Wholesale Cremation of Negro Convicts
Trapped by flames in the second floor of an antiquated convict “cage,” or jail, 35 negro prisoners were burned to death at the Oakley convict farm, 20 miles from Jackson, Miss., on the night of July 21. While the flames ate away the only stairway leading to the second floor the prisoners tore vainly at the bars that covered the jail windows. Their screams brought prison atladies, hut the flames drove back members of the rescue party. I he convicts worked in the cotton fields of tlie State farm, and were housed in the “cage” at night. The wooden cage in which the convicts were confined was built Id years ago from old lumber taken from the penitentiary building in Jackson when that structure was destroyed to make room for the new State house. It was a two-story building, with only one means of entrance, and a narrow stairway leading from tlie first floor to the second. Hay, corn and molasses were stored on the first floor. Except on the Parchman farm, all of the cages in which prisoners are confined are of similar construction and without any firefighting facilities. This disaster has brought forth another volley of criticism against the prison board of trustees. The three members of that body— C. C. Smith, W. A. Montgomery and Leroy Taylor—are said to lie now under indictment for malfeasance in office. Col. Montgomery is on trial now. C. C. Smith, chairman of the board, was convicted last week of grafting and given a five-year sentence in the penitentiary.
Chief Phil Wright, of the San Antonio, Tex., department, was recently presented with a large oil painting of himself, the gift of the men in the department. The presentation address was made by W. J. Berry at a meeting of the Firemen’s Relief Fund Association.