Lee County Genealogy
Iowa State Penitentiary

Iowa State Penitentiary News

Compiled by Sally Youngquist  Oct. 2009
There will be more news added later

Iowa State Penitentiary Cemetery
This is an important file that may help researchers throughout the state of Iowa

News Articles
Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette

Present Legislature Opposes Repetition of Such a Spasm of Generosity.
Excerpt from news articles

Des Moines, Iowa, April 8Of the twenty live persons who have been paroled from the Iowa penitentiaries on recommendations of the legislatures,
since the law making this recommendation a requisite thirty years ago, seven were granted clemency by act of the legislature two years ago; and this spasm of generosity was the direct cause of a great increase in the number of applications for pardon, so that the present legislature was asked to consider seventeen cases.

There was just a bit of scandal in connection with the pardons of two years ago. One prisoner was paroled with the understanding that he would buy a farm with the $1,200 which he had in the bank; but before he received his pardon papers it was alleged that he had paid it all to lobbyists to secure his parole recommendation. There was much indignation felt because of men working for a pardon for pay. Another of those pardoned is said to be engaged
today working hard to pay of in installments an obligation of $500 to a Des Moines lawyer for his work in securing the pardon. The older members of the legislature felt that the precedent set two years ago of granting so many pardons by legislative consent was a bad one and they set their faces
against a repetition of the incident.

For this reason, as well as for the reason that the applicants this year have much less merit, the pardon business will be small. There are forty-nine persons serving time in the state penitentiaries under life sentence, at this time, but it is surmised that the number includes only a very few who have been in the penitentiary over ten years. The lifers, apparently, do not live long.

The following are the prisoners who have been pardoned from life sentences for murder in the first degree since the law went into force in 1874 requiring legislative approval

Frank Linehart, Clayton county, committed _____ , pardoned 1878.
William Riley, Blackhawk county, committed October 7, 1867, pardoned April 12, 1880.
E. J. Bruce, Lee, December 23, 1876, May 12, 1884.
J. W. Werrick. Harrison, March 10, 1873, September 9, 1884.
Finnis Allen, Fremont, November 4, 1879, December 10, 1884.
John S. Little, Jasper, October 4, 1875, March 20. 1892.
Charles Cook, Lee, May 19, 1882, March 25, 1892.
John Saul, Decatur, August., 21, 1877, September 2. 1893.
A. T. Hocket. Mahaska, June 11, 1885, April 30, 1890.
Henry O. Osborn, Polk, December 25, 1883, January 12, 189_.
James Johnson, Pottawattamie, January 15, 1885, April 14, 1898.
George L. Stanley, Story, April 30, 1772. April 20, 1902.
Joseph McCreary, Mills, May 21, 1879, April 29, 1902.
Average years served, 13 years

The following are the prisoners in the state penitentiaries under conviction of murder in the first degree

W. P. Glyndon, Hardin county, committed April 12, 1878.
M. B. Foster, Taylor county, Dec. 24, 1900.
Byron Gwinn, Lucas county, Sept. 8, I89l.
Byron Parntake, Van Buren county, Dec 21, 1891.
George Weems, Polk county, Aug. 1, 1894.
Stephen Courtney, Louisa county, March 29, l895.
Buck Mayberry, Wayne county, June 20, 1895.
Orman McPherson, Louisa county, March 25, 1897.
John G. Steele, Monroe county, Sept. 21, 1897.
Alonxo Robblns, Lee county, Jan. 7, 1898.
Alex Storms, Louisa, county, Sept. 30, 1898.
Will Adams, Marshall county, Dec. 16, 1898.
W. M. H. Jones, Henry county, Oct. 21, 1889.
Clarence Mills, Davis county, Nov. I3, 1899. '
George Wright, Muscatine county, June 2, 1900.
Chester Tyler, Jasper county, Feb. 5, 1902.
Ira Noble, Muscatine county, June 2, 1902
William Lucus, Page county, Nov 2, 1902
James Barns, Polk county, April 30, 1903

NOTE:  This news paper was hard to read. You may want to check the spelling of names and the dates.

