Old St. Andrews



Escapes from the Jail



Escapes from Charlotte County Jail


Sept 29/1852
First escape from County Jail in 21 years, over which Capt. Law has been jailer.


Escape from Prison:
On Wednesday night last,
Charles Hickey, charged with stealing from a shop in St. Stephen, and confined in the County Jail here, made his escape from it in the following manner:
            The Jail is undergoing repairs, several apartments are in consequence rendered unfit for use, and the jailor is compelled to occupy one near the prisoner's room, and off the same passage. This passage is usually secured by fastening the doors at the end of it, on the outside; but owing to the Jailor being obliged to sleep where he did, this could not be done. Hickey was the only prisoner on this floor. His room was, according to custom, examined the 1st thing at night; when this was done, Hickey was in bed, and his light was extinguished. Every thing appeared to be secure, and the Jailor retired to rest. Having ascertained this circumstance, the prisoner converted a tin pannikin filled with butter into a lamp, and manufactured the iron bale of a water bucket into a small crow bar--then, taking down a long shelf and raising it against the wall, and one end raised on a tub, and the other resting near the aperture in the brick wall, intended for the admission of a stove pipe, he contrived a seat by winding a blanket round the plank. Once astride of this with his crowbar, he soon made the opening large enough to admit his body. Before removing the brick, however, he forced through the stove pipe hole onto the passage floor, some bedding, and disposed his mattress in such a way in his own room as to receive and deaden the sound of the falling bricks and rubbish. He then let himself down into the passage, bolted the iron door on the outside, leaving the Jailor within, and without molestation helped himself to sundry articles of apparel, and a few knickknacks belonging to the Jailor, and obtained his freedom.
            The Justices being at the time in Session, investigated the affair, and unanimously resolved that no blame was attributable for Capt. Law, the Jailor.
            Capt. Law has had charge of this Jail for 21 years, and this is the first instance of a prisoner escaping from it.


Aug 2, 1883
Escape from the County Jail of Waddell, the American House incendiary and Three Others.
A great general jail delivery, without the interposition of Court or Jury, took place here on Saturday evening under the following circumstances. It will be remembered that Hugh Waddell, bar keeper of the late American House, in this town was arrested here on the morning of Saturday the 16th of June, charged on the information of William H. Whitlock, livery stable keeper of the SS, with having set fire to the American House, which with its contents was burned down on the morning of Friday 1the 15th of June, and that Waddell, on the 18th of June, after an investigation held before Justice C. E. O. Hatheway, was committed to take his trial at the County Court to be holden here in October next. Besides Waddell, there were four other persons confined in the jai;: Charles McCarty, James Stevens and Gilbert Lauchlan, hailing here from Saint John , NB, who were committed on the 10th inst.. from St. Stephen on a charge of drunkenness and vagrancy, the two former for sixty days and Lauchlan for thirty days, and James McCardy of SA, committed for safe keeping.
            Mrs. Murchie, Proprietress of the American House, has at intervals, since Waddell’s commitment, visited him at the jail. On Saturday evening hast about a quarter past eight o’clock, she applied at the jail for admission to see Waddell, saying she had heard he was sick. Mrs. Paul, daughter of Mr. Mark Hall, the jailor, who had gone down street on business, answered the call, and admitted her. While Mrs. Murchie was standing talking to Waddell, through the grating, Mrs. Paul ran upstairs to see why her child was crying. She almost immediately came down again, and while coming down the stairs, heard a noise, like what would be made by tapping the stick of an umbrella or cane on the flags. She quickened her pace, and just as she turned the foot of the stairs, into the hall, she met Mrs. Murchie going in the direction of the outer door. She was looking very pale, and said as she passed: They have opened the door, or the door is open. Mrs. Paul ran and laid hold of the solid iron door, which is used to cover the grated door, and is hung outside of it, and tried to close it and nearly succeeded in doing so but the prisoners inside pushed against it; forced it open again, stepped out into the hall, and passed through the outer door to liberty. They ran into the street and round the corner of the Court house. Mrs. Paul immediately went down town, and meeting Mr. Charles O’Neil, told him what had occurred, and requested him to find Mr. Hall.
            Upon examination it was discovered that by some means, probably the lever in the hand of Mrs. Murchie, the large padlock attached to the grated door had been wrench off, the link of the lock was broken, the hinge pin was forced out and the keeper end of the link broken off. The dropping of the lock on the floor was doubtless the noise heard by Mrs. Paul. If Mrs. Murchie was not a party to the escape, it seems a strange coincidence that she should be on hand at the moment that it took place, and why she should display so much sympathy for Waddell, who beyond the shadow of a doubt, set fire to her house, requires explanation. The plan of escape was well matured and effectively carried out, both as regard the method and time. The night was dark, the Telegraph office was closed, and no doubt Mr. Hall’s movements were carefully watched, and his temporary absence taken advantage of to carry out the scheme.
            On being informed of the escape Sheriff Stuart immediately placed officers in motion, and had a watch kept during the night, and at daybreak on Sunday morning started in pursuit of the fugitives. Their footprints were discovered in the mud on the road leading from Edward’s corner on the St. John road across to the above road, and up to Johnson’s cove about three and a half miles from town. Enquiry at Mr. Thomas Johnson’s elicited the fact, that his boat, when was at anchor in the cove Saturday evening had disappeared during the night. The boat has since been found at Red Beach, on the United States side of the river, and it has been ascertained that Waddell and his comrades landed from her, having paddled the boat over with a pair of paddles, which they found in a punt which laid near the boat in the cove.
            The escape of Waddell created a sensation in town; on Monday it was the general topic of conversation on the street. Public opinion demands that a strict investigation into the circumstances connected with the escape be made.
July 17, 1884
Hugh Waddell who escaped from the Charlotte County Jail, in this town about nine o’clock pm Saturday July 28th, 1883, where he was coffined on a charge of having on the morning of the 25th of June, set fire to the American House, was at the instance of the Attorney General of New Brunswick arrested by a United States Deputy Marshall, at Saco, Maine, on the 9th inst., on board the schooner Anne Frye, of which he was mate, and taken to Boston. Sheriff Stuart proceeded to Boston on the 9th inst. To identify Waddell. A hearing on the petition of Sheriff Stuart for the extradition of Waddell was held before Judge Nelson, in the U. S. district Court on the 11th inst, which resulted in the granting of an order remanding Waddell to await proceedings in the usual form before the state department at Washington. Sheriff Stuart arrived her Monday evening, he will return for Waddell, as soon as he received notification from the U. S. Authorities.


