Soft details design of sheriff house, jail

Last week’s column mentioned that Horace Stephen Buckland, son of famous Civil War hero Ralph Buckland, was instrumental in acquiring land adjoining the courthouse and building the sheriff’s residence and jail on that ground.

This building now houses the offices of the county commissioners.

Horace Buckland, who was highly successful himself, attending Harvard Law School and becoming a judge at the Common Pleas Court, served on the “oversight committee” of the new prison more than 130 years ago.

Many of us remember that this office building once served this dual purpose of sheriff’s residence and jail.

Personally, as a young reporter, I spent some time there. Not in jail, guys, but to cover the news. I don’t believe the sheriff still lived there, but the jail was definitely used.

I’ve also heard many mentions that former students of St. Joseph’s remember the high school across Clover Street as a boredom-busting attraction for those held in the cells.

General Ralph Buckland led the 72nd Ohio to success in the Civil War.  The volunteer infantry regiment included men from Sandusky and Ottawa counties.  Back then, men from the same town would be placed in the same unit, and heavy casualties to that unit could wipe out many men from a town.

The prison-residence building was erected from 1890 to 1892 with a cost of $36,000 financed by the issuance of bonds approved by a special act of the Ohio State Legislature.

According to Meek’s “Twentieth Century History of Sandusky County”, the “ground plan” of the sheriff’s residence measured 52 feet by 50 feet, with the actual jail measuring 48 feet by 40 feet.

The prison, however, covered three floors. There were eight cells on the first two floors and these were for men only. On the third level were six cells reserved for female prisoners – “properly prepared”, according to Meek.

Civil War veteran Lorenzo Dick served as sheriff

The sheriff at the time of construction was Lorenzo Dick, who had served with honor and himself had been imprisoned during the Civil War. Oddly enough, while in prison he was commissioned as a captain in the Union Army, but was unaware of the promotion until he returned home.

He was honorably discharged on May 15, 1865, and after years in the restaurant and grocery business, he was elected sheriff in 1889. He served two terms as sheriff and was later elected mayor of Fremont.

Rutherford B. Hayes spoke at the prison cornerstone ceremony

Former President Rutherford B. Hayes, who was a champion of prison reform, particularly the separation of hardened criminals from others, was the ceremonial speaker at the November 6, 1890, cornerstone laying.

General Roeliff Frinkerhoff of the Ohio Board of Charities sent a message that certainly said that Hayes’ concerns had been answered in the new prison: “Your prison plans will make it quite possible to secure absolute separation of prisoners , in order to stop any contamination”. radiation.”

JC Johnson, widely known and respected, was the architect of the ornate gray stone structure of Lake Superior red sandstone. Theodore Brockman was the contractor.

Roy Wilhelm began a 40-year career with The News-Messenger in 1965 as a journalist. Now retired, he writes a column for The News-Messenger and News Herald.


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Rozella J. Cook