AFTER we had mined some twenty-five feet we took down the coal. To do this the wedges are set and driven in at the top of the vein of coal, with the sledge hammer. After my companion had struck the coal several times it began to pop and crack as if it would fall at any moment. I became alarmed. I was never in such a place before, and I said: "George, had I not better act out of this place? I don't want the coal to fall on me the first day." His reply was, that if I wanted to learn how to mine I must remain near the coal and take my chances of being killed. This was indeed comforting! Then he informed me that he was going to knock on the coal and wanted me to catch the sound that was produced. He thumped away, and I got the sound -- a dull, heavy thud. Now, says he, "when coal sounds in that manner it is not ready to drop." So he continued to pound away at it. The more he pounded the more the coal cracked and the more alarmed I became. I was afraid it would drop at any mo-THE TWIN HELLS.
ment and crush me. I begged of him to cease pounding until I got into the entry out of the way of danger. He tried to make me believe there was no danger. I was hard to convince of that fact. There I lay stretched out on my side next to the coal, he driving in the wedges, and the coal seeming to me to be ready to drop at each stroke of the hammer. "Now listen," said he, "while I knock on the coal once more." I listened. The sound was altogether different from the first. "Now," said he, "the coal is about ready to fall." It is necessary for the miner to know this part of his business. It is by the sound that he determines when it is ready to fall. If he is ignorant of this part of his work, he would be in great danger of getting killed from the coal falling unexpectedly. "Well," said I, "if this coal is about ready to drop, had I not better get out of here into the entry, so that I may be out of danger?" "No," was his reply; "just crawl up behind that row of props and remain in the 'gob' until after the coal falls." In obedience to his command I cheerfully got up behind the props and embraced that pile of dirt. He struck the wedges a few more blows and then darted behind the props out of danger. No sooner had he gotTHE COAL MINES.
out of the way than the coal came thundering down. "Now," said my room-mate "go out into the entry and bring in the buggy." "All right." And out I went on my hands and knees. I soon found my way into the entry, but found no buggy; so back I crawled into the room and reported. At this my instructor crawled out to see what had become of that singular vehicle known as a mining buggy. I followed after. I did not want to remain behind in that coal mine. I did not know what might happen should I be left there in that dark hole alone. After we had reached the entry where we could stand erect my teacher pointed to an object which lay close to our feet, and said to me, "Man, where are your eyes?" "In my head," I calmly replied. "Do you see that thing there?" "Of course I see that thing." "Well, that is the buggy." "Indeed!" I exclaimed. "I am certainly glad to know it, for I never would have taken that for a buggy." It had a pair of runners which were held in their places by a board being nailed across them. On this was a small box; at one end there was a short iron handle. On our knees we pushed the buggy into the room, took up the hammer, broke up the coal intoTHE TWIN HELLS.
lumps we could handle, filled up the small box, dragged it out into the entry and emptied it into a heap. This is called "buggying" coal. It is the most laborious part of mining. Whenever a new man would be placed with the convicts for instructions in mining he would have to buggy coal just as long as it was possible to get him to do so. After a time, however, he would want to take turn about with his teacher.
After we had finished getting out what we had down the noon hour had arrived. At certain places in the entries or roadways there are large wooden doors which, when shut, close up the entire passage. These doors are for the regulations of the currents of air which pass through the mines. The loud noise produced by pounding on one of these doors was the signal for dinner. It was now noon. Bang, bang, hang, bang, went the door. I had now put in one-half day of my sentence in the mines. Oh! the many long, dreary, monotonous days I passed after that! At the call for dinner the convict, always hungry, suddenly drops his tools and makes his way at a rapid pace along the entry until he comes to the place where the division officer has his headquarters. ArrivingTHE COAL MINES.
