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The prison mirror. [volume] (Stillwater, Minn.) 1887-1894, August 31, 1887, Image 1

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Vol. 1. No.
E. G. BUTTS. Stillwater.
.lOHN F. NOURISH Hastings.
1-IBKRTY HAUL Glencoe.
11. G. STOUDOCK Warden.
.1. A. VVESTBY Deputy Warden.
JOHN COVER *. ...Ass’t Deputy Warden.
H. E. BENNER Steward.
W. H. I’RATT.. Physician.
F. H. HALE Hospital Steward.
GEO. P. DODD Storekeeper.
W. S. MATTHEW Protestant Chaplain.
M. E. MURPHY Catholic Chaplain.
As Seen l*y One of I s —Routine Work —
The Cell-Room Gong 1 Execrated —
A Timely Suggestion.
The first yawning notes of the innocent
little birds cosily tucked away under the
striped blankets; the grey streaks of dawn
piercing the gloomy precincts of the vacant
corridors; the dismal creak and crank of
tramping night guard upon the iron gal
ery, making his final round just before day
light, and sundry noises from all parts of
the immense cell building announce the
approach of day to the weary convict —weary
of the night’s dismal length and harrowing
The first official notice of another day.
however, is the clanking (it can scarcely be
called ringing) of a most disreputable old
.gong situate in the central part of the build
ing. To describe the various modifica
tions of the tone of this instrument of tor
ture would madden the brain of a Macau
lay. From one angle it reminds us of the
“thunder” iron behind the scenes in a
melodrama, from another, the jangle of a
.lot of old junk bells; and many a poor
fellow has no doubt been rudely wakened
thinking himself still clinging to the brake
beam of a car on the night freight on which
lie was “hi-ki-ing” in very undignified
)manner hoping to escape from the clutches
of his late friend, the diabolical detective.
If the warden is the kind hearted phil
anthropist folks claim,, he will replace this
dreadful thing—an incentive to suicide —
with a sweet-toned gong, a silver chime,
or something that will moderate the acer
bity of our early morning spirits. This
agony is undergone at 0 o’clock during
about seven months of the year, the hour
being later when the days are short.
Breakfast is served immediately after.
Before each door is set down a “silver
plated” dish divided into triple compart
.ments containing a modest quantity of
neatly prepared food, consisting of beef and
potatoes, Irish stew, hash, bread and butter
—these being the staples, the different dishes
: alternating through the week. Bread and
• coffee are passed separately.
Breakfast finishes, at 0:45 the wall
guards are dispatched to their respective
stations, the shop guards summoned into
the cell building where the deputy warden
makes inspection and issues the orders of
ithe day. The cells are now quickly “unt
sloughed” by the guards and the assistan
■ deputy warden proceeds in systematic
manner to dispatch the convicts to their
-several shops.
The men are called by a series of numeral
-signals corresponding to the different shops.
As these signals are given each shop squad
iinakes its appearance from the cell house,
forms in line in the yard with the precision
•of an astronomo-electric clock, where it is
passed undfer the inspection of the deputy
warden and turned over to the guard of the
•shop, to which it is marched in double file.
As one company moves off another makes
its appearance in obedience to the signal
•call of the assistant deputy stationed
inside the cell house. There are at present
about 370 men at work daily, 320 on con
tract labor and 50 on State. The time oc
cupied in dispatching averages 10 minutes.
"The lock step lias been abolished in this
Stillwater, Minn., Wednesday, Any. 31, ISBY. Five Gents.
So soon as the men have reached the
shops the citizen, laborers are admitted to
the yard, and proceed to their shops.
Work begins at 7 sharp.
There are three dungeons in the prison
the situation of wihch is the .same as other
cells, and differ only in being bare of all
furniture and closed with a blind door.
The temperature of these cells is nearly
equable throughout the year, if anything
a tritle warmer in winter than in summer.
Convicts are confined on bread and water
diet. This is the only form of physical
punishment. The deputy warden visits
these cells every morning and investigates
the cases, releasing or remanding the cul
prit according to the merits of his case.
The deputy warden or his assistant makes
a detailed inspection of the entire prison
each morning, visiting the shops, attend
ing to requests of prisoners, hearing eom
plaints, and adjusting all matters within
their respective jurisdiction.
The physician calls at 10:30 a. m. The
sick and disabled are summoned to the
hospital„Avhere he treats them. Those un
able to work but not seriously ill are sent
to their cells where they receive medical
trearment, and remain until recovered.
