Knox County Jail. [Postcard and text contributed by Bob Miller.]
County Jail, Galesburg, Ill." postcard dated October 17, 1907. The old Knox County Jail is located between South and Berrien Streets, facing west onto Cherry
Street. The building was acquired by
Knox College in 1995.
Taken from Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and Knox County, Munsell Publishing Company, 1899, page 642. "The Jail.
The first jail in Knox County was built at Knoxville by John G. Sanburn. The County Commissioners, at their June meeting in 1832, determined that a jail must be
constructed. On September 14, 1832, Mr. Sanburn contracted to build one for $240. It was soon finished; but, as may be judged from the price, it was not a very
pretentious prison. It was a square building, two stories in height, with a door leading into the upper story only. There was a trap door in the floor and through
this the prisoners were let down to the lower room, then the trap door was closed, and the prisoner was supposed to be safely incarcerated. This temporary structure
sufficed for a time; but in 1840, the Commissioners ordered the Clerk to advertise for bids for a new jail. The successful bid was made by Zelotes Cooley and the contract
was closed January 26, 1841, the cost to be $8,724. But the Commissioners, after due reflection, considered this amount too excessive, so they gave Mr. Cooley $300 for
his plans, and made a new contract with Alvah Wheeler, the price being $7,724, which, however, proved too small to insure first class work, and the building soon became
dilapidated, causing the county large expense for repairs and the hire of men to guard the prisoners.
After the removal of the county seat to Galesburg, the Board of
Supervisors appointed a committee to prepare plans for the construction of a jail on a lot on Cherry street, which had been purchased by the city. The committee visited
other counties for the purpose of inspecting their jails and procured the plans upon which, with some modifications, the county building has since been constructed. These
plans were adopted, and on March 18, 1873, bids were received. On that same day, an injunction, granted by Hon. Thomas F. Tipton, Circuit Judge of McClean County, at the
instance of Knoxville citizens in anticipation of an election to be held to decide on the removal of the county seat back to Knoxville, was served on the Board of Supervisors,
prohibiting them from proceeding with the building. The election, however, having been determined adversely to Knoxville, bids were received on January 15, 1874, and the
contract awarded to Ira K. Stevens for $34,900. To extend the grounds the Board, on January 16, 1874, bought of A. Burlingham an adjacent lot fronting on Cherry street
and another lot of A. N. Bancroft, adjoining but facing South street, a part of which was afterward sold. The building was well planned and very substantially
constructed, and presents a good appearance. It is of red brick, with foundations and trimmings of gray limestone, two stories in height, with a high basement. The
sheriff's residence is in front, and the main prison is in the rear. The floors and ceilings of the later are constructed of large slabs of limestone, and similar slabs
line the walls. Corridors the height of two stories surround the room on three sides, and on each side of the center is a row of cells, back to back, in three tiers,
comprising thirty in all. The back, the sides, the floor and ceiling of each cell is a single slab. Besides these cells, there is a dungeon, rarely used, and five
cells in the front part of the building used for the insane women and boys. The structure has proved secure and is well arranged for the supervision and control of
prisoners, and is well heated, ventilated, and drained. It was first occupied by Sheriff A. W. Berggren, October 3, 1874."
Knox County Almshouse. [Picture and text contributed by Bob Miller.]
Taken from the
1870 Atlas Map of Knox County, Illinois, Andreas, Lyter & Co., Davenport, Iowa,
page 7. "Knox County Alms House is situated on the north side of Knoxville, and is the finest institution of the kind in the country. Boyington, of
Chicago, was the architect. It was finished Aug. 12, 1867, at a cost of $45,000. at present it has about 80 occupants. Mrs. Olive Clearland is Stewardess, and
gives general satisfaction."
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Taken from the 1878 History of Knox County, Illinois by Chas. C.
Chapman & Co., pages 253-262. "Alms-House. For several
years the committee on the poor-house farm, in making out their annual reports,
spoke at length of the unhealthful condition of the buildings. As a
sample of several statements of this nature submitted to the Board from 1856
till the alms-house was built, we give one appended to the report made in
January, 1865. The committee was composed of T. W. Miles, John S.
Winter and Cephas Arms.
