Escape attempted by setting jail on fire

Luray-Main St old

May 2, 1889 — French Twyman, who has been in the county jail for some weeks, tiring of this retirement from his ordinary pleasures and pursuits, made a strike for liberty last Friday night.

About 1 o’clock at night Sheriff Chapman was aroused by one of his children who came into his room to inquire the cause of the dense smoke which filled the upper rooms of the jail. Hastily arising and searching for the cause, he soon discovered that the smoke emanated from the cell in which Twyman was confined and upon entering the prison found the frame of one of the windows about burnt out, and that the fire had extended to the ceiling surrounding it and also to the floor in the upper part of the cell.

The fire had made such progress and taken such hold upon the heavy timbers that it was with no little difficulty extinguished. But for timely discovery the flames would have soon communicated to the whole building.

A special grand jury empaneled for the case was unable to agree with French in the opinion that he was asleep, and accordingly brought in a true bill against him. He had his trial on Tuesday, was convicted, and sentenced to the penitentiary for five years, and before these lines are read in public he will be perhaps in that institution.

The building is insured, and the county of course loses nothing by the fire. 

~ From the public archives of the Page News and Courier

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