at this place each convict takes his position in a line with his fellow-convicts. All talking now ceases. They sit on the ground while eating, with their lower limbs crossed. There are no soft cushioned chairs on which the tired prisoner may rest his weary limbs. When seated, a small piece of pine board, about a foot square, is placed across his knees. This is the table. No table cloth, no napkins, no table linen of any kind. Such articles as these would paralyze a convict! Thus seated in two rows along the sides of the entry, with their mining lamps lighted and hanging in their caps, they present a weird and interesting sight. The dinner had been brought down from the top about an hour before on coal cars. Three of the prisoners are now detailed to act as waiters. One passes down between the two rows of convicts, carrying in his hand a wooden pail filled with knives and forks. These culinary instruments have iron handles. Were they made of wood or horn, the convicts would soon break off the handles and make trinkets out of them. This waiter, passing along, drops a knife and fork on each table. He is followed by another who drops down a piece of corn bread; then another with a piece of meat for each. man, which heTHE TWIN HELLS.
places on the pine board. There is no "Please pass the meat," or "Hand over the bread." Not a word is spoken. After the knives and forks have been passed around this waiter returns and gives each man a quart of water. This is dinner. The bill of fare is regular, and consists of cold water, corn bread and meat. Occasionally we have dessert of cold cabbage, or turnips or cracked corn. When we have these luxuries they are given to us in rotation, and a day always intervenes between cabbage and turnips. In the coal mines the prisoner never washes himself before eating. Although he gets his hands and face as black as the coal he has been digging, yet he does not take time to wash himself before eating. Reader, how would you like to dine in this condition? The old saying is, we must all eat our "peck of dirt." I think I have consumed at least two bushels and a half! I can never forget my first meal in the mines. I was hungry, it was true, but I couldn't manage to eat under the circumstances. I sat there on the ground, and in silence watched the other prisoners eat. I thought, "You hogs! I can never get so hungry as to eat as you are now eating." In this I was mistaken. Before ten days had gone by I could eat alongTHE COAL MINES.
with any of them. The first day I thought I would do without my dinner, and when supper time came go to the top and enjoy a fine meal. I imagined that after digging coal all day they would surely give us a good meal in the evening. My mouth "watered" for some quail on toast, or a nice piece of tenderloin, with a cup of tea. Think of my surprise, when hoisted to the top at the close of day, after marching into the dining-room and taking our places at the table, when I saw all that was put before the prisoners was a piece of bread, a cup of tea without sugar or milk, and two tablespoonfuls of sorghum molasses. It did not require a long time for me to dispose of the molasses, as I was very hungry, and handed up my cup for an additional supply; this was refused. It is considered in the penitentiary an excess of two tablespoonfuls of sorghum is unhealthy! There is danger of its burning out the stomach! So at each supper after that I had to get along with two spoonfuls. As far as the tea was concerned, it was made of some unknown material whose aroma was unfamiliar to my olfactory; the taste was likewise unfamiliar, and in consequence of these peculiarities of the prison tea I never imbibed of it but the one time, thatTHE TWIN HELLS.
being amply sufficient to last through the entire period of my confinement. From that day on I took cold water, which, after all, is God's best beverage for the human race. The penitentiary, so far as I know, is the only place in the State of Kansas where prohibition actually works prohibition as contemplated by the laws of the State! There are no "joints" in the Pen. No assistant attorney generals are necessary to enforce prohibition there. I never saw a drunken man in the prison. "The Striped Temperance Society of Kansas" is a success. For breakfast in the prison we have hash, bread, and a tin cup of coffee, without sugar or milk; no butter, no meat. The hash is made of the pieces of bread and meat left over from the preceding day. We had it every day in the year for breakfast. During my entire time in the prison I had nothing for breakfast but hash. One day I was talking to an old murderer who had been there for eighteen years, and he told me he had eaten hash for his breakfast during his entire term -- six thousand five hundred and seventy days. I looked at the old man and wondered to myself whether he was a human being or a pile of hash, half concluding that he was the latter!
THE COAL MINES.
In conversation with the chaplain of the prison I received the following anecdote, which I will relate for the benefit of my readers. It is customary in the prison, after the Sunday exercises, for such as desire to remain and hold a sort of class meeting, or as some call it, experience meeting. In one of these, an old colored man arose, and said: "Breddren, ebber since Ize been in dis prison Ize been trying' to git de blessin'; Ize prayed God night and day. Ize rascelled wid de Almighty 'till my hips was sore, but Ize nebber got it. Some sez its la'k ob faith. Some its la'k of strength, but I b'l'eves de reason am on 'count of de quality ob dis hash we hab ebbery day!"
