Here is a bit of history for the Logan County (W.Va.) Jail based on documents from 1921:
Appointment of Jail Inspectors
Dr. N.E. Steele, Wm. B. Johnson and Denver Beckett are hereby appointed, authorized and directed to inspect, investigate and report in writing to the court at the present term the existing conditions of the Jail of the county, the care and treatment of the prisoners therein confined, in detail, as required by Secs. 40 and 41 of Chapter 41 of the Code of West Virginia.
The Clerk of the court will furnish said inspectors a copy of said sections for their guide in making said inspection and report and will make four attested copies of this order and place them in the hands of the sheriff of this county to be served on the above named inspectors which shall operate as a summons to them to forthwith appear in open court and take the oath required by law and to enter upon the discharge of the duties herewith.
Law Order Book X, page 183, 11 April 1921
Sec. 40. DUTIES OF JAILER. The jailer shall cause all the apartments of his jail to be well whitewashed at least twice in every year, and have the same properly aired and always kept clean. He shall furnish every prisoner with wholesome and sufficient food, and with a bed and bedding cleanly and sufficient, and have his apartment warmed when it is proper, in case of the sickness of any prisoner, he shall provide for him adequate nursing and attendance, and if there be occasion for it, and circumstances will permit shall confine him in an apartment separate from other prisoners. In no case shall a jailer permit the use of ardent spirits in the jail, except when prescribed by a physician. (Code Va. 1860, p. 289; Acts 1881, c 19.)
Sec. 41. Annual Inspection. The circuit court of every county shall annually, or oftener, if deemed necessary, appoint three persons, one of whom shall be a physician, to inspect the jail of each county. The judge shall administer to them the following oath: “You shall truly report to the court, as to the jail in this county, the size thereof, the number of its apartments, and its state, and condition; whether it is secure, sufficient for those who may be confined therein, and such that convicts may be kept in apartments separate from each other and from the other prisoners; whether every apartment is as constructed that it can be kept comfortable; whether it is kept in constant and adequate repair, and supplied with the furniture and other things necessary, and if not, in what it is deficient. You shall also diligently examine and truly report whether or not the jailer, has, during the last twelve months, faithfully performed the duties required of him by the fortieth section of the forty first chapter of the Code of West Virginia, and if not, in what respect he has failed to perform the same.” The said inspectors shall be furnished for their guide with a copy of the said oath, and of the said section. If they make a report, which fails in any respect to conform to said oath, it shall be recommitted to them until they fully report upon all the said matters. (Code Va. 1860, p. 289, Acts 1881 c. 19.)
N.E. Steele, William B. Johnson and Denver Beckett, who were appointed to inspect and report the existing conditions of and at the County Jail, by an order entered at a former day of this term of court, pursuant to Section 40 of Chapter 41 of the Code of West Virginia, and who were sworn as the law directs, having made the inspection as required, returned into court and submitted the following report in writing:
“We the undersigned appointed to inspect the jail of Logan County, hereby make the following report.
Size of Jail approximately 39 by 84 feet. Exclusive of jailer’s Residence. Brick building with concrete floors, three stories high, with cells on first and second floors, third story unfinished.
31 apartments or cells.
Capacity 112 men.
Confined therein at present 93 persons.
State and condition of jail, Good.
We consider jail secure and sufficient for those who may be confined therein, and convicts may be kept separate one apartment or cell from the other, the capacity of each apartment or cell being 3 or 4 persons or more.
Apartments or cells are so constructed that they can be kept comfortable.
Jail is new and in good repair and condition, and supplied with Furniture and other things necessary.
As to the jailer performing the duties required by Section 40 of Chapter 41 the past twelve months, will state that the present jail is new, and the old jail recently torn, and we doubt if the jailer could during the past twelve months comply with all the requirements in all cases in the old jail which has been torn away.
At present we believe that the jailer is complying with section 40 of Chapter 41.
Wm. B. Johnson
It appearing from said report that a new county jail has been provided and the prisoners moved from the old jail into the new one but a few days before the beginning of this term of the court, and the old jail was torn down. It was not possible for the committee to make a report as to the condition of the old jail for the year preceding, but the report showing that the new jail is in good condition, ample and sufficient to provide for the comfort and well-being of the prisoners, as well as for their proper detention, and that the prisoners are being provided with suitable clothing, bedding, food and other necessaries, as required by law, the court perceives no reason for making any order changing the existing conditions, and the report is therefore received, confirmed, ordered to be filed, and the committee discharged.
It is further ordered that the said committee each is allowed for his services in this behalf the sum of Five Dollars ($5.00), payable out of the treasury of this county.
