Escape From A Territorial Penitentiary eBook #25



Escape From A  Territorial      Penitentiary Book #25

by Raymond Cook
© 2016 (All Rights Reserved)
Page Length: 288
Word Count: 93,000




Escape From A Territorial Penitentiary © 2016 by Raymond Cook is a 288 page (Light Graphic Content) story about Frank and Martha Hoosier who traveled from Nauvoo, Illinois on the Mormon trail to Rock Springs, Wyoming in 1901. But the following spring Frank dies in her arms in the middle of the street from two stray shots by a drunk man. Martha is devastated. The land agent takes the land back and now she’s homeless.

Desperate, Martha robs a man in an alley and ends up killing him. She’s charged with murder and taken by train to the federal      courthouse office in Green River for trial. A federal judge Martha    sentences her to two years in the Territorial Penitentiary. There were thirty cells for women and none of them had running water or toilets. Martha’s mattress would be thin and she would only have two      blankets and a pillow.

The women worked in the broom factory during the day, ate their meals together; otherwise they lived alone in their cells. Worst of all, none of the women convicts were allowed visitors or correspondence. This allowed the ruthless warden and his guards to rape them at will. Compliance was quickly gained through beatings, starvation, abuse and isolation.

After a month of rapes and beatings the warden offers Martha a chance to live in his house outside the penitentiary cooking, cleaning and providing sex to just him. Becoming his sex slave and not living in her cell was the lesser of two evils. Ten days later Martha leads a riot in which the warden and prison guards were killed.

The women convicts burn the records of who they were and the towns they lived in before being sentenced to prison. The women flee and have to start their lives over and choose a new name to live      under. Three days after everyone’s escape someone going out to the prison finds the warden and all the guards dead and alerts the U. S. marshal’s office.

Story Excerpt…

With her husband dead and now being homeless, her life was spiraling out of         control. She knew death was coming for her. But she stubbornly told herself she wouldn’t take the easy way out like Kathy had done. She’d catch the stage out of town, to where she didn’t know yet. It depended on how much money the man she planned to rob had on him. She couldn’t rob someone with a rifle or shotgun and holding a pistol took both her hands.

But it only took one hand to hold a derringer. Only a fool would look down the barrel of a 45 and refuse to give up his wallet. The only obstacle was where was she going to find a man with a fat wallet filled with money? Then she felt herself smile. Rich men went to whorehouses. They walked in, screwed a gal and came out the door smiling. All she had to do was watch the whorehouse from a distance and see a well-dressed man leaving.

If he headed in her direction she’d hold him up. Once she got on the stage she’d have enough money to start a new life. She wouldn’t be homeless or go hungry anymore. It sounded like a good plan. But even the best of plans go wrong and it was about to go very wrong for Martha. Each afternoon she stood with her back against an empty building within view of LuLu’s Bordello.

As the hours passed and evening neared she watched customers come and go. Some men left in buckboards. Some rode off on horses and some men walked home or back to their business. Martha wasn’t interested in men in buckboards or on          horseback. She wanted a well-dressed man on foot. Martha had the derringer in the front pocket of the blue dress she had on.

When she saw a tall man walk out of the whorehouse dressed in a fine suit she knew he had money. At that moment he was smiling and didn’t have a care in the world. He was headed in her direction and she crossed the street quickly to wait next to an alley. When he reached the alley she stepped out into the open, pointed both barrels of the derringer at his chest and said, “Get in this alley and don’t make me say it twice.”

The startled man nodded and followed her into the alley. “All I want is your wallet and you can be on your way mister,” Martha threatened. Martha’s eyes were filled with desperation. As he nodded and reached his right hand into his vest she quickly said, “Move that hand nice and slow.” As she saw the black wallet being pulled out she smiled thinking the man wouldn’t put up a fight but she was wrong.

Call it stupidity or bravery, some men will fight to keep what is theirs, even with a gun pointed at them. Before Martha could react the man had both of his hands on her right hand holding the pistol. Quickly her other hand joined in and it would be a fight to the death. The first bullet fired barely hit the man in the left shoulder. Now he was determined to get the derringer away from her.

As a passerby saw them struggling he yelled to another man to get the sheriff. The next bullet made its way right into the man’s chest and he fell to the ground. As    Martha bent down to grab the wallet that lay on the ground and run, she was             tackled. Though she struggled to break away she couldn’t. By the time she was           exhausted and holding still she heard a voice of authority shout, “Alright, both of you stand up and show me your hands.”

