It all started with a single cell

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 20, 2011

While searching for items for my museum, I came across a portable jail in some woods. I knew that it was old and wanted to know more about it. After several searches on the Internet, I was able to find a picture of a jail exactly like the one I had located. It was on the website for Georgia’s Crime and Punishment Museum. Wanting to get a better look at it, I packed up one weekend, and away I went to Ashburn, Ga.

Arriving in Ashburn, I located

the Crime and Punishment Museum. It was very interesting, and they had a lot of information but not the jail. The museum provided lots of information about the

jail, such as who had built it and

the year it was constructed. After driving another

50 miles, I found the jail, and it

was beautiful. It was hard to believe that I had another jail, just like this one — minus a few body parts and pieces — home in Louisiana.

The jail was built by Manly Jail Works in Dalton, Ga. I also learned this company was still in business. After taking lots of photos and walking around it dozens of times and checking out every square inch, I headed back home. Once returning home, I called the Manly Jail Company and reached a Mr. Michael Manly, a descendant of the Manly family.

Mr. Manly told me the company went into business in 1888, and the jail I had was built in 1906 and

sold for $550. It held 12 prisoners and was pulled by horses. It was used to transport chain gangs to work on the roads. Mr. Manly told me the company still had the specs and plans for the jail along with other information about it, which

he said he would send to me. The jail is now on display at the Louisiana Treasures Museum.

The jail is part of the Law Enforcement Memorial, where we have dedicated a wall of the museum to fallen law enforcement officers from the state of Louisiana that have been killed in the line of duty. The wall, “Gone but Not Forgotten,” proudly displays the officer’s photo and information about the incident that took their life in the line of duty.

Louisiana Treasures Museum is located on Highway 22 West of Ponchatoula. For more information on the museum call 225-294-8352.

Wayne Norwood is a lieutenant with the St. John the Baptist Sheriff’s Department and owner and operator of the Louisiana Treasures Museum.