Spotsylvania Courthouse in Spotsylvania County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
A Case of Negligence
Spotsylvania Court House National Historic District
"The county jail is now nearly completed, and ready for the reception of ...boarders...Persons taking quarters will be able to resist all attacks of burglars, and as far as burglars are concerned, may enjoy their slumbers in the peacefulness of all tranquility."
The Virginia Herald, March 8, 1855.
The 1838 jail was never at capacity. The County allowed Strother Clark, a local shoemaker to use the 2nd floor for his shop. As part of the agreement, Clark was required to insure his business for $1,000 through the Hartford Fire Insurance Company. In the space provided, Clark tanned leather hides for production of his products. In February 1853, a fire at the jail was reported at 2 a.m., which quickly consumed the building. It was a total loss. A grand jury was empaneled and came to the conclusion that Clark was negligent. Clark turned over the insurance money to the County and no further action was taken.
In 1853, after the jail burned, the county ordered a new jail built to be 40 by 20 feet with three brick thick first floor walls and two-brick thick second floor walls. It contained a total
During the War of the Rebellion, the jail also housed Confederate deserters. In 1863, prisoners from the Battle of Chancellorsville were housed in the jail and confined within a stone fence that surrounded the Courthouse grounds.
A view of the rear of the jail (left) taken around 1910. This photo pre-dates modifications which added windows at the rear on the first story.
Sgt. Thomas Gordon, 30th Virginia Infantry was severely wounded at Antietam in 1862. He was assigned to the jail for recruitment and watching over deserters in 1863.
William Mannsfield (right) on his wedding day with bride Cordelia Powell in 1852. He was Sheriff of Spotsylvania during the War of the Rebellion.
The original order for the new jail in 1853 gave explicit instructions for its design and composition.
Erected by Spotsylvania County Museum, County of Spotsylvania, Virginia.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed Disasters • Industry & Commerce • Law Enforcement • Notable Buildings • War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Virginia, Spotsylvania County Museum series list. A significant historical month for this entry is February 1853.
Location. 38° 12.051′ N, 77° 35.339′ W. Marker is in Spotsylvania Courthouse, Virginia, in Spotsylvania County. Marker is on Courthouse Road (Route 208) just west of Judicial Center Lane (County Road 631), on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 8960 Courthouse Road, Spotsylvania VA 22553, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Modification, Decay & Preservation (here, next to this marker); An Old Jail...A New Home (within shouting distance of this marker); A Final Journey (within shouting distance of this marker); Turning the Pages of Time (within shouting distance of this marker); Fisticuffs on the Courthouse Lawn and other Political Drama (within shouting distance of this marker); Legend, Lore and Fact (within shouting distance of this marker); Lee’s Headquarters (within shouting distance of this marker); Amid Shot and Shell (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Spotsylvania Courthouse.
Credits. This page was last revised on April 19, 2020. It was originally submitted on April 19, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 126 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on April 19, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.