Accidents are occurring almost daily. Scarcely a day passes but what some man receives injuries. Often very severe accidents happen, and occasionally those which prove fatal. Many men are killed outright. These accidents are caused by the roof of the little room in which the miner works falling in upon him, and the unexpected drop of coal. Of course there are many things that contribute to accidents, such as bad machinery, shafts, dirt rolling down, landslides, etc.
One day there was a fellow-prisoner workingTHE TWIN HELLS.
in the room adjoining me; he complained to the mining boss that he did not want to go into that room to work because he thought it was dangerous. The officer in charge thought differently, and told him to go in there and go to work or he would report him. The prisoner hadn't been in the place more than a half hour before the roof fell and buried him. It took some little time to get him out. When the dirt was removed, to all appearances he was dead. He was carried to the hospital on a stretcher, and the prison physician, Doctor Neeally, examined him, and found that both arms were broken in two places, his legs both broken, and his ribs crushed. The doctor, who is a very eminent and successful surgeon, resuscitated him, set his broken bones, and in a few weeks what was thought to be a dead man, was able to move about the prison enclosure, although one of his limbs was shorter than the other, and he was rendered a cripple for life.
On another occasion a convict was standing at the base of the shaft. The plumb-bob, a piece of lead about the size of a goose egg, accidentally fell from the top of the shaft, a distance of eight hundred feet, and, strikingTHE TWIN HELLS.
this colored man on the head, it mashed his skull, and bespattered the walls with his brains. I had three narrow escapes from death. One day I lay in my little room resting, and after spending some time stretched out upon the ground, I started off to another part of my room to go to work, when all of a sudden the roof fell in, and dropped down just where I had been lying. Had I remained a minute longer in that place, I would have been killed. As it happened, the falling debris just struck my shoe as I was crawling out from the place where the material fell.
At another time I had my room mined out and was preparing to take down the coal. I set my wedges in a certain place above the vein of coal and began to strike with my sledge hammer, when I received a presentiment to re- move my wedges from that place to another. Now I would not have the reader believe that I was in any manner superstitious, but I was so influenced by that presentiment that I withdrew my wedges and set them in another place; then I proceeded to strike them a second time with the sledge hammer, when, unexpectedly, the vein broke and the coal fell just opposite to where my head was resting, and came withinTHE TWIN HELLS.
an inch of striking it. Had I remained in the place where I first set my wedges, the coal would have fallen upon me; it had been held in its place by a piece of sulphur, and when it broke, it came down without giving me any warning.
On still another occasion, my mining boss came to my room and directed me to go around to another part of the mine and assist two prisoners who were behind with their work. I obeyed. I hadn't been out of my room more than about half an hour when there occurred a land-slide in it, which filled the room entirely full of rock, slate and coal. It required several men some two weeks to remove the amount of debris that had fallen on that occasion. Had I been in there, death would have been certain at that time.
Gentle reader, let me assure you, that although some persons misunderstanding me, assert that I am without belief in anything, yet I desire to say, when reflecting upon these providential deliverances, that I believe in the Eternal Will that guides, directs, controls and protects the children of men. While many of my fellow-prisoners were maimed for life and some killed outright, I walked through thatTHE COAL MINE.
valley and shadow of death without even a hair of my head being injured. Why was this? My answer is the following: Over in the State of Iowa, among the verdant hills of that beautiful commonwealth, watching the shadows as they longer grow, hair whitened with the frosts of many seasons, heart as pure as an angel's, resides my dear old mother. I received a letter from her one day, and among other things was the following:
"I love you now in your hour of humiliation and disgrace as I did when you were a prattling babe upon my knee. * * * "I would also have you remember that every night before I retire to rest, kneeling at my bedside, I ask God to take care of and watch over my boy."
