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Basement jail exposed | Preston Citizen

Basement jail exposed

December 31, 2012


Citizen editor

Keys mailed to Preston City officials go to the old jail and may have uncovered a mystery of sorts– or added to the mystery. The keys came from Herman Petersen who said he was the great grandson of William (Bill) Head. Head was the Franklin County Sheriff for 18 years from 1923 until 1941. He then became the Chief of Police in Preston for seven years.

In a short article in The Preston Citizen asked if anyone had some pictures of the old jail to go with the keys. Mayor F. Lee Hendrickson had the keys and was hoping to make a display for city offices. The city jail was a freestanding building that held prisoners up until 1939 when the current courthouse was built. The Citizen has not been able to find the building date of the old facility.

Deon Auger, 87, came into The Citizen with a picture book of the jail being torn down in 1954.

Deon’s husband Bill Auger, 89, was the man who did the finances for the American Legion at the time the organization purchased the jail.

“We paid $1 for the building and property,” Bill said.

The American Legion office was constructed on the site of the old jail. Currently the Legion building is on the north end of the District Public Health Office at 42 W. 100 S.

Mayor F. Lee Hendrickson shows off the keys recently mailed to Preston City officials.

Deon recalled the novelty of the jail as a youngster.

After it was abandoned, the building was used as a gun shop.

“I can remember walking around the old wood fence that surrounded the building when I was in grade school. We would peek through the fence to see if we could see the prisoners. Sometimes we did,” Auger said. “That was about 1931.”

This story is sponsored by Oneida Stake Academy.

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