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Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 6, page 119, September 23, 1853

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Identifier: DX04138699

Title: Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 6, page 119, September 23, 1853

Description: Describes visiting the State Prison in Columbus, Ohio.


countred another Lake acquaintance. An old man, Virginian born, but here abiding, had been engaged in farming, but was now building houses, which he showed me, adjacent to the spot on which we met. Into his buggy, with himself & little son, and to the State Prison. A spacious, fine building with trees & ornamental walks around, inside a large, ornamented open quadrangle, where some deer lay on the distant grass. Twenty five cents each being paid, with a guide we rambled all over the buildings, first visiting the prisoners cells, (narrow, and in the thickness of the inner prison walls,) then themselves at their various avocations. In spacious workshops they were employed, some making planes, turning, doing saddlers, work, weaving, making agricultural instruments, scythe handles, cradles, or playing hammer and bellows in the smithy, making homes, & what not. All were attired in prison costume, woolen trousers & shirt, striped horizon tally with white and dark buff. Some had repulsive faces, others only common ones. Some negroes were there. Flogging is used, in case of continuacy, or attempts to escape. The briefest space for which a prisoner is incarcerated is for one year, the longest, for Life. They are well fed, exceedingly so, for prisoners, judging from what was told me. At 5 1/2 P M each one is locked in his cell, — allowed during winter a candle, and perchance books given out by the minister. How horribly must that thick lattice work of iron jar-to on a man’s ear, he condemned for life; in the long darkling winter weather, with perchance the black shadow of murder hanging over his soul! Different capitalists have contracted for the prisoner’s labour; — they finding tools & material. One man, a New Yorker, Hayden by name is spoken of as an immense capitalist, who years back started from his native city with but a shilling in poke. All this prison seems in excel-

Rights: NoC-US


Dates: 1853-09-23

Type(s): Diary

Maker/Creator: Gunn, Thomas Butler, 1826-1903

Subjects: Diaries
African Americans


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