Universal York

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Front Window Escape from York Jail

Lewis Miller drawing of York jail on George Street
York County has had four prisons in its nearly 260 year history. The present one certainly seems to be the most secure. But reading the newspaper accounts of past jailbreaks, you have to wonder if anybody was watching.
At least in the 1857 Christmas night jailbreak the prisoners had to hack through a wall of the almost-new second jail on Chestnut Street. Click here to read about that escape.
In 1829, when the jail was on the northeast corner of George and King Streets, it was apparently much easier. The May 26, 1829 York Recorder tells the story:

“On Wednesday night last, Washington Gill and Charles Boyer, two persons confined in the jail of this county on separate charges of larceny, effected their escape. They contrived to remove several of the bars in the iron grating of the window of their room; and by means of a rope, which was furnished them from the outside, they descended to the pavement in front of the jail, and forthwith decamped. The jailor has offered a reward of twenty dollars for apprehending them. They are described as men of good personal appearance, each about five feet nine inches high, and wearing black or dark-colored clothes.”
O.K., so it was probably dark and they were wearing dark clothes. Still, they are going out of a front window of a jail facing one of the two main streets of town. And wouldn’t you think that someone would have noticed a rope being brought into the prison and been just a little suspicious?
Just three years before the county had paid $425.05 for repairs at the jail. They should have fixed the windows.
Click here to read that post about the high cost of crime in early nineteenth century York County.
Click here to read about a scare when electricity came to the third York County prison.