Of the nine hundred convicts in the penitentiary not one of their mothers ever forgot or deserted them. A mother's prayers always follow her prodigal children. Go, gather the brightest and purest flowers that bend and wave in the winds of heaven, the roses and lilies, the green vine and immortelles, wreathe them in a garland, and with this crown the brow of the truest of all earthly friends -- Mother! Another reason I give for my safe keeping inTHE TWIN HELLS.
that hour of darkness and despair: In the city of Atchison, on a bed of pain and anguish, lay my true, devoted and dying wife. Every Sunday morning regularly would I receive a letter dictated by her. Oh! the tender, loving words! "Every day," said she, "I pray that God will preserve your life while working in the jaws of death." The true and noble wife, the helpmeet of man, clings to him in the hour of misfortune and calamity as the vine clings to the tree when prostrate on the ground. No disgrace can come so shameful that it will cause the true wife to forsake. She will no more forsake than the true soldier will desert on the battlefield. For those imps in human form that endeavor to detract from the honor belonging to the wives of the country there ought to be no commiseration whatever. Let us honor the wifehood of our native land. It is the fountain of all truth and righteousness, and if the fountain should become impure, all is lost. One more reason: Before I was sent to the prison I was an evangelist, and was instrumental in the hands of God of persuading hundreds of people to abandon a wicked life and seek the good. During my imprisonment I received many letters from these men and women who had beenTHE COAL MINES.
benefited on account of what I had said to them, and they informed me that they still retained confidence in me end were praying God for my deliverance. Now, I believe, in answer to a mother's prayers, in answer to the prayers of my sainted wife, in answer to the prayers of good men and women, who were converts to "the faith once delivered to the saints" under my earnest endeavors -- in answer to all these prayers, God lent a listening ear and preserved me from all harm and danger.
It is a great consolation for prisoners to receive letters from their friends. One day a convict working in the next room to me inquired if I would like to see a letter. I replied I would. He had just received one from his wife. This prisoner was working out a sentence of five years. He had been in the mines some two years. At home, he had a wife and five children. They were in destitute circumstances. In this letter his wife informed him that she had been taking in washing for the support of herself and children, and that at times they had to retire early because they had no fuel to keepTHE TWIN HELLS.
them warm. Also, that, on several occasions, she had been compelled to put the children to bed without supper. But this noble woman stated to her husband that their lot was not so bad as his. She encouraged him to bear up under his burdens, and that the time would soon come when his sentence would expire and he would be permitted to return home again, and that the future would be bright once more as it had been before the unfortunate circumstances that led to his imprisonment. It was a good letter, written by a noble woman. A couple of days after this, as I was mining, I heard a voice in the adjoining room. I listened. At first I thought it was the mining boss, but I soon discovered I was mistaken. Listening again I came to the conclusion that the convict who was working in the next room was becoming insane, a frequent occurrence in the mines. Many of the poor convicts being unable to stand the strain of years and the physical toil, languish and die in the insane ward. To satisfy my curiosity, I took my mining lamp from my cap, placed it on the ground, covered it up as best I could with some pieces of slate, and then crawled up in the darkness near where he was. I never saw such a sightTHE TWIN HELLS.
as was now presented to me. This broad-shouldered convict on his knees, with his frame bent over, his face almost touching the floor of the room, was praying for his wife and children. Such a prayer I never heard before, nor do I expect to hear again. His petition was something like the following: "Oh, Heavenly Father, I am myself a wicked, desperate man. I do not deserve any love or protection for my own sake. I do not expect it, but for the sake of Jesus do have mercy on my poor wife and helpless children."
I have been able, many times In my life, to spend an hour or more in the prayer circle, and, unmoved, could listen to the prayers of the children of God. But I could not remain there in the darkness and listen to such a prayer as that going forth from the lips of that poor convict; so I glided back through the darkness into my own room, and left him there alone, pleading with his Creator for his lone and helpless ones at home.
Reader, did God listen to the wails of that poor heart-stricken prisoner? Yes! yes! yes! For though a prodigal, sinful child, yet he is still a child of the universal Father. Who ofTHE TWIN HELLS.
us dare excommunicate him? What frail mortal of passing time would dare lift up his hand and say, this poor wanderer is forgotten of his God?
