“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Covington in Newton County, Georgia — The American South (South Atlantic)

Newton County Jail House

Newton County Jail House Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, May 7, 2022
1. Newton County Jail House Marker
Inscription.  Can you imagine living and growing up at the jail? When Newton County completed its new jail in 1901, the front half had been designed as a home for the sheriff or a staff member and his family, an arrangement typical of this period. The sheriff was responsible for providing meals to the prisoners, most often cooked on his kitchen stove. During the summer, a vegetable garden on the lot produced corn, beans, squash, peppers, and other common vegetables for everyday use.

[Caption] Sheriff Samuel M. Hay and his wife, Medora, stand before the jail they called home, c. 1912. With them are sons Sam Hay, Jr., Ike, and Tom. The woman at the right is unidentified. According to various accounts, local fiddlers played music on the front porch many Saturday evenings. (Newton County Historical Society)

A new jail for Newton County
One of the “great needs of Newton County is a new jail,” said an article in the Georgia Enterprise for 28 September 1900. The article described the existing one-story jail which stood directly behind the courthouse as “unfit to house the most debauched criminal.”

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1901 Newton County officials moved forward on the new jail, hiring J. W. Golucke and Company of Atlanta to design the jail. The Pauly Jail Building and Manufacturing Company of St. Louis, Missouri, won the contract to construct it.

The county took possession of the completed building on August 30, 1901. The final cost, reported in a later newspaper article, ran just slightly over the original estimate of $10,000.

• James Wingfield Golucke, Georgia's most prolific architect of the county courthouses, also designed several jails. (Union County Historical Society)
• Originally steamboat blacksmiths on the Mississippi River, The Pauly Company started building steel cages that could be mounted on flatbed wagons. These portable jail cells set the industry standard and launched their new line of business. (Advertisement for The Pauly Jail Building and Manufacturing Company from the City of Saint Louis and Its Resources, published 1893. Missouri Historical Society)

A new location
The new jail with its three-story central tower, rose up at the corner of Stallings Street and Court Place (now Hunter Street). The location gave the residence a view facing east toward the Fowler Brothers Company fertilizer plant and the Central of Georgia railroad tracks.

The jail on the back
Newton County Jail House Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, May 7, 2022
2. Newton County Jail House Marker
boasted reinforced concrete floors and ceiling. Iron clad doors led into the six cells located on the second floor. The adjacent gallows room was equipped with a trap door in the floor that remains in place (but made inoperable). No record of a hanging in the building has been found. In 1924, the Georgia General Assembly abolished death by hanging in the county where the crime was committed and substituted death by electrocution to be held only at the Georgia State Prison, then in Milledgeville.

(Sanborn Map Company. Map of Covington 1916, Sheet 2 Close-up. University of Georgia Libraries Map Collection)
• This photograph of J. A. Allgood's blacksmith shop, c.1930, shows it fronting Court Place, now called Hunter Street. Note the jail in the background. (new 108-83, Vanishing Georgia Collection, Georgia Archives)

The prisoners
Making, selling, buying, having, or transporting liquor illegally were among the most common offenses listed in the Criminal Minutes of the Newton County Superior Court for 1922-1936. Other crimes that led to arrest included pointing a pistol at another, abusive language, wife beating, and stealing chickens.

[Caption] A Georgia county prisoner, c. 1920. Detail from a photograph taken by S. J. Puckett (Burford, Ceorgia). (gn159,
Newton County Jail House Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, May 7, 2022
3. Newton County Jail House Marker
Side view of the jail building. Note the bars on the windows.
detail, Vanishing Georgia Collection, Georgia Archives)

Jailed for justice
Among the jailed were the Newton 6 who were involved in local Civil Rights activities in 1970. A march begun by students over the plans for school integration, grew into a three-month economic boycott of businesses. Newton County Sheriff Henry Odum arrested many protesters, including leaders who were jailed without bond. Local residents Forrest Sawyer, Jr., Robert Johnson, and Joe Lightfoot, and Southern Christian Leadership organizers Leon Walker, Tyrone Brooks, and Lloyd Jackson were jailed for 45 days until a writ of habeus corpus issued by the federal government ordered their release. The protests subsided and gradual changes reduced segregation in the community.

[Caption] Students from R. L. Cousins High School march up Pace Street from U.S. Highway 278 toward the board of education building and the Covington Square in this February 1970 photograph. (The Covington News)

Keeping up with growth
As Newton County's population has increased, so has the need for a larger jail. The 1901 Stallings Street jail, built for a county with nearly 17,000 citizens, could house approximately 40 prisoners. A larger county jail replaced it in 1985, followed less than 20 years later by another. The Newton County jail, with an occupant
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capacity of 600, was completed in 2003 for $27.5 million to serve a population that by 2010 had reached approximately 100,000.

[Caption] The Newton County jail completed in 2003.

Fun fact
-- cal-a boose (kal'e-boos,) noun. Chiefly Southern & Western U.S. A jail. Origin: Louisiana French calabouse, from Spanish calabozo, dungeon. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company)

[Caption] Covington's calaboose was located for many years behind the county courthouse. No image of the structure has been found, but it may have resembled Porterdale's calaboose, shown here in a 2011 photograph. (Deborah Bell)
Erected by Newton County History Center • Newton County, Georgia • Georgia Department of Community Affairs • City of Covington.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureCivil RightsLaw Enforcement. A significant historical month for this entry is February 1970.
Location. 33° 35.939′ N, 83° 51.622′ W. Marker is in Covington, Georgia, in Newton County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Stallings Street Northwest and Hunter Avenue Northwest, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1177 Stallings St NW, Covington GA 30014, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Ramsey's Furniture (approx. 0.2 miles away); Newton County War Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away); Lucius Q. C. Lamar (approx. 0.2 miles away); Covington Square (approx. 0.2 miles away); To The Confederate Dead of Newton County (approx. 0.2 miles away); Swann Building (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Capture of Covington (approx. ¼ mile away); Swanscombe (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Covington.
Credits. This page was last revised on May 12, 2022. It was originally submitted on May 12, 2022, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 475 times since then and 143 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on May 12, 2022, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

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May. 25, 2024