"Your committee do not
feel willing to let this meeting pass without calling the serious attention
of this Board to the condition of these poor misfortunate beings whom God
has committed to our especial care, - a trust that your committee feel this
honorable Board has not discharged. There is but one very poor building
for the poor-master's family, and the paupers have six rooms below and two
small chambers above. A hall running through the building divides the
lower rooms. Two rooms and a small store-room on one side are occupied
by the family. On the other side the two larger rooms are used during
the day by the paupers, and the small room has been fitted up as a grated
cell for crazy Hannah, a grated partition separating her from the stove.
"At night the paupers,
many of whom are idiotic or insane, are locked up in the two small chambers;
and this with the present class of inmates has to be done, irrespective of
number, and almost of the condition of the paupers. From this brief
statement it will be seen how illy adapted the premises are to purposes of a
poor-house, even when all are in health; but when any one is sick it is
impossible to make them comfortable; and especially is this so, when, as in
the case of the man with the frozen feet, it becomes as a loathsome
pest-house, not only to the paupers, but to the poor-master and his family;
the stench from the gangrened foot filling every part of the building, and
sickening the inmates.
"In view of these facts
your committee most earnestly call upon this Board to take some steps to
make such improvements, that it may no longer with truth be said 'that the
poor-house is a disgrace to Knox county.'"
Crazy Hannah, referred to in the above statement, was certainly a
pitiable subject of charity, and her sad condition touched the finer
feelings of the committee, as shown in a report made to the Board in 1863. This committee was composed of John S. Winter and Cephas
Arms. We give below the portion of this report referring to the
unfortunate being who is still an inmate of the alms-house, although in a
much improved condition.
"We cannot pass this
matter and justify our consciences without referring to a case known as
'Crazy Hannah,' who has been confined in a small room over three years,
unsafe to permit to go out and breath the fresh air of heaven, compelled to
live within four close walls until her destiny is fulfilled. During
all the cold days and nights of winter that poor demented girl cannot
approach the fire. Between her and it, at a safe distance from her
hands, has to be placed strong iron bars, lest she should set fire to the
building. With all the modern improvements for heating buildings
suitable for persons in her condition, are we, as citizens of Knox county,
doing our duty to the unfortunate of our county?"
March 5, 1856, the Board of Supervisors purchased of M. G. Smith the west
half of the southwest quarter of section 21, Knox township, for a county
poor-farm. The deed, as recorded, states the consideration to have
been $3,000. Two additions were made in 1866 during the agitation of
building the alms-house, - on June 15, of 36 acres from Wm. Y. Miller.
The deed states the consideration to have been $2,340, but by an order by
the Board we find it to be but $17.50 per acre, which would be $630.
The other was 33 acres from John Eads, June 17, for which, according to the
deed, $3,000 was given. In 1866 the Board appointed Rufus W. Miles, L.
E. Conger, and Cephas Arms a committee to build an alms-house. Considerable
interest was worked up in selecting a location. The citizens of
Galesburg tried to have it located near that city instead of the present
site, which is that of the former building. At a meeting in April,
1866, a committee consisting of the following members of the Board, were
appointed to select a location: E. S. Hardin, Orrin Beadle, L. E.
Conger, Cephas Arms. A majority of this committee selected and bought
the northeast quarter of section 24, in Galesburg township, for which they
paid $8,000. While this action of the committee was approved by the
Board, yet the land was not used for the purpose for which it was
purchased. It was afterward sold for $9,000. Supervisor Gale, on
behalf of the city of Galesburg, offered to give $10,000 if they would erect
the building on the site; but the Board secured additional land adjoining
the old farm and decided not to remove or change the location. Thus
the location was finally settled upon, and immediately the contract of
erecting the building was let to Wm. Armstrong for the sum of $26,000.
Only one wing and the main building were erected at this time. The
full amount expended for the erection of this portion of the building, for
furnished heating apparatus and stocking the farm, amounted to $39,037.21.
The following is a description of the building, which rates only second
to the best county charity institution in the State: The plan was
drawn by W. W. Boyington, of Chicago. The building is of Gothic style
of architecture, and is constructed of limestone and red brick. It is
two stories above the basement in height. The ground plan is 166 feet
front by 80 feet in depth, relieved by projection bay windows, and a general
irregular outline. The grounds are large, thickly set with shrubs and
trees and well kept. The exterior view of the structure presents an
imposing appearance from whatever point approached. From exterior
observation it rather resembles a sea-side hotel than a country
alms-house. The accompanying engraving [not included with this transcript]
so fully represents in detail the exterior of the building that any minute
description would be but repetitive.
The interior of the edifice is in keeping fully with that of the
exterior. It is finished throughout in a neat and substantial style,
and furnished with all the modern conveniences, which are especially adapted
to the accommodation of the class of inmates that are retained there.