What a glorious privilege is communion with God. What a sweet consolation to know God hears, though we may be far removed from the dear ones we love. And who can tell the glorious things that have been wrought by the wonderful Father of the race by that strong lever of prayer. How often has the rough ways of life been made smooth. How often do we fail to credit the same to the kind intercession of friends with the Father of us all. But to continue, it often happens that in the coal mines, persons, no longer able to sustain the heavy load that is placed upon them of remaining in prison for a long time, give way, and they become raving maniacs. One day a prisoner left his room, and crawling out on his hands and knees into the entry, sat down on a pile of coal and commenced to sing. He had a melodious voice, and these were the words, the first stanza of that beautiful hymn:
"Jesus, lover of my soul,|
Let me to Thy bosom fly."
After he had completed the first stanza two ofTHE TWIN HELLS.
the officers came to him and directed him to go back into the room to work. He replied that he did not have to work; that he had religion, I and that when a man had religion he did not have to work. Said he, "We are now going to have a prayer meeting, and" addressing one of the officers, "you you will please lead us in prayer." The officer replied, "I don't pray in coal mines; I pray above the surface so that God can hear." At this the insane convict picked up a large piece of coal and was going to hurl it after him, and threatened that if he did not get on his knees and go to praying he would compel him to do so. While he was thus addressing one officer the other slipped around in his rear and striking his arm knocked the piece of coal out of his hand. Then the officers seized him, one on each side, and forced him to go with them down the roadways to the shaft, from whence he was taken to the top and placed in the insane ward, where he remains at this writing. As he was passing down the entries, away in the distance we heard him singing --
"Other refuge have I none, |
Hangs my helpless soul on Thee.
Leave, oh leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me."
THE TWIN HELLS.|
I can never forget the impression made upon me as those words rang down through the dark passages, coming from the lips of that insane convict as they led him away from the confinement of the mines to the confinement of insanity. How true those beautiful words were in his case!
The mines of this penal institution are a college for the education and graduation of hardened criminals, and for illustration, and the instruction of those not familiar with the subject matter referred to, I will relate what came under my personal observation, and some things that I heard while in there. One day, in company with me while engaged in mining, were two other convicts. One of these was a hardened old crook. He was serving out a term on the charge of making and passing counterfeit money. The other fellow-convict was a young man seventeen years of age -- a mere boy. Tired of mining, we laid off awhile, resting. During this time the old convict gave us instructions in the manner of making counterfeit money. He told us how he would construct his counterfeit molds out of plaster parts,THE TWIN HELLS.
which he would use in the same manner that bullet molds are used. He would purchase some britannica metal. On some dark night he would go into the forest, build up a fire, melt the metal, pour the melted liquor into the molds, and in this manner make silver dollars. He informed us that it didn't take very long to make a hatful of money. A few days thereafter this young man, who was with us in the room at the time, informed me that when he went out again into the world, if he was unable to secure work, he would try his hand at making counterfeit money. I advised him not to do this, as it was almost a certainty that he would be detected. He thought differently. About a month thereafter he was released from the prison. He went out into the world, and, unable to obtain work, did try his hand at making counterfeit money. Shortly before my time expired here came this young man to prison again, with a sentence of three years at hard labor for making and passing counterfeit money. He had received his criminal instruction in the penitentiary mines, the result of which will be that he will spend the greater portion of his life a convict.
There are a great many instances whereTHE TWIN HELLS.
these young convicts, having received their education in the coal mines, go into the world to become hardened criminals. Down in this school of crime, in the midst of the darkness, they learn how to make burglary tools, to crack safes, and to become expert as pickpockets; they take lessons in confidence games, and when their time expires they are prepared for a successful career of crime. It is utterly impossible for the officers of the coal mines to prevent these men from conversing with each other. If these mines were sold, and the money obtained from the sale of them was used in building workhouses on the surface, and these men placed at work there under the watchful care of the official, they would then be unable to communicate with each other, and would be saved from the debasing contamination of the hardened criminals. They would be saved from all this that degrades and makes heartless wretches. A scene occurred in the mines one day that illustrates the fact that judges sometimes, in their anxiety to enforce the laws, overstep the bounds of justice, and inflict excessive punishment and place burdens upon human beings which they are unable to bear. One afternoonTHE COAL MINES.
