REVIEW: Bushwhacker Jail Tales (2002)

A book by Patrick Brophy

One of my recent trips for my history project took me to Nevada Missouri, home of The Bushwhacker Museum and Bushwhacker Jail, previously known as the Vernon County Jail from 1860-1960. In the well-stocked gift shop, I was looking for something about the attraction, and came across this novella-sized booklet detailing the history of the jail and some stories pertaining to it throughout the years. This was produced by the Vernon County Historical Society using information from historical records, edited together into a narrative structure. The latter half of the book are basically news clippings related to the jail.

“Bushwhacker Jail Tales is a pamphlet providing a brief history of the old Vernon County Jail, which was used from 1860 to 1960. It includes many short stories about occurrences at the jail which have been culled from local newspaper articles and oral legend.”

My favorite story is of two prisoners who attempted a very much ill-fated jailbreak. You see, the pair were had a little too much in common with the likes of Laurel and Hardy, seeing that one was very thin, the other fat. Bars were cut from a window with a hacksaw allowing the skinny man to escape. Sadly, his comrade was not so lucky. aroused by painful wails of terror, the Sherriff found the man lodged in the opening unable to budge either direction Winnie-The-Pooh style. There’s also a story of a a man trying to escape dressed in drag, and another that made the sheriff so mad he strung him up by his thumbs, with the string still visible today (can confirm!),

All-in-all this book isn’t something that will blow you away, but as a companion to a museum visit it was well put together, and had information that was not part of the tour. This was also insanely cheap, which is appreciated for somebody not wanting to drop tons of money on these museum road trips at every stop (although I do like to support the sites). This was a quick read, and I enjoyed it due to it’s overall humorous tone. if you ever find yourself in Nevada, Missouri make sure to stop at the Bushwhacker Museum/Jail and pick this up if you want to remember your visit!

If you would like your own copy of this book, please click HERE.

This review is part of my 2021 series History Boy Summer, which you can read more of following this LINK.

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