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From: (John A. Bing)
Subject: (fwd) Federal Prison (from Roots List)
Date: Sat, 06 May 2000 22:42:02 GMT

I saw the recent posting on Roots-L, kindly forwarded by John A. Bing
to the PACENTRE list. If any of you on Roots want to forward this email on
to that list, that would be appreciated, as I am not a subscriber there.

Bellefonte is the county seat of Centre County, PA. Hence, the
"county jail" is in this place. It was established about the time the
county was formed (Feb. 13, 1800). The first hanging was of Dan Byers,
of African-American descent, in 1802.

James Monks was by far the most notable hanging at this site -- it was
in 1818 or 1819. He had murdered Reuben Giles/Guild in 1817.

But I digress. From 1911 to 1918 the Western Penitentiary bought up a
vast amount of land -- including many, many farms -- in the area of Benner
(and a small part of College) Township, Centre County, PA. Today these lands
are known as the State Correctional Institute at Rockview. (Rockview
being the name of the area when persons still lived there.) The John P. Ishler
farmhouse, which still stands, was the first prison building. It is
today used as a place of execution.

I believe Rockview is either minimum or medium security today. I'm pretty
sure that it is minimum. The staff there are more than willing to help you
out. As far as in the past, I'm not sure what type of criminals we had
there. Today, murderers and more hardened criminals are not generally kept
at Rockview -- they are brought in from other prison systems in the state a
few days prior to execution.

In the past, though, I know a murderer and a rapist escaped who WERE
residents of Rockview (they were caught). This was in the 1960s or so, from
what I can recall.

As far as other prisons, there are ones in Huntingdon, PA, and Lewisburg, PA,
which are maximum-security federal prisons. Perhaps they might be of help to
you. Huntingdon, PA is in Huntingdon County and Lewisburg, PA is in Union

I trust this is of help. I'm sorry I can't provide addresses. Incidentally,
my great-grandfather, Leonard A. Breon, who was at that time a contractor,
assisted in the construction of the B Cell Block at Rockview in the 1920's.
Something in the construction ruined his health and he worked as an
insurance agent the rest of his life.


Justin Kirk Houser
Genealogist/Researcher of Central PA and Beyond
President, BAHS Class of 2003
Chair, Clinton County (PA) Genealogical Society Cemetery Project
Member, Valley View United Methodist Church
"All the Way My Savior Leads Me"

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