1949 State Correction Commission letterhead of message to Ontario County Board of Supervisors on site and architect selection for a new jail.
[Scanned from Cindy L. Allen-Tucceri's history.]
James A. Lyons, Commissioner of Correction

Walter W. Nicholson -- Syracuse, Vice-Chairman

George H. Culver, Secretary


John L. Schoenfeld - New York
Edward R. Cass - New York
Charles M. Trunz - Brooklyn
Marjorie M. Hogan - New York
Grant Reynolds - New York
James N. Douglas - Utica

Cindy L. Allen-Tucceri's
The History of the Ontario County Jail: 1789 - 1995

Page 6 of 9

1895 - 1961
In 1895, a new jail was completed, and in use by June. This structure was built just west of the current facility, at a cost of $24,747.15. The old jail was torn down. The Sheriff at the time saved the iron framework of the cell in which William Morgan was housed.[17]

At the time of this writing, I was informed that the framework is in the possession of the Masonic Order.

February 11, 1911, brought the first official appointment of a matron to the Ontario County Jail. This was done so on the recommendation of the Secretary of New York Commission of Prisons. The Commission of Prisons denoted that a matron would be in attendance at all times. This was the Sheriff's wife. It was further resolved by the Ontario County Board of Supervisors that the Sheriff, and each Sheriff here after elected was authorized and empowered to appoint a matron of the Jail. [18]

Text of 1949 State Correction Commission letter to Ontario Board of Supervisors
January 28, 1949
Mr. Arthur E. Treble,
Chairman of the Board of Supervisors,
Ontario County, Canandaigua, N. Y.

Dear Sir:

Re - Proposed Ontario County Jail.

This is to advise that the matter of the construction of a new county Jail in Ontario County, by motion carried at the last regular meeting of this Commission on January 21st, was put over for a period of six months. As requested by you at that meeting, following is the text of the motion:

"Comm Cass -- I move, in the presence of this delegation, that we put the matter over six months with the understanding that the County will do something in the matter of the selection of a site for a new county Jail and in the matter of engaging an architect."

Trusting the foregoing is what you desire,
Yours very truly,
George H. Culver,

On May 4, 1924, inmate Howard M. Keavin, who was being held pending indictment for the murder of Geneva City Policeman, Aenas McDonald, made a successful escape. It was later discovered that his wife aided in the escape. He was recaptured April 12, 1926. He also made a successful escape from Auburn Prison in November 1926. He was recaptured and transferred to Dannemora [19] It must also be mentioned that he had originally escaped from Eastern Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. [20]

January 12, 1939, with the jail under the supervision of Sheriff Walter A. Elling, six inmates attempted to escape at 11:30 pm. An inmate named Franklin VanOrden had faked having convulsions for two days. After having a medical check done on VanOrden, the Sheriff had an idea that an attempt would be made. The Sheriff and his officers placed themselves strategically inside, and outside the facility. VanOrden summoned the floor officer, threw pepper in his face, and took his keys. He then unlocked the cells of the other inmates.

Milliken, Charles. F. A History Of Ontario County And Its People. NY: Lewis History Publishing, 1911, p. 59.

Proceedings of Ontario County Board Of Supervisors 1/l/11 to 12/31/11. Canandaigua

Trio To Share In Award For Taking Keavin. Canandaigua: Daily Messenger, 7/22/29.

Slayer of Geneva Cop Gets Only a Glimpse of Life on the Outside. Canandaigua: Daily Messenger, 7/16/52

Inmates Foiled As Elling Senses A Plot To Escape. Canandaigua: Daily Messenger, 1/12/39.

Ontario County Historical Society. Ontario Pushes Plan for New Jail.

Jurors Urge County Action On New Jail. Canandaigua: Daily Messenger, 10/13/50.

Two of them proceeded out of the cell block area, and were quickly subdued. The remaining four realized they were not going anywhere and surrendered. [21]

In 1949 county officials were told by the New York State Commission of Corrections to be prepared to show action to erect a new jail within six months. The Commission had found the existing facility inadequate, antiquated, and unfit for use during an inspection a year previous. . . . A copy of the letter from the Secretary of the Commission is also included. [22]

During this time inmates were being housed out in Onondaga and Monroe counties, on per diem, to relieve conditions at Ontario County Jail. Many meetings followed between Ontario County Board of Supervisors and the New York State Commission of Corrections. The county applied for and was granted an extension when it was shown that funds were set aside, and architects were being considered for building a new jail.

The Grand Jury embarked on a tour of the jail October 13, 1950. The jail was under Sheriff Harold G. Bacon at this time. The Grand Jury recommended that a new jail be built "as soon as possible." Although they commended the Sheriff and his officers on their efficiency and alertness. They stated:

We consider the entire jail far too small and inadequate, and it has been for sometime. Under the circumstances, we recommend the construction of a new jail as soon as possible. [23]

In April of 1960 architects, and contractors were selected. The new facility was opened for public inspection on October 21, 1961.

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