Sept 11, 1884
A Jail Breaker’s Designs Foiled
Thursday last, Rebels a prisoner [Rebels and one or two others escaped from jail earlier this year and made it as far as Calais; see earlier issues] serving a sentence in the Charlotte Co. jail, advised Mr. Mark Hall, the jailer, to be on his guard, for that Hugh Waddell and Duel Marshall, prisoners, had torn an iron strap off the wood grating, which forms a division in the corridor or jail hall, that he Rebels had told Waddell, not to do it, as he had got enough of escaping, and was now being punished for breaking out of fail, Waddell told him with a profane expression to mind his own business, they would not interfere with him. The jailer demanded the iron to be given up, but compliance was refused, the cells of the conspirators were searched, and the iron strap found in that occupied by Waddell. The presumption is that they intended when an opportunity should offer, to attack the jailer when he came into the corridor, and fell him with the iron, and either having stunned or killed him, to make their escape. The two men are now by order of the sheriff, kept in close confinement. We think that representation of Rebel’s conduct should be made to the proper authorities, with a view of securing a commutation of his sentence. Since the incident took place, Rebels has had to listen almost incessantly to abusive epithets hurled at him by Waddell, who feels enraged at the exposure of his villainous design.


Dec 27, 1888
Prisoners’ Escape
Gallagher and Walker, the latter known by the soubriquet of “shy Walker,” recently committed to the county jail from St. Stephen, escaped from that institution on Wednesday evening 19th, and found their way to Calais, Maine. The jailer after putting a hod of coal, for the night’s use, into the corridor, omitted to fully bolt the door, which being discovered by the above named prisoners, they opened it and stood not upon the order of their going. Walker was captured in St. Stephen on Christmas day by deputy-sheriff Robinson, brought back to St. Andrews yesterday, and put back in his old quarters again.


