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Title: Convict Life at the Minnesota State Prison, Stillwater, Minnesota
Author: Heilbron, William
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Convict Life at the Minnesota State Prison, Stillwater, Minnesota" ***

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                         STILLWATER, MINNESOTA
                          Profusely Illustrated

                         [title page decoration]

                            By W. C. Heilbron
Second Edition 1,000 Copies

104 Dispatch Bldg.


Typographical errors have been retained in this text.


Few people have a comprehensive idea of a penitentiary, especially the
daily life of the inmates and the routine work in connection therewith. We
will endeavor to give an accurate account of the prisoner’s mode of
occupation, his ideals, hopes and aspirations and follow him from the day
he entered the prison, from his initiation into the various departments,
to the day of his final discharge. One of our celebrated poets has truly

    A prison is a house of care,
    A place where few can thrive,
    A touchstone true to try a friend,
    But a grave to one alive.

This stanza sums up the situation very nicely, although prison life is not
the horrible nightmare that many authors have depicted. Most writers seem
to get their ideas from the comic papers, wherein the prisoner is absurdly
cartooned with close‐cropped hair, low‐browed and villainous looks,
dressed in striped clothing of grotesque fit, and in many cases he is
pictured chained to the floor by a huge ball and chain. This may have been
an authentic description of the average prisoner years ago, but is not
true today. It is a far cry from the time when Diogenes walked the streets
of ancient Athens with a lighted lantern in the day time looking for an
honest man. There were no prisons at that period of the world’s history.
If a man committed a serious crime against the state or an individual the
authorities ordered the lictor to strike off his head. If the offense was
a minor one the offender was sold into slavery. This mode of procedure
required only a few moments to execute, for in those days there were no
protracted trials or clever attorneys to seek technicalities through which
to free their clients. This condition of affairs prevailed for many
centuries, and it often happened that a greater injustice was done the
wrongdoer than he had committed against the state.

Fortunately, however, it remained for Victor Hugo to cry a halt against
the then inhuman treatment accorded prisoners. In “Les Miserables” he
paints a vivid picture that profoundly awakened public conscience, which
still causes the world to shudder as it thinks of the injustice society
did to poor Jean Valjean for stealing two loaves of bread to keep from

There is today a more broad, more tolerant and a decidedly more civilized
sentiment towards the inmates of penal institutions. It is universally
recognized that the prisoner of today becomes the citizen of tomorrow;
this fact must be conceded. Every effort is, therefore, made to assist
them who have a keen desire to lead an honest life. However, if one is
inclined to go around with a “chip on his shoulder,” so to speak, he will
undoubtedly find as much trouble inside as he will outside of a prison. If
he behaves himself, complies with the rules and performs his work in a
conscientious manner he will have no more difficulty than he would
anywhere else.

Modern penology has many bright laurels to its credit. What is meant by
“modern penology” is that era which ushered in the good‐time law, whereby
a prisoner is enabled by meritorious conduct to reduce his original
sentence to a marked degree; the parole and grading system, which permits
the release of a first offender at the expiration of half his sentence;
the establishing of prison night schools, enabling him to learn a trade
during imprisonment and permitting him to have books, papers, magazines,
etc. In fact our modern penology, of which a striking example can be seen
in the Minnesota State Prison, that has the reputation of being one of the
best‐managed institutions in the country, aims to develop the good in the
prisoner instead of continually keeping at a white heat all his coarse and
brutal instincts.

Many years ago (and in some prisons at the present time), harsh measures
were employed to punish an inmate for the slightest violation of a prison
rule. But experience vividly impressed upon the public mind that such
policy was a vicious one. It returned the prisoner to society a hundred
fold more dangerous than he was previous to his commitment. Moral suasion
has now supplanted the loaded cane, the dungeon and all other drastic,
coercive measures which, instead of improving, had a decided tendency to
make idiots of prisoners, morally, mentally and physically. It is
dangerous to permit a mad dog to roam at large, and the same is true of
the prisoner whom the custodians of the state turn loose on the community,
whose every fibre beats stridently for revenge upon those who have
subjected him to brutal treatment. Roughly speaking, we feel safe in
saying that seventy‐five per cent of the prisoners are susceptible to
moral suasion and any appeal made to them is taken seriously.

Our modern penology is not the effervescent dream of unbalanced minds, but
the result of exhaustive research by many of the best prison authorities
in America and Europe. Long experience has proven its value, and the
present century will assuredly witness as many wonderful improvements as
took place in the past.

For various reasons I have refrained from mentioning the names of
prisoners with sensational reputations who have been inmates of the
Minnesota State Prison in the past.

I am sincerely indebted to Warden Wolfer, his employees, and many inmates
of the prison, for their cooperation in assisting me to present the
following pages to the public, without which this book would be

                                                           W. C. Heilbron.
St. Paul, June 20, 1909.



An incoming prisoner is designated by the inmates as a “fresh fish.” He
enters the administration building, and, as a rule, if he has the
reputation of being a “slippery chap” is handcuffed to the sheriff or one
of his deputies. Handcuffs, in the vernacular of the underground world,
are called “come‐a‐longs.” He now enters a room known as “between the
gates.” (One of these gates leads to the outer world and the other to the
inside of the prison.) Here the prisoner’s commitment papers are examined,
the deputy warden sent for to receive the new arrival, and slips are
immediately made out notifying the several heads of departments of the
man’s name, county from which he came, the offense for which he was
committed and the time that he shall serve.

Upon the arrival of the deputy warden the prisoner is taken in charge and
marched through the officers’ barber shop and kitchen.  Upon leaving the
latter room the “fresh fish” is commanded to “turn to the right,” and a
short distance ahead, about twenty feet, he is told to ’“turn to the
left.” He now enters the large cellhouse—his future home, to remain for
the number of years that His Honor, the Judge of the District Court, has
sentenced him to serve. The cellhouse contains 664 cells (referring to
Minnesota’s institution, which furnishes the nucleus for this article) and
is in charge of an officer known as the Captain of the Cellhouse.

This officer now takes the new arrival in charge and searches his person
thoroughly, empties his pockets of everything they contain, and takes his
coat, hat and vest. Any valuables found on him, such as money, jewelry,
trinkets, tobacco, etc., are immediately tied up into a bundle and sent to
the deputy warden’s office. A duplicate receipt is made out for all
articles of intrinsic value, is signed by the Captain of the Cellhouse and
also by the new arrival so as to insure their safe keeping until the day
of his release.

The next move, and one that is a decisive reminder of his future status in
the world, is to the bath room, where he takes a bath and puts on a
“second‐grade” uniform, there being three grades in all. The first is the
highest. Its garb consists of a neat grey suit and cap. First grade
prisoners are entitled to write one letter each week, to draw a ration
(four ounces) of tobacco weekly, and to receive visitors once in four
weeks. They have a dining room to themselves and are served with a greater
variety of food than are the prisoners in the other grades. They have also
such other privileges granted them from time to time as their general
conduct warrants.

Prisoners in the second grade are clothed in a black and grey check suit
and cap. They are permitted to write one letter a fortnight, to draw a
ration of tobacco weekly and to see visitors once a month. They also have
a dining room of their own, but the food served therein is not as varied
as that served to first grade men. The latter, for example, are served
with butter and other relishes at stated intervals, but such things are
not part of the diet of the second grade prisoners.

                         [Administration Office ]

                          Administration Office

                           [Between the Gates ]

                            Between the Gates

              [Group Showing the Three Grades of Prisoners]

               Group Showing the Three Grades of Prisoners

Inmates in the third grade wear black and white striped suits. They are
denied tobacco, writing and visiting privileges and their meals are served
in their cells, which are located in one portion of the cellhouse. In none
of the grades are prisoners required to march with the “lock‐step,” and
excepting those in the third grade, all are permitted to wear their hair
long enough to comb during good behavior. The prisoner, after his bath, is
again brought into the cellhouse and the captain has one of the inmate
barbers clip his hair and shave him. If the new arrival belongs to the
respectable class, wearing a mustache and dressed well he will hardly
recognize himself if he should chance to look into a mirror. In a few
moments the proud American citizen has been supplanted by the convict.
Those who belong to the so‐called “criminal” class are not affected upon
donning the prison uniform, but it is different with the first offender.
If he is a proud, sensitive man the change is great enough to almost
wrench his heart strings asunder. Many a new arrival, spending his first
night in his cell, with its iron bed, whitewashed walls, scant
furnishings, iron floor and the dimensions of the room only five by seven
feet, has been known to break down completely. After such an ordeal (not
your make‐believe imprisonment, where some author has himself locked up
for an hour or so to gain local coloring for a novel) one gets a clear
idea of what prison life really is and places a higher valuation on the
liberty that he so recklessly trampled under foot in his mad rush for
riches, position and fame.

After the tonsorial artist has completed his task the prisoner is
conducted to the deputy warden’s office, where he is weighed, asked
innumerable questions, etc., instructed as to the rules of the
institution, measured according to the Bertillon system, which is the
standard adopted in this country and throughout Europe.

                          BERTILLON MEASUREMENTS

To Dr. Alphonse Bertillon, the celebrated French anthropologist, the world
is indebted for the knowledge of the scientifically demonstrated fact that
no two persons are exactly alike in physical measurements. In fact any
single individual can be identified from thousands of others by this
cleverly thought‐out system, which was first adopted in this country in
1887. The accompanying illustrations are self‐explanatory.

The system embraces three distinct parts: First, the measurement of
certain unchangeable “bony lengths” of the body; second, a careful
description of the features of the face; third, a careful localization of
all scars and marks on the body. While the face may change, be even
mutilated beyond recognition; while the scars and other marks may be
removed, the “bony lengths” of the body remain unchangeable in adults. The
parts measured of the bony lengths of the body are the length and width of
the head, the cheek width, length of foot, the middle and little finger
and the cubit, i. e., from the elbow to the tip of the little finger; the
height standing, the height seated, the reach of outstretched arms, right
ear length (which most authorities assert remains the same through life),
the median line in front from the fork or hollow below the “Adam’s apple”
down, and, in the rear, the spinal column from the seventh vertebra to the
base of the spine, are the anatomical or “guiding points” from which all
descriptions of the body are recorded; in the fingers, the joints and
flanges,—the flanges being the portions of the fingers between the joints.
The calipers for measuring the head are provided with a graduated arch and
are similar to a compass. In taking the length of the head the left point
of the caliper is held at the root of the nose and the right point is
brought against the occipital bone in the back of the head; the thumb
screw is then tightened and the measurement checked by passing the
instrument again over the head. The width of the head over the cheeks is
taken in the same way. The measurement of the foot is taken with a caliper
rule similar to that used by a shoemaker; the prisoner is posed standing
on his left foot and steadying himself as shown in the illustration. The
graduate stem is placed against the inside of the foot with the fixed arm
in contact with the heel and the sliding arm then brought in tightly
against the toe. In measuring the left middle and little finger the back
of the caliper rule is used, two small projections being provided on the
fixed and sliding arms. The finger is bent at right angles to the back of
the hand and the measurement taken from the tip of the finger to the

                       [Head Length Measurements.]

                        Head Length Measurements.

The registering and record made of the foregoing, together with an
accurate description of the face and all marks on the body, constitute the
third and complete part of this system. To illustrate this part briefly,—
measurements are all based on the French metric system, viz: Height, 1
metre, 71 centimetres, 3 millimitres; width, 14 centimetres, 5
millimetres; length of right ear, 6 centimeters, 3 millimetres; length of
foot, 2.62; length of middle finger, 11.7; length of little finger, 7.1;
length of forearm, 46.3. A metre is 39 inches, a centimetre about 3/8ths
of an inch and a millimetre, 1‐25th of an inch.

            [Measurements of Outstretched Arms and Left Foot.]

             Measurements of Outstretched Arms and Left Foot.

                    [Left Middle Finger Measurement.]

                     Left Middle Finger Measurement.

The description of heads range in 14 (head) classes, being reckoned from A
to Z. The middle fingers have three classes; forearm, three classes;
height, three classes, and the little finger, three classes. Only one
millimetre or 1‐25th of an inch is allowed as the difference between the
measurements of any two operators of the Bertillon system in the “bony
lengths” of the body. This is so infinitesimal that a measurement taken in
France, England, the United States or in Russia by different operators
will discover the prisoner, no matter where he may be, and there is no
escape unless it be the grave.

The technical terms used in the description of scars or marks are strictly
medical. For instance, if a man has a scar on his left breast it is
described as recitilnal, vertical, horizontal, inal—such a distance from
the median line, and to the right, left, above or below the nipple. Scars
on the fingers are described in the same terms, indicating the flange and
joint, and so on through all parts of the body,—every mark, cut or bruise
being measured in front, from the median line, and in the rear, from the
spinal column, as stated.

With reference to the ears, there are certain external features by which
scientists assert criminals may be instantly detected. Have you a criminal
ear? Dr. D. S. Lamb, at one time curator in charge of the Army Medical
Museum, says there is such a thing as a “criminal ear.” Anthropologists
have been giving a great deal of study to this matter of late, and their
data points to the conclusion that the term “ear‐mark” is something more
than a mere figure of speech. No one has two ears just alike; all ears are
faulty in one way or another, that is, as to size, shape or position, and
these organs do not stop growing when the body pauses in its development.
At all events, chronic malefactors are apt to be disfigured by certain
malformations of that organ. It has been proven that abnormalities in the
ear structure are characteristic features of degenerates. Such
abnormalities are commonly found in idiots, imbeciles and epileptics, and
the prisons contain quite a number of inmates with such ears. The sloping
ear is bad; it shows a tendency to reversion to the primitive animal ear
which slopes. The great Napoleon, Lord Byron, Henry Clay and Alexander
Hamilton had sloping ears. Another objectionable type is the “wing ear,”
which projects wing‐like from the head. This type of ear is said to
indicate a tendency towards degeneracy; are found in one individual out of
every five among sane persons, in two out of five among the insane and in
three out of every five in criminals, occurring twice as often among men
as among women.

                             [Criminal Ear.]

                              Criminal Ear.

                   [Right Ear and Trunk Measurements.]

                    Right Ear and Trunk Measurements.

Considering all available data, it appears that ape‐like traits, monkey‐
ancestry being commonly exhibited, are found far less frequently in the
ears of women than in men. This fact would seem to prove that our female
race has progressed the farthest from the ancestral type. By carefully
feeling with the thumb inside of the edge of the ear and a little behind
the top a very small lump of cartilage will be found, as if a foreign body
had become imbedded in the tissue. This is a remnant of what was
originally the tip of the ear, when hundreds of thousands of years ago
that organ in our remote ancestors had a point on it. Among men of
note,—statesmen, scientists, politicians, etc., it occurs less frequently
by about ten per cent. The so‐called “Darwinian tubercle” appears, as
stated, less frequently in women than in men, and is unmistakably a trait
reverting to the ape. Certain it is that no part of the body can be
identified with greater accuracy than by the ears. Your own, for example,
are not matched exactly by any other pair in the world; there are
differences which are shown beyond the possibility of mistake, by careful
measurements, as applied in the Bertillon system. In nine out of every ten
persons the ear‐lobe runs into the flesh of the cheek without any
perceptible division between. Experts term this the “confluent lobule,”
and it also is found more often in women than in men. It is said to occur
in 92 per cent of the sane and in 47 per cent of the insane. The most
remarkable feature in regard to the criminal ear, if it can be so called,
is the prominence of the raised area just inside the outer edge, the outer
edge being termed the “helix” and the part referred to the “anti‐helix.”
It appears that the overdevelopment of this portion of the aural structure
is particularly characteristic of criminals.

A student of this subject can tell a person’s age more accurately by
observation of the ears than by any other way. Even women, who, in other
respects, preserve the youthfulness of their appearance to an advanced
period are apt to betray their maturity through this organ, which acquires
a sharp definition of contour, a tiny wrinkle appearing just in front of
it. Some people are able to wag their ears slightly,—another indication of
primeval animal traits: Our remote ancestors unquestionably wagged their
ears, and every human being today is provided with ear‐wagging muscles. In
most individuals, however, these muscles have become so far rudimentary
that they are useless for wagging purposes.

                         THE FINGER PRINT SYSTEM

Our new arrival is still in the hands of the record officer; his next
introduction is to what is known as the “finger‐print” system, which
method has but recently been inaugurated at the Minnesota State Prison.
All prisoners are at first compelled to have “photos” taken of the balls
of their fingers, the procedure being very simple. The recording officer
has an inking‐stone and brayer similar to those used in a print shop for
“pulling” proofs. He inks the stone, grasps the outstretched finger of the
new arrival, the underside or ball of his finger rolled a full turn on the
stone, and then given a similar roll on paper blanks provided for that
purpose, which are filed away in a cabinet with the Bertillon records for
future reference. These blanks are frequently consulted for the purpose of
identifying escaped or suspected offenders.

The finger‐print system was invented by the Chinese thousands of years
ago, and is considered to be the safest method yet discovered for correct
identification purposes. Today it is being extensively used in this
country and in Europe. The United States Government has a perfectly
organized bureau in operation in conjunction with its federal and military
prisons. Hundreds of thousands of thumb prints have been made, but no two
have yet been found exactly alike.

The impetus given to the system in this country is perhaps due to Mark
Twain, America’s famous humorist, author, publisher, printer and lecturer.
In “Puddenhead Wilson” Mr. Clemens has the village dunce riding a “hobby”
at full tilt and that hobby was the taking of finger impressions. The
citizens considered him a weak‐minded fool, but to humor him they allowed
impressions of the balls of their fingers to be taken. The names of their
owners were recorded and then carefully filed away. Finally Puddenhead
Wilson proved himself to be anything but a fool, for when a mysterious
murder was committed in the village he apprehended the perpetrator of the
crime, his sole clue being the bloody imprints of the murderer’s fingers
found on the woodwork in the room where the crime was committed. The
finger‐print system, since the advent of Mr. Clemens’ book, has sprung
into vogue in all parts of the country.

There are to date several authentic cases on record where by means of this
new method of identification prisoners were acquitted, notwithstanding the
fact that circumstantial evidence in the hands of the prosecuting attorney
was overwhelmingly against the accused. One case was that of a man who had
broken his parole from a penitentiary. While absolutely innocent, he was
arrested and charged with having committed a certain crime. He could offer
no proof without divulging the fact that he had violated his parole, (he
still had about two years to serve), but realizing that he was about to be
sentenced for eight or ten years on the present charge, he chose the
lesser of the two evils and informed the authorities of his identity.
Investigation disclosed the fact that he had not been released from the
penitentiary when the alleged crime was committed. This incident
demonstrates conclusively that the finger‐print system not only detects
the wrongdoer, but greatly assists in preventing a miscarriage of justice.

