Two prisoners from Pattonsburg, lodged in the Daviess County jail to serve a 90-day sentence for carrying concealed weapons, performed the magical feat of walking through the bars of “chilled steel to liberty and a return the freedome of plying their pilfering vocation” in January, 1899. And nobody knows how — and a grand jury later describes the rotary jail as “not safe for the safe keeping of prisoners.”
Ed Conley and Adam Brown were partners in crime with a tramp hoodlum called “Moxie,” who was responsible for the death of Constable Wm. Parker on Oct. 29, 1898. During court proceedings, Conley was shown to have provided Moxie with the pistol used in the killing. Both Conley and Brown are suspected of several robberies.
The Pattonsburg Call reported that Conley and Brown were arrested by Police King and Newman at Port Arthur depot. A robbery raid on Pattonsburg had just occurred the night before, and the men arrested were thought to be a part of that band. Another man who was with them during the nighttime melee had gotten away.
When searched, officers found a complete outfit of skeleton keys which labeled Conley and Brown as being more than just ordinary bums. They were locked up in Pattonsburg’s calaboose. But when the marshall checked a short time later, he found the suspects had sawed one of the hinges nearly off the door. A search, however, revealed no saws. The two suspects were then handcuffed together, and in a short time it was found that they had cut the handcuffs.
Conley and Brown were searched again before departing with authorities from Pattonsburg. A number of saws and burglar tools were taken from their clothing. “How they got their implements of distruction (while in jail at Pattonsburg) is as much of a mystery as what was done with the bars of chilled steel that Daviess County paid the contractors to put in the cages and gratings, which Conley and his pal went through like a rat through a cracker box, cutting a hole wherever they desired and carrying off pieces of the grates as mementos.”
This jail escape prompted a grand jury investigation, and condemnation of the jail as “unsafe for the safe keeping of prisoners.” The county court approved the condemnation, but provided no means for repair.
Rewritten by Darryl Wilkinson from newspaper clipping of the Gallatin Democrat on Jan. 12, 1899