Wanted: Historic County Jails of Texas

Overview


Along with the settlement of the Texas frontier came rustlers, public drunks, gunfighters, and other outlaws. A jail in which to incarcerate the lawbreakers was thus often the first public building raised in a new town.

Later, as government developed, public buildings?notably county courthouses and jails?assumed not only practical but also symbolic importance. The architecture of these buildings in the nineteenth century reflected the power and status with which the community ...

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Overview


Along with the settlement of the Texas frontier came rustlers, public drunks, gunfighters, and other outlaws. A jail in which to incarcerate the lawbreakers was thus often the first public building raised in a new town.

Later, as government developed, public buildings—notably county courthouses and jails—assumed not only practical but also symbolic importance. The architecture of these buildings in the nineteenth century reflected the power and status with which the community imbued the government; many of the same architects applied the aesthetic standards of the day to both. In later years, the safety and at least limited comfort of the prisoners became concerns and jails were remodeled or abandoned to other uses in favor of modern, more utilitarian structures.

In this heavily illustrated guide to the historic county jails of Texas, Ed Blackburn Jr. takes readers to each of the 254 counties in the state, presenting brief histories and of the counties and their structures that housed their criminals. He provides general information about the architecture and location of the buildings and, when possible, describes the present uses of those that have been decommissioned.

Interviews with local officials, historians, and newspaper publishers have yielded colorful anecdotes for many of the jails. Revealing photographs of many of the old jails have been gathered from local and archival sources, and Blackburn himself has taken pictures of extant buildings. Together, these words and images not only provide a survey of the way Texans have housed their criminals, but also, with the aid of thumbnail maps of county locations, offer residents and tourists throughout the state a guide to a fascinating aspect of architectural and cultural history.

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Editorial Reviews

New Mexico Historical Review

"Wanted is a wealth of local knowledge, history, and anecdotes."--New Mexico Historical Review

T. Lindsay Baker

“It should reach a wide audience in Texana readers, historic preservationists, and scholars. The authors are to be commended for their diligent field work and research.”--T. Lindsay Baker, Director, W. K. Gordon Center for Industrial History of Texas, Tarleton State University
New Mexico Historical Review

"Wanted is a wealth of local knowledge, history, and anecdotes." -New Mexico Historical Review

Austin American-Statesman
Though built for specific purposes--to house the components of local government and justice--civic architecture had another value to early Texans. Raising elegant courthouses and sturdy jails became a means of demonstrating community pride. Place-proud Texans saw grand buildings as symbols of economic growth and development…Blackburn…spent more than three years touring the state, visiting every jail and gathering information on the history of each. The result is a useful reference work for those interested in architecture or Texas history or both.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585443086
  • Publisher: Texas A&M University Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2006
  • Series: Clayton Wheat Williams Texas Life Series , #11
  • Pages: 424
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author


Edward A. Blackburn Jr.,visited all 254 Texas counties to collect information and photographs, both historical and contemporary.
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