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A few notes about Columbia's old jail building

By JIM

When Mr. T.F. "Tim" Collins died in the late spring of 1917, his will contained simple provisions, to-wit: modest cash amounts to his and Mrs. Collins' several children and $50 to another family member. The balance of his estate, including the residence, went to his wife, the former Miss Elizabeth Aaron, and upon her passing, the estate residue was to be equally divided among their children.

Mrs. Collins died almost exactly six years later, in June 1923. Come December that year, notice of a Master Commissioner's sale began appearing in the News, the last such in the January 1, 1924 edition.


The sale was based on judgment in a lawsuit brought in the Adair Circuit Court styled as Carry Turner, & L.V. Turner, plaintiffs, v. W.G. Cundiff, etc., defendants.

It's important to note that Carry & L.V. Turner were Tim & Elizabeth Collins' daughter and son-in-law, and that W.G. Cundiff was another son-in-law, husband of their daughter Meda. Quite possibly, this was a "friendly" lawsuit, filed to facilitate the sale of a property held by diverse parties, all with an undivided interest in it.

The sale notice stated this property was on Main (now Greensburg) Street and was "known as the old Jail building and lot." The ad also specified the sale excluded "that portion of it [the original lot]. . . upon which the present Jail now stands." (The old jail building, the one offered for sale, was built in the 1850s; the "present jail" saw completion in the mid-1890s. The two structures stood on different parts of the same lot.)

On sale day -- Monday, January 7, 1924 -- Bess Coffey Patteson cast the high bid of four thousand dollars and pocket change, and the News reported some days later that Grissom & Patteson would use the building for their undertaking business. The firm was located there when the News mentioned in the spring of 1928 that Mrs. Patteson's new garage building, "between the county jail and Grissom & Patteson's Undertaking establishment," was well under construction. (The first occupant of the new garage building was Columbia Motor Company, and it was from that location businessman Lewis Coffey fell victim to kidnappers in 1934.)


For an in-depth history of the old jails, with photos, see the 2012 article:
MIKE WATSON: A brief history of two Adair County jails

Note: The story of the 1934 abduction of Lewis Coffey (and subsequent events) was posted early in 2018 in three parts:


This story was posted on 2019-02-06 06:00:38
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