One hundred and thirty-six men were dis
abled in July, incurring a total loss of 293)£
working days. At 12 noon the men are
marched to the cell house,the line breaking at
the entrance, each man passing by the near
est route to his cell, where he finds his din
ner awaiting him, having been placed there
some three minutes previous. It consists
of roast beef and potatoes, pork and beans,
corned beef and cabbage, plain boiled cod
fish with butter and potatoes, vegetables as
the season and exchequer afford.
At 12:45 the signal is given and the ope
ration of the morning repeated, work be
ginning at 1. ‘ Eleven shops are operated by
the contract, the principal work being the
manufacturing of threshing machines, black
smithing, sashes and doors, cabinet making
and foundry work. In the two last
named, citizens are employed almost ex
clusively, although there are plenty of con
victs capable of skilled labor in both.
About 2p. m. is the hour set apart by the
warden to receive convicts who desire to
see him on business, or make complaints,
petition for .favors, argue their cases, sub
scribe for The Mirror, and adjust any
family differences which have baffled the
ingenuity of the deputy warden or his assis
tant. This-ceremony, to which admittance
is had by card, and formal only in that par
ticular, is conducted upon democratic prin
cipals, free speecli being the convict’s ina
lienable and unrestricted right.
At 6 p. hi. work is suspended, the men
march to their cells in the same regular
order already iudicated, receive their sup
per, which consists of bread anti tea every
night, with either butter, apple sauce,
prune sauce, cheese, mush, boiled rice, and
other delicacies. The evening is passed in
reading and working fancy articles until 8:30
when the lights go out—or are put out
witli force of arms by the guard, and the
men turn in and sleep, if they can. till the
pandemomal summons already referred to re
calls them to the hard legal fact of another
day of hum-drum, diabolical, penal servi
tude. F. P. L.
Wliat Are We t
We are called convicts (witli a very
large “C.”) I suppose this distasteful
word is properly applied to us; for we have
been legally tried and either justly or in
justly declared “guilty” of the offences
alleged against us. Being convicted does
not by any means constitute the crime.
The crime was committed when the deed
was done.
Although convicted, we are still entitled
to some consideration from our fellow men.
Our status is most unenviable, but we have
only ourselves to blame. By our own ac
tions we have forfeited certain rights and
privileges, but we retain more than the
general public is willing to concede. Some
<Z dl- M* 44^ ■
persons, through innate cussed ness or woe
ful ignorance, believe in allowing us to
exist merely. Should these persons un
fortunately be placed in our position, how
different would be their views; in what a
different channel their thoughts would run;
what a hue and cry would they raise against
We are as a punishment condemned to
hard labor for a certain period. If we per
form this work in a modest but thorough
manner without putting the state or its em
ployes to unnecessary trouble or expense,
are we not entitled to a little credit for it?
The officials of this prison certainly give us
due credit. Should you, then, who proba
bly have never devoted two seconds thought
to convicts, be able to judge of our dues
better than the gentlemen who are thrown
in daily contract with us.
If we do not perform our work in a satis
factory manner, there are means provided
for our punishment.
Even in this prison we have degrees of
goodness. I say goodness advisedly. You
may say bad, worse, worst; we say good,
better, best.
Is it just to consider us the lowest,
meanest and most despicable wretches in
existence; to regard us as utterly devoid of
a conscience, the sense of honor or any
gentle feeling? When you come to this
and act upon it what opportunity has a
man, once imprisoned here, to earn an
honest living when again he is set free?
All have their weak points. We have
found ours. He careful how you criticise
before you discover yours.
How many men now free are there, who
are guilty of offences far graver than ours?
Barred, as we are, from the society and
pleasures of our friends, I would not ex
change places with any one of those free
guilty ones. They have no peace; their
days seem endless; their slumbers are night
mares; their nights haunted. They are
continually trying in vain to evade some
thing, and that something is their con
sience. They tremble at the trear of a
tty and are startled at the mention of their
We, on the other hand, are making every
effort in our power to right the wrong we
have committed. We are taking our pun
ishment like men, and are glad that we are
satisfying justice even though in many
cases here, justice has demanded a heavy
punishment for a comparatively small
offence. Knowing our weakness we will,
when released from here, reinforce our
vulnerable points and be better able to bat
tle with the world.
