Assorted Short News Stories
from the January 16, 1895 Humeston, Iowa New Era:
One of the most romantic weddings in the history of the Anamosa Penitentiary has just occurred at that institution.
Julien Allen and Jennie Garver, of Des Moines, were arrested for bigamy and Allen was sent to the Fort Madison prison for one year and Jennie Garver for one year in the female prison at Anamosa. He had a wife and she a husband, but after they were sent to prison his wife and her husband got divorces. Allen’s sentence expired January 5 and Mrs. Garver’s has just expired. Allen came to Anamosa and met her, and Chaplain Crocker, of the prison, united them in marriage. They appeared to be as happy as could be, and left on the evening train for Des Moines.
from the February 16, 1951 Waterloo Daily Courier:
The man who passed as a woman in order to allegedly obtain money under false pretenses at Oelwein is under sentence to not less than seven years at the Anamosa Reformatory Friday.
The accused man, John Casstler of Raton, NM, was given the term Thursday at West Union. Authorities said he dressed as a woman in order to obtain a refund on gloves stolen from the store earlier.
Fayette County Sheriff Fred House said Casstler has been dressing in women’s clothing for three years. He wore slacks for his appearance in court Thursday, but had his hair long.
He will be dressed in men’s clothing at Anamosa.
from the March 1, 1877 Perry, Iowa Chief:
The announcement that four convicts escaped the other day from the Anamosa Penitentiary by knocking off a board, impels an exchange to ask whether it is not better to use screws instead of nails in building state prisons. The trouble about this plan would be that unless the heads of the screws were covered it would give persons on the outside less difficulty in entering the institution and annoying the inmates.
from the November 11, 1891 Humeston, Iowa New Era:
The electric lights on the top of the 150-foot smokestack at the Anamosa Penitentiary can be seen as far away as Manchester. The prison yard is as light as day all night.
from the June 18, 1949 Sheboygan, Wisconsin Press:
Ellsworth Fuller, freed after 36 years secluded away in a reformatory, took a look at the outside world today and decided he wasn’t so sure he liked it.
Fuller, now 60, has been confined in a ward for the criminally insane at the Anamosa Reformatory since 1913 when he was 24 years old. During all that time, he caught only one glimpse of the world outside. That was 20 years ago when he made a trip from the Reformatory for a medical examination.
Looking at the world around him today, Fuller wasn’t so sure but what he’d rather be back in the snug, safe ward.
It seemed wonderful at first to be free,” he said, “But now I’m not sure.What can I do in this new world?
The atomic age frightened him, he said. When he left the world, the horse and carriage still was just about the most dependable means of transportation. He was amazed and dismayed by speedy, streamlined trains, fast bombers flying overhead, the rush of big trucks over the highways, and the sight of skyscrapers towering over prairie cities. En route here from the Reformatory, Fuller was driven by Deputy Sheriff Fred Nespern. Nespern said Fuller ducked every time another car approached. Once he tried to jump out of the car when a huge tractor-drawn trailer roared past them.
"Good Lord” he cried, “what was that?” Fuller said the last car he’d driven in was a 1910 model. He was surprised that there weren’t more horses to be seen on streets and highways.
Once they passed a tractor where a farmer was cultivating a field. “What in the world is that?” Fuller asked.
Composition roofing and siding on houses also interested him. In the days before he entered the Reformatory, shingles were the thing.
Fuller was sentenced to the Reformatory after a jury found him insane when he was charged with assault with intent to rob. Psychiatrists recently found Fuller sane. The state Board of Control issued an order releasing him to be tried under the old charge. However, District Judge Matthew Westrate decided Fuller had been incarcerated long enough. He freed him in “the furtherance of justice.” Most of the witnesses in the case were dead anyway.
Warden Foss Davis of Anamosa said Fuller, who is stocky and gray-haired, was a “good worker” with a fair education.
from the July 27, 1899 Sandusky, Ohio Star:
The (Iowa) State Board of Control recently issued an order that the weekly tobacco ration of convicts in the two penitentiaries should be reduced from four to two ounces and butter should be added to the regime. The order does not please the convicts. When it was first enforced, the butter supply had not been received, and about 300 men in the Anamosa Penitentiary refused to work. The inauguration of the order was postponed until the butter should come. This was first served last Saturday. Most of the men refused to touch it. Five hundred men refused to work, and were taken to their cells.
from the April 26, 1941 Iowa City Press-Citizen:
Sought for 27 years for escape from Anamosa State Reformatory while serving a term for slaying his wife, the Rev. C.A. Higby, 56, evangelist, was being held in jail in Atlanta, Georgia today, authorities announced.
Warden Foss Davis of Anamosa Reformatory has asked the Iowa state Board of Control for authority to come to Atlanta to obtain custody of Higby, who was sentenced to prison from Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1913 for the fatal shooting of his wife on December 10, 1912.
Earl Stanley, Cedar Rapids chief of detectives, had notified police officials in several southern cities that he had been informed that Higby was conducting a series of evangelistic meetings in the South.
(follow-up, as reported in the May 5, 1941 Oelwein, Iowa Daily Register):
An additional five year sentence has been given the Rev. Charles Arthur Higby, 55-year old Free Methodist evangelist who escaped from the State Reformatory here in 1914 after serving 19 months of a 12-year term for killing his first wife. Higby was arrested in Atlanta, Georgia April 25 and was returned to Anamosa last week.
Judge J.E. Hiserman pronounced the 5-year sentence which is mandatory for escape from the Reformatory. The court remarked that there were certain unusual circumstances in the case, but that he had no choice so far as the sentence was concerned.
Higby wept when he was taken into court. Ten years ago he was married in Charlotte, N.C. and he and his wife have a 5-year old daughter, Betty.
He shot his first wife in Cedar Rapids during a quarrel. After he escaped from the Reformatory he started preaching in the South.
from the December 15, 1894 Perry, Iowa Chief:
One of the earliest convicts in the Anamosa Penitentiary has buried yesterday in the prison cemetery. Charles Halchrist was his name, and he was sent from Grundy County to the prison December 27, 1878, for murder in the first degree, for life, so he had served 15 years, 11 months, and 10 days. He was a very devout Christian while in prison, and it is thought he was smitten with a stroke of paralysis while on his knees in prayer while in his cell, as he was found in that attitude. His crime was an exceptionally heinous one. He was a farmer and had a boy employed as a hired man. The boy’s wages were allowed to accumulate until several months’ pay was due him, when Halchrist paid him all up. The next day they were riding along in a wagon when Halchrist pounded out the boy’s brains with a hammer for the purpose of getting back the wages he had just paid him, and which amounted to but a few dollars.