in the city of Emporia ten tramps were arrested and thrown into the county jail. During the succeeding night one of these persons thrust a poker into the stove, and heating it red hot, made an effort to push the hot iron through the door, thus burning a large hole in the door-casing. The next morning the sheriff, entering the jail, perceiving what this vagrant had done, was displeased, and tried to ascertain which one of the ten was guilty of the offense. The comrades of the guilty party refused to disclose the perpetrator of the act. Court was then in session. The sheriff had these ten fellows brought into court, hoping that when placed upon the witness stand, under oath, they would tell which had committed the offense. Even in court they were true to each other, and would not reveal the perpetrator. They were then all convicted, and the judge passed a sentence of ten years upon each of these vagrants for that trivial offense. They came to the penitentiary. The day after their arrival they were all sent to the coal mines. For two years they worked day after day down in the Kansas bastile. One morning, after they had been in the mines for two years, one of the number, at the breakfast table in the dining-room, unperceived se-THE TWIN HELLS.
creted a knife in his clothing and carried it with him down to his place of work. He went into his little room and began the labors of the day. After toiling for a few hours he took a stone and sharpened his knife the best he possibly could, then stepped out into the entry where he could stand erect, and with his head thrown back drew that knife across his throat, cutting it from ear to ear, thus terminating his life, preferring death to longer remaining in the mines of the Kansas Hell! Who is there that is not convinced of the fact that the blood of this suicide stains the garments of the judge who placed this unbearable burden often years upon this young man, and who, I subsequently learned, was innocent of the offense. I would advise the good people of Lyons County, and of Emporia particularly, after they have perused this book, if they come to the conclusion that they have no better material out of which to construct a district judge, to go out on the frontier and lassoo a wild Comanche Indian and bring him to Emporia and place him upon the ermined bench. I do not even know the name of this judge, but I believe, if I am correctly informed in this case, that his judgment is deficient somewhere. But I must say in this
THE COAL MINES.
connection, when the good people of Lyons County heard of this suicide, they immediately thereafter petitioned the Board of Pardons for the release of these prisoners, and the board at once reported favorably upon their cases, and Governor Martin promptly granted their pardons and they were released from the prison. If the pardon had not been granted, others of them had resolved upon taking their lives as did their comrade. One of these prisoners was for a time a companion of mine in one of my mining rooms, and told me if he was required to remain in the coal mines digging coal another three months he had made up his mind to follow the example of his comrade, preferring death to the horrors of the mines.
For the further information of the reader, as to the dread of the prisoners of work in the mines, I cite the following which I call to recollection. The gentlemanly physician of the institution, Dr. Neeally, told me that at four different times men had feigned death in the mines and had been carried on stretchers to the hospital; the particulars in one case is as follows: One of these men feigned death and was carried to the hospital, and was reported by his com-THE TWIN HELLS.
rades to be dead. He had suppressed his breathing. The physician felt his pulse, and finding it regular, of course knew he was simply endeavoring to deceive. In order to experiment, the physician coincided with the statements of the attending convicts who had, carried him from the mines, and announced that he would try electricity, and if he failed to restore him to life he would then have to bury him in the regular way. The doctor retired for the purpose of getting his electrical apparatus. In a few moments he returned, bringing it with him, and placing the magnetic cups, one in each hand, commenced generating the electricity by turning the generator attached to the machine. After a few turns of the crank the prisoner opened his eyes; one or two more and he sat Up; a few more and he stood on his feet; another turn or two and he commenced dancing around, and claimed, "For God's sake, doctor, do quit, for I ain't dead, but I can't let loose!" Reader, what do you suppose was the object this convict had in view in thus feigning death? What did he hope to gain thereby? Being well acquainted with this prisoner, a few days after the doctor had told me of the circumstances I met him, and askedTHE COAL MINES.
him what object he had in feigning death the time that he was taken from the mines to the hospital? His reply was that he hadn't the nerve to take his own life, as he believed in a future state of punishment, and that he did not desire to step from the Kansas hell to the hell of the future, and that by feigning death he hoped to be taken to the hospital, placed in a coffin, then taken out to the prison graveyard, and buried alive, so that he would suffocate in his grave!
