The Sun from New York, New York on July 22, 1917 · Page 39
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The Sun from New York, New York · Page 39

New York, New York
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 22, 1917
Page 39
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i mi " m FROM PICKET LINE TO JAIL What Workhouse Sentences Meant to Suffragists Who ' Displayed Banners at the White House Gates By THEODORE TILLER. FIVE miles Mow Mount Vernon, where the Father ot American liberties passed his last years, Lre is the little Potomac River town 7c! Occoquin. Away up the hill from :tt village is the workhouse of the ttorlct of Columbia. A week ago most, folks throughout Ci United States 'bad never heard of Occoquan. The majorityof Washing-tonlans have only a vague Jdea, of its eiact location and appearance. Six-tun militant suff raglats and" one Tresl-Jent of the United States have finally ;ut Occoquan '"on the map." Occo quan and the officials of the District of Columbia workhouse never expected to ie the day when a Presidential pardon .'or inmates of that penal institution vould be rushed from Washington by Iiutornonue ana onng bdoui a wnoie-ule exodus from tho "female department." Ordinarily the prisoners at Occoquan wne their time, with allowance for. txi behavior. Sometimes an angel of nercy from without pays the fine after i man or woman has begun to aervie toe, but very, very eldom does the vden at Occoquan see the red seal n a Presidential pardon., .Therefore this whole story of the so-fnrn of the suffragists at Occoquan Is ia unusual one. Never before have Vrtilnement and social position been committed to a penal institution set part for the derelicts of a city. Never Wore have American mothers and wives endured such humiliation and 'punlhment for' a cause in which they Wleved. This Is going to be a story of the two nights and two days spent by the tuffragigts at the District workhouse, & itory of their imprisonment from the time they were stripped of their Jew-t!rr and forced into prison suits as they arrived at Occoquan Tuesday Uttrnoon last until the matron told them on Thursday' afternoon to "hurry up and dress', you women, and get Hut rou oughta all dress in twenty minuter" But the matron says it took more 'ttan an hour for the suffragists to get 'ck into their own clothing, to a-wnble their personal belongings and ly good-by to the "female depart-jMif' of the District's workhouse, while they were dressing Dudley Field Salone. Collector of the Port of New fork and volunteer attorney for the jffragiats, engaged in a lively colloquy with the warden and matron over treatment accorded the women. Ouuioe the building there waited also 1 A. H Hopkins. Progressive national committeeman from New Jersey and a wrmer Democratic politician 'of prom-nce. His wife was in the dressing m. oilton Gardner, husband of an-hr Imprisoned suffragist, 'strode Jngrily about the grounds. "The ladles have been shown every foniideratlon, but If they are sent back r we will have to be less consider-" the warden is quoted as remark-m firmly to Mr. Maloue. Mlsed With TCegrrors. "Theyve been shown no consldera-"B at all - was tne substantive reply ,L. ' Malonf- who almost shouted his in M"01'1 ot nndln tne "raglats b.. k:ime room wl,h white and P",J' thieves, orunkards and ""n of the underworld, The verbal ' "cation grew so spirited that Mrs. "x 'nn' "mlon. the matron, asked li i? nr 10 d0 hl" arguing outside 11 ...V!" wa no jail to which the suf- m , i ""'e ,ent M,'r their convic-fh-. rmicf court Tuesday on a ,nr"f Picketing the White House it known more about the "Lt I'Khoute it It, poiS'.We that PRESIDENT'S OWN WORDS ON uoc pcip l SUFFRAGE PICKETS I LARGESTBANNER. . ) SISTER'MNMW oHENRY Jt BEING ARRESTED AT fSflSTg . vT ;:h , 'y't - t ' M WHITE HOUSE GATES . MwJSPW :'rT5ist Wim here. suffragists KJhlFy, ,4 An JJ, ' 'f " 'S V " ijlm WERE CONFINED some of them would have paid the alternative fine of $25. Imprisonment In Jail Is quite different. The District of Columbia workhouse is no place for the daughter of a former Ambassador to Great Britain, the daughter of a great editor like Charles A. Dana, an artist and nature painted like Mrs. Paul Iteynyau and their refined and well bred companions. The two smaller groups ,of suffragists; who spent a few hours In the District of Columbia jail, a few blocks to the' east of the Capitol, had a comparatively "thrilling and Interesting experience,". They were not thrown with the other' prisoners arid save for the reported presence of mice along