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County Inmates Escape During Dinner Break

The county jail in Jacksonville, Ore., had nine prisoners before the night of the October 1909 escape. The sheriff was away and the deputy thought he had everything under control when the prisoners took their customary after-dinner exercise in the corridor outside their cells.  Seeing all was calm, the deputy left for his supper from 6 to 7:30 p.m. When he returned all was definitely not right.

Six prisoners had cut through window bars with a smuggled saw. The alarm sounded, but they made a clean get-away in the dark.

The escapees were the Mow brothers, who had killed a calf that wasn’t theirs in Ashland; Gaskins, Mocke and Rensford, who were suspects in robbing the Kentner Department Store in Medford; and Gunnison, who had just begun serving a term for robbing a rancher.

When Sheriff Jones returned in the morning, he quickly caught the Mow brothers at their Ashland home. The rest remained at large.

Inmates W.J. Boosey, finishing his sentence for contempt of court, and the two Wallsworth Brothers, being tried for murder, decided to stay in jail rather than slip through the window with the others.

Source: "Prisoners Escape from Jacksonville." Central Point Herald 21 Oct. 1909: 1. Print.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.