Editoral about the County Jail at Burlington in 1851

The County Jail

Submitted by Sharon M. Kouns

IR June 23, 1904 – Ancient History of Our City From Register Files. – First Editor’s Opinion of the First County Jail – Ordinance Concerning Dogs.

A busy man from the Register’s first editor must have been. He took part in temperance meetings, visited the schools and took note of every new industry in town, was often present at the county institute, Farmer’s clubs in Rome, Windsor townships and made frequent trips to Burlington, the county seat, when the court was in session. In the Register of July 3, 1851, is an editorial anent a visit there, which contains many hints as to what the county’s first jail was like.

The County Jail

“While at Burlington last week we visited for the first time the jail of Lawrence county.
“The jail is nearly new, it being but two or three years since it was built. That it has sufficient strength no one seems to doubt. But I has been the subject of much complaint in regard to its fitness, especially in regard to its means of ventilation. This being the state of things we visited the jail to see for ourself.

“We think it an ill-looking, an ill-contrived building, without ornament or taste, or even plain neatness.

“The whole building is so low that the ceiling overhead in the rooms can be reached by a short man standing on the floor.

“The rooms when we were there, appeared to be in excellent order, for the purpose required. We do not believe in making the situation of criminals TOO comfortable and the prisoners now there have as much as can be justly asked for by persons deserving punishment from a violated law.

“The number now confined in the two rooms for criminals is five. The rooms are very small, very low and each has a small window, and a door connecting one room with another. … The cells have each a small aperture at the top for ventilation.

For a larger number than four, or six, it is decidely insufficient, but the jailer informed us that at one time it held fourteen persons. At such times there can be no doubt that it is entirely inadequate to the wants of the county and injurious to the prisoner’s health. [rest of article talks of Ironton’s ordinance on dogs.]