Oct 24, 1889
An Old Prison
A Peep Within the Walls of St. Andrews Jail
How Some Prisoners Have Escaped. The Story of Hugh Waddell’s Escape and Recapture Told once More.
The recent escapes from the County Jail, followed by the removal of Mr. Mark Hall, for nineteen years jailer thereto, have directed public attention to this venerable institution.
            St. Andrews’ Jail was not the creation of yesterday, as a glance at its antiquated walls will readily show. It was constructed as far back as 1832, and, doubtless at that time it was considered to be a model prison in every respect. In these advanced days, however, it is very far from being what it ought to be, and there is little doubt that to this cause, as much as to the alleged carelessness of he Jailer, is due the numerous escapes that have taken place from time to time. The immense blocks of granite out of which the venerable pile is built were brought all the way from Deer Island, Maine, in sailing vessels, there being no quarries in this neighborhood in operation at the time. The building itself is quadrangular in shape, two stories in height, with a low pitched roof, running down from the four sides. A little over one-third of the building was designed for the use of the jailer; the rest was for prison purposes. On the ground floor are the criminal cells, and from the glimpse we got of them in company with Sheriff Stuart, on Friday last, we would blame no prisoner for tying to escape from them. They are both small and dark and ill ventilated, and before they were provided with a water closet, must have been noisome dungeons indeed. There are five cells on each side of the corridor. The cell doors are of iron, and the entrance is so small that a man, with a corporation on him of any size, would have some difficulty in getting through. Each cell is 6 x 8 feet in size, and is surrounded by solid stone walls, two feet thick. There is an aperture in the outside wall of each cell to admit air and light. These apertures are about four inches wide, by twelve inches high. In olden times, a large wooden plug was used to close them up, but of late years the wooden plug has been discarded, and a sliding window cover the space. An old fashioned draw-bar fastens each cell door.
            The corridor is, perhaps, five feet wide. It is entered by two doors. The first door is of solid wood very securely fastened. The second is composed of broad iron bars held in transverse sections. It is fastened on the outside by means of a modern prison padlock of ponderous size. There is no fastening whatever on the inside, so that when the jailer has occasion to go in, he just have some person to stand guard at the door until he comes out. Usually his wife or his daughter has performed this service but it is a dangerous job to ask any woman to perform, where there are desperate characters imprisoned. There is a low window at one end of the corridor, which admits light. This window was protected by thick iron bars, which were considered escape proof, but not many years ago, the prisoners sawed them through and made their escape. Since then, an additional grating of the strongest iron has been placed outside of this first grating (the latter having been repaired () and he would be a bold ingenious fellow who could saw his way through this window now without detection.
            Cutting for Freedom
            Even with the old-fashioned grating it was no easy task to cut through to liberty. The prisoners who did this job must have been at their work for some time. They unravelled the yarn from their socks before beginning their task each day, and fastened it tightly around the bar above and below where the cut was being made. This helped to deaden the sound. For fear any noise from the sawing should reach the jailer’s ears, the rest of the prisoners tramped up and down the corridor, whistling and singing, and making as much noise as they could, keeping a close watch upon the door at the same time. When they had sawed as long as they dare, the cut was closed up with soap and dust sprinkled on it to hide it from view. Then, having removed the yarn, the prisoners slipped off to their couches, no doubt to dream of sweet liberty. In this way they carried on their work until two of the bars had been cut through. Then, the cross-bar was easily swung out, and one by one the prisoners crawled out through this narrow hole, and gained their liberty.
            The Debtors’ Quarters
            The second floor of the building is utilized as a debtor’s prison. It is well lighted, and in composition with the lower apartment, is quite comfortable, indeed. There are four cells on this floor. One of them is now being used by a female prisoner, who is serving out a sentence of twelve months for larceny. There are three males down stairs, Henry McIntee, awaiting trial on a charge of arson Wm. Walker, serving out a term for vagrancy, and a debtor. Walker had the honor of letting himself out on one occasion, but he did not enjoy his freedom long, being brought back in about a week afterwards. He received an addition ten days from Judge Stevens for breaking Jail, his honor remarking at the time that he would blame no prisoner for walking out when he found the door open.
            The Escape of Hugh Waddell with three other prisoners, on the 23rd of July 1883, caused one of the biggest sensations that St. Andrews has ever experienced. Waddell was awaiting trial on a charge of setting fire to the American House, in St. Andrews. On the day of his escape he had been entertaining an old sweetheart of his. While she was conversing with him through the grated door, the jailer’s family were alarmed by hearing a noise as if caused by something falling. Instantly, the woman screamed out, “They’ve gone, every one of them.” And she had spoken truly! When the affrighted jailer reached the prison quarters every one of his four birds who had been caged so securely (as he thought) had flown. It was a general jail delivery in earnest, without any court ceremonies to lend éclat to it. The lock had been broken by the prisoners, though exactly how they had done it has not been discovered to this day. Of the four prisoners who gained their liberty that time, but one, Waddell, ever saw the inside of a St. Andrews jail again. They got across into Uncle Sam’s territory, as speedily as possible, and from that day to this the whereabouts of those three missing jailbirds have been unknown to the authorities. Waddell was out a year and a month before Sheriff Stuart got his fingers closed on him again. It was some months after he had flown that the Sheriff heard that he was in Boston. By the consent of the Attorney General proceedings were at once begun looking to his extradition. The papers were made out, and the Sheriff, with Mr. James G. Stevens started off to Boston to collar the prisoner and bring him back. But the task proved a more difficult one that they had anticipated. They enlisted the services of the United States and Boston detective forces, but not a clue could they get concerning him. After a long and weary search, the Boston detectives had to declare themselves beaten for once, and the Sheriff and his companion were obliged to return home empty-handed. Time went on. The extradition papers were mildewing in the Sheriff’s desk, and the Sheriff himself had about made up his mind that he and the St. Andrews Fire bug had parted