The Anamosa Eureka
April 6, 1893

Death of a Female Convict

Caroline Thomas died at the prison last Thursday at the age of 22 years. She was brought from Des Moines last December for keeping a house of ill repute and her sentence was for six months. The prison physician's certificate states that she had a stroke of paralysis February 16 and another March 31. She was placed in a room fitted up for her and two of her associates took care of her night and day, manifesting every kindness possible under the circumstances. The burial service was held in the women's department, conducted by Chaplain Crocker and assisted by Rev. L. U. McKee, of the M. E. church. About a dozen kind ladies of the city were also in attendance. The women's apartment was tastefully decorated with flowers, under the guidance of Mrs. Powers, the matron. The services were very impressive, the lessons of warning and exhortation being set forth in a most tender yet direct and forcible manner. Interment was made in the potter's field in Riverside cemetery, Warden Madden saying that no female convict would be buried on the farm while he was in charge of the institution.

We add a word that we would much prefer be not spoken save for the solemn warning it conveys. The father of Caroline Thomas lives at St. Charles, in Madison county. He was informed of the sickness of his daughter before her death. A letter from him dated the 4th says, among other things, that Caroline would not follow the advice of her parents but persistently disregarded their wishes. He could not come because too old and poor, having seven boys in the family. A further additional fact we ascertained was that Caroline had been living with a negro in Des Moines, who has another white woman mistress, and that this negro was very anxious to have the body of Caroline shipped to Des Moines and placed in his charge. It seems that a few days ago he shot a man who visited his place, and the supposition is that he desired to create public sympathy by providing for the burial of this woman. The father directed otherwise, however. and the mortal remains of a fearfully wrecked life, well-nigh consumed by the fires of passion and disease, were laid away under the sod in a strange, unknown burial ground. Caroline Thomas might now have been an adornment in society as a representative of beautiful young womanhood, but she rejected the counsels of her parents, willfully sought those paths that take hold on hell, and after a few brief years - wonderfully brief years - of ignominy and shame she laid down to die in a prison - where, be it said, she received the first tokens of real kindness she has known since she went forth from the home and the ministrations of parents who sought better things for her. This was a terrible fate for Caroline Thomas - but is she alone guilty? Does anyone think that the men who helped drag her down will not have this question to answer in the judgment?

Editor's Note: Ms. Thomas' gravestone in Riverside cemetery is quite interesting. Click to view the upper and lower portions of the stone, which was probably carved by fellow inmates at ASP.