picked up nearby were of porcelain-like substance, and a stone image representing a human figure sitting in a cramped position, with face and eyes projecting upwards and hair knotted on back of head, was found.
The features of the figure, and especially the nose, were distinctly Roman. Evidence of other possible vaults in the mammoth mound have been discovered since it was first opened. In the year 1880, R. J. McFarland, one of the former owners, discovered an opening in the mound and inserting a long pole, he drew out a large tuft of coarse, reddish hair. No further examination was made at that time.
It is generally believed the Mound Builders had no written language, at least there has been found no evidence of a written language. A strangely engraved stone was found in the upper vault and has ever since its discovery proved a source of mystery to linguists and archaeologists, who have been baffled in their endeavors to learn the meaning of the strange characters that are roughly, though distinctly, cut into the face of the stone.
The stone itself resembles an oval tablet, with the edge worn as though by water, evidently the Ohio River a short distance away on the west. It is of white sand-stone about ¾ of an inch thick and an inch and a half in diameter. (Photo omitted.)
No relic found in any mound has caused so much controversy as the one pictured above. It was placed in the Smithsonian Institute a few years after its discovery, where wax and plaster casts were made of it and sent throughout the world in an effort to have its meaning learned; but the mysterious charades were never deciphered to the satisfaction of those versed in such things.
The existence of the stone, which by famous and prominent men of that day was considered the most important discovery of its kind ever made, has been doubted by many, but by Dr. Henry R. Schoolcraft, the leading archaeologist of his time, and many others who saw the stone, these are branded as falsifiers. Dr. Schoolcraft says: "The twenty-two characters can be classed as follows: Greek, Etruscan, North Runic, Ancient Gaelic, Old Erse, Phoenician and Old British." The characters do not represent known language. It may have been only a charm to protect the chief from hurtful powers.
Mr. Abelard B. Tomlinson in answer to the charge of fraud made this solemn declaration: "I will, in the presence of God before whom I must shortly expect to appear, being now sixty-eight years old, give the event of my finding it, according to my recollection, which is clear and distinct, although 38 years have elapsed since the event - this stone was found in the upper vault - I removed it with my own hands, as I supposed from its ancient bed, believing it to be a genuine antiquity.”
As said before, the Mound Builders left no writings, if they knew how to write, as to where they came from, when they came, how they came, their number or how they disappeared. The statement that the inscription on the engraved stone tells us where the Mound Builders came from, their number and the cause of their disappearance is untrue, there is not a particle of truth in any such assertion. There is not a scrap of evidence that they were destroyed by the Black Plague; or that they came from Phoenica, and many like statements.
In regard to the skeletons found - this must be remembered, that there were not three whole or complete skeletons, only part of the bones of three persons. Most of the bones had gone to dust, part of them crumbled when air was admitted. It was with difficulty that enough bones could be placed to enable them to estimate the size of the person buried. That anyone possessed and exhibited one of the skeletons or that the skeletons were sold to England is without foundation in fact, such statements are, however, in line with many unsupported declarations about the Mound Builders, such as they were giants in size, when the facts all show that they were only of average size.
As we view the mound we cannot but be impressed with the thought that more than three thousand years it has stood a noble sentinel ever reminding us of the great people who thronged this valley when the world was young.
The two rooms destroyed could be restored with but little cost to the state. Again it would become a center of interest and when the good roads are completed hundreds of visitors would come from the east, west, north, and south to view this great monument of a departed people.
Sunday School and Bible Class
Religious instructions at this institution is not confined to attendance upon Chapel Sunday mornigns but Classes for the systematic study of teh Bible have been organized among the prisoners.
Mrs. Emma Moore Scott
Mrs. Emma Moore Scott, affectionately known to all the inmates as "The Prison Mother" is in general charge of the Sunday School; her work is ably supplemented by a corps of able, upright and devout persons who come in each Sunday, often at personal inconvenience and regardless of the weather, to bring hope and an increased knowledge of a better life to come for all, including the shut-ins.
The Bible Class was organized by men in the institution who seek a more exhaustive and comprehensive study, than is possible in the time ordinarily allotted to the regular Sunday School, the class meets in the Library each Sunday after Chapel with their teacher Miss. Pearl Dorsey, where a systematic and supervised study of both the Old and New Testament is taken up; the curriculum adopted for the Class has been especially prepared and the instruction is equivalent to that in the famous Bible Classes for men, in the large Churches of the Cities.