When the stranger slowly got off of her and stood up with his hands in the air she saw a gun pointed at her. The bystander told the sheriff what he had seen before he      tackled the woman on the ground. The sheriff recognized Martha right away. After he bent down and picked up the derringer, a deputy arrived. Martha tried to accuse the dead man of attacking and beating her.

But the witness yelled out, “That ain’t what happened sheriff. I was passing by and saw the woman pointing that derringer at the dead man. She had her hand out to take his wallet. That’s why his wallet’s on the ground. She shot him once and they fought for the gun and she shot him again. Realizing the derringer was empty I knew it was my civic duty to hold her until you got here,” Brad Schmidt said.

When the sheriff came closer and knelt down beside the body, sure enough a black wallet filled with cash lay on the ground. He picked up the wallet and handed it to the deputy. Then he took hold of Martha’s arm and said, “You’re under arrest for     robbery and murder.” He jerked her arm and walked her down to the jail. He                  unlocked the wood door to where the cells were and took her to the last cell door.

He unlocked the barred door and pushed her into the cell. Then he locked the door. In the old jail there were bars between the cells. But the new jail had walls between each cell because the sheriff was arresting women for crimes. The walled cells gave women prisoner’s privacy. Martha’s cell had a bed with a thin mattress, a thin      blanket, sheets and a pillow. She saw a bucket in the corner and knew what it was for.

Martha sat on the bed, bowed her head and put her head in her hands and cried. She didn’t mean to shoot the man she was robbing. In fact if he would’ve given her his wallet he’d still be alive. He was the one who fought for her derringer forcing her to shoot him twice. She knew all too well what the punishment for murder was. After her trial she would be hung and the town had a gallows to do the job.

Before she agreed with her husband to leave everything behind and join a wagon train bound for Utah, she never imagined one day she would hang from a rope until she was dead. Rock Springs had never hung a woman before. As the sheriff threw the jail keys on his desk and sat down, he knew no woman had been hung in Sweetwater County before.

He knew a territorial penitentiary 100 miles to the east had been recently been built. It was a woman’s prison built to hold thirty women convicts. But whether Martha Hoosier would become the first woman prisoner hung in the county or be sent to the penitentiary was up to the judge. Rock Springs had no courthouse or judge.               Defendants charged with felonies were taken to the federal courthouse in Green     River, 18 miles west of Rock Springs.

They were taken by train with their hands and feet shackled, escorted by two       deputies. A guilty verdict given by the judge could cause Martha to be hung on the date set by the judge or she could serve time in a penitentiary. The length of             sentence would be determined by the judge. It was already Friday so the earliest Martha could be taken out of her cell and put on a train was Monday morning.

A hundred thoughts were going through Martha’s mind when she heard footsteps coming towards her cell. In an unemotional voice Sheriff Carson told his third female prisoner, “Martha Hoosier, you’re being charged with robbery and murder. Rock Springs doesn’t have a courthouse or a judge. After breakfast Monday morning you’ll be taken by train to Green River to appear before the judge. Your feet and wrists will be shackled. I and one of my deputies will escort you to the courthouse.

I want you to know if the judge renders a guilty verdict according to the eyewitness, we both know what will happen next. He’ll issue one of two court orders. He may sentence you to be hung by the neck until dead and state the date of your hanging. He may also order you serve a term in the territorial penitentiary for women outside Rawlins. That’s 100 miles east of Rock Springs.”

When Martha nervously asked the sheriff how many years she’d have to serve he shook his head and said, “I’m not the judge. It’s up to him to be lenient based on what you testify to on your behalf or give you longer prison time,” the sheriff said. Then he turned around and walked back to his office. Martha was sorry she killed the man she was robbing.

But she was desperate. She had lost her husband, lost their ranch, been kicked out of the hotel, begged people for money, been kidnapped and killed the bastard and now was facing a hangman’s noose or maybe life in prison. She lay down on the thin      mattress and cried herself to sleep. She woke up to the sheriff shaking her iron barred door as a deputy held her supper tray.

“Come to the door and take your tray,” Sheriff Carson said. Slowly Martha got off the bed and walked up to the door. She watched him unlock the door and swing it open. The deputy came forward and held out the tray to her. As she stepped back with the tray the sheriff locked the door and both men left. As she heard them walk away she set her tray on her bed. Then she walked over to the bucket half filled with water and vinegar.