Law Order Book X, page 264, 6 May 1921
Appalachia, ballads, Clayton Buchanan, crime, history, John C. Elkins, John Harrington Cox, Logan, Logan Banner, Logan County, Logan County Jail, Logan Court House, Market Square, Moundsville, music, West Virginia Folklore Society, West Virginia University
“Logan County Court House” or “Logan County Jail” is one of several songs written about events in Logan County, West Virginia. From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, dated 24 September 1926, we find this:
“For a dual purpose The Banner herewith reproduces one of the four known variants of the song entitled “Logan County Court House.” In the first place it should be of interest to those who have never read it or any similar version. Secondly, this paper is desirous of learning something about the authorship of the song.
“Who wrote it? And when and under what circumstances? Many a Banner reader may have some information on this matter which he or she should be willing to communicate.
“The variants of this song are reproduced in Prof. John Harrington Cox’s volume of ‘Folk-Songs of the South’ published last year. The following one was sent to that author, a member of the faculty of West Virginia University, by Miss Snoah McCourt, of Ornoff, Webster county, this state:
When I was a little boy, I worked on Market Square.
O’ money I did pocket, but I never did it fair.
I rode upon the lakes and learned to rob and steal,
And when I made a great haul, how happy I did feel.
I used to wear the white hat, my horse an’ buggy fine.
I used to court a pretty girl I always thought was mine.
I courted her for beauty, her love for me was great.
And when I’d go to see her, she’d meet me at the gate.
One night as I lay sleeping, I dreamed a mighty dream.
That I was marching down on the golden stream.
I woke all broken-hearted, in Logan County jail,
And not a friend around me for to go my bail.
Down came the jailer about ten o’clock,
And the key in his hand he shoved against the lock.
“Cheer up, cheer up, my prisoner!” I thought I heard him say.
“You’re going around to Moundsville, seven long years to stay.”
Down came the jailer about ten o’clock,
And with the key in his hand he shoved against the lock.
“Cheer up, cheer up, my prisoner!” I thought I heard him say,
“You’re going around to Moundsville, seven long years to stay.”
Down came my true love, ten dollars in her hand.
“O my dearest darling, I’ve done all that I can!
And may the Lord be with you, wherever you may go,
And Satan snatch the jury for sending you below.”
Sitting in the railroad, waiting for the train,
“I am going away to leave you, to wear the ball and chain.
I’m going away to leave you. Darling, don’t you cry.
Take a glass of whiskey and let it all pass by.”
A subsequent story printed on 28 September 1926, provided more information about the song’s history:
“Publication in last Friday’s Banner of the old ‘Logan County Jail’ song, with an inquiry as to its authorship, has brought a reward in the form of an interesting letter from John C. Elkins of the sheriff’s office. This letter reveals the name of the songwriter, and gives a glimpse into his life after his soul found a measure of relief in rime and rhythm.
“Doubtless many of those who last week read the song for the first time and others who re-read it with more or less eagerness will be interested and even pleased to learn that the prisoner escaped from jail and a long term at Moundsville: went west, reformed, and entered the ministry; then in the flickering twilight of his eventful life, he came back to die amid the mountains he loved so well.
“Here is the letter dated Sept. 27, which outlines the strange story:
“Question: Who was the author of the song ‘The Logan County Jail’?
“Answer: This song was composed by a Logan county boy whose childhood had been thrilled by the horrors of the war of 1861-65. His song tells the story of his life, his crime, his sentence, his thoughts of and goodbye to the girl he left behind, the invitation to take a glass of whiskey and let all worries pass by. He climbed the prison walls and made his escape into the west. There he became a minister. Some years later, broken in health, he returned to his native county and died about 20 years ago. The song was written 50 years ago and its author was Clayton Buchanan.
“To the Banner these revelations come with an irresistible appeal; and while thanking Mr. Elkins, the regret is expressed that he did not go into greater detail in unfolding this story–a story teeming with dramatic values.”
One additional story about the song appeared in the Banner on 5 October 1926:
“What the Banner has been publishing in recent issues relative to the authorship of the ‘Logan County Jail’ song has been read with interest by Prof. John H. Cox, head of the department of English, West Virginia University. It was from his book, ‘Folk Songs of the South,’ that this song was reproduced in these columns.
“From Prof. Cox the following letter dated September 30 was received by The Banner:
“This is to thank you for the clipping from The Logan Banner concerning the origin of the song, ‘Logan County Jail.’ It is very interesting and I have no doubt it is correct. I wonder if any records of Clayton Buchanan’s trial are in Logan County courthouse? I should like very much to have the details of the crime, the trial, the escape, and the death of this man for the files of the West Virginia Folk-Lore Society, of which I happen to be the president, archivist, and general editor. Could you not prevail upon Mr. John C. Elkins either to write out or dictate to some stenographer all that he knows about the case and have it printed in The Banner? It would be a real worthwhile piece of work.
“You may be interested to know that I am at work on a second volume of West Virginia Folk-lore, a volume which we hope to make as interesting and valuable as the first. We shall be glad to have any material of any kind that may be found.
“John H. Cox
“34 Campus Driveway
“P.S. A transcript of the record in the courthouse, if there is one, would be especially valuable.”