The many improvements adapted in the construction of the east wing were
suggested by the matron, Mrs. Cleveland, whose experience, coupled with her
superior judgment, eminently qualified here to dictate alterations and
additions to the plans of the architect. Each and every room is amply
ventilated, and the provisions for lighting are all that could be desired,
there being a large double window in even the smallest chamber.
There are 97 rooms in the building, besides large, well lighted
corridors. Of these, 27 are sleeping-rooms for inmates under medical
treatment, 23 are cells or, properly, screened rooms for the insane.
The remaining 47 rooms are devoted to various purposes, each class or
condition of inmates having a department to which they are assigned.
The western portion of the structure is used for men, and the eastern
part for women. In the men's department on the main floor are
dining-hall, sitting-room and chapel (in the latter apartment religious
services are held semi-monthly), and sleeping-rooms, with bath-rooms
attached. On the second floor in this division is the department for
the insane, being a tier of screened rooms, sick rooms, school-room and
nurse's rooms. The eastern division has similar apartments, and in
addition has a large sitting-room, quiet room for old women, convalescent
department, and working department, where all clothing is
manufactured. Every article of clothing, except boot and hats, are
manufactured within the building. In the basement story is the
department for the uncontrollable insane, the laundry, ironing rooms, and
the culinary department, which includes bread room, grocery room,
milk-house, and large kitchen. The building, besides these apartments,
is well supplied with bath-rooms, closets, and numerous miscellaneous
rooms. The whole is heated by steam radiators supplied from heating
apparatus in the basement of the west wing.
The following items of an historical and statistical nature will be found
of interest, and are compiled after careful research. Their
correctness may be relied upon:
From October, 1872, to
September, 1878, 439 paupers were admitted as inmates of this charitable
institution. These included 15 different nationalities. Of this
number 229 were natives of the United States, 104 of Sweden and Denmark, 55
of Ireland, 1 of France, 13 of England, 12 of Germany, 4 of Switzerland, 1
of the West Indies, 2 of Norway, 4 of Canada, 1 of Poland, 9 of Scotland, 3
of Whales, and the nativity of 1 not known. Total, 439. Of this
number 287 were males and 152 females. There are at present 109
inmates, of whom 66 are males and 43 are females. Of the 109 inmates,
25 are insane. The largest number ever admitted any one year was in
1870, when 121 were received. The number of deaths occurring since
1863 are 69, none having occurred since January 1, 1878. The number of
births, 30. Number of married persons admitted, 153.
The following item connected with pauperism in this county should be
noted by the tax-payers. Though startling, it is based upon stubborn
facts, and should be a warning to those who indulge in a moderate use of
intoxicating liquors, and to the young man whose lips have never been
tainted by the wine cup. When we consider that three-fourths of all
the persons admitted in the Knox county alms-house are brought there from
the curse of intemperance, we learn some of the direful effects and
consequences of the use of intoxicating liquors. No contagious
diseases have ever prevailed to any extent. The oldest person ever
admitted was George Felter, who became inmate January 16, 1877, at the age
of 89. Mr. Felter, who is still an inmate, was a soldier on the war of
1812, and is probably the only one living in the county who fought the British
foe at that time, or indeed that ever did. The oldest person in the
house at present in 91 years old.
In 1874, in consequence of the failure of a supply of water at the
alms-house, it was deemed expedient to bore in one of the wells, which was
done to the depth of 175 feet. At 119 feet a vein of good coal, four
feet in thickness, immediately below three feet of slate, was passed
through. Failing to find water at that depth, they abandoned the
boring and sunk a large well.
Ere a decade had passed, the alms-house had become too small to afford
the best accommodations to all the inmates. Accordingly, at the July
meeting of the Board, in 1876, the alms-house committee recommended the
building of the east wing. In the original plan all arrangements were
made for the necessary additions that might be needed. Thus in less
than ten years this addition is required, although the unfortunate could and
did receive better care with the capacity of the portion already constructed
than in most of the counties of the State. At a special meeting in
August, 1876, 21st day, the contract of building the east wing was awarded
to Parry & Stevens, their bid being $17,000. The construction of
this addition was rapidly pushed to completion, and to-day the structure
stands a harmonious whole, complete in detail, beautiful in design, and
perfect in ordonnance and symmetry of architecture. Thus perfected, as
shown in the accompanying engraving [not included with this transcript], Knox
county unquestionably has one of the most beautiful and superior alms-houses
in the Northwest. The Superintendent, Mrs. Cleveland, is endowed with
native ability that especially qualifies her to have the charge of such a
motley class of humanity as are gathered under the care of an institution of
this nature. In referring to the excellent manner in which Mrs.
