Wayne County Historical Society Museum

As a former administrator with the New York State Department of Corrections for 13 years I conducted hundreds of prison site visits. At the time I was responsible for the health records in 71 correctional facilities, and attempted to see each prison, annually, and some more frequently. Sad note on society to have that many prisons, however, now I believe the number has dwindled to 54 New York State correctional facilities, and hopefully that number will decrease further in the next decade. All that said whenever I have the chance to visit a prison, especially one from a bygone era, I jump at the chance. This was the case at the Wayne County Historical Museum, which also was a prison in the 1850-1950 era.

The Museum was also the jailer’s home as well as a prison. Sheriff’s served a 2 year term but after that they often remained as a Deputy. Side view of the home reveals the prison exterior.

The stairs connecting the cell blocks to the Sheriff’s home.

The Cell block

Some interesting facts:

  • Sentencing was done by a circuit judge who visited the area twice a year. If incarcerated, the prisoner would wait 6 months till the circuit judge arrived.
  • The sheriff’s wife fed the inmates twice a day. Below is the stairs she walked to carry inmate food. What a woman! Forgot to ask if she was paid for this, however, doubtful.
  • There were no toilets till 1917, prior to that there was a pot on the floor.
  • In 1947, women and men’s cells were separated with women on the top block and men on the bottom.
  • The only executed inmate in the county occurred at this prison. He was an Irishman who killed a woman who was traveling solo along the road.

The actual gallows used.

What really fascinated me was the art work which remains on the jail walls. Unsure of the dates but take a look.

The weapons used in the prisoner’s acts.

The Sheriff at his post.

Sheriff Collins served for 51 years and captured the famous American train robber Oliver Curtis Perry.


Next Blog: More of this interesting museum – you never know what you’ll find when you travel! 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s