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Andrews, James


Old Civil War Soldier Spends His Seventieth Birthday Within Prison Walls.


Special to The Inquirer.

ELKTON, Md., Jan. 8.---Thirty-five years spent in idleness as a prisoner in a small country jail is the record of James Andrews, an ex-Union soldier. During the past week he celebrated his seventieth birthday. It was a great disappointment to the man, as his request some time ago for a pardon from the County Commissioners was not acted upon at their recent meeting.

Andrews, who is now partly paralyzed, asked that he be given his liberty, as his thirty-five year's of confinement has cost the county many thousands of dollars, and as he is growing old and has not many more years to live he dreads the idea of dying in the county jail. His petition for a pardon is in the hands of the commissioners and it is likely that at their January meeting some action will be taken on the matter.

Overstayed His Furlough

Andrews was born near Chesapeake City 70 years ago. He served in the Union Army during the war for about two years and came back to Chesapeake City to visit his mother.

He overstayed his time and was marked a deserted.

When speaking about the incident he says he had no intention of not returning to his post, but in Baltimore he was arrested for intoxication and sentenced to thirty days in jail. When released he did not like to go back home.

Tried to Commit Assault.

During the fall of 1870 he was arrested on the charge of attempting an assault on a prominent woman and placed in the Elkton jail. Before his trial several prominent citizens of Chesapeake City came to Elkton and made affidavit that they believed Andrews mentally weak. A jury later declared him unfit to be at large, and he was sent to an institution near Baltimore for treatment.

After being there but a short time he escaped and returned to the home of his mother. He was soon captured and brought to Elkton jail, where he has been ever since, with the exception of several short intervals when he broke jail. On one occasion he scaled the thirty-foot stone wall and was gone for several months. While traveling through Anne Arundel county he was arrested on the charge of vagrancy and sent to the Maryland House of Correction for six months.

Again Recognized.

It was while in that institution that he was recognized and brought back to jail here.

The second time he made his escape was in the early hours of the evening and in descending the wall the rope, made from bed clothing, broke and he fell a distance of twenty feet, breaking his leg. He did not go very far and was again recaptured. An extra iron bar was then placed over "Jim's" cell and from that time he has been a model prisoner, although he never gave up hope of being set at liberty.

Andrews is now considered not to be a dangerous man and apparently is believed to be sane. He can talk intelligently on most every subject and since his confinement has written hundreds of letters asking that the injustice done him, as he claims, be righted.

For the past fifteen years he has taken a great fancy to pets. He has had white rats, dogs, cats, rabbits, etc., and always took the best care of them sharing his food with them. His confinement of thirty-five years in jail is said to be the longest,. possibly, of any person in the United States.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, PA 9 Jan 1905

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