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

Manly Portable Convict Cage

Manly Portable Convict Cage Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, September 23, 2008
1. Manly Portable Convict Cage Marker
Inscription. The Convict Cage, or "Jail on Wheels," was actually a prison pulled by a team of horses or mules. During the early 20th century, it was not possible to return prisoners doing work in the remote areas of Pickens County back (here) to the Pickens "Gaol" every night. Although the wagon-cage is only twelve feet long, seven feet wide, and eight feet high, there were six metal bunk beds of three tiers each inside for a total of eighteen beds. A small metal barrel in the center of the floor was used for a fire on cold nights, and canvas covered the sides of the cage to protect the men from cold winds. While the treatment of prisoners seems horrible by today's standards, it was hardly unusual for the early 1900s, and it was certainly far better than the treatment many prisoners received in the years before 1900.

The People's Journal reported in the issue of March 19, 1903: "As the Pickens County, S.C., portable caravansary, made for the county chain-gang, passed through Pickens on Saturday the earth trembled. It might prove a solution of the road problem, if enough mules could be attached to it to draw it over the county. It is a road picker."

The men who worked on the roads in the county and who slept in the cage at night were often serving short sentences. On weekends, their families sometimes visited them
Manly Portable Convict Cage image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, September 23, 2008
2. Manly Portable Convict Cage
and brought small baskets of food from home. One man, who remembers visiting a relative assigned to the cage while performing county work, remarked that everyone including the guards would have lunch together on Sunday and talk about friends and local happenings. A typical "road meal" consisted of foods such as fried bacon, biscuits and syrup, and coffee for breakfast; cabbage, bacon, and cornbread for lunch; and fried bacon, biscuits and syrup for supper.

After the county acquired gasoline powered trucks and machinery in the 1930s the cage ceased to be used.
Location. 34° 52.817′ N, 82° 42.333′ W. Marker is in Pickens, South Carolina, in Pickens County. Marker is on Johnson Street. Touch for map. Marker is located near the southern end of the museum parking lot, near the Pendleton Street entrance. Marker is at or near this postal address: 307 Johnson Street, Pickens SC 29671, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Pickens County Museum (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); General Andrew Pickens Charted the Way (approx. 0.2 miles away); Pickens County Buffalo Soldiers (approx. 0.2 miles away); Pickens County Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial
Manly Portable Convict Cage image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, September 23, 2008
3. Manly Portable Convict Cage
(approx. 0.2 miles away); To the Valiant Citizen-Soldiers of Pickens County (approx. 0.2 miles away); Major General Andrew Pickens (approx. 0.2 miles away); Thomas Joab Mauldin (approx. ¼ mile away); Andrew Pickens (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Pickens.
Regarding Manly Portable Convict Cage. The Manly Portable Convict Cage was manufactured and sold by the Manly Steel Company. This company is still in operation and headquartered in Dalton Georgia.
Categories. 20th CenturyGovernment
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 26, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 1,739 times since then and 10 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on September 26, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.
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