                       [Visitor’s Reception Room ]

                         Visitor’s Reception Room

                            [Governor’s Room ]

                             Governor’s Room

        [Board of Control’s Room, where Monthly Meetings are Held]

         Board of Control’s Room, where Monthly Meetings are Held

After the operation of taking the new arrival’s finger‐imprints is
completed, and instructions are given as to prison discipline, etc., the
incoming prisoner is sent to the medical department, where he is given a
thorough physical examination, and if he is affected with any disease it
is noted in a book kept expressly for that purpose. If he needs medical
attention he is told to come up to the “sick‐call” in the forenoon at nine
o’clock. All ailing prisoners can attend this call each morning.

                      THE PRISONER IS ASSIGNED WORK

By this time the new arrival is, in all probability, wondering what will
happen next, but he is soon enlightened. Work in one of the various
departments will be assigned him, for instance, presuming that the shop
where he is to be employed is the twine factory, he is turned over to the
guard of that particular shop. This officer instructs him very minutely as
to shop rules and duties that will devolve upon him, and usually
accompanies his instructions with some good, sound advice as to how to
best get along with the least possible trouble. The shop foreman now takes
him in charge and instructs him how to perform the duties required of him.

At the noon hour he must take off his apron, wash his hands and face in a
bucket of water placed conveniently near the shop runner, and when the
guard blows another sharp blast with his whistle form in line with the
other men and prepare to march to the dining room.  He is now assigned a
place in the ranks of his shop crew and told to always “fall in” at his
place. The guard stamps his cane twice on the floor and the men begin to
march to dinner.

At first the “fresh fish” makes quite a number of mistakes: In the dining
room he is somewhat bewildered as to how to make his wants known to the
waiters, as he has been told that talking is strictly forbidden, but upon
reading the rules in the library catalogue he easily comprehends the
silent method of asking for food. If he wishes bread he must hold up his
right hand; meat, his fork; soup, his spoon; vegetables, his table knife;
coffee, his cup, and for water, the rule is to hold up the cup inverted.
This form of the sign language is fully adequate for the situation.

                       THE FIRST NIGHT IN HIS CELL

At the close of the first day’s work the prisoner is marched to his cell.
Just inside the entrance to the cell house he is handed his supper in a
tin dish, goes to his cell, previously assigned to him, and remains
standing with his right hand on the cell door until the evening count of
the number of prisoners in the institution has been verified by the deputy
warden. If the count is correct the prisoners are notified by the sounding
of a gong near the desk of the cellhouse captain, at which signal they are
permitted to sit down and amuse themselves as they see fit. Immediately
after the ringing of the gong the gallery men pass around tea for the
prisoner’s evening meal in addition to what he received when he enters the

Our subject now has an opportunity to take a glance at the cell wherein he
must spend his “little bit” as the professional crook jocularly terms his
sentence. This apartment is not commodious nor supplied with modern
improvements of a first‐class hostelry; its dimensions are five by seven,
and contains: one Bible, two cups, one small mirror, one cuspidor, one
spoon, one face towel, one dish towel, one piece of soap, one comb,
blankets, sheets, pillow cases, matress, bedstead and springs, one wooden
chair (for first and second grade), one earthen water jar with cover, one
electric light, one small shelf, one library catalogue and all the library
and school books desired. If the occupant is of a philosophical bent of
mind he will now realize that the way of the transgressor is indeed hard.
The first month or two are the most severe upon the new arrival. His
environments force him to dwell continually upon the depths of degradation
to which he has fallen, and he suffers the keenest possible mental
torture; but after passing this period he begins to readjust his viewpoint
and adapt himself to his surroundings and then calmly awaits the
termination of his sentence. Few people have any conception of what the
first offender endures during his first few months’ imprisonment; the
thoughts of his jeopardized liberty are ever before him. In summing up and
planning for the future about the worst obstacle he fears,—the
quintessence of human degradation,—is the baleful word “ex‐convict.” That
alone hurled at the public through the medium of the public press
expresses the sum total of moral turpitude and degeneracy. No matter if
the individual in question is pure‐minded, the symbol of the culture of
the age in which he lives, the hyphenated word “ex‐convict” seems to
conjure in the minds of the public a picture that causes them to shudder
with fear for their safety. As a rule this fear is not shared in by prison
officials. Only about ten per cent of the inmates cause them any anxiety,
the rest are orderly, perform their work promptly and properly, and cause
as little trouble as possible.

Prisoners frequently remain at the work first assigned them until their
discharge. However, if it is found too difficult the superintendent of the
respective departments can assign other work. Should this be impossible a
prisoner may put in an application to explain the situation to the warden.
Each prisoner has the privilege of seeing the warden at least twice a
month, who adjusts all differences of opinion between the guard and
prisoner, or between prisoner and foreman. Every complaint of unjust
treatment is investigated thoroughly by the warden, and equitable measures
are employed to remove the bone of contention. If the guard or foreman is
at fault a dignified but forcible lecture generally produces the desired
result. This is also true where the inmate has been negligent in his work,
causing the trouble.

As previously stated, if the new arrival remains at the task first
assigned him during his entire imprisonment the routine from day to day is
almost identical. He can attend chapel on Sundays if he wishes to do so; a
Catholic and Lutheran chaplain preach excellent sermons each alternate

Sixty days prior to the expiration of sentence the outgoing prisoner is
given a shaving ticket, or if he desires to grow a beard he can do so, if
not he can get a shave each week as usual. He is given a bath and change
of underclothing each week, and if his clothes and shoes need repairing he
is taken to the tailor department and supplied with a new outfit. A few
days before his time expires he is taken to the tailor shop and fitted to
his outgoing suit of clothes, and upon the day preceding his discharge is
sent to the cellhouse barber shop, where he is given a hair cut and shave.

                        [Interior of Men’s Cell ]

                          Interior of Men’s Cell

                        [Employee’s Dining Room ]

                          Employee’s Dining Room

                           [Officers’ Kitchen]

                            Officers’ Kitchen

                          THE PRISONER’S RELEASE

Now arrives the day so anxiously anticipated by those incarcerated in our
penitentiary. A new beginning and a new chapter in their life’s history is
before them. It is an event that so greatly excites the average outgoing
prisoner that he hardly knows what he is doing, and in many cases his
nerves are in such a condition that he is unable to sign the receipt for
the money that he receives. The inmate in the forenoon is notified of his
release, and is immediately taken to the tailor shop, where he dons his
discharged clothing, is given any personal belongings that may have been
in his cell by the captain of the cell‐house, who inspects them in order
to ascertain whether or not he is the owner thereof. He is now conducted
to the administration building by the deputy warden, where he is given his
discharge papers and twenty‐five dollars in money, a sum provided by law
for each released prisoner. Just before he walks into the world a free man
the former inmate is told to step into the warden’s office, and this
gentleman gives his departing “guest” a few words of helpful advice,
bidding him Godspeed on his journey.


The discharged prisoner is now in the hands and at the mercy of society.
If he is accorded a square deal he may become a useful citizen. If it is
his misfortune to become associated with bigoted zealots who taunt him
with his past degradation the chances are that he will become a criminal
again and prove a source of great expense to the state.

In closing this chapter it would be well to suggest that every ex‐convict
is not a dyed‐in‐the‐wool villian, but that persecution may make him such
in the course of events. Is he entitled to a square deal? Most assuredly
so, especially if he is employed at honest work and his every action shows
determination to lead an upright life. He has sinned against society, it
is true, but without question he has paid the debt of his transgression a
hundred fold by his imprisonment. Still, after all has been said, a bad
reputation is a difficult thing to live down, even that which clings to
the free citizen. The discharged prisoner’s chief reliance, therefore, in
the final analysis is to so circumspectly conduct himself as to place him
above the carping criticisms of his new associates. If he follows this
course his neighbors are not likely to keep their eyes on his “cracked”

                   [Cell Door Decorative Illustration]


                       THE ADMINISTRATION BUILDING.

The administration building is directly under the charge of Warden Wolfer.
He has the power to appoint all subordinate officers and employes and
discharge them for inefficiency and insubordination. As chief executive
officer of the prison, under the supervision of the State Board of
Control, the warden is directly responsible for its successful management,
the humane treatment and reformation of the inmates placed in his care for
safe keeping.

Warden Wolfer is one of the best prison men in this country and the
enviable reputation Minnesota’s penitentiary has attained is due entirely
to his long and successful experience in handling criminals. He has headed
the Stillwater institution for nearly twenty years and has conducted the
affairs of the prison in a sane and business‐like manner. Under his
unceasing vigilance the institution has emerged from a non‐paying to a
profit‐earning enterprise, and today it is one of the best self‐supporting
institutions in the world, for, in our opinion, Europe has nothing that
can compare with it. Mr. Wolfer has received many flattering offers from
other states to take charge of their penal institutions, but he has
declined, preferring to remain at the head of the institution that he has
worked so faithfully to perfect.

The position of warden of the Minnesota state prison is no sinecure, for
that presiding officer is one of the busiest men in the state. The
business connected with the twine plant, conducted almost entirely on a
mail‐order basis, is colossal in itself, there being nearly fifteen
million pounds to be disposed of each year. In addition to this important
item the task of maintaining peace and harmony among the officers, guards,
employes and the (at present) seven hundred prisoners assumes monumental
proportions. However, Mr. Wolfer has succeeded in performing this gigantic
labor for all concerned year in and year out with rare tact and good

For comparative purposes, the expenses ten years ago, with a population of
504 prisoners, exceeded the earnings by $35,285.04, whereas the earnings
for 1906‐7 were $329,735.70, a remarkable showing indeed and speaking well
for the executive ability of the present management.

Warden Wolfer is an excellent type of the successful self‐made man. From a
guard in his youth at the Joliet (Ill.) penitentiary and later in charge
of the Detroit House of Correction, he was enabled to accept the
wardenship of the Stillwater, Minnesota, institution.

There are several assistants employed in the executive department, where
the method of conducting the business of the prison is thoroughly
systematized and the organization is as nearly perfect as possible. The
warden is at all times in touch with every detail of the institution and
all correspondence of the prison, of whatsoever nature, passes through his
hands for final disposition. He makes a trip each day through the various
departments, morning and afternoon, to personally ascertain that
everything is in proper order. This watchfulness produces good results;
for instance, a short time ago he found a guard in the act of assaulting a
prisoner and immediately discharged him. Again, he overheard a guard using
extremely abusive language toward a prisoner and reduced his salary in
consequence. As all such offenses are posted on a bulletin board just
outside of the warden’s office and in the corridor leading into the prison
the officers and guards are careful in their treatment of inmates under
their charge.

          [Horace W. Davis, Chief Clerk and Accounting Officer.]

           Horace W. Davis, Chief Clerk and Accounting Officer.

                    [Main Street Inside Prison Walls ]

                     Main Street Inside Prison Walls

                     [Convicts During Sunday Drill ]

                       Convicts During Sunday Drill

Minnesota should rightly feel proud of her penal institution, and
especially of Warden Wolfer, who has advanced the prison to the high
standard of efficiency it occupies in the ranks of modern penology.

                     The Deputy Warden’s Headquarters

The deputy warden ranks next to the warden in the administration duties of
Minnesota’s penal institution; in fact, he is the warden’s right‐hand man
in conducting the disciplinary affairs of the institution. Much depends
upon his efficiency in promoting harmony and goodwill among the prisoners.

The deputy warden’s office is located on the ground floor of the hospital
building, and it is here that all the statistical records of incoming
prisoners are preserved, such as the Bertillon measurements, finger‐print
system, etc.

The duties of the deputy warden are many and arduous. Mr. Backland has had
many years experience as a prison man and is very popular among the
officers, guards and employees. He is always courteous to guards and
prisoners alike. The following are the duties governing the deputy warden:

Duties of the Deputy Warden

   1. The Deputy Warden is the assistant and agent of the Warden in the
      government and management of the inmates of the prison—more
      particularly in securing compliance with its rules by the
      subordinate officers, employees and inmates.
   2. He shall be present daily at the prison from the hour of unlocking
      in the morning until after the inmates shall have been locked up at
      night, unless leave of absence has been granted by the Warden, and
      he shall visit the prison occasionally at night, and personally
      ascertain that the inmates are secure and that the officers are on
      duty and alert.
   3. In the absence of the Warden, the Deputy shall perform the duty of
      that office relating to the government and management of the inmates
      of the prison. His orders shall be respected and obeyed by
      subordinate officers, guards, employees and inmates, so far as
      relates to discipline and carrying out such rules and orders of the
      Board of Control as are not otherwise delegated.
   4. Under the order of the Warden, the Deputy Warden shall have special
      control and direction of all officers under his own rank, and all
      guards and employees of the prison, and shall be responsible that
      everyone performs his respective duties with intelligence, fidelity
      and zeal. It shall also be his duty to promptly report to the Warden
      every neglect of duty, impropriety, or misconduct, on the part of
      any officer, guard, or employee.
   5. The Deputy Warden shall be minute in the inspection of every person
      when coming on duty, especially armed guards, and of their arms, and
      shall report to the Warden the name of any person who may come on
      duty under the influence of intoxicants, or without being in an
      appropriate uniform, or whose uniform is not in good condition; and
      all who are unworthy or inefficient from any cause.
   6. He may grant leave of absence to any officer, guard, or employee for
      a period of one day, but no longer, without consulting the Warden,
      except on emergent occasions, and then only in the absence of the
      Warden. The Deputy Warden shall enforce obedience to the rules and
      regulations, and to all orders given by the Warden, and shall
      maintain, generally, the police and discipline of the prison with
      the strictest exactness. For that purpose he shall frequently,
      during the day, but at irregular intervals and without notice, visit
      the shops, towers, yards, guardposts, hospital, kitchen, cells and
      all other apartments of the prison, and the different places where
      work is being done, and take every precaution for the security of
      the place and its inmates. And he shall see that the officers and
      guards are vigilant and attentive to their duty, and that they keep
      the inmates in their charge diligently employed during the hours of
   7. He shall not permit any book, pamphlet or newspaper to be read by,
      or be in possession of, any subordinate officer, guard, foreman, or
      employee, while on duty in or about the prison. Nor shall he permit
      the use of liquor or smoking on the premises by any such officer,
      instructor, guard, or employee, while on duty.
   8. When an inmate is received the Deputy Warden shall see that he is
      bathed, shaved and has his hair cut, clothed in the suit of a second
      grade inmate, and duly presented to the Physician for examination,
      after which he shall measure him according to the Bertillon system,
      and also carefully examine into his past history and character,
      reporting same on blanks furnished for that purpose, after which he
      shall assign him to work under the direction of the Warden. He
      shall, at short intervals, but irregularly examine the gates, locks,
      doors, levers and gratings in and about the prison, and see that
      they are in a good and safe condition.
   9. He shall exercise due vigilance to see that there is no unnecessary
      waste or loss of the property of the prison, and that there is the
      strictest economy in the consumption and the use of supplies. Also
      that thorough neatness, cleanliness and good order are maintained
      throughout all the buildings and the grounds.
  10. He shall make himself acquainted with the social habits and conduct
      of every subordinate officer, guard or employee of the prison, and
      particularly whether, when off duty, such officer, guard or employee
      is a frequenter of saloons or other houses of similar resort, or
      associates with idle or loose characters, and report his information
      to the Warden.
  11. He shall see that no material is allowed to be placed near the
      enclosing walls, and that nothing is accessible to inmates which
      might facilitate escape. He shall especially see that all ladders
      are properly secured.
  12. As all business must first be directed through the office of the
      institution, he shall have a vigilant eye over every person who may
      have business with the prison, yards and workshops. And also see
      that nothing which has not been authorized by inspection in the
      office is carried in or out for inmates or others; and that no
      communication is held by such person with any inmate, except by
      authority granted, and in the presence of an officer.
  13. He shall, every night, before relieving the officers and guards from
      duty, verify, by actual count of inmates to be made by subordinates,
      the written daily count report furnished him from the office.
  14. As the prison reformatory law affords to inmates the privilege of
      earning diminution of imprisonment from maximum sentence, affects
      their grade standing, and in consequence their chances for parole,
      it will be incumbent upon all authorities of the prison to give the
      strictest attention to the conduct of each, that no injustice be
      done to any inmate or to the state. And especially it shall be the
      duty of the Deputy Warden to satisfy himself as to the behavior of
      each inmate, and his industry, alacrity and zeal in the execution of
      his work, so that he may be able to advise with the Warden as to the
      merits and proper standing of each. For this purpose he shall, when
      making his rounds, frequently communicate with officers, guards and
  15. All breaches of discipline, or other offenses by an inmate, must be
      immediately reported in writing by the officer in charge to the
      Deputy Warden, who shall, at the earliest opportunity, make full
      inquiry into the facts. And if he cannot easily excuse or correct
      the offender without the infliction of a penalty, he will make a
      full report to the Warden, at the earliest practical moment, and
      inflict such punishment as may be necessary under his direction.
  16. The Deputy Warden shall select from the trusty inmates a sufficient
      number to compose a well regulated fire department and assign them
      to their respective duties and stations in conjunction and in
      harmony with the Chief Engineer. Frequent tests of the fire
      apparatus shall be made and frequent false alarms given and runs
      made to test the efficiency of the department.
  17. He shall take careful invoice of all personal property brought in by
      prisoners, and deposit it with the Chief Clerk for safe keeping. It
      shall also be his duty to store and preserve in as good condition as
      possible the clothing worn by a prisoner when requested to do so by
      said prisoner.
  18. The Deputy Warden will assign inmates to the several employments and
      make details of inmates to act as runners, messengers, or
      distributors of material in shops or elsewhere, and will decide how
      far such inmates may converse with other inmates, and give them such
      permission if any is necessary, through the officer in charge. He
      will, each day, make a written report to the Warden, giving the
      number of inmates on the previous day and how many were employed.

