Commentary

Jail, sheriffs big part of Milam’s history

PAST TENSE: FROM THE MUSEUM
By CHARLES KING
Milam County Museum Director

In 1895 it was decided by the Milam County Commissioners Court that a new jail was needed and it should be relocated.

In March of that year a Cameron town lot, located on the right side of the road leading to McCown’s Ferry, was purchased from A. J. Ward for $50.

On March 21, bids were opened and the next day County Judge Sam Streetman approved the bid submitted by the Pauly Jail & Manufacturing Company of St. Louis.

Contract read that jail construction price by Pauly would be “no more than $19,883.”

Pauly was to provide all necessary materials, tools, appliance and labor.

Joel T. Arnold was named construction superintendent.

In case of disagreements without settlement agreements, arbitrators were to be summoned and their decisions would be final and binding. The parties would share the expense of arbitration.

The structure was built, commissioners inspected it on Dec. 2 and it was formally accepted by the court.

The jail had three main floors and a hanging tower which, county records show, was never used.

The sheriff and his family lived on the 10-room first floor. The family has seven rooms of living space and three were used for storage.

Prisoners were kept on the second and third floors.

In its early years, the jail was surrounded by a board fence and hitching racks were erected on the jail grounds. They were removed in July, 1923.

A mantle was added to the sheriff’s parlor by Tom Sapp.

Electric lights were installed at a later date.

A. S. Ruby pained a portion of the jail in 1897. L. R. Wright Company put down a concrete floor, repaired a portion of the brick work and connected the roof with the sewer system so that rain water coming off the roof could be carried away from the jail building and lot.

Milam County was the sole owner of the jail which held prisoners for almost 81 years before it was replaced.

The former jail has housed the county museum for more than 40 years.

Because of its unique architecture and the sheriffs who have lived there, it is interwoven into the life of Milam County.

Here are the 36 men, and one woman (in italics), who have served as Milam County Sheriff since the post was created in 1836 during the Republic of Texas:

Thomas Graves, S. A. Chairs, Augustus Sillraven, John Beal, Ordera Watson, Jeremiah Hood. Robert Flanniken, John McLennan, Moses Aldridge, D. P. McCanlep, Jefferson Rogers.

Rufus Stommett, L. T. Dillisham, George Washington Thach, J. P. Rice (served two non-consecutive terms), A. D. Cooper (served two non-consecutive terms), J. D. Nunnley.

J. T. Torney, B. T. Arnold, W. E. Mitchinson, Mitt Livingston, John Wolf, Wyatt Lipscomb, A J. Lewis.

John Bickett, Robert Todd (served two non-consecutive terms), Giles Avriett, J. E, Holtzclaw, Allen Hooks, L. L. Blaylock (served two non-consecutive terms).

Max Kennedy, Valter White, Sarah White, Carl Black, Leroy Broadus, Charlie West, David Greene.

The county had 11 sheriffs in the 24 years between 1856 and 1880.

It has had only four in the 73 years between 1944 and the present.


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2017-12-07 digital edition

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