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Inmate’s Jail Escape Demonstrates Naked Ambition

A jailbreak one early April morning in 1911 was a case of naked ambition.

An escapee from the Del Norte County Jail, William Clark, had been captured and booked into the Josephine County lockup in connection with a post office robbery in Northern California.

No one noticed the five-inch hacksaw under his shirt as he was escorted to his cell.  Late that night, Clark spent three hours sawing through the heavy bars on his cell window. Two other inmates doubted the 6-foot, 180-pound man could get through an opening about the size of an 8-by-10-inch picture frame, but Clark was a determined man.

Clark stripped off his clothes, threw them out the window, and slowly squeezed through the remaining bars on the window. Outside, he dressed quickly and ran off.  His cell mates stayed put and reported the escape to the jail crew at breakfast the next morning.

Fugitive Clark remained at large a week later, according to the Rogue River Courier.  Authorities alerted the citizenry to watch for a slow-talking man wearing blue overalls and a floppy black hat with scars on his nose and a pointy head.


Sources: "Prisoner Saws Through Bars and Escapes,." Rogue River Courier 7 Apr. 1911 [Grants Pass Oregon]: Historic Oregon Newspapers. Web. 21 Jan. 2016; "Sheriff Passes Through With Man For Prison." Ibid. 14 Apr. 1911 [Grants Pass Oregon] : 6. Historic Oregon Newspapers. Web. 21 Jan. 2016.

Lynda Demsher has been editor of a small-town weekly newspaper, a radio reporter, a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for the Redding Record Searchlight, Redding California. She is a former teacher and contributed to various non-profit organizations in Redding in the realm of public relations, ads, marketing, grant writing and photography.