company forever. But one day, the townspeople noticed a sudden change come over the usually stoic features of the Sheriff. All at once he seemed to be full of business. His step became buoyant; there was a flash in his eye that had not been seen there for some time before, and the number of constables that were observed hastening in and out of his presence betokened something unusual in the wind. But the officers of the law were as dumb as clams, and the curious citizen were obliged to satisfy their curiosity by indulging in surmise and speculation. The presence of constables about the wharves night after night, evidently lying in wait for some one they expected to arrive by water, roused the curiosity of the people almost to fever heat. By degrees it leaked out that the Sheriff had received information that Waddell was on his way to SA, and that to see his sweetheart he was willing to risk liberty and even his life. But he did not land. One night, while watching along the river-bank, the constables observed a boat being rowed cautiously towards the shore. It was not more than a hundred years from the beach, when a shrill whistle from the land was heard. In a twinkling the bow of the approaching boat was turned seaward, and the craft was rowed silently and quickly away into the darkness. It was afterwards learned that Waddell was in this boat, and that his watchful friends on shore had given the signal which had caused the boatmen to turn about so quickly. After watching in vain for his return he constables abandoned their vigil. A day or two afterward, Sheriff Stuart went to Saint John and, with the assistance of two Saint John detectives, made a search of two vessels in which it was though the fugitive might be concealed. But, beyond hearing that the man he was after had come as far as Eastport in one of the vessels, the officer of the law left Saint John littler wiser than when he went here. Coming home in the steamer he accidentally met a party who was acquainted with Waddell's haunts in Boston. Again, the Boston Detective machine was set to work, and this time with better results. Ascertaining that Waddell’s mother was living in Boston, the detective visited her, and on the pretence of securing her son’s services as a bar-tender for a Nantasket Beach hotel, he learned that his man was on the way from New York in the schooner “Annie Frye.” The detective kept track of the schooner until she arrived at Biddeford, Maine, and then hastening thither he had little difficulty in picking Waddell out from the crew. He was arrested, taken to Boston, the extradition proceedings were renewed, resulting in his return to St. Andrews Jail, on the 20th of August, 1884. After he had got back to his old quarters, and while waiting for trial, he and another prisoner conspired to attack the jailer and gain their freedom. Another prisoner let the secret out. The Sheriff, on making an investigation, found that an iron bar had been wrenched off the drunkard’s cage in the jail, and with this the jailer was to receive his quietus. All the prisoners denied any knowledge of the bar, and it was only found when the rotten flooring in one of the cells was lifted up. The prisoners were kept closely confined until their trial took place when Waddell was sent to Dorchester penitentiary for fourteen years. He went to prison as meek as a mouse, and is still an inmate of it.
            The Jailer’s Goose Froze
            Dark, ill ventilated and uncomfortable as St. Andrews Jail may be now, its present condition is ten times better than it was a few years ago. It is not many years since it was so cold that a goose belonging to the jailer froze to death in it. It is almost a miracle that the prisoners did not share a like fate. The walls had not been demented for years, and the wind and weather had opened the interstices in the stone to such an extent that the building was like a sieve. Within quite a recent period the walls have been pointed with cement, and thus and thus the wind was prevented from whistling through the cracks and blowing the hair off the prisoners’ heads as it had been doing. There is also a stove in the corridor and a closet for the prisoners comforts that a few years ago they were stranger to.
            The Late Jailer
            To talk of the Jail without having something to say about the Jailer would be like describing a church without mentioning the minister. Mr. Mark Halls, as has been stated before, has held the position of Jailer for almost twenty years. Whatever his faults may have been, none can say that he was ever cruel or unkind to those unfortunates who were placed in his charge, and if he erred at all it was on the side of leniency. Had he been a man of less kindness of heart and a stricter disciplinarian, it is probably that escapes would not have been so frequent as they have been. It is the knowledge of this fact that has created a great deal of sympathy for him throughout the County, and the wish has been freely expressed that he should be reinstated and given one more chance.
            Mrs. Hall has been alike a mother to the prisoner, and has accorded them kinder treatment than they were entitled to. In other prisons the inmates have a stated hour for getting up from their beds to their meals, and if they do not rise at that time they either have to do without or take cold victuals. In St. Andrews Jail, humanitarian principles have to a large extent government the conduct of the jailer and his wife in this regard. It has ever been the practise to keep the fires alive until the last prisoner has arisen, so that his mug of tea might be warm and comfortable for him. No doubt in some people’s eyes this would be considered an unnecessary kindness, and some might even be disposed to find fault with the jailer or his wife for it, but, under the circumstances, we cannot blame them. Situated as the jailer is, comparatively alone, there should be some better arrangement of the cells than exists now. As things are at present the jailer is comparatively at the mercy of the prisoners. There should be some arrangement by which each cell could be scoured without making it necessary for the jailer to go in and close each one. In addition to this, the means should be at hand to lock the corridor door from the inside, when the jailer has occasion to go in. If some such arrangements s these were carried out and a little more light provided, so that every object in the corridor could be distinctly seen by the jailer before entering, and the position of every cell door and prisoner noted, the number of escapees would be reduced to minimum, and a great deal of danger to the jailer’s person removed.
            A Youthful Jailer Appointed
            Since Mr. Hall’s removal, the jail has been in charge of Mr. Leonard Chase. Mr. Chase slept in the jail office, and took his meals at his home, which is only a few rods distant from the prison. His appointment was only a temporary one, however, as on Monday the announcement was made that the Sheriff had appointed his son, Louis Stuart, to be responsible position of jailer, and that it was the Sheriff’s intention to move into the jail himself as soon as possible. Sheriff Stuart says that he jail is to be run on jail principles after this, so that intending “boarders” should bear this in mind. The man who tries to escape after this, need not be astonished if he is “winged” before going many yards.


