The Penitentiary Museum has added several artifacts to it's collection from the era of Warden Philander Madden, who served 1892-1898, a period of intense building and development at the prison. Among them is a fascinating letter written by one Anna Strange in 1896. Strange was a Quaker who preached at the prison in July of that year and the letter describes her experiences inside the walls. Strange's sister, Abigail Hocket, was the wife of Warden Madden. The letter has some interesting detail, including her descriptions of the insane ward.
Two booklets were also donated, each a bienniel report from the warden to the governor, which was required by law, covering 1893-1895 and 1895-1897. These booklets are excellent snapshots of the prison at that time. Perhaps these will be scanned and available on this page one day soon.
There are several fascinating photos included in this addition, including two photos of craft items made at the prison during this time. During Madden's administration, this type of handiwork was tolerated, if not encouraged, which helped inmates pass the time and make a few extra pennies. The photos include a tiny felt hat, a miniature version of the type worn by inmates then, as well as a leather indian doll.
In-cell crafting came to a screeching halt in 1898 with the arrival of Warden Hunter, who ordered the cellhouse cleared of "contraband" including most of the craft-making tools and supplies. Twelve wagon-loads were hauled out.
Lastly, an extremely high-quality image of Warden Madden, the best discovered so far, was provided. There is also a funeral card for Madden's young daughter, Lorena, who died of fever at the age of 23.
Many thanks to he great-grandchildren of Anna Strange for their generous donation: Geri Hall, Keith Metcalf, and Allan Ansell. Special thanks to Kathryn Metcalf for coordinating the donation to the prison museum.
Anna Zerilda Hocket Strange
1896 letter by Anna Strange describing her experiences at the prison
Examples of craft-making at the prison in the mid-1890s. At left is a minature felt cap, a replica of ones worn by inmates at the time. At right is an indian doll made of leather and machine-sewn together.
Warden Philander Madden. Funeral memorial card for his daughter, Lorena.