WARDENS OF THE WEST VIRGINIA PENITENTIARY
|George S. Mc McFadden||1866-1870|
|William B. Curtis||1870-1871|
|Thomas J. Shallcross||1871-1873|
|William L. Bridges||1873-1881|
|Thomas J. West||1881-1885|
|John E. Peck||1885-1887|
|M. Van Pelt||1889-1897|
|Samuel A. Hawk||1897-1901|
|Charles E. Haddox(d. 2/7/1908)||1901-1908|
|C. G. Dawson (Acting Warden)||1908-1909|
|Joseph E. Matthews||1909-1911|
|M. L. Brown||1911-1914|
|M. Z. White||1914-1918|
|J. Z. Terrell||1918-1923|
|S. P. Smith||1923-1927|
|L. M. Robinson||1927-|
See EXECUTIONS AT THE W. VA. PENITENTIARY
WEST VIRGINIA'S GOVERNORS
|Arthur Ingram Boreman||Wood Co.||Republican||6/20/1863-2/26/1869|
|Daniel D. T. Farnsworth||Upshur Co.||Republican||2/27/1869-3/3/1869|
|William Erskine Stevenson||Wood Co.||Republican||3/4/1869-3/3/1871|
|John Jeremiah Jacob||Hampshire Co.||Democrat||3/4/1871-3/3/1877|
|Henry Mason Mathews||Greenbrier Co.||Democrat||3/4/1877-3/3/1881|
|Jacob Beeson Jackson||Wood Co.||Democrat||3/4/1881-3/3/1885|
|Emanuel Willis Wilson||Kanawha Co.||Democrat||3/4/1885-2/5/1890|
|Aretas Brooks Fleming||Marion Co.||Democrat||2/6/1890-3/3/1893|
|William Alex. MacCorkle||Kanawha Co.||Democrat||3/4/1893-3/3/1897|
|G. W. Atkinson||Ohio Co.||Republican||3/4/1897-3/3/1901|
|Albert B. White||Wood Co.||Republican||3/4/1901-3/3/1905|
|William M. O. Dawson||Preston Co.||Republican||3/4/1905-3/3/1909|
|William E. Glasscock||Monongalia Co.||Republican||3/4/1909-3/3/1913|
|Henry D. Hatfield||McDowell Co.||Republican||3/4/1913-3/3/1917|
|John Jacob Cornwell||Hampshire Co.||Democrat||3/4/1917-3/3/1921|
|Ephraim Franklin Morgan||Marion Co.||Republican||3/4/1921-3/3/1925|
|Howard M. Gore||Harrison Co.||Republican||3/4/1925-3/3/1929|
|William G. Conley||Preston Co.||Republican||3/4/1929-|
|Farnsworth, as Pres. of the Senate, filled term of Boreman who was elected to the Senate.|
WEST VIRGINIA PAROLE LAW
Section 4682 of the code of 1906
The Governor shall have authority, under such rules and regulations as he may prescribe, to issue a parole or permit to go at large, to any convict who now is, or hereafter may be, imprisoned in the penitentiary of this State, under sentence other than a life sentence, who may have served the minimum term provided by law for the crime for which he was convicted, and who has not previously served two terms of imprisonment in any penal institution for felony.
Every convict, while on parole, shall remain in the legal custody and under the control of the Governor, and shall be subject at any time to be taken back within the enclosure of the penitentiary for any reason that shall be satisfactory to the Governor, and at his sole discretion; and full power to re-take and return any such paroled convict to the penitentiary is hereby expressly conferred upon the Governor, whose written order, when attested by the Secretary of State, shall be a sufficient warrant, authorizing all officers named therein to return to actual custody in teh penitentiary any such paroled convict, and it is hereby made the duty of all officers to execute said order the same as an ordinary criminal process.
This act shall not be construed to operate in any sense as a release of any convict paroled under its provisions, but simply as a permit granted such convict to go without the enclosure of the penitentiary, and while so at large he shall be deemed to serving out the sentence imposed upon him by the court, and shall be entitled to good time the same as if he were confined in the penitentiary.
Editor's Note: The above Law adopted over twenty years ago has never been Amended or Modernized. During the last two years, to wit: 1926-27; there have been Paroled under the Law 318 Prisoners. During the same period only 13 or approximately four percent were returned to the Prison for violation of Parole: Thus proving irrefutably, that prisoners to whom Executive Clemency is extended, if given an opportunity - another chance - Do Make Good.
They do me wrong who say I come no more
When once I knock and fail to find you in;
For every day I stand outside your door
And bid you wake, and rise to fight and win.
Wail not for precious chances passed away!
Weep not for golden ages on the wane!
Each night I burn the records of the day
At sunrise every soul is born again!
Dost thou behold thy lost youth all aghast?
Dost reel from righteous Retribution's blow?
Then turn from blotted archives of the past
And find the future's pages white as snow.
Art thou a mourner? Rouse thee from thy spell;
Art thou a sinner? Sins may be forgiven;
Each morning gives thee wings to flee from Hell,
Each night a star to guide thy feet to Heaven.
Laugh like a boy at splendors that have sped,
To vanished joys be blind and deaf and dumb;
My judgment seals the dead past with its dead,
But never bind a moment yet to come.
Though deep in mire, wring not your hands and weep
I lend my arm to all who say "I can!"
No shame-faced outcast ever sank again so deep
But yet might rise and be again a man.
-------------- Walter Malone