March 10, 1892
Pine, the jail breaker, who declared he would not be taken alive, was capture in St. Stephen on Tuesday morning by Marshall McClure. He tried to draw a revolver on the officer, but in his haste to escape he dropped the weapon and did not have time to pick it up. McClure fired two or three shots at him before he hove to. He is now ensconced in St. Andrews sail once more. Pine was indicted before the Grand Jury for theft in October, 1889, but before is case came up for trial, he had made his escape. He is an accomplished thief. Numerous robberies have taken place since he regained his freedom, in which he is believed to have been the principal. The Wren robbery at Bocabec is supposed to be one of them.


March 17, 1892
Pine, the youth who was recently returned to Jail after an absence of almost three years, was identified by Christopher Wren as the pat who was employed with him and who suddenly disappeared with a gold watch, a revolver, a suit of clothes and a number of other articles belonging to his employer.


May 13, 1897
Escaped from Jail
Robert Pye Opens Bolts and Bars and Secures His Freedom-But is Captured within Sight of his Prison Walls.—An Ingenious Prisoner
One of the most ingenious and successful attempts at jail-breaking ever made by a prisoner was carried out b Robert Pye, a prisoner in St. Andrews jail on Saturday afternoon last. By means of some keys and other instruments of his own making, Pye opened the bolts and bars of three massive doors which restrained him, and then having obtained an entrance to the office of the jail, he leaped out of the open window and in a trice was breathing the free air of heaven. Unfortunately for his plans, though the jailer and his wife were both absent at the time, the prisoner’s departure was noticed by a little girl, the adopted daughter of the jailer. She gave the alarm, which resulted five minutes later in the recapture and return of this prisoner.
            To aid him in his escape, Pye had blackened his features. This deception proved so successful that although the jailer noticed the man on the street he did not recognize him as the prisoner until the little girl told him. To Jailer Kendrick Pye said that he had been planning his escape all winter. He expressed regret that all his ingenuity and labor have been thrown away.
            In order to gain an entrance into the hallway of the jail, the prisoner had to pen three doors. The first one was of latticed iron, which was fastened on the outside by a padlock four pounds in weight. The key to open the lock was of peculiar construction, but the prisoner, after several attempt, succeeded in making a hardwood key the exact counterpart of the original. After opening this door, he encountered a wooden door, with a steel face, which is secured with a huge bolt outside a few inches from the floor. The only opening in this door is in the middle. It is about two inches square. Through this small aperture, he dropped out a wire which pulled the link f the bolt up in shooting the bolt. Door No. 3 was of iron bars fastened with a lock. This door he unfastened with a key which he had constructed out of the blade of a knife. To obtain an impression of this lock while the other doors were fastened he had to reach out through the openings in the two doors a distance of about three feet using the handle of a white-wash brush. Sheriff Stuart had no idea that man’s ingenuity cold secure an opening through three massive doors, but this opinion on that subject has considerably altered since Saturday.