          [Deputy Warden Backland’s Office, with Inmate Clerk ]

            Deputy Warden Backland’s Office, with Inmate Clerk

           [Prisoner’s Band with Convicts Entering Cellhouse ]

             Prisoner’s Band with Convicts Entering Cellhouse

                        [Interior of Woman’s Cell]

                         Interior of Woman’s Cell

     [Band with Convicts Entering Cellhouse After Outing on Holiday]

      Band with Convicts Entering Cellhouse After Outing on Holiday

             [Prisoner Band and Convicts Entering Cellhouse ]

              Prisoner Band and Convicts Entering Cellhouse

    [Citizens Who Work in Shoe‐Shop Leaving Prison Through Main Gate]

     Citizens Who Work in Shoe‐Shop Leaving Prison Through Main Gate

                [Officer’s Barber Shop with Inmate Barber]

                 Officer’s Barber Shop with Inmate Barber

               [Room where Breads and Pastries are Cooled]

                Room where Breads and Pastries are Cooled

On this floor are also located the punishment cells, the crank department
and the insane ward. At the present time there are about twenty insane
prisoners there and many are very dangerous and quite difficult to handle.
Mike Brennan has been locked in this ward for many years. He is a life
prisoner, has violent homicidal tendencies and has attacked several
prisoners before being finally separated from his fellow inmates.

Mike Cunningham, who recently killed another prisoner and received a life
sentence, is confined in the crank department. Cunningham is very
treacherous. He conceals a sharp instrument about his person to use
whenever an opportunity presents itself. He is guarded with great care by
the officer in charge to see that he obtains nothing of a dangerous

Each afternoon the deputy warden holds court in his office; at this time
all reports of the various guards are considered and reprimands
administered for violations of prison rules. The charge is first read to
the offender and he is permitted to reply in his own defense. If he can
prove extenuating circumstances in excuse for his breach of the rules he
is excused; if not, reprimanded and perhaps deprived of his tobacco and
writing tickets for three or four weeks; without these tickets the
privilege is withheld.

It is well to state that no high‐priced attorneys are retained by the
accused in this “court” in order to locate a full‐grown technicality
whereby the chances of escaping censure are greatly enhanced. If the
inmate has committed a serious offense the deputy warden is empowered to
order the culprit put in the solitary for several days on bread and water.

Corporal punishment is strictly prohibited, and no guard or officer is
permitted to “club” a prisoner except in self defense or to quell a
mutiny. The following are the principal offenses for which prisoners are

      Altering clothing.
      Bed not properly made.
      Clothing not in proper order.
      Communicating by signs.
      Defacing property.
      Dirty cell or furnishings.
      Disturbance in cellhouse.
      Hands in pockets.
      Hands or face not clean.
      Hair not combed.
      Impertinence to visitors.
      Insolence to officers.
      Insolence to foremen.
      Insolence to fellow prisoners.
      Inattentive in line.
      Inattentive at work.
      Inattentive in school.
      Laughing and fooling.
      Loud talk in cell.
      Loud reading in cell.
      Malicious mischief.
      Not out of bed promptly.
      Not at door for count.
      Not wearing outside shirt.
      Not promptly out of cell when brake is drawn.
      Out of place in shop or line.
      Spitting on the floor.
      Staring at visitors.
      Talking in chapel.
      Talking in line.
      Talking in school.
      Talking at work.
      Talking from cell to cell.
      Talking in corridor.
      Throwing away food.

   [Cellhouse Looking West. In Front of Desk on Left New Arrival is p]

 Cellhouse Looking West. In Front of Desk on Left New Arrival is Searched

         [The Hospital in Background, and Sick Prisoners in Park]

          The Hospital in Background, and Sick Prisoners in Park

                              THE HOSPITAL.

This building is located at the western end of the yard and at the head of
the main thoroughfare of the prison. It is modern, well lighted,
ventilated, has commodious rooms and a physician is always in attendance.
Dr. B. J. Merrill has been at the head of this department for many years
and is considered one of the best physicians and surgeons in the state. He
is assisted by a resident physician constantly in attendance. The head
physician visits the prison each morning at nine o’clock and prescribes
for those present at “sick call.” This call, as previously stated, takes
place every morning, the men being gathered from the various departments
of the prison by the assistant deputy warden.

Any prisoner who is not feeling well need only inform his guard that he
wishes to see the doctor and his request is granted. This is obligatory on
the part of the guard, as the physician’s orders are final in such

When the sick‐call men arrive at the hospital they form in line just
outside the door and are called into the doctor’s office one at a time.
The inmate states his complaint and his name and prescription is entered
on the records. If too sick to work he is permitted to either stay in the
hospital, loaf in the park or remain in a cell for the day. There are
several cells in the cell‐house which are used exclusively for this
purpose. After the chronic cases have been disposed of the chief physician
attends to the more serious ailments. He also prescribes the diet for the
sick prisoners, and if they order anything that is not in the culinary
department it is purchased at once.

The hospital is well patronized by the inmates. During the month of July,
1908, 2,018 cases were disposed of. But the building used for a hospital
is now altogether inadequate to accommodate the growing demands of the
institution, as the population of the prison has practically doubled
during the past decade.

With regard to epidemics the prison has been very fortunate and the
mortality list has been exceedingly small. The death rate for 1908 was
only nine, principally due to tuberculosis, a disease which is quite
prevalent in penitentiaries the world over.

During the summer months the convalescent patients are permitted the
freedom of the park all day. Those who are unable to walk are carried down
and given an opportunity to get the beneficial outdoor air.

The following rules give a clear idea of the duties of chief physician:

                      Duties of the Prison Physician

   1. The Physician shall visit the prison every day, between the hours of
      seven and ten in the morning, and examine and prescribe for all sick
      inmates, and also at such other times as the condition of the
      inmates may demand. He shall also visit all prisoners in the sick
      cells who are unable to come to sick call. If sent for at any time
      by the Warden or Deputy Warden to attend an inmate he shall
      immediately do so to the exclusion of all other engagements.
   2. He shall examine every inmate on his entering the prison, and record
      in a book for that purpose his name, date of entrance, date of
      examination, nationality and race of inmate, and of his parents; his
      weight, stature and heredity, so far as affects his criminality or
      health; also the condition of his heart, lungs and other organs; the
      rate of pulse and respiration; the measurement of the chest and
      abdomen, and any existing disease, deformity or other acquired or
      inherited disability, and he shall immediately vaccinate him.
   3. He shall keep a record of all admissions to and discharges from the
      hospital, and of all cases treated by him, with the name, number and
      the place of the inmate, and the diagnosis and treatment, with such
      observations as may assist in forming a perfect record of each
   4. He shall make a written report daily to the Warden of the attendance
      at the sick call in the morning, and of the disposition made of
      those reported sick. And also of all admissions to, and discharges
      from the hospital.
   5. He shall, every morning, carefully examine all inmates in the
      solitary cells, or in special restraint or punishment elsewhere, and
      shall make a written report to the Warden as to the condition of
      each. He shall be particular to report to the Warden in writing any
      inmate whose health he thinks is being injured by the punishment or
      restraint he is being subjected to, and shall recommend such changes
      in such inmate’s diet or otherwise as he may think necessary. In the
      absence of the Physician the Assistant Physician shall make similar
      examinations every evening, and make a written report to the Warden.
   6. The Physician shall frequently, and also whenever requested by the
      Warden, examine all of the cells of the inmates, the plumbing and
      cell ventilators, for the purpose of ascertaining whether they are
      kept in a proper state of cleanliness and ventilation and in a good
      sanitary condition and report their condition to the Warden and to
      the official who made the request.
   7. He shall, whenever requested by the Warden, and also whenever he
      thinks proper, examine the quality of the provisions and condition
      of the food provided for inmates. Whenever he shall find that any
      provisions are unwholesome, or that the food is insufficient, or for
      any reason prejudicial to their health, he shall immediately make
      report thereof to the Warden.
   8. He shall have full control over the patients in the hospital,
      subject to the rules of the prison and instructions of the Warden,
      and shall give daily instructions as to the treatment of each
      patient to the assistant physician and his orders must be followed.
   9. In case an inmate claims to be unable to labor by reason of sickness
      or other disability, the Physician shall examine such inmate. If, in
      his opinion, such inmate is unable to labor, or his occupation
      should be changed, he shall immediately certify the fact to the
      Warden. Such inmate shall thereupon be released from labor or his
      occupation be changed or he be admitted to the hospital or elsewhere
      for medical treatment, as the Physician shall direct, having due
      regard for the safe keeping of such inmate. When he certifies that
      such inmate is sufficiently recovered to be able to labor the inmate
      may be required to do so.
  10. He shall, whenever requested to do so by the Warden, make a careful
      examination of any inmate, and make a written report of his physical
      and mental condition.
  11. Whenever an inmate, in the opinion of the Physician, becomes insane,
      he shall certify the fact to the Warden, giving his reasons
      therefor, and make a full statement of the mental and physical
      condition of the prisoner, together with his opinion as to what
      disposition should be made of him.
  12. When an inmate dies the Physician shall record the cause of death
      and all the circumstances connected therewith, and as full a history
      of the previous health of the prisoner as he may be able, and
      immediately report the information to the Warden.
  13. When the Physician considers it necessary, or when requested by the
      Warden, to make a post‐morten examination of the body of a deceased
      inmate, he shall do so within twenty‐four hours thereafter, if
      possible, and shall immediately make a written report of the result
      of his examination to the Warden as to the cause of death. He shall
      also call the coroner of the county whenever he may deem it proper
      to do so.
  14. The Physician may be assigned an assistant to be designated as
      Assistant Physician and such number of nurses as may be necessary to
      properly care for the sick. Such Assistant Physician shall be
      selected by the Warden with the approval of the Physician, and shall
      carry out in full the Physician’s orders in the care of the sick.
  15. He shall keep such books, and in such form as may be ordered by the
      Board of Control and by the Warden.
  16. He shall report in writing to the Warden for the information of the
      Board of Control at its monthly meeting, the patients received into
      the hospital or treated in the cells or elsewhere during the
      preceding month, stating their respective ages, diseases, previous
      occupations in prison, the time they have remained in the hospital
      or cells, the date of commencement and termination of treatment, and
      number of days during which such patients, in consequence of
      sickness, have been relieved from labor. Also the death and cause
      thereof, transfers to Insane Asylums and such other facts, with
      recommendations, as he desires to submit.
  17. At the close of each biennial period the Physician shall make a
      report to the Board of Control as to the sanitary condition of the
      prison during the biennial period just passed, in which he shall
      present, in summarized form, all information included in his daily
      and monthly reports. The Physician will be responsible for all
      instruments and supplies in his department.

                    [Hospital Cell and Life Prisoner]

                     Hospital Cell and Life Prisoner

                  [Prisoner’s Exercise Drill on Sunday]

                   Prisoner’s Exercise Drill on Sunday

               [Hospital Cells, Prison Doctor and Inmates]

                Hospital Cells, Prison Doctor and Inmates


Like all other penitentiaries, the Minnesota State Prison contains its
quota of inmates who are slightly demented, or who have periodical fits of
hallucinations. When these unfortunates give oral demonstrations in the
evening after the prisoners have retired and all is quiet for the night
they furnish considerable amusement. Their mental state, of course, is
deplored by all, and it is only their language that arouses the
risibilities of fellow prisoners.


One of these men imagined himself to be an operator in St. Paul; that he
had a train going out and one coming in on the same line. He was
vigorously tapping away on one of the walls of his cell when a night guard
asked him what troubled him. “This,” said the prisoner in all seriousness,
“is a telegraph station in St. Paul.” “Well, you had better cut this out
and go to bed; the prisoners can’t sleep with all this fuss going on.”
“Fuss nothing,” angrily retorted the prisoner, “I’m attending strictly to
business! The Governor is on one of those trains and if there is a wreck
there will be trouble!”

The captain of the night watch immediately sent for the deputy warden to
suppress the “operator,” who, when he arrived, and after a sharp command
to be quiet, without glancing up from his “key” ordered the deputy to go
away and “not interrupt him.” Of course this rejoinder caused the other
inmates to burst out laughing, and no amount of discipline could check
their merriment. By this time it was necessary to open the cell door and
take the operator bodily from his “key” and transfer him to the
observation ward at the solitary. Just as he was relieved from “duty” he
shrieked at the deputy, “You will catch h— if those two trains come


For some unaccountable reason the cellhouse building is infested with
bedbugs, notwithstanding the fact that every effort is made to exterminate
them. An afflicted prisoner one day stepped up to the deputy warden,
respectfully gave the customary military salute, and, with a solemn face
that would do credit to a judge about to impose the death penalty,
remarked: “Say deputy, I have a complaint to make.” “All right, proceed,”
said the deputy. “Well,” continued the prisoner, “there are about five
hundred inmates who pass my cell every day going to and from their work
and each man throws a bedbug into my cell. This d— foolishness has to be
stopped or there will be something doing,” and the man looked as though he
meant business. Telling of the incident afterwards, the deputy said that
the story was so absurd he could scarcely refrain from laughing.


There was also a prisoner whose particular form of dementia was in
imagining that the man in the cell above him persited in turning an X‐ray
machine on him, and the imprecations that he would voice every now and
then are unprintable. The incident had its laughable side, nevertheless,
and an outburst from him was always very amusing.

So, too, were the demonstrations of the man who imagined that he had a
river on his back that emptied into his left ear. Every now and then he
would exclaim, “Boys, the river is rising,” or that the “river was drying
up.” He was absolutely harmless, but a trifle noisy.


At present there is a life prisoner confined in the Minnesota State Prison
who constantly imagines himself the President of the United States. He is
a Russian, was considered quite harmless until a few years ago, when he
threatened to kill the deputy warden, and was removed to the crank
department. His conversations were very ludicrous, continually promising
the boys who talked with him that “as soon as he was pardoned (which was
always soon) he would appoint them” to the various positions at the
disposal of the chief executive. As a humorist he was on a par with the
inmate who imagines that his cell is full of ghosts. Every now and then
this man proceeds to drive out these unwelcome intruders, and swears at
them roundly. He becomes very noisy during this driving out process and
the night guards frequently command him to desist. When assured that the
ghosts are all out of his cell he remains quiet the rest of the evening.
These spells occur frequently, and there is little question but that the
man really believes that ghosts are in his cell.

                              PRISON HUMOR.

Several years ago there was an inmate in the Stillwater penitentiary who
unconsciously perpetrated one of the best jokes that had been heard at the
institution for some time. He was a German and a hard‐working carpenter by
trade. He was honest to a fault and led a model life while on the outside.
The crime for which he was sentenced was assault on a fellow workman, and
for this offense he received a two‐year sentence at the Stillwater
penitentiary. He was immediately put to work for the Minnesota Thresher
Co., being assigned work in one of the carpenter shops. One day he forgot
to take his plug of chewing tobacco with him to the shop, having left it
laying on the small table in his cell. That evening when he came in from
work he found the plug of tobacco missing. He at once began calling for
one of the night guards, and on that gentleman’s arrival the prisoner

“Say, Mr. Guard, dere must pe thieves in dis here blace. Mine tobacco’s
she was gone, und I harms noboddies. I dink ve petter send for dere
bolicemans und catch sum uf dem rascals.”

The foregoing story is absolutely authentic, and was told again and again
by the prisoners who appreciate a good joke as keenly as their free
brothers. It also brings out rather forcibly the fact that,
notwithstanding the man was in prison, he was still honest.

                         THE VERSATILE PRISONER.

It is quite generally known that the prisoners at the Minnesota state
prison are prohibited from talking, and what conversation there is,
generally takes place on a holiday or is permitted in cases where their
work makes talking necessary. One day there was committed to the prison a
man who was proficient in a dozen different languages. The deputy warden
was examining the man as to his birth, nationality, religion, etc., and
when he asked the prisoner his nationality he replied that he could talk
in several different languages. “Hump,” grunted the deputy, “we talk
English here and d— little of that.”


Several years ago the poet‐scout, Capt. “Jack” Crawford, delivered a
lecture in the prison chapel to the inmates. In passing it is well to
state that this well‐known lecturer makes it a point to visit the various
penal and charitable institutions throughout the country free of charge,
hence his friendly call at the Stillwater prison.

During the course of Mr. Crawford’s remarks he paused in his discourse and
said: “Men, I heartily sympathize with you for being in the unfortunate
condition you are, but (and the speaker pointed his hands at each side of
the room where the guards were stationed) if these high‐toned gentlemen in
blue uniforms were dressed in the same clothes you are and placed among
you, why I couldn’t tell the difference between you!”

This unintentional joke at the guards caused a great deal of applause, but
when Mr. Crawford’s remarks are examined by cold, logic, it will be found
that he simply told the truth and that the dissimilarity is a question of
clothes and nothing else.

                           FEEDING THE DONKEYS.

When the prison band was first organized the inmate musicians made a noise
that was something indescribable. It sounded like a sawmill blowing up, or
a handsaw striking a 60‐penny spike. One day one of the highly‐strung
nervous chaps went up to the deputy warden and asked permission to buy a
bale of hay.

“What do you want hay for?” asked the deputy.

“Why,” replied the prisoner, “I would like to present a bale of hay to
those jackasses in the park who are making all that confounded noise.”


A prison is not an admirable place for those disinclined to work. A man
occasionally succeeds in hoodwinking the authorities for a time, but this
rarely occurs. Whenever there is a reasonable doubt the prisoner is given
the benefit of it. A case in particular is that of one Mr. B., who
complained that the entire lower part of his body was paralyzed and that
he was unable to walk. He was given a pair of crutches and put in the
hospital ward, where he lived well, his wants supplied by the attendants
and where he had absolutely nothing to do. The doctors suspected that he
was faking and secretly applied tests to verify their belief. Evidently
the man was on his guard and fully acquainted with the various modes of
procedure in such cases, for he stood the tests unflinchingly.

Finally Warden Wolfer took his case under personal charge and evolved a
plan that the clever prisoner had not figured on as one of the
possibilities of detection. The strategy was this: A newly‐appointed guard
was dressed in a third‐grade suit of convict clothes on the day when the
prisoners in the crank department were given their weekly shave. Mr. B.
was sitting on the bench waiting to be shaved. The deputy warden stepped
into the room with the alleged third‐grade prisoner and gruffly ordered
him to be seated, then turned to the barber and told him to shave the
third‐grade man next, as he was in a hurry. Not an inkling of suspicion
flashed across Mr. B.’s brain. In the door leading into this ward a small
peep‐hole is arranged, enabling the guard to look into the room without
entering. The warden was stationed behind this door to observe the results
of this scheme. As the third‐grade “prisoner” sat down to be shaved he
suddenly seized one of the barber’s razors, and, with a whoop, jumped out
of the chair and made for the “helpless” Mr. B., who immediately cast
aside his crutches and rushed down the corridor to escape from the
supposed demented “prisoner.” The fact that his legs were paralyzed and
that he was acting a part was entirely forgotten.

