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Watkins Escapes From the Jackson County Jail 1869


Posted By: Cheryl Locher Moonen (email)
Date: 2/23/2016 at 12:24:40

The Herald, Dubuque, May 11, 1869

Watkins Escapes From the
Jackson County Jail
Hiss Coolness and Confidence
The citizens of the neighboring county of Jackson have had a sensation in a genuine and clever jail delivery, in which Samuel Watkins, confined and convicted on the charge of murder, and only not hung because twice reprieved and now awaiting the decision of the Supreme Court to which his case has been appealed, made his escape.

In the door of the cell for the confinement of prisoners charged with grave offences is a wicket opening, through which their food is passed to them, the cell door being more rarely opened. This opening is only large enough for the purpose indicated, and of course not large enough to admit the passage of a manís body. But Watkins, from the confinement of two years has been greatly reduced, and he who went into the cell an athletic young man is now in appearance, and indeed in fact, but a puny stripling. On Saturday, he thought he would try a taste of freedom, and while the jailer slept in the afternoon, he managed to crawl through the wicket where he had been in the habit of receiving his hash.

He succeeded in escaping unobserved from the jail, and seeing some men unloading hay nearby passed over and entered into conservation with them. He afterwards called upon several acquaintances in Andrew, and spent a very pleasant hour or two. Tiring of his unaccustomed liberty, he returned to the jail and rapped vigorously for readmission and lodging. We may be sure he was readily accommodated by the keeper who until then was unconscious that his prisoner was abroad.

Watkins does not seem to be anxious to escape clandestinely. From the first he has expressed the firm belief that he would not be hung, and even when the sheriff felt called upon to summon a posse to prevent his being lynched he was cool and confident as ever. It is expected that the Supreme Court will order a new trial, when he will probably be acquitted.


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