This imposing structure on the north side of the square was built at a cost of $16,000 in 1874 (two years before Custer's Last Stand). The front was used for county offices, with the massive limestone jail in the rear. Iron balls were inserted in recesses between layers of stone to prevent their movement. Old time sheriffs occupied the upper floor as living quarters.
A 12-foot scaffold was built in front of the jail for its first execution in 1877. A crowd of nearly 5,000 filled the square to see murderer, Sam Orr, "Jerked to Jerusalem" as the local paper reported! Two other men were later hanged on the east side of the building, Charlie Seaton in 1891, and Ed Bateman in 1906. With the invention of the electric chair, executions were moved to the state penitentiary in Jefferson City and Missouri sheriffs were no longer faced with this grisly task in their own counties.
Come visit us in Mt. Vernon, Missouri