The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

The Medford Bastille

    Marshal Murray arrested Fred Clark, aged nineteen years, and Clyde Smith, aged eighteen, last Friday upon a warrant sworn out by John Perdue, charging them with the theft of some tools, which were stolen last February. The culprits were placed in the city bastille, where they were kept until Sunday night, when they made their escape. The escape took place while they were at supper at the Star Restaurant. The marshal had taken them to the restaurant, and they were in the wash room preparing for the evening meal when the marshal asked Mr. Anderson, proprietor of the restaurant, to keep watch of them for a minute or two while he stepped down the street for his cane, which he had left. As soon as the marshal was out of sight the boys proceeded to get out of sight themselves. They hit only the high places in their race out of the back door and down the alley. Mr. Anderson, with an eye to business, called to them to not go until they had had their supper, but they probably did not hear him or were not hungry, as they did not stop. A search was made for them but they could not be located and, so far as the authorities are concerned, they haven't been located yet. The stolen property, we understand, was found and has been returned to Mr. Perdue.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, April 20, 1900, page 7

    The city bastille is usually occupied these nights by one or more guests whose street perambulations are not conducted in accordance with laws and regulations in such cases made and provided. The morning following they are usually escorted to the city limits and invited to move on.
    Chief of Police Johnson was recently presented with a real regulation "Billy" club, with which to uphold the peace and dignity of the city.
"Additional Local," Medford Mail, February 22, 1901, page 6

    Chief of Police Johnson has a new star which contains the true insignia of his office--that of Chief of Police.

"Additional Local," Medford Mail, March 15, 1901, page 6

    Chief of Police Johnson has been doing a fairly good business during the past couple of weeks in the collection of dog taxes. He has rounded up $45 in cold coin and informs a Mail reporter that there are several score more more of the canine family in the city which is now on the trail of.

"Additional Local," Medford Mail, April 19, 1901, page 2

    Henry W. Smith, who was confined in the city jail Sunday for disorderly conduct, made an attempt to regain his liberty by the fire route, building a fire so that it would burn the door and woodwork in order to free the hinges. He had prepared kindlings and started the fire in good shape, but his ruse did not prove successful, as the fire department was called out and the blaze extinguished. On Monday County Judge Dunn was called to inquire into the sanity of Smith, it being thought that he was not exactly right mentally. The judge decided that Smith was a sane man and held him to appear in the circuit court on a charge of attempt to commit arson. He has a bad record, having one time been in the county jail for several months.

"City Happenings," Medford Mail, April 19, 1907, page 5

    Material is being placed on the ground for the new city hall, and the old jail is being torn down this week. Work will be pushed as rapidly as possible on the new building, which when completed will be a credit to the city. The plans provide for offices for the executive officials, council chamber, police court room, fire house and a jail.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, October 25, 1907, page 5

    The cells for the city jail arrived during the first of the week and are installed. The new cells are being fitted with clean bedding and new cots, so that the offenders who are the first to "do time" will be placed amid surroundings as cleanly and inviting as are to be found in any well-appointed lodging house.

"City Happenings," Medford Mail, April 3, 1908, page 5

    The wood pile has taken the place of the rock pile, and from now on all those who are compelled to work out the amount of their fines will do so with a bucksaw and put in a good ten hours a day. The city officials have put in a lot of cordwood, which was brought from the supply at the city water plant, and have it on tap in close vicinity to the city lockup.
    The police got tired of serving meals to prisoners who had nothing else to do but kill time while waiting for the time when they would be free men once more. Now they just lock them in the old jail building with a nice pile of wood and tell them to "do nothing but saw wood." From the way business has been improving in the recorder's court, it would appear that the stock of wood will not last many months.
    George Riley, the man they don't speak of so highly, appeared before Recorder Benj. M. Collins this morning. He is the Irishman who got in both an argument and a fight with "John Anderson, My Joe John," over the merits and demerits of the Scotch and the Irish, and he caused Anderson to appear as if he had been used for the purpose of cleaning up the whole of Seventh Street--and then some.
    The recorder thought that Anderson had been punished enough and let him go with a warning, but he socked a fine of $30 to Riley. Like most of the others who appear, he had spent all his money and said he guessed he would have to serve his time in jail.
    "We have a nice little job waiting for you," said the recorder, as he sized up the strapping and scrappy Irishman. "You can just work on the rock pi--I mean the wood pile, for 15 days." Everyone present laughed at the break the recorder had made except Mr. Riley, and he glared around the room as if he failed to see what there was to laugh about.
Medford Mail, September 18, 1908, page 5

Last revised May 20, 2011