The Columbia River is one of the largest in the United States in terms of both length and volume of water. The river provides an inland port some 300 miles from the Pacific Coast at Lewiston, Idaho. While the Columbia River is incredibly valuable for cargo transportation it can be a sailor’s nightmare. The most dangerous portion of the river is the mouth at the Pacific Ocean. Many ships have sunk here earning this location the title “Graveyard of the Pacific.”
Walla Walla State Penitentiary, Wanted: Escaped Prisoners from the State Penitentiary, 1913, Penitentiary, Washington State Collection, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov.
In a recent treasure, “Wanted: Escaped Prisoners from the State Penitentiary, 1913” we showcased a state-issued publication that catalogued escaped prisoners. One of the escaped prisoners on page 95 caught our attention: Maud Johnson, the sole female escapee. We did a little digging into Maud’s story, and found a colorful character who lived outside the law.
Clockwise from left: Letter to Governor Hay from W.D. Church, partner at Baumeister-Paxton, Walla Walla, asking what he can do to "aid in ousting Schively from office", August 28, 1909, Governor Marion E. Hay Papers, 1909-1913, Washington State Archives. Governor Marion E. Hay, ca 1909, Susan Parish Photograph Collection, 1889-1990, Washington State Archives. Insurance Commissioner John H. Schively, 1909, General Subjects Photograph Collection, 1845-2005, Washington State Archives.
With impeachment in the news lately, Archives has received inquiries regarding this subject in Washington State. We’re reminded of the seldom heard story of Washington’s first impeachment trial in 1909; against Insurance Commissioner John H. Schively. Even today, the Schively story provides insight into impeachment, insurance law, and the evolution of Washington’s political climate.
Michael O’Donell had a hard life, according to this record. Walla Walla State Penitentiary, Wanted: Escaped Prisoners from the State Penitentiary, 1913, Penitentiary, Washington State Collection, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov.
Today, criminals rarely escape from prison and when they do apprehension is normally swift and certain. With instantaneous communication, photographs, fingerprints, and vital statistics there is nowhere to hide.