144-year-old jail cell makes journey to Barry County Museum

Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Finally resting at the Barry County Museum, the 144-year-old jail cell has been moved many times over the years and now it is available for the public to see and experience the history in the iron bars. Jail was moved to the museum on Oct. 10. Jordan Privett/jprivett@cassville-democrat.com

Community comes together to make the move possible

A 144-year-old jail cell that was manufactured in St. Louis in 1874, and built into the third floor of the courthouse in 1885, recently found is resting place at the Barry County Museum.

The iron cell measures approximately 12 square feet and 7 feet tall, and it weighs approximately 10,000 pounds.

The 144-year-old jail cell being placed on the concrete pad made for it by Brice’s Towing on Oct. 10. The jail cell was moved from the behind the water towers on High Street to the Barry County Museum. Jordan Privett/jprivett@cassville-democrat.com

The cell was moved from the third floor of the courthouse to the county jail when the old courthouse was demolished to build the new one in 1914. It remained there until the early 1970s, when the cell was purchased by the Johnson brothers of Shell Knob for its brick, and the cell was moved to a property the brothers owned near Hill City. The cell stayed there for years until the property was sold and the brothers donated the cell to the Barry County Genealogical and Historical Society in May 1998. The cell, at that time, made its way back to Cassville to sit behind the water tower on High Street, where it has rested for the last 20 years.

Fran Bolton, of Cassville, remembers her dad’s fascination with the jail cell and him taking her to see it, saying it is such a piece of history.

Bolton’s parents were both active members of the Genealogical and Historical Society until their passing in 2002. Bolton said her father, Loren Roden, believed that the jail cell should be moved back to Cassville because it was such a part of Barry County history. In fact, Bolton’s father headed the project of getting the cell moved from Hill City to behind the water tower in Cassville.

P.J Pauly & Brother jail building company was established in 1856, by brothers P.J Pauley, Sr., and James Pauley. Originally Pauley, Sr., worked as a blacksmith, but became famous for his work with wrought iron. Pauley, Sr., said the need and opportunity to build ‘goals’ or jails that anchored to flat wagons, and are able to be transported. The company has been passed down though generations, and was re-established in 1991. Jordan Privett/jprivett@cassville-democrat.com

The rusting iron cell finally moved to its final resting place at the Barry County Museum on Oct. 10, when the Cassville Police Department escorted the cell being loaded, hauled and unloaded by Brice and Cody Stehlik with Brice’s towing and Roger Wilson who had a trailer large enough to move the cell.

Bolton headed this final project with the cell, with the memory of her father and the help of so many others who lent a hand in making it possible.

Bolton said she just woke up one morning earlier this year and had the thought to move the jail to the museum so people can see it. She then went to a board meeting and asked how and who to get permission from to move the jail cell from the water tower to the Barry County Museum.

The badly deteriorating jail cell, that was moved to the Barry County Museum on Oct. 10, has two separate compartments for housing inmates. Each compartment has three to four iron bunks that were used to sleep on. Jordan Privett/jprivett@cassville-democrat.com

“I guess you would say that’s how it got started,” Bolton said. “There was a lot involved, as far as talking to people, to make this happen.”

The Barry County Museum prepared the concrete pad for the jail to sit on. Ted Bolton, Fran’s husband, then spoke with Corky Stehlik, with Barry County Ready Mix, to see about the process of getting the jail moved.

“It seemed like everyone we spoke to was on board for getting the jail moved to the museum,” Bolton said. “And, everyone just had a different piece of the puzzle to make it happen.”

Bolton said she started the process of the move around May this year which was the 20th anniversary of the jail being moved to the water tower.

Kathy White, director of Barry County Museum, said she has met with the Genealogical and Historical Society on other business pertaining to displays at the museum, and plans to have papers drawn up to relinquish the jail cell to the Barry County Museum from the Genealogical and Historical Society.

Fran Bolton said she has plans for a welder to come in a touch up some of the deteriorating areas on the jail cell.

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