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November 6, 2007

Stillwater State Prison Log

Filed under: What's New — Matt Anderson @ 2:05 pm

Stillwater State Prison log, handcuffs and keySeptember 7, 2006 marked the 130th anniversary of the Northfield First National Bank robbery attempt by the notorius James-Younger Gang. After two weeks on the run, the Younger brothers, Cole, Jim, and Bob, were captured and sentenced to 25 years in the state prison at Stillwater in November 1876.

Recently, the Minnesota Historical Society acquired a Stillwater State Prison record book that includes information about all three brothers. The record book is entitled “Cell Room Daily Report”, and dates from June 1, 1880 through September 28, 1882. The record book is the prison’s daily record listing prisoners who were sick in their cell, isolated in the “dungeon”, sent on work details, or staying in the prison for the day. The Younger brothers were often “sick in cell”, especially Cole Younger. Why Cole was sick in his cell is not detailed. During the period the record book was compiled there were 210 to 280 inmates, males and females, in the state prison.

It is unclear if the record book is for the entire prison, or for just one cellblock, but the book gives some insights about the Younger brothers and their incarceration. The record book is particularly valuable, since there are few, if any, records documenting the Younger Brothers imprisonment in the state prison. The Younger brothers (Cole, cell no. 64; Bob, cell no. 65; Jim, cell no. 66) are frequently mentioned in the record book, and the State Archives of the Minnesota Historical Society has only a few records documenting the brothers imprisonment in the Stillwater State Prison. Bob Younger died in prison in 1889; Jim was pardoned in 1901 and committed suicide in 1902; Cole, also pardoned in 1901, died in 1916.

The Stillwater State Prison was initally established as a territorial prison in 1853 and become the first state prison when Minnesota became a state in 1858. The State Archives holds a variety of records from the prison including convict registers, case files, annual reports, and photographs.

Charles Rodgers, Government Records Specialist

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14 Responses to “Stillwater State Prison Log”

  1. mindy barlage Says:

    I am looking for information about my greatgrandfather Charlies William Mapes. Born Sept. 19,1877 and died I think in 1939. I have reason to believe he was in Stillwater prison by his military registration card. Could you verify this and tell me why he was there? And if he died in prison? I can’t locate a death certificate on him . Thank you Mindy Barlage

    Charles Rodgers reply on February 26th, 2009:

    Hello Mindy: Pardon the delay in responding to your email. If you still wish to research whether or not your great grandfather was incarcerated in the Stillwater State Prison, please contact the Minnesota Historical Society’s Reference Department at refe...@mnhs.org.; telephone 651.259.3300. The State Archives collection of the Minnesota Historical Society preserves Stillwater State Prison records, including inmate case files and indexes dating from the 1890s to 1978. Good luck with your research.

  2. marla Says:

    I would like to know why my grandfather’s birth father was in the minnesota state prison around 1912. His name was Gustav kerckel, born 1876 died 1-23-1956

    Charles Rodgers reply on February 26th, 2009:

    Hello Marla: This should be a fairly easy question to answer. Please contact the Minnesota Historical Society’s Reference Department at refe...@mnhs.org.; telephone 651.259.3300. The State Archives collection of the Minnesota Historical Society preserves Stillwater State Prison records, including inmate case files and indexes dating from the 1890s to 1978. Good luck with your research.

  3. Lynn Enfield Says:

    Hello,

    My Great Uncle was in the Stillwater prison from 1911-1916
    his name was Frank Proell and his case file number was 3487. I’m trying to find out if there is a picture of him. And could I get a copy of it.

    Thank You,
    Lynn

  4. charles rodgers Says:

    Hello Lynn: It’s possible there is a photograph or a glass plate negative of your great uncle Frank Proell (case file no. 3487). I did a quick check of our inventory of Stillwater State Prison inmate photographs (dated 1895-1954), case file no. 596-18,460, but I can’be be sure there is a photograph of Mr. Proell in the set. Also, the set is incomplete. The State Archives also preserves a set of Stillwater State Prison inmate glass plate negatives (dated 1895-1919, 1926-1929), and the inventory indicates there is a glass plate negative for case file no. 3487. You may use these records in the Library of the Minnesota Historical Society. For more information about doing research in the Library please contact our Library staff at 651.259.3300. Good luck with your research.

  5. Dean Christopherson Says:

    Charles, My great-great-Grandfather was a Guard at Stillwater during the 1870’s-1880’s. I had paid a visit to Stillwater back in the late 1990’s to research his time there, without much success. His name was Aaron Heber Chase,and he got the job after his Civil War service, 9th Maine,as a 1st Lieutenant. His son, William (Willie) was a personal friend of Cole Younger. If you get a chance to view the Antiques Roadshow from Albuqerque, NM, (2001-ish?)you will see Willie’s personal autograph book with written entries to Willie by the Younger Bros., as well as other notables of the time. Unfortunately, I cannot track down current owners of the book, although they appear to be descendents also. I would appreciate any information on his employment at Stillwater, or suggestions on where to look. Thanks, Dean

    Celine reply on June 25th, 2013:

    I have found a book about Stillwater prison which is called “Convict Life at the Minnesota State Prison” which was written in 1909 maybe it can help. It can be read because from archives here:

    http://archive.org/stream/convictlifeatmi00youngoog#page/n6/mode/2up

    Céline

  6. Charles Rodgers Says:

    Thanks for the information about Aaron Heber Chase, but it does not appear the State Archives preserve Stillwter State Prison staff records for the period 1870s-1880s. For your information, the State Archives preserves Stillwater State Prion personnel files dated circa 1900-1940, payroll records dated 1901-1947, and employee time records dated 1923-1927. You should check with the Washington County Historical Society, since they may have information about your ancestor who worked at the prison.

  7. Amanda Hernandez Says:

    I found my great great grandfather on the 1920 US census as an inmate in Stillwater Prison in MN. I am trying to unlock any information on him. Case number, picture, length of stay, and reason. His name was Frank Talmadge Alexander. Do you know how I would get this information?
    Thanks

  8. Charles Rodgers Says:

    Hello Amanda: Information about your great great grandfather should be easy to research in the Stillwater State Prison records preserved in the State Archives. Please contact the Minnesota Historical Society’s Reference Department at refe...@mnhs.org; telephone 651.259.3300. The State Archives collection of the Minnesota Historical Society preserves Stillwater State Prison records, including inmate case files and indexes dating from the 1890s to 1978. Good luck with your research.

  9. Wendy Jaeger Says:

    I am looking for information about my great grandfather, William H Lenz Approx DOB 1875, I belive was sentenced to 14 yrs in Stillwater prison for murder before 1921. I have been unable to find information regarding him or this incident. I am looking for pictures, prison records, case # or any information available. I can be reached at revu...@yahoo.com

  10. Charles Rodgers Says:

    I recommend you contact the Minnesota Historical Society’s Library staff at refe...@mnhs.org.; telephone 651.259.3300. The State Archives collection of the Minnesota Historical Society preserves Stillwater State Prison records, including inmate case files and indexes dating from the 1890s to 1978. Good luck with your research.

  11. rosenbloom Says:

    Was told my grandfather tiger jack rosebloom was in stillwater any info



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