At this stage of the proceedings the warden entered the room and informed
the crestfallen Mr. B. that the comedy was over. At first he was inclined
to continue the paralytic roll, but when informed that he had the option
of going to work or taking an indefinite stay on a bread‐and‐water diet he
wisely chose the first alternative, and for the remainder of his term gave
no more trouble.

Another case of shirking is that of Mr. M., who is a life prisoner and who
has spent over a quarter of a century behind the bars of Minnesota’s
famous penal institution. He insisted that something was wrong with his
limbs and that he could not walk; that he needed the assistance of
crutches, but one night one of the nurses observed him walking back and
forth in his cell, evidently taking a needed constitutional. He was sent
to work in a few days and is today walking as successfully as ever. He
employed this deception for many years.

                    A “HORSE” ON THE PRISON PHYSICIAN.

Some time ago there arrived at the prison a man who appeared to be, as far
as visible appearances were concerned, a chronic sufferer from epileptic
fits. On the day he entered prison he had two of these fits, and almost
every day thereafter they occurred with surprising frequency. The
assistant physician was always called on these occasions, but could do
nothing for the sufferer, he being thoroughly convinced that the fits were
the real article. The prisoner was given an easy position in the
cellhouse, as it was considered too dangerous to have him working in the
shops alongside of the machines, belting, etc.

Finally, however, this easy job began to pall on the epileptic prisoner’s
nerves; and he asked the deputy warden to be transferred to the shops. “I
can’t do it,” said the deputy, “as it would be against the physician’s
orders to change your work.”

“Well, if that is the case I will have to cut out the fit business,”
replied the prisoner.

“What do you mean?” asked the deputy warden.

“These fits are all fakes,” smilingly retorted the prisoner, “and I can
cut them out any time.”

“The only way you can convince me that these epileptic fits are not
genuine is to stop having them. If you do this for thirty days, I will
give you any job you want.”

The prisoner got the job, greatly to the mystification of the physicians
and the deputy warden.

                           ESCAPES FROM PRISON

There has been but one successful escape during the eighteen years that
Warden Wolfer has had charge of the prison. A capture was, however,
effected a few days later.  The escape was neatly planned, and the
“loophole” through which he crawled could only have been detected by one
who was constantly looking for a chance to “fly the coop,” using a
prisoner’s expression. Opportunity came to him in the following manner: It
was the custom of the captain of the cellhouse to unlock the doors
immediately after the men had left their cells. In the fall of the year it
is still quite dark when the prisoners march into the dining room to
breakfast. On the morning that Mr. B. made his escape he simply remained
in his cell, and as soon as the captain of the cell house unlocked the
side doors and went back to his desk came out of his cell, cautiously made
his way out of one of the side doors and made a beeline for the wall near
the railroad gate, negotiating the same near this point. The wall guard
imagined that he saw some one go over the top of the wall and fired
several shots in that direction, but it was still very dark and he was
uncertain just what it was. The prisoner got away without a scratch, but,
as previously stated, was recaptured a few days later. Shot by a farmer
whom he tried to rob and received a bad bullet wound in one of his ankles.
The farmer, however, was not aware of his identity,—had ordered him off
his premises, but the prisoner acted in a threatening manner and was
thereupon shot.

About seventeen years ago another attempt to escape was made by a
desperate young fellow and two companions. They evaded the guard, slipped
out of the shop near the wagon gate and then waited where they were not
observed; then a dash for freedom through this big double gate as it swung
open to permit a team to pass out. All three were apprehended shortly
afterwards under the warehouse building of the Minnesota Thresher Co.,
where they had sought temporary refuge. This was just opposite the prison.
It is very improbable that any more attempts will be made through this
gate, a guard now being stationed on the wall above the gate and one
across the street. Formerly there was but one guard in charge of the gate,
which had a tendency to invite attack at this quarter.

                              [Prison Band ]

                               Prison Band

                          [Prison Band In Park ]

                           Prison Band In Park

     [Prison Train Backing Into Prison Yard to be Loaded with Twine ]

      Prison Train Backing Into Prison Yard to be Loaded with Twine

                [Train Leaving Prison Yard After Loading ]

                 Train Leaving Prison Yard After Loading

About twenty‐five years ago a prisoner, Frank Landis by name, made as
successful an escape as was ever made from any institution. He sawed the
bars on one of the cell house windows, squeezed himself through and has
never been heard from since. Landis had arrived in St. Paul one day and
victimized business men out of nearly twenty‐five thousand dollars. He
represented himself to be the son of a rich merchant of La Crosse, Wis.,
and, to allay suspicion, invited one of the merchants to telegraph at his
expense as to his credentials. He evidently had a confederate at the other
end of the line, as word came back that he was O. K. After getting this
merchant to cash his checks he next induced him to introduce the generous
buyer to other merchants, the aforesaid merchant vouching for his standing
in each instance. One man became suspicious, and early the next morning
communicated with La Crosse and received immediate advice that the name
was unknown. Then the hunt for Landis began, but he had departed for parts
unknown, was later captured and received twenty years in the Stillwater
penitentiary. Here his stay was of short duration, as he soon made his

On a previous page we stated that there had been but one escape from the
Minnesota State Prison since Mr. Wolfer has been warden. Recently,
however, a “trusty,” who had been acting as coachman, took advantage of
the freedom allowed him and disappeared. This is not considered by the
officials as an escape in the true sense of the word. Below we give the
“trusty’s” picture with the Bertillon Measurements.

                             [Allus Petwray]

      Height, 1 m 75 1
      Height 5 ft. 9 in.
      Outs A 1 m 82
      Trunk 90
      Head Length 19.8
      Head Width 15.3
      Cheek Width 13.6
      R. Ear 7.2
      L. Foot 27.4d1
      L. Mid F. 11.6
      L. Lit. F. 9.2
      L Forearm 48.1

Name, Allus Petwray, No. 2654. Nationality, African; age, 30; color,
Negro; build, muscular; complexion, M. brown; hair, black; eyes, Mar.
deep; weight. 161.

Sentenced March 1, 1909; term, 2½ years. From Polk county, for the crime
of grand larceny, second degree.

Marks and scars: 1 cut:‐ hor. rec. 1.5 c at 3 d ph. R. III‐Cut:‐ rec. hor.
4c at on & sr. of cen. sr. brw. III‐Cic;‐ rec. ob. 1c at slt. over & sr.
out. pt. sr. eye. III‐cut:‐rec. ver. sit. ob. 3c at 2.5 to front dx.
tragus. III‐Cut:‐rec. ob. 8c at 3 over dx. ear.

Occupation, coachman.

This photograph and record of Bertillon Measurements has been sent
broadcast to all the police departments in the United States and Canada,
and his recapture will probably be “only a question of time.”

                           BREAKING INTO PRISON

We have just related some cases where men have broken out of prison, and
it is in order to state the facts regarding a robbery that took place at
the prison. A man actually broke into prison for the purpose of stealing.
He had procured a rope ladder and scaled one of the rear walls, made his
way to the Western Shoe company’s factory and selected the finest case of
shoes he could find. He then retraced his way to the wall, tied a rope to
the case of shoes, climbed up and went away as though the act of stealing
shoes from a penitentiary was an every‐day accomplishment for him. He was
also captured, and it was then discovered that he had been a former
inmate, accounting for his familiarity with the grounds. The place is
constantly patroled by two night watchmen, and it is still a mystery how
he managed to evade them. This act might have been performed out of a
spirit of reckless bravado to demonstrate to the other inmates that he was
fully capable. His little stunt, however, cost him another residence of
three and one‐half years at the prison.

                            THE PAROLE SYSTEM

The state of Minnesota was one of the first to introduce the grading and
parole systems in its prison. Speaking of this feature, Warden Wolfer

“We have paroled 934 prisoners since the parole law went into effect in
1894. We now have 72 prisoners on parole, three of whom are females. Of
those paroled 716 were committed on a definite sentence, and 218 on
Reformatory Plan.”

“The grading and parole law continues to work satisfactorily and gives
much promise and encouragement for the future. We are often disappointed
by the failure of promising parole men to make good, but on the other
hand, we are as often encouraged by the less promising who have made good
beyond our most sanguine expectations. All of which demonstrates the
limitation of human judgment and the difficulty of ‘reading the human
heart aright.’ Most of those who break parole are carried over the line by
some weakness, usually intemperance, a weakness that they do not seem able
to control.”

“We are glad to be able to say that our expedience with the grading and
parole system gives us growing encouragement and hope for the future,
because we believe we have hopeful and satisfying evidence that few men
break their parole because of the desire to do wrong. As a rule, the
parole breaker heartily regrets his misstep, and frequently will make good
if given another chance.”

“The parole embodies those ethical principles of conduct that make for
normal life and good character. Rationally and constructively applied, it
builds up and encourages manhood and at the same time it discourages a
disposition to yield to weakening impulses that lead to wrongdoing. Every
possible effort should be made to apprehend and return the fugitive parole
breaker, for if allowed to remain at large he is almost sure to become a
confirmed criminal. Therefore, a more thorough supervision of paroled
prisoners is necessary, and a more accurate system for the apprehension
and identification of parole breakers seems imperative in every state, and
throughout the country, wherever the parole system is in vogue.”

“Of the 934 prisoners paroled 59 per cent were finally discharged by
reason of expiration of definite sentence; 13 2‐3 per cent, who were
committed on the Reformatory Plan, were discharged by the board after
having given satisfactory evidence of a desire and purpose to live
honestly and become good citizens; 19 2‐3 per cent of the whole number
paroled violated their paroles; 17 1‐3 per cent of the whole number were
returned to prison to serve unexpired sentences, leaving 2 1‐3 per cent
parole violators now at large.”

This system has had a marked tendency to improve the discipline of the
prison, for it impels inmates to bend every effort to merit this
consideration at the hands of the state authorities. The state law
governing the parole of prisoners from the penitentiary is as follows:

                              THE PAROLE LAW

Parole of Prisoners,—The State Board of Control may parole any prisoner:

   1. No convict shall be paroled who has been previously convicted of a
      felony other than the one for which he is serving sentence, either
      in this state or elsewhere.
   2. No convict serving a time sentence shall be paroled until he shall
      have served at least one‐half of his full term, not reckoning good
   3. No convict serving a life sentence shall be paroled until he has
      served thirty‐five years, less the diminution which would have been
      allowed for good conduct had his sentence been for thirty‐five
      years, and then only by unanimous consent, in writing, of the
      members of the Board of Pardons.
   4. Such convicts while on parole shall remain in the legal custody and
      under control of the Board of Control, subject at any time to be
      returned to the prison or reformatory, and the written order of said
      board, certified by the Warden, shall be a sufficient warrant to any
      officer to retake and return to actual custody any such convict.
      Geographical limits wholly within the state may be fixed in each
      case, and the same enlarged or reduced according to the conduct of
      the prisoners.
   5. In considering applications for parole said board shall not
      entertain any petition, receive any written communication, or bear
      any argument from any attorney or other person not connected with
      said prison, in favor of the parole of any prisoner, but it may
      institute inquiries by correspondence or otherwise as to the
      previous history or character of such prisoner.

At the present time nearly all the states have inaugurated the parole and
grading system similar to the law in operation in this state, and some are
considering the advisability of introducing the system. This law is one of
the best measures of the so‐called modern penology and one in which the
leading authorities on such matters feel the most pride.

                     [Dynamited Safe, Stephen, Minn.]

 This cut shows the condition of the safe and office of the State Bank of
 Stephen, Minn., after being wrecked by dynamite.  This was done by three
men.  One escaped, one gave state’s evidence and the other is now serving
                  a term at the Minnesota State Prison.

                            [Warden’s Office]

                             Warden’s Office

                          DIMINUTION OF SENTENCE

The following law will give the reader an idea of the “good time” the
prisoner earns during imprisonment, and is another powerful incentive
toward good conduct. Few prisoners permit themselves to commit violations
of rules, the gravity of which subjects them to punishment. A man may be
deprived of good time for refusing to obey an order, fighting, insolence
to guard, foreman or fellow‐prisoner.

Diminution of Sentence.—Every convict sentenced for a definite term other
than life, whether confined in the state prison or on parole therefrom,
may diminish such term as follows:

   1. For each month, commencing on the day of his arrival, during which
      he has not violated any prison rule or discipline, and has labored
      with diligence and fidelity, five days.
   2. After one year of such conduct, seven days for each month.
   3. After two years of such conduct, nine days for each month.
   4. After three years, ten days for each month for the entire time

Said board, in view of the aggravated nature and frequency of offenses,
may take away any or all of the good time previously gained, and, in
consideration of mitigating circumstances or ignorance on the part of the
convict, may afterwards restore him, in whole or in part, to the standing
he possessed before such good time was taken away. Whenever a convict
shall pass the entire period of his imprisonment without an unexcused
violation of the rules or discipline, upon his discharge he shall be
restored to his rights and privileges forfeited by conviction, and receive
from the governor a certificate, under the seal of the state, as evidence
of such restoration

                           DISCHARGE ALLOWANCE

In some states there is little or no provision for aiding the discharged
prisoner, and in some states when parole is granted his prospective
employer must first send railroad fare before he is released. In many
states the discharged man is given five dollars in money, while in others
he is permitted to earn money during his imprisonment. The following is
the law that governs in the state of Minnesota:

Upon discharge the Warden, at the expense of the state, shall furnish each
convict released with one good, serviceable suit of clothing and
underclothing, and, when released between October 1 and March 31
following, with a good, serviceable overcoat; and he shall pay to each
convict, when released, $25 in money drawn from the current expense fund.

                    [Decoration: Keys, Ball and Chain]

                          THE CELLHOUSE BUILDING

Within the cellhouse building there are 664 cells, ranged tier upon tier,
there being six in all. The building is constructed entirely of iron and
stone, and the walls are nearly three feet thick. It is safe to say that
in this solidly built building more human sorrow is represented than
anywhere else in the state. If an authentic record could be made of the
tragedies that take place behind these grim, unsympathetic stone walls it
would fill volumes. However, it would require the enviable intellect of a
Victor Hugo or Charles Read to vividly picture the utter despair and
blasted hopes of the many thousands who have been imprisoned within these
cheerless walls since the construction of the building. It is absolutely
fireproof, but quite antiquated, the sanitation and ventilation being
extremely poor. About fifteen prisoners are employed in the cell house,
sweeping cells, galleries, passing out water, holystoning the flags in the
corridor and keeping the place as clean as possible. Two men are
constantly employed in whitewashing the cells and the interior of the cell
house, and another’s time is wholly occupied in exterminating bedbugs,
which are quite plentiful and possess large appetites.

The captain makes a tour of the galleries each morning and inspects each
cell to see that everything is in order. If a cell floor or other articles
are in a slovenly condition the inmate is reported to the deputy warden,
whose duty it is to administer a reprimand for negligence. While making
this four of inspection he delivers all incoming letters addressed to
prisoners. All incoming and outgoing mail is carefully scrutinized before
delivery. On Sunday morning material for writing letters is issued to all
prisoners who are permitted to write, and the distribution of tobacco is
also made at this time. The upper tiers of the galleries used to be the
rendezvous for inmates possessing suicidal inclinations, not a few of
whom, having lost all courage and lacking the determination to live, chose
this method of ending their woes. We use the words “used to be” advisedly,
for they have ceased to be an attraction to the death‐desiring since the
failure to accomplish the result occurred to an inmate who a short time
ago took the plunge from the upper tier. In an hour or so he was at work
as if nothing unusual had happened. Heretofore a plunge from the upper
tiers to the stone flags always meant a call for the undertaker.

                        [Cellhouse, Looking East]

                         Cellhouse, Looking East

                              [Prison Band]

                               Prison Band

              [Spinning Room In Twine Factory looking West.]

               Spinning Room In Twine Factory looking West.

             [Spinning Room In Twine Factory looking East. ]

               Spinning Room In Twine Factory looking East.

                          THE CHAUTAUQUA CIRCLE

There is in existence in the Minnesota State Prison a Chautauqua circle,
being a branch of the main organization, conducted entirely by the inmates
and the presiding officers elected from the members thereof.

Election of officers occurs once a year. Meetings are held fortnightly in
the prison chapel, at which time several papers are read and discussed by
the members. At the conclusion of the meeting a critic chosen from the
circle reviews the program, points out various errors in composition
papers or commends them as the case may be.

The membership of this unique organization numbers about thirty, and as
old members withdraw new ones are selected from the better educated
prisoners. Meetings are always conducted in an orderly manner, not a
snigle serious violation of the rules having occurred since the
organization—about twenty years ago. Discussions at times becomes
exceedingly spirited, especially if a paper is read that attacks the pet
hobbies of the several members.

As an educational feature of the institution the Chautauqua circle is
accomplishing excellent work and deserves the sincere patronage and
commendation of the prison authorities.

                            BAND AND ORCHESTRA

Like the majority of the better‐class prisons, Minnesota’s penitentiary
has the honor of having within its walls a well‐equipped band and
orchestra. They are in charge of an experienced citizen‐music teacher, and
have made remarkable progress since organization. About nineteen members
compose the band, mostly men who have a long time to serve.

The orchestra provides music for the services in the prison chapel, and
when entertainments are given provides the musical numbers on the program.
Of late years it has attained a degree of efficiency that has been
commended very highly by prominent visitors to the institution.

The band gives a concert each morning during the summer months and also
during drill exercises, which take place in the yard every Sunday
immediately after chapel service. Concerts are also given in the park on
holidays, when the men are enjoying outdoor freedom, which the inmates
appreciate very much, helping wonderfully to break the dull, routine
monotony of prison life. The band and orchestra cost the state very
little, its instruments are paid for out of the fees received from
visitors, who pay a twenty‐five cent admission to see the institution.
This amount is donated for the benefit of the library fund.

