Williamson County Jail History

The first Williamson County Jail was a log house built by Squire Howell and was purchased on January 8, 1840. agreed price was $335, but the court deducted $25 for unsatisfactory work. John G. Sparks was the first jailor and Richard Cook awaiting trial at Frankfort as a horse thief was the first prisoner. The first jail was located just SE off the square in Marion on Lot No. 2 Blo8ck No.8 .

At the June Term of the County Court, 1864, R. M. Hundley and Arthur Boyle contracted to build a new jail for the sum of $9,000, which they built that year. It was built in the same location as the old log house jail SE of  the square, and was a brick building, two stories high, with the cells upstairs. This jail was a “hotspot” during the “Bloody Vendetta” trials in the 1870’s which culminated in the hanging of Marshall Crain in October 1876 with a militia controlled crowd of thousands awaiting the outcome outside.  

On June 7, 1912 the Williamson County government began discussions on building a new jail and on September 30, 1913 a new Sheriff’s Office and Jail were opened at 105 S. Van Buren St. in Marion. This jail served as the county jail and the home of 16 sheriffs of Williamson County. Steel doors separated prisoners from the family as well as 13 inch poured concrete walls. Between the infamous “Charley Birger Gang” and the “Herrin Massacre” the jail saw plenty of activity in the 1920’s.

In April of 1964 the Williamson County Judges went to the Williamson County Building Commission and requested that a new court house be built. On November 19, 1971 a dedication ceremony was held to open the new court house. On January 18, 1972 the new Sheriff’s Office and Jail were opened in the Court House located at 200 W. Jefferson St. and the Williamson County Historical Society accepted the old jail building for a museum. The new jail remained at this location until February 19, 2012.

In January 2007, Williamson County Began the long journey down the road of construction of a new Jail and Sheriff’s Office. On February 19, 2012 the new Williamson County Jail and Sheriff’s Office officially opened a new state of the art 244 bed facility at 404 N. Van Buren Street.

Note: This building is referenced in Historical Architecture of Marion

(Extracted from Bloody Vendetta, Milo Erwin: 1905 Souvenir Book, WCHS: Williamson County Corrections Website; Compiled and edited by Sam Lattuca 12/13/2012)

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