In the 1800’s one of the problems faced by law enforcement was how to secure prisoners. A blacksmith by the name of Mr. Pauley began building metal cages which could be used as prisoner cells. His company was called Pauley Jail Building Co. This company built these units so that they could be transported on railroad cars. The Old County Jail was one of these units built in 1856.
The jail was placed in Merrill, Mississippi in the late 1800’s. It is 7’ X 21’ and would house as many as four prisoners in each of the two cells. Each cell has a small opening to pass food to the prisoners, and in each corner of a cell is a urinal which opens to the outside.
In 1910, when George County became a County, a courthouse was constructed with a jail attached. The Old County Jail was incorporated in the construction of the new George County jail. It was used as the maximum security cells for the jail.
1960 a regional jail was built in George County. At that time the county jail was torn down and Old County Jail was moved to a local blacksmith’s shop where it sat out in the rain for approximately the next 50 years. Two local citizens made the difference. Dr. Dayton Whites discovered the jail, then he and Jim Yonge purchased the Old Jail for just $500. Jim contacted American Tank and Vessel for help. American Tank and Vessel restored the jail to its near original condition using rivets. This they did at no charge.
The Old County Jail is now on display in Lucedale City Park next to the Lucedale Old School House, also known as the County Line School, which is the oldest surviving school building in George County.
Note to Visitors: The Lucedale City Park is very unique and offers fun for young and old alike. New state of the art playground equipment, tennis courts, basketball courts, a walking track, Splash Pad and many facilities for Scouting and picnics. Pavilions and bar-b-que grills are frequently in use accommodating civic groups, family reunions and the general public. There is also a 300 seat amphitheater and war memorial.
Fun Facts: William Kenneth (Kinnie) Wagner (February 18, 1903) the worst criminal in the history of South Mississippi, was once jailed at the Old County Jail. He began as a bootlegger in Mississippi and later murdered five people, including three lawmen. He escaped from custody numerous times, but ultimately died in prison. He was on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List. It was rumored that he may have escaped from this jail.
More Fun Facts: The American Tank & Vessel, in Lucedale, built a Rocket Launcher for Stennis Space Center testing station. Their bid was $10 million under the next higher bid.
Park Address: 447 Park Street
For More Information Contact: City of Lucedale City Hall, 5126 Main St, Lucedale
Accessibility: Jail in grassy area with slight hill; no sidewalk to structure.