                           PRISON NIGHT SCHOOL

The prison that now neglects to provide suitable educational facilities
for the instruction of its inmates is considered behind the times. A great
many inmates of penitentiaries are illiterate, and the prison night
schools afford an excellent opportunity to acquire the fundamentals of a
good education. This department is under the supervision of the
superintendent of public schools of Stillwater, who is assisted by a corps
of teachers chosen from among the inmates. The course of study corresponds
to the course pursued in the state primary and grammar schools. There are
fourteen classes, ranging from a, b, c class to one in advanced
bookkeeping. Three sessions are held weekly, and the school is popular
among the prisoners. Those serving reformatory sentences are compelled to
attend, but the voluntary attendance is always in excess of the
compulsory. During the season of 1907‐08 the average attendance was 164,
and of this number 48 were compelled to attend, while the balance, 116,
attended voluntarily.

The prison night school is in operation eight months during the year, and
is well partronized, many inmates receiving their first instructions in
reading and writing during their period of service. To the ambitious man
there is plenty of opportunity for self‐improvement, so it can readily be
seen that no one need wholly waste the time that he is compelled to serve
for infraction of state laws. When school is not in session inmates are
granted permission to have all the school books they require in pursuance
of studies.

                            THE SHOE INDUSTRY.

This factory is conducted by the Western Shoe Co., and annually employs
about 225 prisoners. There is an excellent opportunity here for the inmate
to learn a trade at which he can make a good living upon his release. Few
citizens are employed at this work, but a competent citizen‐foreman is in
charge of each shop. As far as possible prisoners are taught the business
of making shoes, and many of them become very proficient at this work.

The company pays a stated price for each piece of work turned out, and the
per diem earnings of the prisoners is larger than in any other prison in
the country. The volume of business of these two industries amounts
annually to more than $2,000,000. Of this total, returns from the twine
factory, operated on state account, amount to $1,300,000, while the shoe
company, operated on the piece‐price system, does a business in excess of

                             THE REPAIR SHOP.

All the repair work of the institution is performed in this department,
and in this shop are located the tinner, plumbers, carpenters, painters,
machinists, etc., all under the supervision of a first‐class foreman. The
tinner makes all the tinware used in the various departments of the prison
and attends to its repairing. As the entire institution is heated by
steam, the plumbers are kept constantly employed during the winter
repairing radiators and overhauling wornout steam pipes. As repairs and
improvements are constantly being made and as the prison buildings are
quite old, considerable carpenter work is also necessitated each year.

Perhaps the busiest men in this shop are the machinists, whose business it
is to see that all machinery, shafting, etc., are kept in repair, thus
reducing breakdowns to the minimum. This shop is run in an economical
manner and annually saves the state thousands of dollars.

                               TAILOR SHOP

In this department is located the tailor shop, laundry and bath room,
about twenty prisoners being constantly employed in the former, making and
repairing clothing for the inmates; the second and third rooms, of course,
are devoted to washing and drying of clothes and bathing of prisoners. As
there are about 700 prisoners whose clothing must be mended and washed
each week, the employes of this shop find all the work they wish to do.

                     [Prisoners at Work in Shoe Shop]

                      Prisoners at Work in Shoe Shop

                              [Tailor Shop]

                               Tailor Shop



                                BATH ROOM

The bath room is located below the tailor shop in a two‐story building.
Here bathing operations are begun each Friday morning under the
supervision of a guard, who marches the prisoners to the bath room,
twenty‐eight at a time, there being accommodations for only twenty‐eight
men, and each is provided with an overhead shower bath of hot or cold

As the guard marches in with the men the prisoners remain standing in
front of their shower until the attendant registers their numbers, and the
guard then stamps his cane twice on the floor to notify the prisoners to
begin bathing. The registered number slips are sent upstairs, where the
inmates’ clothing is kept in pigeon holes arranged along the walls of the
laundry, each pigeon hole being labeled with the prisoner’s register
number, and at the expiration of his bath is hastily sent downstairs and
placed on the small door leading to his stall. Each prisoner is given a
clean handkerchief and pair of socks.

When the men are through bathing and the guard again stamps twice on the
floor with his cane they step out of the bathing booths, and at the signal
the march back to the shop begins. It requires about fifteen minutes to
bathe twenty‐eight men.

Just in the rear of the tailor shop is a cobler, whose duties are to
repair the shoes of the inmates. All the shoes are bought, including the
discharged clothing worn by the inmates, when they are relieased from

                 [Prisoners at Chapel Service on Sunday]

                  Prisoners at Chapel Service on Sunday

                               [Bath Room]

                                Bath Room

[Second Grade Dining Room, Accomodating 350 Prisoners, All of Whom are Fed
                              in 15 Minutes]

Second Grade Dining Room, Accomodating 350 Prisoners, All of Whom are Fed
                              in 15 Minutes

                            THE PRISON CHAPEL

Religious services are conducted in the prison chapel each Sunday, and as
previously stated, a Catholic and Protestant chaplain preach every
alternate Sunday. The attendance, although voluntary, is very large,
taxing the capacity of the chapel. Services are held at nine a. m.,
previous to which time each prisoner is asked by his guard whether or not
he wishes to attend.

A great many people think that, as a rule, prisoners are hardened sinners,
not susceptible to the refining influence of the Gospel. But the facts do
not justify this belief, for there are as many Christians in the
Stillwater penitentiary, per population, as can be found anywhere. Many of
the prisoners attend church every Sunday and are better inmates for the
imbibing of moral instruction.

The law strictly forbids the teaching of sectarian doctrines and visiting
clergymen are instructed to observe this rule.

The prison orchestra and choir, consisting of inmates, furnish the
instrumental and vocal music for the services. Any inmate who wishes to
consult the chaplain of the prison or the pastor of his particular
denomination in regard to spiritual matters is always accorded the utmost
liberty to do so. The chaplains also attend the sick in the prison
hospital and conduct the burial services of the unfortunates who die in
prison. Upon entering the chapel the men take their places on the benches
and must remain seated, with their arms folded and eyes to the front. When
it is necessary to arise the deputy warden gives a signal and also when to
be seated. The benches contain hymn books, and all prisoners are permitted
the privilege of joining in the singing.

                             THE DINING ROOM

Two of the inmates’ dining rooms are located just above the officers’
kitchen and beneath the prison chapel. The population of the prison,
however, has increased so rapidly during the past few years that it was
found necessary to make room for the overflow in the chapel and mess room
opposite the officers’ kitchen. One of the rooms in the main dining hall
is devoted to first‐grade prisoners and the other to the second grade.

Entering the dining room, the prisoner promptly takes his seat and remains
with his arms folded until the signal to eat is given by the deputy
warden. There are six waiters in each dining room, and it is their
business to see that the men are promptly served. Some pass nothing but
bread, others coffee or water, and the rest attend to distributing the
miscellaneous items on the bill of fare. Talking is forbidden in the
dining room at all times. The food is very plain, but wholesome, and there
is always plenty of it. The following bills of fare, one for the winter
months and the other for summer, will give an idea of the food served.
They were selected from the house steward’s records and are authentic
copies for that date:



            Breakfast: Baked pork and beans, light biscuits, _syrup_,
            BUTTER, coffee.
            Dinner: Roast beef, mashed potatoes, mashed turnips, gravy,
            bread, _pickles, cake._
            Supper: Hot tea.


            Breakfast: Fried pork sausage, potatoes, gravy, bread, coffee.
            Dinner: Vegetable soup, boiled fresh beef, bread, potatoes,
            _pickled beets_.
            Supper: _Stewed Beans_, white and graham bread, tea.


            Breakfast: Corned beef hash, syrup, bread, coffee.
            Dinner: Boiled ham, cabbage, potatoes, gravy, bread, _bread
            Supper: _Apple sauce_, white and graham bread, tea.


            Breakfast: Fried beef livers, potatoes, gravy, bread, coffee.
            Dinner: Roast pork with dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy,
            pickles, _macaroni and tomatoes_, bread, cake, _cheese_,
            Supper: Hot tea, prunes and bread.


            Breakfast: Vienna sausage, potatoes, gravy, bread, coffee.
            Dinner: Roast beef, potatoes, stewed beets, gravy, bread.
            Supper: _Peach sauce_, white and graham bread, tea.


            Breakfast: Fried bacon, potatoes, gravy, bread, coffee.
            Dinner: Mutton stew, (potatoes, turnips and onions), bread.
            Supper: Oat meal and milk, white and graham bread, tea.


            Breakfast: Corned beef hash, _syrup_, bread, coffee.
            Dinner: Boiled salt pork, potatoes, cabbage, gravy, bread,
            _bread pudding._
            Supper: Hot tea, dried peaches and bread.



            Breakfast: Baked pork and beans, light biscuits, _syrup_,
            BUTTER, coffee.
            Dinner: Roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, rice and tomatoes,
            radishes, bread, cake.
            Supper: Hot tea with sugar.


            Breakfast: Bologna sausage, _green onions_, potatoes, bread,
            Dinner: Boiled ham, potatoes, hominy, gravy, bread, _bread
            Supper: _Stewed beans_, white and graham bread, tea.


            Breakfast: Corned beef hash, _syrup_, bread, coffee.
            Dinner: Roast beef, potatoes, gravy, stewed peas, bread.
            Supper: _Prune sauce_, white and graham bread, tea.


            Breakfast: Fried pork sausage, potatoes, gravy, bread.
            Dinner: Mutton stew, (potatoes, turnips and onions).
            Supper: _Rice and syrup_, white and graham bread, tea.


            Breakfast: Vienna sausage, potatoes, gravy, bread, coffee.
            Dinner: Roast beef, potatoes, baked pork and beans, bread.
            Supper: _Pie plant sauce_, white and graham bread, tea.


            Breakfast: Fried bacon, potatoes, gravy, bread, coffee.
            Dinner: Boiled salt pork, potatoes, gravy, _spinach_, bread
            Supper: _Oat meal and milk_, white and graham bread, tea.


            Breakfast: Corned beef hash, _syrup_, bread, coffee.
            Dinner: Roast veal with dressing, mashed potatoes, beans,
            gravy, bread, _radishes, apple pie, cheese, cake,_ lemonade.
            Supper: Hot tea, stewed peas and bread.

The items in italics are served to first and second grade only. Items in
small caps are served to the first grade only. Third‐grade prisoners are
required to eat in their cells and are not allowed in the dining room
while in that grade.

On holidays, especially Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, an
excellent meal is served to every inmate in the institution, and they are
allowed on all legal holidays to spend three hours in the prison park
where they are given the privilege of talking.

                          THE IMPLEMENT FACTORY

At present, although still in embryo, there is in the Stillwater
penitentiary a factory devoted exclusively to the manufacture of rakes,
mowers and binders, but this branch is just emerging from the experimental
stage and may require a year or two to reach a scale large enough to
supply the needs of the Minnesota farmers.

This factory is in charge of Supt. Downing, an experienced machine man,
with years of experience in this kind of work. At present all preliminary
work is being carried out and field tasks made with the machines. These
machines had to be constructed along entirely new lines so as not to
infringe patent rights controlled by the harvester trust. An appropriate
name has been chosen for the binders,—“The Minnesota.”

The legislature of this state has been very liberal in supplying the
farmers with cheap twine, rakes, mowers and binders, and, it is presumed
that as soon as some trust controls the price of wagons these, too, will
be made by convict labor at greatly reduced prices.

                              PRISON LIBRARY

The inmates of the Minnesota State Prison have a fine library of about
6,000 volumes at their disposal, and it is well patronized. The books have
been carefully selected, and all those of a suggestive nature or of the
“Dead‐Eye‐Dick” variety have been excluded. Here are many volumes
pertaining to history, biography, science, art and fiction, bound
magazines, poetry, reference books, etc. However, the intellectual pabulum
mostly preferred by the inmates is fiction and bound magazines. The state
subscribes for all the best magazines, and, after they have been withdrawn
from circulation, they are sent to the bindery, bound and later listed in
the catalogue ready for reissue among the prisoners.

There are two prisoners employed in the library who circulate the books
and papers among the inmates. The prison has what is known as an “exchange
box.” All papers and magazines subscribed for by inmates are permitted to
be exchanged for others. Papers circulate ten days from date of issue, and
magazines thirty days. For instance, a prisoner subscribes for the Weekly
Dial; after he has read it he can place five or six of his friends’
numbers on the margin thereof and then drop it in the exchange box in the
morning as he comes down the main stairway to work. It is the duty of the
librarian to see that such papers and magazines are delivered to the room
numbers indicated. When the first man has finished the paper he erases his
number and again places it in the exchange box. This procedure is
continued until the last number has been reached or until the prescribed
limit that it has to circulate has expired.

Every inmate in the institution is given a library catalogue and permitted
to draw out two books a week. He is his own free agent in the selection of
books, receiving just what he has ordered on his library slips. These
slips contain the numbers of the books selected by him and are gathered up
by the night guards. If an inmate mutilates a book he is denied the
privilege of the library.

                            THE MIRROR OFFICE

The Prison Mirror, with the exception of the Summary, published at the
Elmira reformatory, is the oldest institutional paper in the country. It
is also the only paper exclusively managed by prisoners, all other penal
and reformatory periodicals being conducted by a high‐salaried
superintendent or else the policy is under the supervision of the

The Mirror is issued each Thursday, has a circulation of about 1,500, and
is distributed free to the inmates of the institution, who are permitted
to send the same to relatives or friends free of charge The subscription
price to the general public is $1.00, and it goes to nearly every state in
the Union.

This publication is edited and managed by a prisoner, who has full charge
of the printing department. Each Wednesday chase proofs of the following
day’s issue are submitted to the warden for approval, but he is rarely
called upon to exercise his censorship, as the editor is instructed to
eliminate all personalities and sensational topics.

                      [Editor’s Room, Prison Mirror]

                       Editor’s Room, Prison Mirror

                     [Composing Room, Prison Mirror]

                      Composing Room, Prison Mirror



                         [Warden’s Dining Room ]

                           Warden’s Dining Room

Any inmate can contribute articles to the Mirror, which, if found
satisfactory upon being carefully examined by the editor, are published.
Quite a number of the inmates are very competent writers, contributing
regularly to the columns of their home paper.

This bright little publication was founded in 1887 by the prisoners.

For the benefit of those who have never seen this paper, we select at
random the following extracts written by prisoners:

“It makes a batsman hot to have the pitcher fan him.”

“The only prisoners in this place who have a pull are the barbers.”

“A New Year’s resolution will not keep by preserving it in alcohol.”

“The wife of a big‐mitt politician always wears imported kid gloves.”

“When a mouse hoves in sight, a woman acts as if she had rats in her

“Sometimes the lady pickpocket will faint in your arms in order to pull
your leg.”

“It makes a man awful hot under the collar to accuse him of having cold

“A Stillwater girl is so modest that she cannot take the pajamas off a
murphy without blushing.”

“A boose fighter usually continues to take his little drop until the big
drop of—five feet or more.”

“In a game of freeze out Thanksgiving afternoon I got cold feet when some
one raised six windows.”

“When a woman becomes afflicted with St. Vitus dance it generally goes to
her tongue instead of her feet.”

“Just because a boy can grow a baseball mustache is no reason why a saloon
keeper should sell him a highball.”

“I do not know whether there are any lady ‘bugs’ in here or not, but there
are quite a number of the other sex.”

“ ‘Y is the Fourth of July. J is the first, u is the second, l is the
third and y is the fourth—of July.’ Marvelous!”

“Count Boni has taken part in many duels, but the only thing he ever
killed was the goose that laid the golden egg.”

“The trial judge hit me so hard that I not only saw stars, but have been
seeing stripes ever since he landed on me.”

“A writer says that there is no room in this country for anarchists. But I
think we could find room for a few in here.”

“The one who cherishes the picture of his or her mother is scarcely beyond
hope, no matter how far from the narrow path.”

“It is admitted that the tariff is the mother of trusts, but their papa,
like the father of John D. Rockefeller, is clouded in mystery.”

“The people of Pennsylvania are now convinced that the contractor who
built the bootblack stand in the capitol is a polished rascal.”

“When the courts register a fine against Standard oil, John D. chalks it
down on a piece of ice and then places the ice where the sun will strike

“With a few expert trainers and Governor Johnson for jockey the meek‐eyed
mule is apt to show his heels to all competitors in the presidential race
of 1912.”

“Throw a few ponies of whiskey into a young man who does not possess horse
sense, then arm him with a Colt pistol, and he will make an ass out of

“A French count, who is not throwing his feet under the dining room table
as often as he would like to, will soon sail for this country where he
expects to cop out another meal ticket.”

“In pleading his own case a prisoner in a western state quoted from
Shakespeare and was rapped down by his honor who said that no eastern boo‐
gang talk would be tolerated in his court.”

“It is not near so disgusting to see a man with a little streamlet of
tobacco juice wending its way through his chinwoodlets, as to see a woman
chewing snuff and the rag at the same time.”

“When I went to sharpen my knife the other day in the cutting room I
noticed a big mosquito on the frame of the grinding stone. He was
evidently getting his proboscis in shape for the peek‐a‐boo season.”

“Eddie Foy, the famous comedian, used to sing, ‘There are Moments When One
Wants to be Alone.’ This is the place for that Eddie. You need not look
any farther or advertise Morning Telegra(w)ph.”

“Out of of a total number of one hundred and twenty‐six tramps arrested in
Philadelphia the other day, eighty‐seven of them were baby carriage
mechanics. The new woman has put this industry on the bum.”

“One of the inmates who is doing time for horse stealing, had a serious
case of nightmare the other evening, Evidently he imagined he was again
handling horses on the range and sheriff was gaining on him.”

“ ‘I am pleased to note,’ said Tailor Nelson, ‘The Mirror is keeping in
touch with the latest sartorial fashions in this institution through this
department. Coats will be worn longer by some than others is all I can say
at this time.’ ”

“Uncle Sam is not seeking trouble, but he is something like the Irishman
who threw his bonnet on a barroom floor and shouted, I am not looking for
a fight, but there is going to be one if there is a man in the house who
dares to jump on that old hat.”

“A big longshoreman in New Orleans by the name of Tim O’Keefe has
challenged Jack Johnson to a rough and tumble fight. Tim has a hand as big
as a ham and when unloading a vessel he uses a three hundred pound bale of
cotton for a shoulder pad.”

“A woman in the east recently made her pet dog a present of a diamond
collar that cost two thousand, five hundred dollars. Now I have reformed,
still if I were hungry and did not have the price of a meal, I would be
tempted to sandbag Fido for his sparks.”

