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City Jail




05 26       LEASE FOR LOCKUP

Common Council Proceedings:  Resolved, That the Mayor be authorized to give notice to Keck and Lehmann that the lease between them and the city for lock-up has expired and that said city has no further use of said room.  Adopted.   WG



05 17       Pioneer Engine house; site for jail [lock-up]    WD




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Description automatically generated with medium confidence

Jail or lock-up located in basement of early fire house on South First Street,

as noted in "Watertown Fire Dept 1857-2007" by Ken Riedl, pgs 36-41.



03 10       OUR JAIL IS FILTHY

We would call the attention of our city fathers to our city lockup [located in basement of the fire house on S First Street].  The writer, having heard of its filthy condition, went to investigate and came to the conclusion that to put a human being into such a place, even for an hour was simply damnable, yet almost every night some poor unfortunate is shut up in that reeking filthy hole.


In one corner is a sort of a trough filled with excrement, which has been accumulating until the stench from it almost stifles you as you enter, which when taken into the lungs is productive of typhoid and other disorders. 


For humanity's sake do something towards remedying this crying evil.


We say build a new lockup, and build it where you can have proper sewerage and ventilation.  It will not cost much, and is just as necessary, and more so, than many of the so-called improvements made here, but if a new one is not built, it should be seen to that that black hole of Calcutta is cleaned out and made fit to hold a prisoner for a few hours without endangering his life or health.  The city marshal should have attended to this without having the matter made public, but as he did not we felt it our duty to call public attention to it.   WG



1,000 persons were accorded free lodging at the jail.   WR


12 26       COUNTY JAILS

Queer about the jails in Dodge and Jefferson counties.  It seems to be optional with the prisoners whether they serve their sentence or not . When they get tired of prison fare they simply leave without going through the formality of any legal process.   WR



11 14       Wednesday evening, Jerry Butzler, the policeman, found a “drunk” near the corner of Main and Third streets.  He hunted up a patrol wagon consisting of one wheel and two sighting rods and loaded his find and started for the city jail down Main St. accompanied on his journey by a hundred or more interested spectators who encouraged him on the way and spit in their hands whenever Jerry became tired and great beads of perspiration trickled down his face.


When he reached the jail, the patrol wagon, being provided with an automatic dumping arrangement, the “drunk” dumped himself upon the ground while Jerry was busy unlocking the door of the bastille and endeavored to crawl away on his one leg and hands.  The crowd aided him in the effort, but the officer finally landed his man and is entitled to praise for his humanity, for the “drunk” would have frozen had he not been taken care of by the officer.



11 15       Saturday afternoon, a drunk and disorderly was waltzed up before Judge Henze by Chief of Police Block who had given him lodging during the previous night. The complaint being read to him and it being impossible for him to plead otherwise, he informed the court that he was guilty, and thereupon the court fined him $1, the price of twenty beers, and the costs, $5.45, one hundred and nine more beers, which are gone forever. He paid the fine and costs and departed a sad and dry man.


Harry Kerwin, who is not a Frenchman, as his name will not indicate, was introduced to Judge Henze. He was charged with carrying around more booze than was good for his system and good order, and pleaded guilty. The court informed him that he must dig up $6.45 fine and costs or go down to the Jefferson county jail and break rock for five days. His appetite for intoxicants having absorbed all his wealth he took the journey to Jefferson.



12 06       Watertown's City Hall jail, which for more than 30 years has been the subject of debate and condemnations, is in for some more changes and temporary “improvements” which will have to serve until something can be done to replace it with a new and modern structure.


After receiving another letter from the state, following the most recent jail inspection, the City Council last night instructed Chief of Police Herbert F. Vehlow the city manager and the city engineer to go into a huddle and see just what can be done and determine about how much it will cost. The changes recommended are not too extensive this time.  The report is based on an inspection made by a state officer, G. M. Parker.



08 03       If state authorities condemn the City Hall jail in Watertown as a firetrap and unfit for occupancy, as is now certain, the ruling will prove costly to the city. That was the statement made by officials here this morning following publication in the Times yesterday of an announcement that a state inspector had reported he would recommend that the jail quarter be condemned. Condemnation is expected to come later this month, since the inspector, upon leaving the city after looking over the jail shortly before noon yesterday, said he is determined to follow through on his course. The decision did not come as too great a surprise to officials who have had warnings before. Most of them realized that sooner or later the state was ready to lower the boom. The city has really been asking for it for a long time. The condition and situation did not develop overnight. It has been growing for years. In fact, it dates back to the administrations of various mayors under the old city type of regime.



04 20       Temporary approval for continued restricted use of Watertown's City Hall jail was announced late yesterday by state officials who made another inspection at the request of City manager Dean Van Ness. The approval is limited to the use of two cells. The actual cell block still stands condemned. The manager has sought for some time to secure an agreement with the state whereby use of the present jail would be continued rather than have the city transport all of its prisoners to either the county jail at Jefferson or Juneau while they await court arraignment. In recent months he has visited Madison once relative to his plan and has also carried on extensive correspondence.



06 02       State authorities have now given final approval to the continued restricted use of the Watertown city jail, it was announced today by City Manager Dean Van Ness. The continued use of the jail was given unofficial approval some time ago after the city requested that it be given another inspection. At that time the city was asked to also make another formal application to get official action and this has been done, the manager said. Use of the jail is restricted to two rear cells. The main cellblock cannot be used for retaining prisoners. The state's original order had banned further use of the jail effective last February, on the grounds that it does not meet modern standards. But after city officials pointed out to the state that the city is faced with more vital expenditures than having the present jail replaced, state authorities agreed to give it another inspection and to reconsider the original order.




The city council which is currently involved in a long standing hassle over plans to provide new police department and jail facilities got another warning - a stern one and one that may well be final - from the state last night relative to the present and long-standing sub-standard condition of police department and jail quarters housed in the city hall - the same space and quarters the department has been forced to occupy since the present city hall was built in 1884.  Last night's warning, by letter and signed by V.A. Verhulst, representing the division of corrections, Wisconsin State Department of Public Welfare, was the latest in a series of proddings by the state that the city do something to clear up the jail issue without further delay.   WDT


05 11       The state of Wisconsin, through the state department of public welfare, yesterday afternoon served notice on the city of Watertown that it is through waiting for the city to do something about bringing the city hall jail quarters up to standard and that it is ready to crack down if something isn’t done within the next six months.  The official order was served on city officials at 3 o’clock yesterday, copies going to the office of Mayor R. P. White, City Clerk Glenn R. Ferry, Police Chief Herbert F. Vehlow and City Attorney James A. Fitzpatrick. Mr. Ferry said today that he was required to sign for the order, to acknowledge receipt.   WDT


10 13       The common council last night again delayed action on its decision relative to the city hall jail issue — which involves an order from the state welfare department that the jail be closed on Nov. 7 unless repairs, alterations and improvements recommended by the state welfare department are carried out by that date.  Alderman Herman Gerth, head of the council committee which has been delegated to investigate the possibility of transferring all prisoners to county jails while they are in police custody, the only alternative the city would have if the jail here is closed, reported that Jefferson County had not given a reply as yet to its part in such a plan, while Dodge County had set a fee of $2.35 per day for all male prisoners and a fee of $20.35 per day for all female prisoners.  The considerable difference in the rates was not explained.   WDT



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History of Watertown, Wisconsin