Archive for Saturday, June 2, 2012

100 years ago: Life behind bars: Baby born in KC jail dies after one day

June 2, 2012


From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for June 2, 1912:

"Kansas City. -- The only son of Nellie King served a life sentence in the Jackson county jail, and he had never done a wrong thing in all his life. He was born last night, sentenced by Fate, and died this morning by the decree of the same judge.

"Inmate King was different. His look was not hardened nor his manner mean. His eyes were as blue as the sky and his smile lighted up the dingy dungeon. Everyone there felt a lighter sentence with his coming. When he left he smiled as he had come. But the others wept.

"They kissed his chubby fists and he left. Then they cried in sympathy for the 22-year-old mother.

"The mother is serving a ninety-day sentence for a trivial charge. Her sentence would have expired in a few days. The birth has been expected for several days -- it had been whispered from cell to cell that the stork was hovering near. The clanging of cell doors ceased; the tramp-tramp-tramp up and down the corridors stopped; the men prisoners tip-toed about their cells lest they should disturb the quiet peace of the little woman in the women's part of the jail.

"Everybody seemed cheerful. Old timers who had not spoken for months whistled and sang. Then came the search for gifts that they might give to the new arrival.

"Some had a few coins they had been hoarding up for months, others pictures, and still others treasured keepsakes that had been given them by their mothers years ago. A collection was made up. One prisoner who was about to leave for the penitentiary wanted to give something. He had nothing but a pocket knife. 'I'll give him my knife,' he said. 'He can't use it now but he may be able to later.'

"A whispered message at 7 o'clock this morning again quieted the restless prisoners. This time it was not the expectant feeling that made them still. It was a feeling of sorrow and discontent. The new little baby boy had been called away by his great Judge -- he had been paroled.

"The mother was taken to the general hospital this morning where she could have medical attention.

"Mrs. King was deserted by her husband several months before she was sent to jail."


SpicePirate 5 years, 5 months ago

What a tragedy! I say those in charge of the jail should have been made to answer for this. Why, when they obviously knew how close the time was coming, did they not take her to the general hospital BEFORE the birth! And with the mother in for such a short time! A travesty!

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