“Cal, the sorter in shop H, who is an old sea dog himself, says that the
only practical experience Sin Bad and other local fishermen ever had in
the whaling line was throwing the harpoon into one of these miniature
whales that are habitats of Liver Brown’s free lunch counter.”

“One of the villagers here who has been accustomed to having a liquid
nightcap before entering upon his nocturnal visits to Morpheus says he is
compelled to have a nightcap here just before retiring—and therefore he
wears one—made up of a towel.  His imagination does the rest.”

There are six men employed in the print shop the year around. This
includes the editor, the pressman, job man and three compositors. At
times, when printers are rather scarce, it is necessary to break in a new
man. Some of the men who learned the printing business in this shop have
followed up and are successful at the trade. The mechanical work is
performed entirely by prisoners, but the printing itself is sent to a
downtown press. It is expected that a first‐class press will be installed
in this department in the near future, which will prove highly economical.

The Mirror department prints all the stationery used at the prison. This
item alone contributes a large saving to the state each year. The job work
is all of a superior quality and in as good form as could be done in any
outside first‐class office. All the press work is done on an eight‐by‐
twelve Gordon press, but it is now entirely too small for the size and
amount of work performed.

                               THE BINDERY

There is a bindery department in connection with the Mirror office and the
prison library in charge of a life prisoner, who learned the business
while in the institution from a well qualified short‐time inmate. He
repairs all the library books, binds the state magazines and attends to
the binding of all the printed books, blank forms, etc., issued in the
print shop. He is frequently called upon to bind books and magazines for
the various state institutions, is a very competent man and performs his
work in a neat and durable manner.

                              [The Bindery]

                               The Bindery

  [Manufacturing Tobacco for Prisoners, Steward Alexander in Background]

   Manufacturing Tobacco for Prisoners, Steward Alexander in Background

                          [Sinbad’s Greenhouse]

                           Sinbad’s Greenhouse

                           THE STEWARD’S OFFICE

The steward’s office is in charge of Mr. T. W. Alexander, a man who has
had at least twenty‐five years’ experience in institutional work, well
qualified to fill the position of chief steward of the prison. All
supplies are ordered for the prison through this department and upon
receipt are carefully checked to ascertain if they comply with

Supplies are issued from this departemnt on the 5th, 15th and 25th of each
month, the heads of the several departments making out requisitions
therefor, countersigned by the warden. Prison supplies are purchased
quarterly through the State Board of Control. Whenever any articles are
issued to a department duplicate vouchers are made out, one retained by
the steward and the other signed by the recipient and forwarded to the
State Board of Control.

The chief steward has charge of the officers’ quarters and the
administration building, and sees that they are kept clean and in proper
order. He is responsible for all the property under his charge.

                             THE FEMALE WARD

On an average there are ten females in the matron’s ward. This department
is located above the administration quarters, and is entirely separated
from the cell house; it is impossible for the occupants of the latter to
communicate with the former.

The women’s ward is presided over by Miss McKinney, who has been in charge
for many years. The rules governing women prisoners are not nearly as
strict as those pertaining to the men. Their food, also, is of a better
quality. In the summer they are permitted to take outdoor exercise each
evening during good behavior. The women prisoners are subject to the
grading system and also receive the benefit of the parole law. If they
wish to do so they can attend chapel service every Sunday morning. Their
work is not very arduous, being mainly confined to keeping the officers’
rooms in a neat and orderly condition.

                           [Matron’s Apartment]

                            Matron’s Apartment

                    [Women Inmates Outing on Holiday]

                     Women Inmates Outing on Holiday

                     [Female Department—Sewing Room]

                      Female Department—Sewing Room

                    [Female Department—Women’s Cells]

                     Female Department—Women’s Cells

                              THE GREENHOUSE

A large greenhouse is located in the western end of the prison yard, just
opposite the prison hospital, presided over by a life prisoner who has
been there over eighteen years. By the boys of the institution he is known
as “Sindbad the Sailor,” having spent many years on the high seas before
the mast in the merchant marine, on board of whalers and in the old navy.

The greenhouse supplies flowers for decorating the lawns and park, cut
flowers for the hospital inmates, the officers’ and guards’ mess rooms and
the room used by the members of the State Board of Control on their
monthly visits to the prison. When Sindbad becomes lonely for the wash of
the sea waves his assistant throws a few buckets of water against the side
of the greenhouse and he exercises his imagination for the rest.

                             THE POWER HOUSE

The engine room is located on the main street of the institution, and it
is here that power is generated for driving the immense lines of shafting
that radiate through the several departments. The power plant is in charge
of a chief engineer and several inmate assistants, two of whom are life
prisoners, one having charge of the big engine and the other attending to
the electric light plant. Both men are under considerable responsibility,
but they are conscientious workers and have little difficulty in
performing their duties satisfactorily.

The chief engineer has charge of the automatic sprinkling plant, engine,
steam heating, ventilating, cooking, electric light plant, water supply
and all the machinery pertaining thereto. Each of the cells contains an
eight‐candle power lamp, and the shops and streets are provided with
electric lights so that the inmates can see to work during the winter
months. As they are employed from seven in the morning until six in the
evening the year around, lights are often necessitated.

                        THE PRISON FIRE DEPARTMENT

It is not generally known, but, nevertheless, the prison maintains a well
organized fire department. This brigade is not a large one, but as a first
aid in case of necessity it is equipped to do efficient service.

There are eight prisoners on the day shift and the same on the night crew.
The fire alarm system of the prison is as nearly perfect as human
ingenuity can devise. There are two hose carts, and frequent experimental
runs are made in order to keep the department to a high state of
efficiency. At these runs the men go to the fire house, take out the hose
carts and make as quick time as possible to the nearest hydrant where the
supposed fire exists, the hose is attached and all preparations made as if
a real fire were under way.

Occasionally a general night alarm is sent in, and when this occurs all
the guards residing at the prison must respond promptly. The warden and
deputy warden also respond to a general night alarm. Since the big fire of
twenty‐five years ago, and that which consumed the large paint shop
occupied by the Minnesota Thresher Co., about eighteen years ago, there
have been no conflagrations within the prison grounds. This, in a great
measure, is due to the vigilance exercised in each department in regard to
leaving refuse and inflammable material lying around.

                       RULES GOVERNING DISCIPLINE.

Your attention is directed to the following rules. Only by observing and
obeying them can you make a good record as a prisoner and become eligible
for parole and the diminution of your sentence which the law allows:

   1. Your first duty is strict obedience to all rules and regulations and
      any orders of the officer under whose charge you may be placed.
   2. You must observe strict silence in all departments of the prison and
      while marching through the yard.
   3. You must not speak to, give or receive from visitors anything except
      by permission of the Warden or Deputy Warden. Gazing at visitors or
      strangers passing through the prison is strictly forbidden.
   4. You are expected to apply yourself diligently at whatever labor you
      are assigned, and, after reasonable teaching, to perform the same
      amount of work as would be required from you as a citizen.
   5. At every signal to fall in for marching take your place in line
      promptly. March with military step, attend to and promptly obey the
      orders of your officer.
   6. You will be required to keep your person clean and your clothing
      tidy and in good order. You must not make any alterations in your
      clothing or cut your shoes; if they do not fit or need repairs
      report the fact to your officer. You must not carry knives, tools of
      any kind, pencil, paper or any material whatever from your shop to
      your cell without permission in writing from the Warden or Deputy
      Warden. Finding these things in your possession will be considered
      proof that you have violated this rule. Tinkering or writing notes
      to other convicts or carrying notes from one convict to another is
      strictly forbidden.
   7. You are not allowed to have any money on your person or in your
      possession, neither are you permitted to trade or purchase any
      article whatever. All of your business must be done through the
   8. You must approach an officer in a respectful manner. Always salute
      him before speaking. You must confine your conversation with him
      strictly to the business in hand. You must not address an officer on
      matters outside the prison. Insolence in any form to an officer,
      foreman, or even to a fellow convict will not be tolerated,
   9. On entering the cell house, office of the Board of Control, Warden
      or Deputy Warden you must uncover unless your duties are such that
      you have special permission to remain covered.

[Audience Looking Down on Prisoners in Prison Park, Decoration Day, 1909]

 Audience Looking Down on Prisoners in Prison Park, Decoration Day, 1909

             [Prisoners in Prison Park, Decoration Day, 1909]

Prisoners in Prison Park, Decoration Day, 1909. On holidays They Have the
                          Privilege of Talking.


You are not compelled to attend service, but you are specially requested
to do so, believing that the moral support of religeous instruction is
necessary to all.

You are required to bathe once a week in summer, once in two weeks in
winter, and oftener if considered necessary by the prison Physician unless
excused by him, the Warden or Warden.

On entering the prison you will receive three (3) tickets entitling you to
the following privileges as long as you obey strictly all the rules of the

      First. One ration of tobacco each week.
      Second. Permission to write under grade rules.
      Third. Permission to see friends once in four weeks.
      NEWSPAPERS. You are permitted to receive such weekly papers as the
      Warden may approve. No daily papers or sensational publications of
      any description will be admitted.
      EXTRA LETTERS. Written permission must be obtained from the Warden
      or Deputy Warden in case it becomes necessary to write special
      MAIL MATTERS. Letters and papers of every description must be
      examined at the office under the direction of the Warden before
      being mailed or delivered.

                                SHOP RULES

   1. On entering the shop you will take off your coat, put on your apron
      and get at your work promptly. If you have any cause for complaint,
      whether from keeper, foreman or others you will be allowed to send
      application for an interview through your officer at any time to the
      Board of Control, Warden or Deputy Warden.
   2. Communications between prisoners is strictly prohibited and will not
      be allowed at any time except by special permission of the officers
      in charge, and then only when absolutely necessary.
   3. In talking with your foreman you are required to confine yourself
      strictly to your shop duties. You will not be allowed to talk with
      him upon matters pertaining to outside news.
   4. You will be required to approach your officer in a respectful
      manner. Always salute him before addressing him and make your wants
      known as briefly as possible.
   5. You will be required to give your individual attention to your work.
      Gazing about at visitors passing through the shop or at other
      prisoners will not be allowed. You must respectfully listen to and
      faithfully carry out all instructions given you by your foreman
      pertaining to your work.
   6. You will not be allowed to leave your place of work except by
      permission of the officer in charge.
   7. You will not be allowed to brush against a fellow convict in
      passing, to get in each other’s way or otherwise trespass upon the
      rights of each other so as to provoke illfeeling.
   8. Careless or wilful injury of your work or tools will be promptly
   9. You must always salute an officer on entering or retiring from your
      shop. You will not be permitted to leave shop or place of work under
      any circumstances without first obtaining special permission of the
      officer in charge.
  10. If you are sick or unable to work report the fact to your officer
      and act as he may direct. If you desire to see the Physician give
      your name to your officer immediately after entering the shop in the
  11. All trading or bartering of whatsoever kind between prisoners or
      between citizens and prisoners is strictly prohibited. You will not
      be allowed to give or receive any present or gift from a foreman or
      citizen under any condition.
  12. If it becomes necesary to use a lead pencil about your work apply to
      your officer, who will supply you. Pencil must invariably be
      returned to the officer every evening. You will not be allowed to
      cut off or appropriate any part of pencil.

                            DINING HALL RULES

   1. On entering the dining hall take your seat promptly—position
      erect—arms folded, with eyes to the front until the signal is given
      to commence eating.
   2. Strict silence must be observed during the meal. Staring at
      visitors, talking and laughing, fooling or gazing about the room is
      strictly forbidden.
   3. Eating or drinking before or after the gong sounds, using vinegar in
      your drinking water, or putting meat on the table is prohibited.
   4. Should you desire additional food make your wants known to the
      waiters in the following manner:

         1. If you want bread hold up your right hand.
         2. Coffee or water, hold up your cup.
         3. Meat, your fork.
         4. Soup, hold up your spoon.
         5. Vegetables, hold up your knife.
         6. If you desire to speak to an officer about food or service in
            dining hall hold up your left hand.

   5. Wasting food in any form will not be tolerated. You must not ask for
      or allow waiter to place on your plate more food than you can eat.
      When through with meal leave pieces of bread unmussed on left side
      of plate. Crusts and small pieces of bread must not be left on your
   6. After finishing your meal place knife, fork and spoon on right side
      of plate. Sit erect with arms folded. When the signal is given to
      arise drop hands to your side. At the second signal of the gong
      march out and to your respective places in line in a prompt, quiet
      and orderly manner.
   7. In passing to and from the dining hall you must not gaze into cells
      or loiter on the gallery. Walk erect with your eyes to the front. It
      is strictly against the rules to carry out any of the dining hall
      furnishings or to carry food to or from the dining hall at any time
      except on Sundays and holidays, when you will be allowed to carry
      lunch to your cell for the evening meal.

                               CHAPEL RULES

   1. On entering the chapel you will march erect with arms by your side,
      keeping step with the music.
   2. You will take your seat promptly as designated by the officers in
      charge and sit with arms folded during chapel service.
   3. The signal for rising and being seated will be the sound of the
      Deputy Warden’s gavel. When this signal is given you will rise
      promptly and remain standing until notified to be seated. You will
      be allowed to drop arms to your side while standing.
   4. Strict attention must be given to the service. You must not gaze
      about the room at visitors or at fellow convicts, but must sit erect
      in your seat facing the speaker.
   5. Reading, spitting on the floor, shuffling of the feet or any other
      unnecessary noise is strictly forbidden.
   6. Should you be taken sick during service, or if it becomes necessary
      for you to retire, raise your right hand to the officer in charge,
      who will excuse you if necessary.
   7. After service you will sit erect with arms folded, giving strict
      attention to your officer until he gives the signal to rise, when
      you will be required to rise promptly and march out of the chapel as
      directed, keeping time with the music.
   8. In marching to and from the chapel you will be required to keep in
      close order with face to the front and in as quiet and orderly a
      manner as possible.

Any wilful violation of these rules will be promptly reported, and
severely punished if necessary to enforce compliance.

                              GRADING RULES

The Board of Control by virtue of the authority and power conferred upon
them by Section 5 of an act of the Minnesota Legislature, entitled “An Act
to regulate the sentencing of prisoners convicted of felony and their
subsequent release on parole,” hereby establish three (3) grades of
prisoners to be known and designated as the First, Second and Third
Grades, together with a system of marks to be governed by the following
rules and regulations, which shall be in force and have effect from and
after the official notification of the passage of said Act is certified by
the Secretary of State under date of April 5th, 1893.

All prisoners on arrival shall be entered in the Second Grade; they may
earn nine credit marks each month and shall be marked on conduct, work and
mental advancement. Promotion from the Second to the First Grade shall be
conditioned upon the earning of fifty (50) out of the possible fifty‐four
(54) credit marks, within six (6) consecutive months. The loss of more
than two (2) marks in any one month shall cause the prisoner so offending
to be reduced to the next lower grade. By a clear record of one (1) month,
and the earning of nine (9) credit marks shall entitle the prisoner to be
advanced to the next upper grade.

Prisoners may lose their grades:

      First. By such violations of prison rules as shall necessarily
      subject them to solitary confinement.
      Second. For general disorderly conduct.
      Third. For habitual laziness, untidiness or negligence.

                           [decoration, p. 113]

                              LIBRARY RULES

In ordering books the following directions must be carefully adhered to:

Write plainly upon a slip of paper your name and cell number. Underneath
place the numbers of fifteen or twenty books you prefer to read. Always
take your library book with you when moving from one cell to another. Bear
in mind that all books are charged to you and that you will be held
strictly responsible for their preservation and safe return. The catalogue
and all books charged to you must be accounted for on the day of your
parole or discharge from prison. You will not be allowed to have a library
book in your possession or in your cell except those that have been
regularly charged up and come to you through the regular channels. If you
find a stray book in your cell you must turn it over to the Librarian at
once. Failing to do this, in the event of finding a stray library book in
your cell will be the means of depriving you of all library privileges.

You are accorded the utmost liberty in the selection of your reading
matter, but it is hoped and it will be expected by the management that the
library record will show that you have exercised due diligence and regard
for your own best interests in the selection of books. The Warden,
Chaplains, Teachers or other officers will gladly advise you concerning
the selection of proper reading matter.

All library books, excepting books of reference, may be retained two
weeks. Books of reference may be held but one day.

                       RULES FOR EXCHANGING PAPERS

Any person wishing to exchange papers or periodicals with other prisoners
may do so by observing the following rules:

Mark the numbers of the cells to which you wish to send the paper or
periodical plainly on the margin thereof and drop it in the exchange box
at the foot of the stairs as you go out with your bucket in the morning.

          [Solitary Confinement Cell, with Crank Cells Opposite]

           Solitary Confinement Cell, with Crank Cells Opposite

                         [Crank Cells and Keeper]

                          Crank Cells and Keeper

                         [Solitary Confinement.]

 Solitary Confinement.  The Severest Mode of Punishment at the Minnesota
           State Prison.  Door to Right is Closed at all Times.

After reading papers sent to you scratch your number out and replace
papers in the exchange box the following morning, but do not add any
numbers to the list nor erase any but your own.

Weekly and semi‐weekly publications circulate ten days from the date of
their issue; monthly publications circulate the month of their issue.

Writing on, drawing pictures on, or in any way defacing exchanges is
forbidden. Papers must be kept as clean as possible.

                       RESTORATION OF CITIZENSHIP.

A convict who shall pass the entire period of his imprisonment without a
violation of the rules and discipline, except such as the Warden or Board
of Control shall excuse, shall upon his discharge from prison be restored
to the rights and privileges forfeited by his conviction, and shall
receive from the Governor a certificate under the great seal of the state
as evidence of such restoration, to be issued upon presentation to the
Governor of a certificate of such conduct, which shall be furnished to
such convict by the Warden.

                          SOLITARY CONFINEMENT.

The mode of punishing infractions of the prison rules at the Stillwater
penitentiary consists of standing the prisoner on the inside of a cell
door; putting his hands through the bars, and handcuffed on the outside.
He is kept standing in this position ten hours during the day, and then
let down during the night; is allowed only a single slice of bread and a
cup of water each day while undergoing punishment. There are no beds in
these cells, nothing but a plank on which to sleep.

As a rule, prisoners are only kept in these punishment cells from four to
six days, and it frequently occurs that he is released in one day,
providing he promises to obey the rules and will try to avoid getting into
trouble in the future. It is not the custom to subject the inmates of the
Stillwater penitentiary to this form of punishment for trivial offenses,
but it is applied to those prisoners who attempt to escape, who destroy
property, or who indulge in fights and who display a general negligence in
regard to their work.

