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Huntsville Prison

Birth place or City of origin: Hutsville
State of origin: TX
Last known City:
Last known State:
Start/Birth date: 1894
Death/End date:

Named after the City of Huntsville, Texas, the prison's first inmates arrived on October 1, 1849.Originally Huntsville was only for White Texans;leaving the only penalties available to Black Texans whipping and hanging. During the American Civil War, prisoners at Huntsville produced tents and uniforms for Confederate forces at the prison textile factory. After the American Civil War ended, Huntsville remained the only prison in the former Confederate States of America to remain. Originally women in the Texas Prison System were housed in the Huntsville Unit., but beginning in 1883 women were housed in the Johnson Farm, a privately owned cotton plantation near Huntsville. Historically the prison served as the administrative headquarters for the Texas Prison System and the Texas Department of Corrections. Between 1819 and 1923 the method of execution was hanging until Texas authorized the use of the electric chair. The chair – often euphemistically called "Old Sparky" was constructed by inmates. Between 1924 and 1964, 362 inmates were executed by electrocution. The chair now resides at the Texas Prison Museum, located on Interstate 45 on the north side of Huntsville which features displays of historical items from the prison system, including shanks and other items confiscated from inmates. Among the more notorious inmates who served time at Huntsville was outlaw and gunfighter, John Wesley Hardin (1878-1994)

 

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