« PreviousContinue »
&c. In the shoe shop a large lot of leather was burned. In the storehouse several carriages and 700 bushels of corn were burned. The loss was about $4000; the fire was undoubtedly the work of an incendiary as the two buildings were remote from each other and the fire broke out in each at the same time.” Another account places the loss at $9000. The shoe shop was rebuilt at an expense of $1840.
Benjamin Carr was re-appointed warden in 1842. In his annual report, he says: “ The workshops are good and convenient, and the prisoners comfortable while at work, but when called from their daily labor they are jammed down into a sort of dungeon or cell constructed of granite rock, 9 or 10 feet deep, 9x5 wide, let down from the top through a kind of trap door, where they remain until called for to perform their daily labor the next day, having no means by which to warm themselves while in these cells, except their bed clothes, which are often damp.”
The Inspectors, John Merrill, George A. Starr and Benjamin F. Buxton, in their annual report, say: “Language can hardly convey an adequate idea of these cells; we found in a recent examination the walls and bedding of these cells wet from the melting frost with which for weeks their walls had been covered ; bad ventilation, with the only entrance through a hole 24x20, and a ladder the only convenience for descending into them-in these cold, damp cells are the convicts confined during the long winter months without fire, sleeping in damp straw beds, &c.
The cause of humanity calls aloud for reform." And in these and other vigorous and emphatic words these officers ask, or rather demand, a new prison.
The Legislature of 1843, after a careful examination of the prison and its needs, authorized the building of a new prison on the Auburn plan, which was commenced early in the spring. It was built over the eastern wing of the old cells, and adjoining the warden's house, and of suitable size to contain 108 cells. The length of the building was 112 feet, 47 feet wide, and 25 feet high to the beams of the roof. The walls were three feet thick, inade of limestone and granite. There were in it 13 windows of 9x13 glass, 63 lights to a window. The cells were in the middle of the building, three tiers high, 36 cells in each story, two abreast; the cells were 7 feet long, 7 feet high, and four feet wide. Each cell had a ventilator carried up separately in the wall. The area between the cells and the outer walls of the prison was 11 feet; the building was “ entirely fire
proof, both inside and outside.” The whole amount expended this year, $5439.93; included in this account was 2284 days' work of convicts, $1142.
The new prison was completed in 1844 at a further cost of $13,177.44, which included the labor of the convicts, and also about $300 laid out for building an engine house, and a part of the prison wall. Benjamin Carr, the warden, says in his annual report, that
we now have as good a prison as is in the Union." Eaton's History of Thomaston, page 336, Vol. 1, says: “this was planned and executed chiefly by agency of Dr. B. F. Buxton of Warren, one of the Inspectors,” and by common consent much credit was due to Dr. Buxton for his untiring and persistent energy in procuring and completing this work.
The Inspectors in their report, May 11th, 1845, say: "The wardens of the prison have at various times made contracts with individuals for labor to be performed by the convicts, with the expectation of receiving the pay for it when accomplished; but instead of receiving the pay for it, this amount is accounted for, year after year, either as stock on hand or amount due from individuals, then put into the hands of an attorney for collection with costs to the State, then abandoned as worthless."
1847. The food of the prisoners is good and furnished in sufficent quantity; they have rye and corn meal bread or corn meal pudding and molasses for breakfast and supper, and beef and potatoes or bread, pork and beans or fish, pork and potatoes for dinner, and hot coffee for dinner.
1848. Instead of being anxious that the prison should yield an income, it should be a source of gratification that there are so few convicts in the prison and so small an amount of crime in the State. The old accounts due the prison amount to $14,498.89, made up of balance of 349 unsettled accounts on the prison books, which have been accumulating since 1839; it can never be expected that the whole amount will be collected.
1849. The financial standing as good as in former years; the debts due the prison cannot be considered as all good. The warden thinks it decidedly for the interest of the State to continue the barter trade. He also says that during the nine years he has been warden no appropriation has been called for except to help make improvements in the buildings. The Inspectors recommend that the law should be changed so that murderers should not be allowed to asso
ciate with those confined for a short term ; the principal study of a convict sentenced for life is to make his escape.”
In 1850 the Inspectors made a careful examination of the debts due the prison and found one-half worthless.
William Bennett of Ellsworth was appointed warden January 16th, 1851; assumed the duties April 1st. A fire broke out December 22d. No mention of the fire is made in the Inspectors' report, and of the extent or loss nothing can be learned from the warden's report. Eaton's History of Thomaston says: “A large part of the prison was destroyed.” A dispatch from Thomaston to the Bangor Daily Whig, says: “The State Prison was discovered to be on fire yesterday, 22d, about 4 o'clock; it originated in or near the guard room, The main prison, warden's dwelling-house (inside the yard) and guard-room entirely destroyed; by great exertion all the shops and western wing were saved ; the prisoners were taken out of the cells and confined in the wheelwright shop." The Inspectors recommend erection of stone wall around prison yard.
In 1852 the old demands due the prison were reported to be entirely worthless. The warden in bis report says that “Maine has now as good a prison as the world affords.” The guard-room was rebuilt and also a suitable building for an office and an entrance to the prison, and a part of the wall built. A large and elegant house was built for the warden” this year.