On entering the punishment cell the prisoner is searched thoroughly and
given a third‐grade uniform. After the punishment is over he is kept in
the third grade for thirty days, and by good conduct at the end of that
time he is admitted to the second grade. While in the third grade all his
privileges are cut off, such as permission to write letters, receiving
visits from friends, and tobacco and newspapers.

Not very many prisoners are subjected to this form of punishment and it is
resorted to only when all other means of enforcing prison discipline

                            THE TWINE FACTORY

There is a twine factory in operation in the Minnesota State Prison having
a yearly capacity of nearly eighteen million pounds of binder twine. This
adjunct to the prison’s industries was inaugurated about eighteen years
ago, the author of the measure being the brilliant Ignatius Donnelly,
known as the Sage of Nininger. At that time the farmers of this state were
groaning under the iron heel of the trust, being compelled to pay eighteen
cents a pound for their twine, but today the prison is manufacturing twine
of superior quality and selling it to the farmers at an average price of
about seven cents per pound.

In its infancy the twine plant was conducted on a very small scale, but
the present management has developed and added to its equipment until now
the factory supplies almost the entire demand of the state. There is
little opposition from labor unions against the employment of prison labor
in this industry, for there is but a small proportion of the product
manufactured in this state outside of the prison, and outside factories
are under the domination of the Cordage Trust.

The successful operation of Minnesota’s twine plant has aroused the
keenest interest among prison officials in other states, and there are now
quite a number of similar factories operating in other penitentiaries.
Delegations of prison officials from other states are frequent visitors at
the Minnesota factory, inspecting the manufacture of twine, and they are
invariably enthusiastic over results attained.

The twine factory is what is known to the trade as a “three‐system plant;”
that is, it contains three complete sets of each of the machines necessary
to convert the fibre into twine ready for shipment. The transformation is
effected principally by a series of combings. From the moment the rush‐
plaited cover is removed and the bale is opened until the long strands of
fibre reach the spinning machines to be twisted into cord the material is
constantly undergoing combing.

The binder twine fibre is unloaded from the cars inside the prison yard.
It is weighed and stored in the warehouse until it is used. Adjoining the
fibre warehouse is the opening room in which the bales are opened and
spread out, the kinks shaken out of the long strands by hand and the fibre
put through a machine called a “breaker.” The breaker subjects it to the
first course of raking, and in order to toughen the material and make it
more pliable distributes a limited amount of oil through it. After passing
through the first breaker, it is sent on to a second, where it is again
cleaned and straightened. Then it is removed from the opening room to the
next shop, where it is passed through first to a coarse then a fine
“spreader.” Like the breaker, the spreader is merely a steel comb on a

After leaving the spreaders the fibre is in long, straight and fairly
clean strands, and one would think that it might at once be twisted into a
cord. But the combing process is not through yet, for in the next room it
is sent through first a coarse and then a fine “draw frame,” and then is
given what is technically known as a “third working” in a still finer one.
These draw frames not only comb the fibre, but they also regulate the
sliver—that is, they determine how many strands of hemp will go to make up
the finished twine.

Next the fibre is run through a “finisher,” an almost human machine, which
regulates more precisely than the draw frames the size of the sliver, and
then it is ready for the spinning rooms. As it comes out of the spinner it
is wrapped on huge spools, which are piled on little carts and distributed
among the men operating the balling machines. These latter wrap the twine
into five‐pound balls, tagged and ready for baling. In the balling shop
the twine is weighed, tested and packed in 50‐pound bales, which are sent
to the twine warehouses and stored there, roof‐high, until the harvesting

The output of the twine factory previous to 1903 amounted to about
5,000,000 pounds, but it turned out about 15,000,000 pounds last season,
and it is anticipated that this enormous increase will reach 18,000,000 in
the near future. About 225 prisoners are employed the year around in this
manufactury. Mr. E. C. Williams is the superintendent of the twine plant
and is an excellent man for the position, thoroughly understanding the
business. Under his capable management the factory is kept up to its
highest capacity and few breakdowns have been recorded.

                    [Spinning Room In Twine Factory ]

                      Spinning Room In Twine Factory

               [Bailing and Sacking Room In Twine Factory ]

                Bailing and Sacking Room In Twine Factory

                    [Spinning Room In Twine Factory ]

                      Spinning Room In Twine Factory

                    [Convicts Marching In to Dinner ]

                      Convicts Marching In to Dinner


                  Related by THOMAS COLEMAN YOUNGER.(1)

“In telling the story of the Northfield bank robbery and its frightful
results I have only to say that there is no heroism in outlawry, and that
the man who sows is sure to reap. After Lee surrendered I tried my best to
live at peace with the world and earn a livelihood. I’d been made a
guerrilla by a provocation that few men could have resisted. My father had
been cruelly murdered, my mother had been hounded to death, my entire
family had been tormented and all my relatives plundered and imprisoned.”

“From the mass of rubbish that has been written about the guerrilla there
is little surprise that the popular conception of him should be a
fiendish, blood‐thirsty wretch.”

                             [Cole Younger.]

  Cole Younger. In Prison Garb in Minnesota State Prison, Jan. 10, 1877
         (left).  As he looked “going out”,July 14, 1901 (right).

“Yet he was in many cases, if not in most, a man who had been born to
better things and who was made what he was by such outrages as Osceola,
Palmyra and by a hundred raids in less famous but not less infamous, that
were made by Kansans into Missouri during the war.”

“When the war ceased those of the guerrillas who were not hung or shot or
pursued by posses till they found the hand of man turned against them at
every step, settled down to become good citizens in the peaceful walks of
life, and the survivors of Quantrell’s band may be pardoned, in view of
the black paint that has been devoted to them, in calling attention to the
fact that of the members of Quantrell’s band who have since been intrusted
with public place, not one has ever betrayed his trust.”

“As for myself and brothers I wish to emphasize that we made an honest
attempt to return to normal life at the close of the war, and had we been
permitted to do so the name of Younger would never have been connected
with the crimes that were committed in the period immediately following
the war.”

“That my life was good or clean I do not assert. But such as it was, it
was forced upon me by conditions over which I had no control. Before final
judgment is passed upon the men of my kind who were with me in those days
I ask that the fact be considered that we were born in days when hatred
was the rule and reared among scenes of violence.”

“But I have been accused of many crimes of which I have not been guilty,
and I am willing to take my oath that the crimes that were charged against
me in Missouri were not mine. Never in all my life had I anything to do
with any of the bank robberies in the state of Missouri which had been
charged against myself and brothers.”

“In the fall of 1868 my brothers, Jim and Bob, went with me to Texas. The
next two or three years we spent in an honest life, my sister joining us
and keeping house for us at Syene, Dallas county. In 1870 and 1871 Jim was
deputy sheriff in Dallas county. He and Bob sang in the church choir. At
that time Bob, who was only 17, fell in love with one of the young ladies
in the village.”

“I went down to Louisiana, and the story was that I killed five men and
shot five others because I had been robbed by a lot of crooked cattlemen.
There is just this much truth about this incident: There was a crooked
race, with me as the victim. After the race I fought a duel, but not over
the race.”

“The duel was forced upon me by a man named Captain James White. He
circulated a scandalous tale about the young woman Bob was in love with. I
sent word to him that he would have to apologize or fight. After the race
I referred to White and I went to a neighboring plantation and fought it
out. At first shot his right arm was shattered at the shoulder. When he
thought he was dying he apologized and admitted that he had circulated the
story for the purpose of forcing a fight upon me.”

“It was about this time that the Kansas City fair was robbed. This was
charged against the Younger brothers, although not one of us had anything
to do with it. Bob felt so keenly the notoriety that resulted from my duel
and from the stories of the Kansas City robbery that he left Dallas, and
later Jim and I followed him. About this time my brother John, was only 14
years old when the war closed, was forced into a quarrel and murdered as
wantonly as a man was ever murdered in the history of the west.”

“When I was on the Pacific slope Missouri adopted the famous Drake
constitution, which prohibited Confederate soldiers and sympathizers from
practicing any profession, preaching the gospel or doing many other things
under a penalty of a fine of not less than $500 or imprisonment for not
less than six months. One section of this constitution gave amnesty to
Union soldiers for all they had done after January 1, 1861, but held
Confederates responsible for what they had done either as citizens or

“The result of this was persecution for all men who were not friendly with
the carpet‐bag adminstration following the war, and there was no mercy
shown to any of them. After a few days of seeing my friends and old
comrades hounded and imprisoned I saw there was nothing left for me to do
but gather together with those that were left and do the best we could.”

“In passing swiftly over the scenes of violence in which we took part, I
will take up the Northfield case by saying that we had decided to find a
good bank, make a big haul, get away with the money, leave the country and
start life anew in some foreign land.”

      [Convicts entering train at Stillwater bound for new prison.]

       Convicts entering train at Stillwater bound for new prison.

        [Warden Wolfer  chaperoning convicts to their new “home”]

         Warden Wolfer  chaperoning convicts to their new “home”

“We were told that General Benjamin F. Butler had a big lot of money in
the First National bank at Northfield, and that A. A. Ames, son‐in‐law of
Butler, who had been carpet‐bag governor of Mississippi after the war, had
a lot there also. We were not very friendly to Butler because of his
treatment of Southerners during the war, and accordingly decided to make a
raid on the Northfield bank.”

“My brothers, Jim and Bob, Clell Miller, Bill Chadwell and three men named
Pitts, Woods and Howard, were those who decided to take up the expedition.
This was in the middle of August, and we spent a week in Minneapolis
picking up what information we could about Northfield and the bank and
playing poker. Then we passed another week in St. Paul, also looking for
information as to the amount of money and the precautions taken in the
bank to take care of it.”

“Chadwell, Pitts, Bob and myself procured horses at St. Peter, where we
stayed long enough to break them and to train them for the hard riding to
which we knew they would be submitted later on. It was at St. Peter that I
made the acquaintance of a little girl who afterwards was one of the most
earnest workers for our parole.”

“A little tot then, she said she could ride a horse, too, and reaching
down, I lifted her up before me, and we rode up and down. I asked her her
name and she said it was ‘Horace Greeley Perry,’ and I replied:”

“ ‘No wonder you’re such a little tot with such a great name.’ ”

“ ‘I won’t always be little,’ she replied. ‘I’m going to be a great big
girl and be a newspaper man like papa.’ ”

“Will you still be my sweetheart then, and be my friend?” I asked her, and
she declared she would, a promise I was to remind her of years later under
circumstances of which I did not dream then.

“Many years afterward with a party of visitors to the prison came a girl,
perhaps 16, who registered in full, ‘Horace Greeley Perry.’ ”

“I knew there could not be two women with such a name in the world, and I
reminded her of her promise, a promise which she did not remember,
although she had been told how she had made friends with the bold, bad man
who afterwards robbed the bank at Northfield.”

“Very soon afterward, at the age of 18, I believe, she became, as she had
dreamed, in childhood, ‘a newspaper man’, editing the St. Peter Journal,
and to the hour of my pardon she was one of the most indefatigable workers
for us.”

“A few years ago failing health compelled her removal from Minnesota to
Idaho, and Minnesota lost one of the brightest newspaper writers and
staunchest friends that a man ever knew. Jim and I had a host of advocates
during the latter years of our imprisonment, but none exceeded in devotion
the young woman, who as a little tot, had ridden unknowingly with the
bandit who was soon to be exiled for life from all his kin and friends.”

“Preliminary work on the Northfield robbery was got down to during the
last week of August 1876, and while Pitts and I were waiting for Bob and
Chadwell, who had gone up there to look over the ground, we scouted all
over the country thereabouts and around Madelia in order to get ourselves
familiar with the lay of the land. When the two boys joined us we divided
into two parties and started for Northfield along different routes.”

“On Monday night, September 4, the party I was with reached Le Sueur
Center, where we had trouble finding places to sleep, as court was in
session. Tuesday night we put in at Cordova, and Wednesday we were in
Millersburg. At the same time Bob and his crowd rounded up in Cannon City,
which was south of Northfield.”

“On Thursday morning, September 7, we all came together on the Cannon
river, on the outskirts of Northfield. That afternoon I took a look at the
bank, and in camp at dinner I told the gang that no matter what came off
we mustn’t shoot anybody. While I was making this point as strong as I
could one of the crowd asked what we should do if they began shooting at
us. Bob at once said that if I was so particular about not having any
shooting the best thing for me to do was to stay outside and take my

                      [Convicts entering new prison]

                       Convicts entering new prison

                [Convicts detraining at their new “home.”]

                 Convicts detraining at their new “home.”

“Well, at last the time came. Bob, Pitts and Howard started for town
ahead, the scheme being that they should round up in the town square and
not go into the bank until the rest of the party joined them. It was fixed
that Miller and I should go on guard right at the bank, while the rest of
the gang was to wait at the bridge and listen for a pistol shot signal in
case they were wanted for help. We had it schemed out that as there were
no saddle horses around anywhere we could get off with a flying start and
get away before they could stop us, wrecking the telegraph office if
necessary to prevent any alarm being sent out by wire.”

“Whisky spoiled the whole plan. Between the time they left camp and
reached the bridge the men who went ahead got away with a quart of
whisky—the first time I had ever known Bob to drink, and as a matter of
fact, I didn’t know he had done so then until the day and its terrible
events were over. The blunder was that when these three men saw us coming,
instead of waiting for us to get up with them they slammed right on into
the bank regardless, leaving the door open in their excitement.”

“I was out in the street, pretending I was having trouble with my saddle.
Meantime I had told Miller to close up the bank door. A man named Allen,
who kept a store near by, was then trying to get into the bank, but Miller
foolishly shouted at him and told him to get away. Allen at once became
excited and saw that something was wrong, and ran off up the street
shouting to every one to get his gun, as the bank was being robbed.”

“A Dr. Wheeler, who saw that something was happening out of the ordinary,
began to yell ‘Robbery!’ Then I saw we were in for it, and would need all
the help we could get. I first called to Miller to come inside and get out
of harm’s way and then I fired a signal to the three men at the bridge for
them to come up and help us, as we had been trapped.”

“Chadwell, Woods and Jim came galloping up, and at the same moment that
they arrived I heard a shot fired inside the bank. The three boys were
firing their guns as they rode along, shouting to everybody they saw to
get out of the way and get indoors, but I am quite sure they never killed
anybody. My theory always has been that the man Gustafson, who was shot
down in the street, was struck by a glancing shot from some of the
citizen’s rifles, as they were out blazing away at this time.”

“Miller was then shot by a man named Stacy and his face filled full of
bird shot. A man named Manning killed Pitts’ horse, and, as a matter of
fact, the street was full of flying lead, coming from every direction. It
wasn’t long before I was wounded in the thigh by Manning, and the next
instant he shot Chadwell through the heart.”

“Dr. Wheeler, from an upper floor of a hotel, got a bead on Miller and
brought him down, so that he soon lay dying in the middle of the street.
Every time I saw a man pointing a gun at me I dropped off my horse and
tried to drive the shooter under cover, but there were so many of them,
and I couldn’t see in every direction, so I soon found out that, wounded
as I was, I was helpless. Meanwhile there was a tragedy going on inside
the bank.”

   [Reproduction of finger print system in vogue at the Minnesota state

Reproduction of finger print system in vogue at the Minnesota state prison

  [Reproduction of record from files of Minnesota State Prison, showing
                        record of former inmate.]

   Reproduction of record from files of Minnesota State Prison, showing
                         record of former inmate.

“Bob came out in a hurry and started down the street toward Manning, who
ran into a store, hoping he would get a shot at Bob from under cover. Bob
ran on, but didn’t notice Dr. Wheeler, who was upstairs in the hotel,
behind him, and Wheeler’s third shot smashed Bob’s right arm. Bob switched
his gun to his left and got on Miller’s horse, thinking that Miller was
dead. By this time Howard and Pitts had got out of the bank, and I told
them that Miller was still alive and we’d have to save him. I told Pitts
to put Miller on my horse, but when we lifted him I saw he was dead, so I
told Pitts that I would hold off the crowd while he got away, as his horse
had been killed. While Pitts ran, less than ten yards, I stood stood with
my pistol pointed at anyone who showed his head, and then I galloped off
and overtook him and took him up behind me.”

“Pitts then confessed to me about the drinking, and said they had made an
awful mess of it inside the bank. It had been arranged that they should
hold up Joseph L. Heywood, the acting cashier, at his window, and after
roping him get to the safe without any trouble. Instead of that, these
three drink‐crazed lunatics leaped over the rail and scared Heywood so
badly that he immediately got on the defensive, and in a minute the alarm
was out and it was all over.”

“It seems that one of the robbers had waved his revolver at Heywood the
minute he entered the bank and asked him if he was the cashier. Heywood
had said he wasn’t, and then the same question was put to the other two
men who were in the bank. Each of the three said he was not the cashier,
but the robber turned to Heywood, who was sitting at the cashier’s desk,
and said:”

“ ‘You’re the cashier; open that safe d—n quick or I’ll blow your head
off.’ ”

“Heywood jumped back and Pitts ran to the vault and got inside. Heywood
then tried to shut him in, and was seized by the robbers, who told him to
open the safe at once or he would not live another minute. Heywood told
him there was a time lock on it that positively couldn’t be opened,
whereupon Howard pulled a knife and tried to cut Heywood’s throat, the
cashier having been thrown to the ground in the scuffle that had taken
place. Incidentally, Pitts told me afterwards that Howard fired a pistol
near Heywood’s head, but only with the intention of frightening him.”

“A. E. Bunker, the teller, by this time had tried to get hold of a pistol
that was near where he was, but Pitts got the gun first, and it was found
on him after he was killed, and consequently furnished just that much good
evidence that we were the men at Northfield.”

“The boys saw by this time that the safe could not be reached, so they
asked Bunker about the money that was outside. Bunker pointed to a little
tray full of small coins, and while Bob was putting them away in a sack
Bunker made a dash through a rear window. Pitts fired at him twice, the
bullet going through his right shoulder.”

     [Group showing St. Paul police department, J.J. Connor, Chief.]

      Group showing St. Paul police department, J.J. Connor, Chief.

     [Group showing St. Paul police department, J.J. Connor, Chief.]