We shall find, however, one great draw
back. Wherever we go or whatever busi
ness we may engage in, we shall contin
ually meet the question, “who, or what
are you?’*
“Oneto-day,” remarked a wise man. “is
wofth two to-morrows.” Oh, is it then?
Yon go into the market with us to-day and
see how many to-morrows you can get for
it. You can't get one. Not a solitary one;
you can’t get even a to-morrow morning for
it. But if you have a to-morrow that you
want to put on the market, you might get
a whole week of to-days for it. The only
man who would’nt offer to-day for it, is the
man who is going to be hanged to-morrow,
and lias consequently very little use for it.
What he wants to trade for is about two
months of yesterdays and a couple of weeks
before last. —Burdette.
“Ah, good morning; nice morning,” was
the salutation of a Hartford gentlemen to
his friend. “How are all the folks?”
“O, nicely. As well as could be expect
“Why, what is the matter?”
“O, nothing much. I’ve been boycotted,
that’s all.”
“Yes. My third girl was bom yester
Earnestness commands the respect of man
kind. A wavering, vicillating, dead-and
alive Christian does not get the respect of
the church or the world. —John Hall.
l i -
. . .*
3eavty in Endings.
Fiction, in many respects, surpasses the
reality it aims to photograph. In real life,
the evil characters may wear for long years
the mask of hypocrisy, and not be discov
ered. We come in contact with them day
by day, speak with them, exchange confi
dences and often think we see through
their hearts and through every motive as
though it. were glass. Death ends all. and
the secrets of the life may be buried with
the body that contained it, and we rear a
monument over the grave with an epitaph
that mocks the ashes it protects. A good,
noble man strives year after year, to attain
success in life, not for himself, but for a
family of loved ones dependent upon him.
Every thought and act’filay be governed by
the deepest honesty, religious sincerity,
self-abnegation and unity of purpose.
Success seems to hurry before him as a man
chases his shadow cast by the sun behind
him. To our eyes, the result is not pro
portioned to the labor expended. Faith,
true contentment and resignation are given
him. but the financial equivalent is oftimes
withheld. The aim, upon the accomplish
ment of which w'e stake all our hopes in
life, may turn to air as we approach it.
There are rough edges in the threads of life
that are never cut smooth. The balance of
right and justice oscillates up and down,
and the scales do not always mete out for
tune as we wish. And there are consola
tions and compensations to offset our troub
les, too deep and subtle for expression in
words. In fiction, the end is entirely dif
ferent. A good man is always rewarded
and a wicked man always punished. The
ragged boy who plunges into the water to
save the rich man’s daughter as she sinks
for the third time, is promptly taken into
her father's counting house, where he
speedily mounts the ladder of prosperity; is
made a partner; the old gentleman dies sud
denly, leaving his fortune and daughter as
a sacred trust to the noble youth who in
variably marries the trust aforesaid. In
real life, the father would say. “Here,
Sonny, is a quarter. Come round to my
house and I’ll give you an old suit of
As the villain steps on the ship that is to
take him and his ill-gotten gain abroad, the
“lynx-eyed detective” touches him on the
shoulder, says: “You are my prisoner,” and
retribution is satisfied. In real life, he
generally gets away.
The boy who kills six Indians with his
strong right arm. holds the seventh at bay
by the terror ot his fascinating eye, while
he deals the death blow to a monstrous
panther, with a dagger in his teeth, exists
only in books. In reality, he saws wood,
studies when he does not want to, and his
days are full of sadness, and sore from the
chastening of the rod.
In fiction, the ladies and gentlemen the
author has left over after he finishes the
story, are: paired off in the matrimonial
bonds, lflce couples going in to dinner.
The proper ending of the story requires it.
If they were living, two or three would be
married happily, one or two not at all, and
the balance misfits. For beautiful endings,
fiction often has the best of it. —Book Chat.
Omaha World: The President (preparing
for St. Louis) —“Daniel, I wish you would
go out and buy me a Waterbury watch;
get one for about two dollars.”
Daniel —“Yes, sire.”
“And, by the way. take my watch with
you and deposit it in my box in the bank
“Yes, sire. Is that all?”
“That’s all, except on jour way back
you might drop into the railroad office
and ask what time the train starts for
The Christian man whose character has
become stereotyped or crystalized has al
ready begun to decay.—E. G. Kobinson.
Christ came not to talk about a beautiful
light, but to be that light—not to speculate
about virtue, but to be virtue. —E. G. Tay

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