In 1853 a new guard-house was built. The fire engine was reported to be worthless.
In 1854 the stone wall was completed. A new fire engine was purchased. The blacksmith shop was rebuilt and enlarged and other repairs made, all at a cost of $4668.
In 1855 Thomas W. Hix of Rockland was appointed warden, assuming his duties April 1st. A guard-house was built and a second story added to the wheelwright shop.
In 1856 Col. William Bennett was re-appointed warden. A new engine house was built at a cost of $1000.
Mr. Thomas W. Hix was re-appointed warden 1857, and assumed the duties of the office February 11. Contracts were made for labor of 35 prisoners with Adams & Allen for two years, and also with Hon. Thomas O'Brien for labor of 35 to 50 convicts for three years.
A Resolve of the Legislature passed March 27, 1858, authorized the Governor to appoint some suitable person to report on the the system of disbursements, labor and discipline at the State
Prison.” Governor Morrill appointed James G. Blaine, Esq., of Augusta, to examine into and make report upon the matter.
February 1st, 1859, Mr. Blaine made his report to the Governor, in which the subjects named were fully and exhaustively treated, and to which reference is made. Mr. Thomas W. Hix, the warden, took exceptions to some of Mr. Blaine's statements, and in his annual report proceeds to point out what he called errors and omissions. The contracts with Allen & O'Brien were annulled by the Inspectors July 1st, for which the State afterward paid $7505.39 for breach of contract.
January 1st, 1800, a contract with Sumner & Maxcy for the labor of the prisoners for three years. A legislative committee visited the prison and in their report they say that “Thomaston is one of the pleasantest villages in the State, and for that and other reasons a very desirable location for the prison." Thomaston seems to stand all right again.
Richard Tinker, * Esq., of Ellsworth was appointed warden, 1861, assuming his duties February 1st. Contracts with Sumner & Maxcy were broken by their failure. Repairs were made at an expense of $551.69.
In the annual report of the warden, 1862, he says that the prison was built on the Auburn Plan, but owing to the early day of its construction was poorly ventilated, the air always impure, frequently very bad, and at times insufferable. New ventilation was made at a cost of $300. A committee of the Executive Council, Hon. Charles Holden, chairman, visited the Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire State Prisons, and also the Maine Prison twice. Their report says: “In our prison we were carried back in its operative simplicities a quarter of a century. Every thing was done by band, in all the other prisons steam was used.” The working machinery of the prison must be brought up to the times. This done, we have no doubt contractors could be found who would give a fair price per day for the labor of the prisoners
May 14th, 1863, the warden, Richard Tinker, Esq., was murdered by Francis C. Spencer, a convict, who was tried for the murder and sentenced to be hung June 24th, 1864. Deputy warden B. B. Thomas bad charge of the prison until June 20th, when Warren W. Rice, the newly appointed warden, assumed the duties of the office. The car
* Mr. Tinker was Sheriff and Senator in Hancock County.
riage shop was enlarged by adding forty-three and one-half feet in length, at a cost of $1100.
A new blacksmith shop was built in 1864, sixty feet long by thirtyfive feet wide, at a cost of $1700. Francis C. Spencer was hung in the prison yard June 24th.
A new shoe shop was erected in 1865, two stories high, sixty-four feet long by thirty-three feet wide, with a good cellar, at an expense of $2999.47. The upper story is used for the manufacture of boots and shoes, a part of the lower story for a chapel and the balance for a store-room.
The Legislature of 1866 appropriated $3500 for building a stable, with carriage and slaughter-house annexed, piggery, wood-house and two cisterns and other necessary repairs, all of which was expended.
At the session of the Legislature in 1867, an appropriation of $25,000 was made for the reconstruction and enlargement of the prison building, for the purchase of dwelling-houses for rent to the subordinate officers, and for the extension of the carriage workshop and other necessary repairs and improvements. Three houses were bought at an expense of $4000; an addition to the carraige shop was built forty-eight feet long by thirty-three feet wide, two stories high above the basement. The old wing of the prison, comprising what had been used for a hospital, guard room, cook room and punislıment cell, were all removed and a new wing begun one hundred and ten feet long, forty-seven feet wide, three stories high, and a belfry of granite and brick. In it is the cook room, guard-room, deputy warden's office, sleeping room for guards, and also to contain a hospital and physician's office, dark solitary cells, and cell room for seventy-two convicts, which, added to the one hundred and eight cells in the old wing, made one hundred and eighty in all. Amount expended, $25,769.66.
The new wing of the prison was completed in 1868 at a further cost of $11,118.03. A new wood shop was built, and the blacksmith shop extended 20 feet in length.
Clifton Harris, negro, was hung in the prison yard March 12th, 1869. Considerable repairs and an alteration in the old wing of the prison were made. Two buildings, each 49 feet long and 35 feet wide and three stories high, were erected for workshops and for storage purposes, and other necessary repairs, all at a cost of $9458.25.
The fence on the street and in front of the prison completed in 1870, grounds graded, two large reservoirs, and a building three