      Group showing St. Paul police department, J.J. Connor, Chief.

“By this time the men in the bank had heard the commotion and firing
outside and started to leave. Heywood, who had been on the floor,
unfortunately rose at this instant, and Pitts, still under the influence
of liquor, shot him through the head and killed him.”

“Meantime we who had escaped slaughter in the terrible bombardment we had
faced were trying to make our way to some safe place. Not far from
Northfield we met a farmer, who lent us a horse for Pitts to ride, and we
got past Dundas ahead of the news of the raid on the bank. We were also
beating it at Millersburg, but at Shieldsville we ran into a squad of men
who knew what had happened and were after us. These men had, foolishly for
themselves, left their guns outside a house, and we didn’t let them get
hold of them until we had a good start, but they overtook us about four
miles away and shots were exchanged without any trouble resulting.”

“Soon there were a thousand men on our trail and about $5,000 in rewards
for our capture. We tramped and camped and rode and watched in a strange
country and among the lakes. We didn’t know the trails and were afraid to
try the fords and bridges, knowing that our hunters would be sure to keep
their eyes on these places. Saturday morning we abandoned our horses and
decided to keep up the fight afoot. We tramped all night and put in Sunday
near Marysburg. Bob’s elbow by this time was in pretty bad shape and we
had to go slow. Finally, on Monday night and Tuesday we couldn’t go
anywhere, so we passed the time in a deserted house near Mankato. A man
named Dunning found us there and we took him prisoner. On the theory that
the dead are silent, some of the men wanted to kill him, but I wouldn’t
stand for that, so we made him swear by all that was holy that he wouldn’t
tell that he had seen us until we got away. Then we turned him loose. He
lost no time in getting into Mankato and giving the alarm, and in a few
minutes another posse was after us.”

“That night Howard and Wood decided that they wouldn’t hold back any
longer and that we were losing valuable time because of Bob’s wound, so
they left us and went on west. They stole two horses very soon, and this
helped us as well as them, for the posse followed the trail of the stolen
horses, not knowing that we had divided.”

“On Thursday morning, September 21, just two weeks after the raid, the end
came. A party of forty men soon surrounded us and opened fire. We were cut
off from our horses and our case was hopeless. We were on the open prairie
and not ready for our last flight against such odds, we fell back into the
Watonwan river bottoms and hid in some bushes.”

“When the iron doors shut behind us at the Stillwater prison we all
submitted to the prison discipline with the same unquestioning obedience
that I had exacted during my military service. The result was that we
gained friends both in prison and outside. We had been in prison a little
over seven years, when, on January 25, 1884, the main building was
destroyed by fire at night. George F. Dodd was then connected with the
prison, while his wife was matron. There was danger of a panic and a
terrible disaster. Dodd released Jim and Bob and myself. To me he gave a
revolver. Jim had an axe handle and Bob a small iron bar. We stood guard
over the women prisoners, marched them from the danger of the fire, and
the prison authorities were kind enough to say that had it not been for us
there must have been a tremendous loss of life.”

       [Head Officials, Minneapolis, Minnesota Police Department.]

 Head Officials, Minneapolis, Minnesota Police Department. 1. Capt. H.L.
  Getchell, 5th Precinct. 2. Capt. P.J. Quealey, 2nd Precinct. 3. Capt.
    Michael Mealey, Asst. Supt. Hdqrtrs. 4. Capt. Frank T. Corriston,
  Superintendant. 5. Capt. Nicholas Smith, Capt. of Detectives. 6. Capt.
 Geo. Reviere, Night Capt. Hdqtrs. 7. Capt. Frank Ferm, 3rd Precinct. 8.
                    Capt. Geo. Sinclair, 4th Precinct.

“I can say without fear of contradiction that had it been in our minds to
do so we could have escaped from the prison that night, but we had
determined to pay the penalty that had been exacted, and if we were ever
to return to liberty it would be with the consent and approval of the
authorities and the public. A little later Jim was put in charge of the
mail and library of the prison, while I was made head nurse in the
hospital, where I remained until the day we were paroled.”

“As the years went by the popular feeling against us not only subsided,
but our absolute obedience to the minutest detail of the prison discipline
won us the consideration, and I might even say, the esteem of the prison
officials. In the meantime it had been a life sentence for Bob, he having
died of consumption September 16, 1889.”

“Jim and I went out into the world July 14, 1901, after serving a few
months less than twenty‐five years. Each of us immediately found work, and
life again took on its normal hues. Poor Jim, however, was subject to
periodical spells of deep depression. The bullet that shattered his upper
jaw in our last fight in Madelia imbedded itself near the brain and was
not removed until long after we were in the prison at Stillwater. That
bullet was the cause of his occasional gloominess. After our relase from
prison Jim’s health continued precarious. He finally gave up the fight,
and on October 19, 1902, took his own life in a hotel in Minnesota.”

“I am not exactly a dead man, but I have been shot twenty‐eight times and
am now carrying in my body fourteen bullets that physicians have been
unable to extract. Twelve of these wounds I received while wearing the
gray, and I have ever been proud of them, and it has been one of my
keenest regrets that I did not receive the rest of them during the war
with Spain.”


The following is an authentic copy of Younger’s commitment papers.


                       RICE COUNTY DISTRICT COURT.

Crime        Murder 1" deg.
Term Life.   Sentenced Nov. 20th,
Nativity     Missouri.
Age          32 years.
Height       5’—11¼"
Hair         Very light brown, very
             curly, thin, and bald on
             crown of head.
Eyes         Blue (light).
Complexion   Fair, inclined to be
Occupation   None.
Marks        Two moles on back—Scar on
             left shoulder and small
             scar on left hip caused
             by gunshot.

Can read and write—uses tobacco—single—temperate.



Removed to Washington County Jail, Jan. 26, 1884.

Paroled July 14, 1901.

Pardoned Feb. 4, 1903, on condition that he leave State of Minnesota and
that he never exhibit himself in public in any way.


The members of the State Board of Pardons, next to the weather man, are
the most severely criticised in the state of Minnesota, and unjustly so.
In the exercise of the authority conferred upon them the Minnesota State
Board of Pardons is the most conservative in the United States.
Notwithstanding the fact that they grant about seventy‐five per cent less
pardons than similar bodies in other states, the press, in many instances,
holds that it is too liberal in its disposition of mercy.

The true function of the Pardon Board has often been exemplified by the
daily press of the twin cities, and they appear to be unanimous in the
belief that where the interest of humanity or reform can be benefited it
is proper for the board to lighten a penalty or grant an outright rpardon.

Jesus of Nazareth enunciated the wise doctrine that “if you wish to be
forgiven, you must forgive others,” and this apothegm is the alpha and
omega of the Christian religion to day. “Go and sin no more” is often the
basic principal of true reformation.

                 [Pardon Board of the State of Minnesota]

                  Pardon Board of the State of Minnesota

      [Governor’s private office in State Capitol, St. Paul, Minn.]

Governor’s private office in State Capitol, St. Paul, Minn.  Pardon Board
                        hold their meetings here.

       [Governor’s reception room, State Capitol, St. Paul, Minn.]

        Governor’s reception room, State Capitol, St. Paul, Minn.

The laws of man ever since the days of Moses, Confucius, Lycurgus, Solon
and Christ are intended to be just and impartial to all men; but no law
yet created by our wise jurists and statesmen can eradicate from the
individual the brand of Cain placed upon him by society,—that of an ex‐
convict. The Pardon Board can enlarge a man’s liberty by making him a free
citizen and a tax‐payer, but it cannot free his conscience from the stigma
of disgrace that clings to him until the portals of eternity open to
receive him. We believe that the pardoning power, judicially applied, is
the greatest aid to true reformation yet discovered.

The Minnesota State Board of Pardons consists of the Governor, Chief
Justice of the Supreme Court and the Attorney General. Its meetings are
held quarterly in the state capitol building, and they meet on the second
Monday in January, April, July and October.

The law governing the granting of pardons is as follows: “Such board may
grant an absolute or a conditional pardon, but every conditional pardon
shall state the terms and conditions on which it was granted. A reprieve
in a case where capital punishment has been imposed may be granted by any
member of the board, but for such time only as may be reasonably necessary
to secure a meeting for the consideration of an application for pardon or
commutation of sentence. Every pardon or communication of sentence shall
be in writing and shall have no force or effect unless granted by a
unanimous vote of the board duly convened.”

A convict in the prison Mirror writes as follows:

“Exercising clemency toward convicted persons is a subject that arouses
many editorial writers. These newspaper men are creators of public
opinion, and it would seem possible for them to calmly, impartially
consider the subject instead of disseminating personal ideas immature in
reasoning and founded on the erroneous conception that every person in
prison has received a fair, impartial trial and that the sentences must be
warranted upon the trial court’s proceedings. In fact, the majority of
editorial writers should refrain from casting reflections upon the pardon
power because it seems too lenient or applaud it for refusing leniency
toward prisoners. Their attitude shows plainly a lack of discernable
ability. Few prisoners appeal to the pardon power of a state for clemency.
Clemency is a term used for pity. Prisoners, as a rule, detest being
considered seekers after pity. This is the concealed idea of many
editorials, and thereby erroneous. The prisoner appeals to the pardon
power because it is a lawfully created power to entertain his appeal,
which is based upon his opinions concerning the justice of a sentence as
opposed to the injustice of the trial court’s imposed sentence. The
appellant is not after pity, but expects justice. He has a right to the
benefits of the law, and has a right, not only to ask for, but to demand
justice. And no class of persons should exploit these facts more than
editorial writers. Today they are greatly responsible for the necessity of
wives, children and mothers practically begging for pity for some loved
one in prison. We need Websters to interpret the law and demand justice
for clients—not wives, mothers and friends to beg for pity.”


“My little girl Virginia, only four years old, has been praying to Santa
Claus every night for the past week, instead of to God. She has asked
Santa every night to give her her papa for Christmas.”

“It seems all a dream, and I am afraid that I will awake to find it isn’t
true. But I felt all day that the pardon would come. I don’t know why it
was, but I caught myself singing this morning as I went about the house.
It is the happiest day of my life. It will be the happiest Christmas that
my family has ever spent.”

“Fred doesn’t know that the pardon board meets today. He expects that it
will meet Thursday. I am going to take the pardon with me to the prison,
present it to Warden Wolfer and take my husband home with me.”

It is a young woman, the wife of a chief of police convicted of grafting,
pleading before the pardon board for his release. She has worked a year
securing evidence. It is just two days before Christmas and the board is
called for a special session. The governor, the chief justice of the
supreme court and the attorney general, who constitute the pardon board,
hear her case with tears in their eyes. Attorneys and others plead for him
also. Then the board goes into session. They decide that seventeen months
in prison has served the ends of justice. They summon the young wife.

“Your husband has been granted a full pardon,” announces one of the

“May he come home with me now?” she asks, faltering, then she swoons. Soon
she recovers. The pardon is signed. She takes it with her to Stillwater,
presents it to the warden and a moment later husband and wife are in each
other’s arms. Merry Christmas it was for them.

“He’s all I’ve got, judge. I’ll take him anywhere, or I’ll keep him right
at home in Minneapolis, if you will only let him out. I want to take care
of him, for he’ll die if he stays there.” Tears drop from the mother of a
youth of twenty‐two who has been sent to prison for twelve years for
larceny. “I’ve saved $250 in the last five years, and me doing day work,”
she says proudly. Her son is suffering from tuberculosis. The board
believes that it is better for him to be under such a mother’s care than
die in the prison and he is released.

Nowhere else, unless it be at a hospital, must one gaze at such a
seemingly unending sad procession of pain‐torn hearts, the anguished souls
of mothers, fathers, sisters, sweethearts and wives, than at the meeting
of the pardon board every three months. Nowhere else are the grinding
knives of the law more apparent. Few are as fortunate as the two cited
above. Of the two or three dozen cases at each meeting, seldom are more
than two or three persons shown any mercy.

Here is the case of a murderer sentenced to hang. An attorney pleads for
him; points out that the evidence was doubtful, says that the spirit of
vengeance guided the jury. But the board has the evidence before it. “It
clearly shows that the crime was premeditated,” remarks one member. There
is no hope.

A sweet faced girl who has journeyed all the way from Seattle to take her
brother back with her, finds that the law could not pardon an offender
because his sister believes in him and loves him. The board must be shown
that the punishment was too severe for the crime or that life at home will
serve better to make the offender a useful citizen than doing penance at
the prison.

To an aged father and mother of a boy serving a thirty‐month sentence for
stealing $56 worth of grain, the sad news is meted out that their son must
serve out his sentence. They had trusted with the blind faith that the
board would release him because they needed him. “The farm is running down
and Charlie ought to be home to help care for things. He had always been a
good boy,” they said.

Scathing lectures are often given those asking pardon for the undeserving,
by the members of the board. “Do you think fifteen months is too much for
a man who shot his wife? It was not his fault she did not die,” the chief
justice recently told some friends of a man who had hunted up and shot a
wife who had left him. “If my sister were outraged by a man, shooting
would be none too good for him,” the governor recently told a smooth‐
tongued attorney who was making a plea for a man serving a long sentence
for a heinous crime.

So it goes. There is mercy for a few; there is the stern and unrelenting
law tor the many.

                        [decoration, smoking gun]


                               MORE LIGHT.

Mr. Heilbron’s book on Convict Life at the Minnesota State Prison should
obtain a wide circulation. The world outside regards the world inside much
as it would regard another planet, and is curious accordingly. As a
general rule, the “heroes” of this work of art are saying nothing and
spinning twine and when they get back to Civilization they keep up the
habit. While apt to examine books of this kind in a decidedly critical
light, the heroes aforesaid will find in this one no misstatements of fact
and no flights of fancy. The illustrations too are excellent, the one of
No. 1055’s back being a speaking likeness. Another first‐class picture is
the one which reproduces the magnificent polish on Mr. Nelson’s counter in
the tailor shop. The bindery, too, that smoothly running one‐man
department, has quite a palatial appearance. The “chiel amang us takin’”
flashlights is to be congratulated. It may be doubted whether a copy of
this little book will hereafter be found in every home in the state, but
it would not do any harm. Maybe when Horace was hesitating about signing
papa’s name in papa’s checkbook, the family copy would strike his eye and
induce him to—go ahead?—

                                           (Prison Mirror, July 29, 1909.)


“Convict Life at the Minnesota State Prison” Published by Mr. W. C.
Heilbron of St. Paul.

“Convict Life at the Minnesota State Prison,” of which Mr. W. C. Heilbron,
assistant public examiner, St. Paul, is the author and publisher, is a
neat volume, replete with halftone illustrations of scenes, views and
incidents of this institution, occupying 134 pages of text, including

The frontispiece is a remarkably good likeness of Hon. Henry Wolfer, the
warden, under whose guidance during the past eighteen years the Minnesota
State Prison has made its remarkable penological and financial success.

To one unacquainted with the modus operandi of dealing with prisoners in a
penitentiary, “Convict Life at the Minnesota State Prison” affords an
accurate and sustained story from start to finish. In this book is given a
detailed description of the reception of the prisoner, the manner in which
he is handled, clothed, fed, assigned to duty and governed by the resident
officials, with excellent sidelights upon the situation.

The illustrations are numerous and give interior views of buildings,
shops, departments and hospital, together with interesting scenes of
parades, drills and other matters of moment to the reader.

Citizens—even those who have visited penal institutions—obtain but a very
scant conception of the method and manner in which they are conducted by a
casual observance upon the occasion of a visit. “Convict Life at the
Minnesota State Prison,” however, is written so that all may gain a proper
conception by reading it, and the illustrations materially aid in that
respect. This book will be the means of doing a great deal of good in
removing false notions regarding inmates and it ought to enjoy a large
sale.—(Prison Mirror, July 22, 1909.)


On the first page of this issue of The Mirror will be found a brief review
of the volume entitled “Convict Life at the Minnesota State Prison.” Until
recently the publication of matter of that character has been tabooed by
managers of penal institutions. However, there is no harm in such
publicity. Conditions are constantly improving and penologists recognize
that fact. Corporal punishment and the lockstep have been abolished in
many prisons.

The problem confronting wardens is not “how to punish prisoners,” but
rather how to reform them and restore them to society as good citizens.

The Minnesota State Prison is referred to as a model, and, while the
buildings now occupied are old and antiquated, unfit for prison purposes
and manufacturing, nevertheless the morale of the inmates is of a high
grade and credit is due to those who have brought this condition about. As
the author, Mr. W. C. Heilbron, truly states, the first two months of
incarceration for the average prisoners provide punishment enough to last
a lifetime. Of course this does not apply to all inmates, but it is
certainly true of many of them.

It is neither the purpose nor the province of The Mirror to laud any one
in particular regarding the management of the Minnesota State Prison. The
facts speak more eloquently than all the eulogies that could be uttered.
The Mirror, however, desires to direct the attention of the public to the
fact that no harm is done by the publication of such a volume as “Convict
Life at the Minnesota State Prison,” and much good may result from its
compilation and circulation.

There have been prisons and dungeons since the earliest days of recorded
history and no doubt such institutions will be in vogue until the end of
the universe. Great advancement has been made in the treatment of those
who have been so unfortunate as to be segregated from society in general
and the publication of facts instead of fancy will be the means of
clarifying the atmosphere considerably as to what is just and humane and
of the greatest earthly benefit to men and women who have, either through
ignorance, accident, design or viciousness, fallen from grace and become
the wards of the commonwealth in a prison or penitentiary.

To the end that the public may be fully and reliably informed of the facts
in relation to prison life the volume mentioned must prove to be of great
value to all those who peruse its pages with an open mind and a generous
heart—(Prison Mirror, July 22, 1909.)

                         [decoration, twine ball]

                   [Minnesota State Fair advertisement]
 [Minnesota’s New $2,250,000 State Prison Now in Course of Construction]

  Minnesota’s New $2,250,000 State Prison Now in Course of Construction

    1 Editor’s Note.—In the preface we stated that the names of former
      inmates of the Minnesota State Prison with sensational reputations
      would not appear in this book. However, there has been such an
      arbitrary demand from the general public, that we have concluded to
      insert the version of an exploit by one of the early inmates of the
      institution. Page 49 shows hospital cell occupied by Cole Younger
      during the 25 years of his incarceration. This is the first time
      this story has been published in book form. It is surmised the names
      Howard and Woods indicate Jesse and Frank James respectively.

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