There is not a man in those mines but would leave them quickly for a place on the surface.
I now call to mind one instance where a heart-broken father came to the prison and offered one of the leading prison officials one thousand dollars if he would take his son out of the coal mines and give him a place on the surface during the remainder of his term. A man who labors in these mines simply spends his time not knowing but the next hour will be his last.
As I have stated heretofore the prisoners are allowed to converse in the mines, and as a result of this almost necessary rule, every convict has an opportunity to listen to the vilestTHE TWIN HELLS.
obscenity that ever falls upon human ears. At times, when some of these convicts, who seem veritable encyclopedias of wickedness, are crowded together, the ribald jokes, obscenity and blasphemy are too horrible for description. It is a pandemonium -- a miniature hell! But worse than this horrible flow of language are the horrible and revolting practices of the mines. Men, degraded to a plane lower than the brutes, are guilty of the unmentionable crimes referred to by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans, chapter I, verse 27, which is as follows: "And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lusts one toward another, men with men, working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet." Every opportunity is here offered for this vile practice. They are far removed from the light and even from the influences of their officers, and in the darkness and silence old and hardened criminals debase and mistreat themselves and sometimes the younger ones that are associated with them in their work. These cases of self-abuse and sodomy are of daily occurrence, and, although the officials of the prison take every precaution to pre-THE COAL MINES.
vent such evil practices, yet, as a matter of fact, so long as prisoners are permitted to work in the mines it will be impossible to break up these terribly degrading and debasing practices.
Oh, Kansan! you that boast of the freedom and liberty, the strength of your laws, end the institutions in your grand young State, what do you think of this disclosure of wickedness, equalling if not excelling the most horrible things ever pictured by the divine teachers of humanity, -- the apostles and their followers? A hint is only here given, but to the wise it will be sufficient, and but a slight exercise of the imaginative powers will be necessary to unfold to you the full meaning of this terrible state of affairs.
It is believed by the writer that if the people of the State of Kansas know under what circumstances men in the prison were compelled to work, there would be a general indignation, which would soon be expressed through the proper channels, and which might lead to a proper solution of the difficulty.
In many of the rooms of the mines there are large pools of water which accumulate there from dripping down from the crevices above; this, taken in connection with the naturalTHE TWIN HELLS.
damps of the mines, which increases the water, makes very large pools, and in these mud-holes convicts are compelled to work and wallow about all day long while getting out their coal, more like swine than anything else. How can this be in the line of reformation which, we are taught to believe outside of the prison walls, is the principal effort of all discipline within the prison. The result of work under such unfavorable circumstances is that many of the convicts contract rheumatism, neuralgia, pneumonia and other lung troubles, and, of course, malaria. Many persons that enter these mines in good health come out physical wrecks, often to find homes in the poor-houses of the land when their prison days are over, or die before their terms expire. In the judgment of the writer the coal mines should be sold; until that is done, prisoners who contract diseases there that will carry them to untimely graves should be pensioned by the State, and thus kept from spending the rest of their natural lives in some of the country poor-houses.
Each person in the mines is assigned a task; he is required to get out a certain amount of coal each week. In case the convict fails toTHE COAL MINES.
mine the task that has been assigned him he must endure punishment, a description of which will be given later on. It is the opinion of the author that something should be done to remedy this. The young men from seventeen to twenty, together with the old men from fifty to sixty, and those suffering from diseases, are often required to dig as much coal as middle-aged and able-bodied men. I have seen old men marching to their cells after a hard day's work scarcely able to walk, and many times have I laid in the mines along with these young boys who would spend hours crying like whipped children for fear they would be unable to get out their regular task of coal, and would therefore have to spend the Sabbath in the dungeon, suffering unspeakable anguish.
Because of the dangers to which the inmate is exposed; because of the debasing influences by which he is surrounded, it is wrong, it is wicked to work our criminals in such a place as those mines of the Kansas penitentiary.