The following is taken from a family journal of a Philadelphia family who traces their ancestral line to before the founding of America. It records the experience of one uncle who served on a the grand jury in Philadelphia and ultimately lead to the purchase of a prison art model ship that has been in the family since then.
“Febrary 6th, 1899- I was drawn on the grand jury for one month at $2.50 a day…”
“February 23rd 1899- when I was serving on the Grand Jury, we visited the Eastern Penitentiary and there was 1260 prisoners in there and we found everything nice and clean and was taken from there to the Girard College and there was 1600 boys in there and everything was very nice and then we got in the carriages and were taken back to the public building and dismissed and had a pleasant time.”
“Friday, February 24th, 1899- about 1/2 past 4 o’clock in the afternoon. I was standing on my pavement and George Roth the barber of Kensington Ave and Harrogate Lane came across the street and called me bad names and struck me with a club on the head and I ran at him and caught him by the throat and throwed him down and pounded him and took the club away from him and sent him home with a bloody face.”
“Saturday, February 25th, 1899- Grand Jury. We were taken in carriages to Moyemersing Prison and taken all through and found everything very nice. Did not get any treat…was brought back to the Public Building and dismissed. There was 230 prisoners there.”
“Monday, February 27th, 1899- Grand Jury. We all went to Arch Street wharf and taken up to prison on the police boat. To the house of correction wharf at Holmesburg and the official sent their carriage to meet us and they took us all through and showed us everything and gave us a… Set out a 4 course dinner. Soup first course, roast beef, and side dishes for second course and ice cream third course and coffee and cakes for 4th course. Then took us down to the wharf in carriages and brought us down to the city on the boat and had a pleasant time. There were 2300 inmates men and women. ”
“Monday night, Febrary 27th, 1899- A tramp came in the house and asked for coffee and we gave him bread and coffee and because we wouldn’t give him meat he would not eat it and I throwed him out and the police arrested him- he got 3 months.”
“March 1st, 1899- We visited the Almshouse. They took us in carriages out there and took us all through and showed us everything. We got there about 1/2 past 10 o’clock and it was about 1/2 past 12 o’clock when we had dinner and we had a pleasant time. There was about 4300 inmates…about 600 insane and everything was in nice order.”