July 23, 1909
That men and women prisoners have been kept in the dungeon at the workhouse for periods ranging from eleven to forty-three hours at a stretch is a part of the prison records being investigated by the board of pardons and paroles.
The investigation which Mayor Crittenden requested should be made into affairs at the workhouse was begun yesterday morning in the lower house council chamber. Superintendent Patrick O'Hearn was on the stand both morning and afternoon.
When the afternoon session opened, Frank P. Walsh, attorney for the board, who is conducting the inquiry, asked O'Hearn how many prisoners had been given sentences in the dungeon for stealing food from the dining room table.
"I don't know of any," said O'Hearn, "that was most always used as a threat. When a prisoner was sent to the dungeon it was generally for something else."
"I will read from your own records," said Mr. Walsh. "Do you remember Ed Cox, who was placed in the dungeon on September 2, 1908, for stealing bread from the table and carrying it away in his trousers leg?"
"I remember him," replied O'Hearn. "He fought the guards. I saw that myself."
Walsh -- "Do you recall Paul Tillman, Alice Stark, Sadie Shepherd, Hattie Newton, who served thirteen hours each in there, and Charles Meredith, who served an hour and a half? The records show that each was confined for stealing bread."
O'Hearn -- "I don't recall them in particular; there were so many of them put in there."
Dropping the subject for a moment, Mr. Walsh asked O'Hearn if he had ever sent prisoners out to drive city sprinkling wagons at night, if he had had his own wagons repaired at the expense of the city or if he had shod horses belonging to Mr. Cartright, former guard at Leeds, at the city's expense.
Frank M. Lowe, attorney for O'Hearn, objected. He demanded that he be given a copy of the charges against O'Hearn. He was told that there was none.
"Mr. O'Hearn is not on trial here," explained Mr. Walsh. "Things may crop out which may reflect on Kipple, head guard, some of the other guards or Mr. O'Hearn himself. There have been no specific charges filed. This board is simply making a most searching investigation with a view to bettering conditions at the workhouse. Information has been secured from prisoners, former guards and others. Even rumors are being looked into. What Mr. Lowe asks for we cannot give as we haven't it."
Mr. Lowe was told he would be furnished with copies of the evidence from day to day for his information.
"Do you keep a record of the number of days each prisoner works?" asked Mr. Walsh, resuming the inquiry.
"No," replied O'Hearn, "only the names of the guards were kept. We worked some prisoners one day and another lot the next."
Walsh -- Do you make a report to the city comptroller showing the number of days each man works?"
O'Hearn -- "No, I'm not required to. Every day excepting Sundays and holidays is credited as a working day whether the prisoner works or not.
Mr. Walsh tried to get from O'Hearn what his duties were about the institution, but they seemed so varied and even vague that he asked him to describe a typical day's work for himself.
O'Hearn -- Well, I get up early to begin with. On my way to the workhouse I may stop at the quarry for a time. Then I look after the food and general cleaning. I make trips about the yards, the stable, laundry, quarry and spend the rest of the time in my office. I may have to make trips down town after requisitions and see after men working at places on the outside. I always put in a busy day."
Walsh -- Do prisoners gamble in the cell room?
O'Hearn -- I don't think so. That is, I have never seen them.
O'Hearn explained that Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays are visiting days at the workhouse. Fifteen minutes is the time limit set on visitors but they often remain longer when overlooked, he said.
During the morning session Mr. Walsh asked of Superintendent O'Hearn: Did you ever whip a negro girl for insulting your wife?"
"I don't remember," replied O'Hearn.
Walsh -- "Did Mr. Burger make a hose for you to do the whipping with?"
O'Hearn -- "I can't remember."
Walsh -- "Well, if you ever did a thing like that you surely ought to recall it. Did you or did you not whip the negro girl as I asked?"
O'Hearn -- "I just can't remember whether I did or not."
Edward L. Kipple, head guard at the workhouse, was questioned about prisoners being sent to the dungeon.
Walsh -- "Ever know of prisoners being sent to the dungeon?"
Kipple -- "Y-e-s, sometimes, when they got unruly they were sent there for ten or twelve hours."
Walsh -- "Ever sent a woman there?"
Kipple -- "Believe I sent one. In all I guess I've sent four or five to the dungeon."
Walsh -- "Who has the authority to send a prisoner there?"
Kipple -- "Only Mr. O'Hearn or myself."
Walsh -- "What do you consider a sufficient length of time in the dungeon?"
Kipple -- "That depends on what they do."
Mr. Walsh then read a list of names from the workhouse record of men and women prisoners who had been kept in the dungeon eleven, thirteen, fifteen, eighteen and twenty-four hours. Three had been kept there for thirty-eight hours, one for forty-one and another for forty-three hours. While in the dungeon, which has only one small opening over the door for ventilation, prisoners are shackled with their hands to the wall, making it necessary for them to stand. The dungeon is said to be in a very unsanitary condition.
Kipple testified that he had never seen nor heard of a prisoner being struck with a club while in the dining room, that blankets were never used twice without washing and that he knew nothing of vermin in the cell rooms. He also swore that he had never known of liquor and drugs being secured by the prisoners or of gambling among prisoners.
Claude Marshaw, known as "Goldie," who served a term for peddling cocaine and was himself then addicted to the habit, said that the drug was often spirited into the workhouse. He said that Mike Green and "Red" Crawford, both now escaped, had gum opium and whisky most of the time.
"Who brought the stuff in?" asked Mr. Walsh.
"I don't know, only that they had it. Green would take up a collection every afternoon to get a bottle and he always got the whisky about 7 p. m."
Walsh -- "How about the food out there?"
Marshaw -- "Bad, very bad. In the morning they always had pan gravy in a rusty pan, coffee in a rusty cup, half a loaf of hard, moldy bread and a small piece of meat.
Walsh -- "Ever see a prisoner assaulted in the dining room?"
Marshaw -- "Yes. I saw Dan Mahoney beat a man in the dining room and I saw Mahoney, Foley, Gent and an Italian called Mike beat up another one."
Walsh -- "Was 'Riley, the Rat' there while you were there?"
Marshaw -- "Yes, two or three days, but he never even put on prison clothes. He wore 'cits' all the time, Riley did. He and Green and others gambled, playing 'coon-can' and 'craps.'"
Jesse Cooper, a negress who has had short sojourns at the workhouse, said there was vermin in the negro women's quarter, that blankets were not often washed and that the bread was hard and moldy. She also said she that two negro women had each spent two days and nights in the dungeon while she was there.
John Mulloy, a parole prisoner, told of an assault which he had witnessed on a negro boy in the dining room. It started, he said, because the boy did not step fast enough for Dan Mahoney who jabbed him with a club. The boy grabbed at the stick and was beaten over the head until he bled. Mulloy also condemned the meals.
The hearing will be resumed at 9 o'clock this morning. There are many witnesses to bet examined. By the ordinance, passed Wednesday noon, the board of pardons and paroles now has charge of the workhouse.