IOWA’S FIRST PRISON
In 1808, Old Fort Madison was constructed by a U.S. Military detachment under the orders of Louisiana Territory Governor Meriwether Lewis — the first official American structure in what would become Iowa.
Within the Fort was a hold which served as the garrison prison. During the Fort’s six years of service, it was in constant use. (The original Fort was burned down by the British-allied Sauk and Fox Indian tribes during the War of 1812).
Dr. Eugene Watkins, one of the leading scholars on Old Fort Madison, has written an excellent overview of the Old Fort’s prison, entitled “Crime and Punishment at Fort Madison.” Check back for Dr. Watkins’ paper, which we hope to post online in the near future.