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MIKE WATSON: A brief history of two Adair County jails

"New" jail of 1857 built during Jailer McFarland Canterberry term. Jailers there were Canterberry, William T. Smith, John W. McClain, William O. Murrell, John W. McClain, again; John H. Reynolds, George Milton Wolford, and Robert M. Tucker. Jailers at the 1894-1985 jail were Samuel H. Mitchell, James K. Polk Conover, A.W. Tarter, C.G. "Gus" Jeffries, A.W. Tarter, F.W. Miller, Evan Akin, Curt Stephens, Mrs. Pearl Stephens, E.B. Morgan, Amos Coomer, Noah Flatt, Curtis Powell, Osby Rowe, Lucien Kimbler, Mrs. Mary Kimbler, Hailey Neagle, and Lawrence W. Burton.
Click on headline for complete story with fascinating Adair County History and photo(s)

By Mike Watson

The "New" Adair County Jail, 1857

McFarland Canterberry became Adair County jailer in 1854, making bond for the office in September, and serving until January 1862. During his tenure the "new" jail was constructed. The "1857 jail," the county's third, was built on the corner of High and Greensburg Streets, the same building now housing Stotts, Phelps McQueary Funeral Home.


The 1857 jail specifications, from the original plan, are presented here in an abbreviated form: "Jail was to be 52 by 20 feet; two stories, first nine feet and six inches, second to be eight feet and six inches; a passage twelve feet wide; a good stone foundation, two feet above the surface of the ground; the second story was to have thirteen and one-half inches of brick to be lined with oak timber in the prison rooms, six inches and filled with timbers on end, three inches thick. The floors of the prison rooms were to be on oak sleepers twelve by three inches, twenty inches apart; with two-inch thick plank, strapped with iron bars two and one-half by one-quarter inch, six inches apart and covered with another floor of one-inch oak plank. There were to be four windows with glass and iron grates, checked, leaving three inches between the bars in each direction. Four doors leading into the passage with iron grate the same as the windows and a strong wooden shutter and three locks to the doors of each prison."

McFarland Canterbury served as jailer until January 1862 at which time William T. Smith took the oath of office. He was then elected in August 1862 and served until his term expired in September 1866. At that election, John W. McClain was chosen and served two terms, until September 1874.

William O. Murrell was elected in September 1874. Then, John W. McClain was again elected in 1878. John H. Reynolds was elected in August 1882, George Milton Wolford was elected in August 1886, and Robert M. Tucker in August 1890.

In October 1876 Pleasant Harrison was being held in the jail charged with murder. The Court felt he might attempt an escape, or might be taken from jail by force. Because of the poor condition of the structure, the following January the Court ordered a cage built in one of the upstairs rooms to house dangerous inmates. However, this order was set aside.

The Adair County Jail, 1894

The 1857 jail was found insufficient, and in October 1893 a committee was formed to look into the possibility of constructing a new one. In early 1894 the committee recommended a new structure to be built on the opposite end of the jail lot, on the corner of Greensburg Street and Monroe Alley. The new jail was constructed in 1894 under the superintendency of J.A. Goodell, of Illinois. His crew had the building ready for use by the fall of 1894.

The following jailers occupied the 1894 jail: Samuel H. Mitchell,elected in 1894 and 1898; James K. Polk Conover, elected in 1901 andbegan his term in January 1902, elected on Independent ticket in 1909;A.W. Tarter, elected in 1905; C.G. "Gus" Jeffries, elected in November1913; A.W. Tarter, elected again in 1917; F.W. Miller, elected in 1921and 1925; Evan Akin, elected in 1929; Curt Stephens, elected in 1933;Mrs. Pearl Stephens made bond in December 1934 and again in April1935; E.B. Morgan made bond in November 1935; Amos Coomer, elected in1937; Noah Flatt, elected in 1941; Curtis Powell, elected in 1945 and1949; Osby Rowe, elected in November 1953; Lucien Kimbler, elected inNovember of 1957, November 1961, and November 1965; Mrs. Mary Kimbler,wife of jailer Kimbler, made bond in February 1969; Hailey Neagleassumed the office in 1969 and was elected in 1973 and 1977; LawrenceW. Burton, elected in 1981 and 1985.

Jail had 90 year use, then current jail built

In May 1985 the old jail was razed to make room for a new, modern multi-county regional jail. - Mike Watson


This story was posted on 2012-04-17 03:45:31
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Favorite Old Photo: Old Adair County Jail (1894-1985)



2012-04-16 - 200 Block Greensburg Street, Columbia, KY - Photo from collection of Mike Watson.
This is a 'favorite old photo'
that is not soooo old: Adair County Jail, circa 1970s. - MIKE WATSON. The present Adair County Regional Jail is on the same site, built in 1985.

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The Adair County Regional Jail (1985 - )



2012-04-17 - 200 Greensburg Street, Columbia, KY - Photo by Pen.
Pen took this photo, posted in 2008, of the current Adair County Regional Jail, constructed in 1985.

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