She lifted up her dress, pulled her panties down, squatted and used the bucket. A stack of convenience papers lay on the floor and she picked one up. When she was finished she went over to her bed and sat down. She was glad there were wood walls between the cells so no men could gawk at her using the bucket.

Then she sat the tray on her lap. As she looked down at her plate she saw a tall glass of milk, an open roast beef sandwich topped with brown gravy, a dish of creamed corn and a small dish of apple cobbler. Meanwhile word spread through Rock Springs as fast as a wildfire that a woman had been arrested for robbery and            murder. The gallows sat on main street and served as a reminder to lawbreakers a price was paid for crimes like rustling, bank robbery and murder.

Only a handful of people knew the woman held in jail awaiting trial was Martha Hoosier. Sarah over at the hotel, Ed down at the livery stable, Rebecca at Sally’s Café, Father Black and a few others. They also knew about the death of her husband and her being kicked off the ranch she and her husband had wanted to own in four more years. None of them knew about the man Martha killed with his own pistol and she sure wouldn’t admit to it.

The next morning about ten o’clock Father Black arrived at the jail and asked to see Martha. With him he carried two Bibles, his and one for her. The sheriff nodded and unlocked a heavy wood door leading to the cell area. When Martha heard footsteps coming toward her cell she didn’t know who it was. The moment she saw Father Black she stood up and went to the door. She wanted to hug him but the sheriff told the priest he had to talk to her through the bars.

Father Black put his right hand through two bars and Martha desperately grabbed it with both hands and held it against her bruised cheek. Immediately the priest asked her if the sheriff or his deputies had beaten her. She let go of his hand and shook her head no. “No they didn’t beat me and I don’t want to say who did,” Martha said in a sad voice.

He nodded and slid the extra Bible between the bars and said, “I brought something to comfort you in your hour of need.” When he asked her if she killed the man she was accused of robbing she nodded. “But I didn’t mean to shoot him. He grabbed my hand holding the derringer and during the struggle to get it away from me it went off twice,” Martha said tearfully. Father Black nodded.

“The sheriff told me he’s taking you by train to Green River to stand trial at the      county courthouse Monday morning. I asked him if I could accompany you to court and he said yes, if you want me too,” the priest said. A look of relief came over her face as she held the black Bible with both hands to her chest and said, “I’d like that more than anything.”

As he looked at her bruised face again he said in a compassionate voice, “Martha I don’t make it a point to try to help those accused of a crime but I feel your case is      different. I feel the judge needs to hear from not only you but me too the                     circumstances that befell you since you arrived here in Rock Springs. The sheriff told me before he brought me back to your cell that no woman has ever been hung in Sweetwater County before. I don’t want to see you be the first.

I’ve never been to a territorial penitentiary before. I’ve heard no visitors or               correspondence is allowed which I think is wrong. Once a prisoner walks through those gates it’s as if they fell off of the earth until their sentence is served. I’m sure though if you were a man, not a woman that the judge would probably sentence you to be hung. So in a way it’s a good thing you’re a woman.

Sarah told me she has your two bags of clothes over at the hotel. She’d like to know what you want her to do with them.” Sadness filled Martha’s eyes as she said, “She can get rid of them. Either way, after my trial is over I’ll never walk into the hotel to claim them.” Father Black knew she was right but he had to ask. After a few more minutes of talking, the sheriff walked up to the priest and said, “Time’s up father.” He nodded and said goodbye to Martha.


Comment Section

Escape From A territorial Penitentiary is my newest 2016 emotion-filled western frontier eBook. This eBook was uploaded onto Amazon on August 27, 2016. I’ve made this comment section so I can share with visitors to my website what     readers feel about this particular eBook. To share your comments too, just send me an e-mail:

Amazon 5 star comment…By Cold Coffee Café on September 6, 2016

Escape From A Territorial Penitentiary by Raymond Cook is a western tale dated in the early 1900’s. A well written, time period researched drama brings the characters, dialog and story to life on the page. The women convicts were allowed to eat            together but weren’t allowed visitors or correspondence. They endured                     unimaginable abuse from the warden and his guards.

Like any caged animal, human beings revolt at some point. Martha summoned up the courage to lead a riot and becomes the leader of these women. They must escape, change their names, start over in a distant town, staying hidden and not break the law. I invite to read this book and learn about the Wild, Wild West from Martha Hoosier’s tragic life situation. Find out what it’s like to homestead in the Wild West and what happens if a woman became homeless in the 1900’s. What will become of Martha and her friends after they break out of the penitentiary? Will Martha or any of the escapees get caught, and would they hang a woman?

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