Other news

William Porter of Atlantic bas been sent to Fort Madison for two years for horse stealing.

Tuesday, February 25, 1896
John Cummins, sent from Polk county for five years for burglary, died at the Ft. Madison penitentiary and was buried in the prison cemetery.

Wednesday, June 05, 1889
Governor Lurrabec has paroled Paddy Cok out of the Ft. Madison penitentiary, where he had been sentenced five years ago for a period of seventeen years.

NOVEMBER 27, 1893
FAIRFIELD, Nov. 27Ed. Markley, the 'fake foot racer," who has been on trial here for several days, has been sentenced to Ft. Madison penitentiary for three, years at hard labor About a year ago Markley with four companions conspired to swindle W. E. Bowman, the bookkeeper of the Farmlngton, la , bank, out of 34,000 by a bogus foot race. The race took place here and Markley, The race on whom Bowman placed his money, threw the race to his opponent and in company wlth his friends and the stake holder jumped into a cab and fled. They subsequently quarreled in dividing the spoils. in St Louis, which led to their arrest, Markley's companions, Thomas Baner and Fred Cutpingbarn. are held in heavy bonds will be tried next January. The case so far has cost the county $2,000.

Tuesday, November 29, 1904
Otis Green, sent to the Ft, Madison
penitentiary from Des Moines for the
murder of his wife, has reformed and
become a model prisoner.. He now expresses
a desire to write books for the
edification of the blind. At the time
he killed his wife he attempted sul- .
cide, but the wound only resulted in
total blindness. He is now making
trinkets, from the proceeds of which lie
expects to get enough to buy a writing

Tuesday, January 24, 1905
Charles Johnson, who was sent to Ft. Madison penitentiary for ten years, has completed hts term, and will now be committed in the insane asylum at
Mt. Pleasant.

The smallpox quarantine at the Ft. Madison penitentiary has been raised
Millard Buck, who was sent to the penitentiary from Fort Madison for the murder of Dr. Porter, is reported as insane at the Fort Madison prison.

More News from Various Papers

Friday, July 10, 1874
Fort Madison _ The report of the Ft. Madison penitentiary for the month of June was received yesterday by the Auditor of the State. It shows that 15 new prisoners were received during the month; which were four from Des Moines county and eight military prisoners from the Department of the Platte. Twenty-four were discharged, nine by expiration of sentence, one by pardon , fourteen US prisoners by military order. The number in confinement now is two hundred and sixty-four.

DECEMBER 24, 1896.
John Hogan, forgery; seven years in Ft. Madison. John Tillotson, burglary; five years in Ft. Madison. David West, burglary; four years in Ft. Madison.
Geo. A .Taylor, burglary; eighteen months in Ft. Madison. Grant Dimmitt. grand larceny five years in Ft. Madison.

Saturday, October 15, 1898
Judge Bishop in the criminal division for sentence this morning all of whom had pleaded guilty to the indictments found by the grand jury. Earnest Draper was given three years in Ft. Madison penitentiary for breaking and entering. In passing sentence in this case Judge Bishop said "one peculiar thing about the men before the court on this charge was the number of young men that had become before the court" The officers of the city and of the court must do something to break up what seems to be a prevailing spirit among tho youthful element 'that are starting out on a criminal career. John Burlin was given one year In the in. Madison penitentiary for uttering a forged instrument. He threw himself upon the clemency of the court and received the lightest sentence that could be given him. could be given him.

MONDAY, MARCH 20, 1899
BURLINGTON, -March 20.Walt O'Brien, the Green Bay bad man, who had been serving a five-year sentence for cattle stealing, but paroled by Govern
Shaw about six weeks, ago, will now have an excellent opportunity to continue serving his sentence, and will have an Indictment for another crime awaiting his release from the Ft. Madison Penitentiary. O'Brien was arrested by Officers Dcvo and Desplan this morning at the request of Chief Kennedy, of Ft. Madison. In his company was Frank Howard, the I6-year old son of a Gem City restaurant keeper who had been lured away from home. O'Brien is charged with robbery. He held up a Ft. Madison man and relieved him of a gold watch and $120 in green backs, mostly five-dollar bills.

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