MONTANA – SIGNED CLAIM - THE MONTANA PENITENTIARY 1874
Signed claim, 14 x 8 ½, of Jas. H. Mills of the Montan Press, for payment for advertisement for suppl;ies and labor for Montana Penitentiary. Signed on verso by Warden English.
In response to rampant lawlessness and the vigilante-style form of justice present in the newly purpose of constructing a territorial prison. In November 1867, the territorial government chose Deer Lodge as the site of the facility, and in June 1870, the cornerstone was laid. The original plans for the building called for a structure which held three tiers of fourteen cells, but due to the difficulty of acquiring materials, the cost to ship those materials, and the expense of hiring labor, the new building would house only one of the three tiers. On 2 July 1871, US Marshal William Wheeler took possession of the first nine prisoners to be incarcerated in the facility. It only took a single month before the prison was overcrowded; by August, six more prisoners had arrived. The burgeoning population was quelled somewhat when, in June 1874, another tier of fourteen cells was constructed, and the civilians of Deer Lodge were calmed when a twelve foot board fence went up in 1875. ow101 95.