corridors there was little discomfort. As workhouses go Occoquan is admirably managed. The place Is clean and the prison fare Is wholesome. However, Occoquan is not adapted to the detention within Its walls of women of social prominence and refined tastes. There are no separate accommodations for such women nor will the prison regulations permit such accommodations. When a suffragist of distinguished lineage reaches Occoquan she is to the matrons Just a plain prisoner and is mado to feel so. Some of the Trials They Faced. The change from milady's boudoir to prison surroundings, garb and fare undoubtedly was shocking to the suffragists. For Instance, here were some of their trials: Each suffragist was required to take a shower bath in the rather roughly finished bathroom of ihe women's dormitory as soon as the group of sixteen -arrived. They were stripped to the akin ot their line clothing and Jewelry and .required to don the prison suits of gray one piece wrappers with a string about the waist. They slept on cots with straw mattresses and were not permitted to converse after retiring. Lights were out at 8:30 P, M. and the suffragists were awakened at 6:30 A. M, They ate in silence in a large room with about sevtnty-flve other female inmates, white and colored. The colored women predominate and the tables of the white and colored prisoners are only a few feel apart, i Approximately twenty white women. ' exclusive of, the suffragist leaders, were imprnonca ni ucepquan, Home mummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmummmmmwmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm SUFFRAGISTS AND AT WHITE HOUSE WAS pf them were old offenders, notably "Big Jane," who weighs more than two hundred pounds and Is brought down now and then for drunkenness and disturbing the peace. The "suffrage martyrs" took their meals alongside "Big Janef' and other offenders, including Illiterates. In the so-called rest room and library the suffragists w.ere again thrown In contact with whot Matron Herndon declared to be "the riff-raff of Washington." Any female prisoner, white or colored, refined or coarse, was privileged to go Into these rest quarters after working hours. The suffragists were told that after work they might go out on the lawn eurroundlng tho woman's dormitory. Here the female prisoners sit for an hour or so afcer the 5 o'clock dinner each afternoon. Two or three of the women started to walk about the lawn a bit. "You can come but here, but you're supposed to sit down," sharply warned en attendant. "Can't we even walk around a little for exercise?" asked Miss Julia Hurl-but of New Jersey, "You may walk Just a little If you stay close to the building," said the attendant. In playful mood the suffragists suggested a running race or leapfrog. This was forbidden. The matron permitted them to go through a "setting up exercise." On the lawn the female prisoners are wont to sit about conversing and bemoaning their fate. The "regulars" could never understand why the suffragists were "sent down" for their first offence. "What you In for?" one of the one year women asked .the suffrage group soon after its arrival. "Picketing," was the laconic reply. This reply apparently meant nothing at all to the questioner, but" she continued: "Been, convicted more than once?" "No." "Humph! That's funny. I nerver heard of nobody beln' sent down here, for the first 'fence." The lack of the toilet facilities to which they had been accustomed is a sore point with the suffragists now returned to Washington. "VT6 couldn't get a toothbrush until the second mornln," Oho of thotii complained, "and a comb, hasn't touch, ed my hair since I went in there. Most of us forgot to take along combs. NEW YORK, SUNDAY; JULY 22, 1917. Copyright , Mil, oy SiM.rnntpff AM i PattliMnffJtatoctstion. FJTZXia i 5 r-tttcr ' : i THEIR BANNERS GATES BEFORE WAR DECLARED . Each prisoner is supposed to have her own comb and brush, which is kept In a bag which hangs about the waist of the prison suit. I was offered a prison comb and brush,; but I wouldn't have used It for anything." Just outside the shower bathroom la a long metal trough with several spigots of running water. It Is here that each female prisoner Is required "to wash her face and hands when arising. The women stand in line awaiting their turn, bathe faces as rapidly ns.poosible and prepare for the march to the breakfast table. An overflow of Inmates in the colored sleeping quarters necessitated housing eighteen colored women In the long, narrow room used ordinarily for white