Cleveland discharges every duty devolving upon her, Dr. McClelland, the
county physician, in his report of January, 1878, in speaking of the house,
says: "As usual, and in accordance with our duty, we passed
through the house, closely examining every division of it, and to our
satisfaction we realize that the care exercised over it was manifest in the
order in which we found it. Its condition throughout entitles the
matron having the care of the premises to the heart-felt gratitude of all
who have an interest in those who are kept there from necessity."
Again we quote the Doctor's language. "In passing through the
house, closely examining every department of it, we have realized what has
frequently been stated by the agent of our State public charities, - that
for cleanliness, freedom from offensive odor, and a manifest bestowal of
vigilant care exercised over the premises, the Knox county alms-house stand
unrivaled in our State as a model of praiseworthy order, and worthy of
imitation by other institutions of the same character in the State.
Our worthy matron is not especially limited in her capacity for keeping
affairs therein in order, but she possess additionally the rare ability
essential to the managing and keeping subject to her will all those unruly
elements that are submitted to her charge."
We can give no better detailed description of the manner of caring for
the unfortunate of this society than is found in Dr. McClelland's report to
the January meeting of the Board of Supervisors of 1872, which we give
bodily, as it also compares the mode of conducting this institution with
that generally adopted by public charities:
To the Honorable Board of Supervisors, Knox County, Illinois: -
The undersigned beg leave to submit the following report: Since the
last annual meeting 127 person have received aid at the almshouse. Of
this number 85 are at present inmates, - an increase of 10 over the number
present Jan. 1, 1871. During the year there were deaths, by apoplexy
[paralysis due to stroke] 1, old age 1, exhaustion incident to insanity 1,
typho-malarial fever 1, albuminuria 1, consumption [tuberculosis] 3; total
8. There have been during the same time 3 births. Of the inmates
at present in the house 84 are white and 1 colored. Those not
protected by previous small-pox vaccination have been recently vaccinated.
The good condition of the house in respect to ventilation and cleanliness
forbid the occurrence of any endemic disease. If not considered
intrusive, I would desire to call the attention of the honorable Board to
certain faults found by the Board of State Commissioners of Public Charities
in the management of paupers in the various counties of the State, to show
that so far as Knox county is concerned we can plead "not guilty."
First, the farming out of
paupers to the lowest bidder.
Second, the payment, under any
circumstance, of a weekly stipend per capita for food and other necessities
The third fault found has
reference to the medical care of the family. Whatever medicines or
medical appliance, the pauper family need they receive, the county at no
time restricting the physician in this matter.
Fourth, has reference to a
certain annoyance which in this county is reduced to a minimum.
Fifth, pauper children are
almost without exception uninstructed and untrained. This county is an
exception. Children of the proper age are sent to the city schools,
and the fault is with them if they are not instructed.
Sixth, refers to the condition
of the insane and idiotic. This class receives an abundance of light
and air, are kept clean and warm, have an abundance to eat and good beds to
Seventh, refers to
epileptics. Same answer may be returned as to fault sixth.
Eight, clothing and bedding
plenty and good.
Ninth, "houses slovenly in
appearance and inmates unsupplied with proper appliances for personal
cleanliness." Knox county alms-house speaks for itself. Our
paupers would not be known by their clothes.
Tenth, refers to classification
of paupers. This cannot be done in out alms-house till the building is
completed. (Editors Note: This has since been done and the inmates
assigned to their various departments.)
Eleventh, "scarcely a
county in the State in which any attempt is made to impart either secular or
religious instructions to the pauper." the matron has assumed it
as one of her duties to read to the family on the Sabbath, and from time to
time the pastors of the city churches have exercises in the alms-house
chapel. Publishers of the Galesburg Register and the Knox
County Democrat have kindly sent copies of their papers regularly to
the alms-house the past year; and in behalf of the pauper family I would
return them grateful thanks and ask a continuance of the favor. There
have also been Swedish papers sent to the family, but how many and by whom I
am unable to state. For them, we return thanks.
The comforts provided by Knox county for the relief of paupers doubtless
contributes to increase their numbers. For this the honorable State
Board suggest enforced industry.
