The first Lincoln County Jail was constructed in 1761 on the palisades of Fort Shirley adjacent to the Pownalborough Courthouse. It served as a jail from 1761-1795. Punishment consisted of corporal punishment and public humiliation. Ducking stools, the pillory, whipping post and gallows were used. In 1794,
Sheriff Todd Brackett displays a scroll listing Lincoln County Sheriffs who have served Maine since 1761.
Edmund Fortis was hanged for murder and rape. One Lincoln County man assaulted a woman and was sentenced to "sitting on the gallows with a halter about his neck followed by 25 lashes on a bare back." While this jail no longer stands, the Pownaborough Courthouse, the only pre-revolutionary war courthouse left in Maine, is still located on its original site, now known as present day Dresden, it is open to the public.
In 1795 a second jail was constructed at the junction of Washington and Churchill Street in Wiscassett. Made of wood, it would serve the County for 16 years. However, due to the increasing population, the number of debtors sentenced, and concerns of the care of woman prisoners, a new, larger jail was required.
records show that children did time. In 1824, a 14 year old boy served a month for stealing apples. The Lincoln County Jail was the first in the state to that used prison labor. Farmers would bring stones to the jail and the inmates would pound the rocks. Local legend says that these rocks were used to pave the early streets of Wiscasset. A local business man ran a shoe making business, using inmates to make shoes. In 1913 it was voted to close the jail and prisoners were transferred to Kennebec County Jail. In 1954 the old jail was sold to the Historical Association. It is open to visitors today.
In July of 1811 prisoners were transferred to the newly constructed jail located on Federal Street in Wiscasset. The three story building could house 40 prisoners. Woman and debtors were kept on the third floor and the insane were kept on the third floor of the jailer's house. The jail was made of granite quarried in Edgecomb. Its walls were 30-41 inches thick. Doors were made of wrought iron and the lock was so large that the key to unlock them weighed over three pounds. The total cost to build the jail was $23,000.
The local blacksmith riveted handcuff and leg chains to prisoners. Wrists cuffs weighed six pounds, and leg iron chains weighed 13. The
From the Jail Ledger
The Lincoln County Jail hosted 3150 felons, 2050 debtors, 1500 tramps and 950 drunks. Female prisoners were in all categories except for "tramps."
From the Katahdin Kalendar for August 23, 1879
Edgecomb, ME 1932
Edgecomb, Maine… 1932
In the early 1930’s, Maine and the rest of the states were still legally “Dry.” What does that mean? Simply, “No booze!” At least not legally, anyways. We had that “Noble Experiment” known as the Volstead Act to thank for it. Did this stop folks from partaking in a little sip of “the recipe?” Bahahahaha, yeah right.
In the spring of ‘32, the trap had been set. A load of illegal hooch was arriving by boat under the cover of darkness and the Troops were lying in wait. (My mom always said that if you are out after dark, you are up to no good. I think she was right.) The plan was to wait for the bootleggers to do the work of unloading all the aforementioned illegal hooch into an awaiting truck. Work smarter, not harder. Then they’d have ‘em! Well, the plan went off without a hitch. That’s not even the interesting part of the story. Over 700 cases of illegal spirits had been seized. The load was so heavy that the truck hauling it broke an axle. The Troopers transported the load to Knox County Jail for safekeeping. Now, you lovers of Maine Geography might be wondering why the alcohol, which was seized in Lincoln County, was taken all the way to Knox County for “safe Keeping.” This is where the story gets interesting.
The “Official” story (wink, wink) was that the storage facilities in Lincoln County were inadequate. Methinks, in the words of Willy Shakespeare, that “Something was rotten in the State of Denmark” or in this case, in the County of Lincoln…and the Troops knew it. The contraband remained safe and sound in the Knox County Jail for two months until somehow, someway (political maneuvering) the Lincoln County Sheriff managed to get a judge to order that the “Shine” be removed back to Wiscasset, which is, of course, in Lincoln County.
The alcohol was returned to Lincoln County, much to the chagrin of the Troops. Now get ready because here
comes the best part. The day after it arrived in Wiscasset, all 700 cases were stolen and never seen again. “And now you know the rest of the story.”
Note: The “shine” was removed from the Knox County Jail and stored at the 1811 Old Jail in Wiscasset. Sheriff Arthur R. Greenleaf (1931-1938) was Sheriff at the time.