Doing Hard Time in Cole County—1860s Style!

Yes, Missouri certainly had a prison in 1860—and it’s easy to find inmates in the federal population census.

Missouri State Penitentiary (MO.gov photo)
Missouri State Penitentiary (MO.gov photo)

This search will provide a lengthy list of inmates at the state pen in Jefferson City:

SEARCH—LIVED IN: Cole County, Missouri, USA (Exact)
SEARCH—KEYWORD: state penitentiary (Exact)

We get 463 hits. The census provides the following information for each inmate:

Name
Age
Occupation
Year incarcerated
Birthplace (state or country)
Offense

You can also add BIRTH—LOCATION to the above-mentioned search:

SEARCH—BIRTH—LOCATION: Missouri, USA (Exact)
SEARCH—LIVED IN: Cole County, Missouri, USA (Exact)
SEARCH—KEYWORD: state penitentiary (Exact)

The following BIRTH—LOCATION searches garnered the results listed:

England 18
Germany 71
Illinois 19
Indiana 11
Ireland 72
Missouri 23
New York 42
Ohio 37
Pennsylvania 16
Virginia 21

How can researchers access the federal population census? You may use Heritage Quest Online from home with a valid SLPL library card and PIN, or at Central Library or any of our branches.

You may use Ancestry Library Edition at Central Library or any of our branches.

Here’s a list of SLPL reference databases.

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