The nature of the causes which have made a large number of our family fit
subjects for public care will be understood from an inspection of the
annexed table, which gives nationality and sex:
It may be a matter of interest to know that Knox county stands
first in the amount invested for the care of its poor, $56,200 being the value
of buildings and farm. Peoria counts stands next, having $55,550.
Cook stands third, with $39,565.
These statements are made in answer to inquiries that are
frequently made of persons that are in any way associated with the management
of the institution."
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the 1899 Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and Knox County, Munsell Publishing Company, pages 642-643.
"The Almshouse. For twenty-five years after the organization of Knox County, the paupers were farmed out to the
lowest bidder; but after township organization was adopted, this system was thought inadequate, and the Board of Supervisors, finding a convenient tract of land for sale cheap,
determined to purchase a county poor farm. On March 5, 1856, they purchased of M. G. Smith for the sum of $3,000, the west half of the southwest quarter of Section 21,
Knox Township. The farmhouse already on the land was converted into a poorhouse; but it furnished wretched accommodations, and the complaints that ensued were loud and
frequent, even the committee of supervisors exclaiming against it.
Finally, in 1866, the Board determined to erect a new almshouse and R. W. Miles, L. E. Conger, and Cephas Arms were appointed a committee on building. The people of
Knoxville, being naturally a great deal interested in the matter, prepared plans and submitted them to the Board. But the plans were for a building as large as the
present one, which rather dismayed many of the supervisors and temporarily stopped the project. Then the Galesburg members proposed a committee, appointed in April, 1866,
to secure a location for the building. At the instance of W. Selden Gale, L. E. Conger bought for this committee the northwest quarter of Section 24, Galesburg Township,
for $8,000. On behalf of Galesburg, W. S. Gale offered the Board $10,000 to locate the almshouse on this site. But the Knoxville people rallied their friends, asked
that only a portion of the proposed building be built and secured the erection of the almshouse on the present site. The Board sold the Galesburg property for $9,000 and
purchased, on June 15, 1866, thirty-six acres adjoining the old poor farm, from William Y. Miller, for $2,340; and two days later, thirty-three acres from John Eads, for
The contract for the main building and west wing was let to William Armstrong, for $26,000. The furniture, heating, and the stocking of the farm brought the total cost
to $39, 037.21. The east wing was built by Parry and Stevens, of Galesburg, in accordance with the original plans, the contract being let August 21, 1876, for $17,
400. The design was by W. W. Boyington, of Chicago, in Gothic style. The building is constructed of brick and limestone, 166x80, with two stories and a basement.
In 1890, the number of insane in Knox County was larger than the state asylums would take from the county, so the erection of an annex for the insane became necessary.
W. S. Gale, J. S. Simpson, William Robson, H. M. Sisson, and James Rebstock were appointed a committee to consider the matter, and they adopted plans of I. A. Coleman (really
their own plans approved by Mr. Coleman) for a three-story building, corresponding to the almshouse, to be attached to the west wing by a corridor. March 18, 1890, P. O.
Munson, of Galesburg. contracted to build it for $26,459. In 1898, the building was again found inadequate, and the Board determined on an annex for insane females, to be
erected at the east side of the building, according to plans prepared by Gottschalk and Beadle. The contract was awarded to Munson and Tingleaf for the sum of $20,000,
exclusive of heating and lighting, which will probable be $6,000 more.
The contract was let in the latter part of July, 1898, and the annex was finished in the summer of 1899. A new laundry building also became a necessity, and the
contract for this was awarded F. W. Hawk, of Knoxville, on September 27, 1898, for $16,000, the work to be done as soon as possible. It was finished in early 1899, and,
with these improvements, the almshouse was one of the handsomest and most convenient in the state. The poor farm comprises about one hundred and fifty acres.
When the almshouse was built, Dr. L. J. Cleveland and his wife took charge. Soon after Dr. Cleveland died, and Dr. M. A. McClelland was appointed to the place.
Mrs. Cleveland (afterwards Mrs. M. A. McClelland) was a most efficient matron and superintendent, and retained her position until March 1, 1886, when M. P. DeLong was appointed
superintendent, which position he filled until February, 1892. The Board at that time appointed John Cook, the present superintendent, the change being made on account of
Mr. DeLong's ill-health."
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See also the Knox
County Almshouse 1900 Federal Census in
format (requires that you have Excel and either Internet Explorer
or AOL installed on your computer) or in HTML
format that will work with any browser. [Contributed by Tom