From 1811 to 1965, there was a women’s wing at the prison. The stairs were blocked off so the only physical access was by way of the corridor or the warden’s office.
Census figures for 1850, 1860 and 1870 list no more than seven or eight females at a time but include a one month old, a seven month old, and a two year old – mothers were allowed to keep children with them. Other records show girls as young as 12 arrested and held. One 12-year-old was held here and tried for arson.
While we have little evidence of racial discrimination in our Jail, gender discrimination was evident. Females were incarcerated for adultery far more than males were. There was no paid matron until 1909 – until then, the warden’s wife served as the unpaid matron. Interestingly, few if any women were jailed for prostitution before 1900. We would like to think this evidence of a highly moral County, but far more likely prostitutes were arrested for “disorderly conduct”, a charge which appears on the record with considerable frequency.