prisoners. In the presence' of these eighteen colored women, "some of them convicted of vagrancy and street brawls, and of the white "regulars," the ouff raglsts disrobed and prepared for the night's sleep. All the Inmates of that particular dormitory hod the same bathroom and dressing facilities. Wherever the suffragist prisoners went about the women's quarters they were confronted with large placards headed, "Rules and Regulations for rriaoners," Here are some of the rules to which they were subject: Prisoners shall toatho once a week and as much oftener as the management shall require. Rtrlct silence must be observed within the enclosure when under orders, in the dining room and in ihe sleeping quarters, ' Each prisoner must labor silently, faithfully and diligently at whatever work may be assigned. Insolence from any prisoner wltl not be tolerated, nor will profane, vulgar or In any manner disrespectful language be permitted. Prisoners must always approach an officer in a respectful manner and give the- military salute. Prisoners must be prompt to move In line at the proper signal, march In military order silently and yield obedience to the officer In command. All prisoners are expected to attend religious services and take part In singing 'or other forms of service when requested. Prisoners must at any time leave the line or their place of em-ployment without permission of the officer In charge. Other regulations say that if a prisoner has any complaint to make he or she will be heard by the superintendent. The matron of the Occoquan workhouse knows neither class nor color In the discharge of what she considers her official duties. She appeared to have n rather indefinite idea that her euffrnglst boarders were persons of prominence, but she wasn't particular about their lineage, social standing or wealth. Just after the suffragists had departed because of the President's pardon the matron sighed with evident relief und said to the writer: "This place -Isn't built for Senators' wives albeit there was no wife of a Senator In the party, I tell, you how I feel about thU thing. When a woman comes here she is Just a prisoner in my sight. I don't know any differences between white and black, rich and poor. I'm not going to give anybody any special privileges. All of em must stand In line. If my own daughter came here she'd take her medicine,- although I would know it was my daughter all the time, see? .291 Nobody Escapes the Dath. "When these suffragettes came down they went through the same performance as though they'd been sent here for drunk and disorderly. I made 'em take a shower bath. Nobody escapes the shower bath. Here it is; It's hot or cold, Just as they like it, but they have all got to bathe. We get a lot of dirty looking prisoners down here. This place Is for the riffraff of Washington, not Senators' wives, understand? "Well, they must all bathe. Twice a week Is the general rule; oftener If they want to, and at least once on Saturdays. "I took an their clothing away and their Jewelry and ornaments, That's the rule, and they all look alike to me when the law sends them down. I gave them prison suits. Just like the other women have. Here's the beds they slept on. See, it's a good mattress and clean sheets. Nothing fancy, though. "If these women had stayed here one more day I was going to put 'em in the blackberry patch doing outdoor woric. I ha$ them in the ewlns reem the first two days and they did fairly well except for these conferences with their lawyer and husbands. I told the AND superintendent they would have to get down to work In earnest on the third day and I couldn't have any more conferences. Such things disrupt the place and make It hard for me to manage the other prisoners. This Is some troublesome Job and I can't play favorites." Mrs. Herndon says the suffragists took an exceptionally long time to dress when the pardon came. She hustled them all into a big dressing room in the colored dormitory, by the way and admonished: Now if you women will Just stop talking and do what the officer tells you you can be dressed and out of here In twenty minutes." "My, It took them more than an hour," satd Mrs. Herndon. "I had their clothing and Jewelry all laid out on the chairs for them, but they Just talked and fooled so much I thought they'd never get out of here." Matron Firm not Kind. The matron Is a tall, thin woman with a quick eye and a Jaw denoting determination and grit. She rules with a firm hand, but on a visit through the hospital, where several colored women were sick, she spoko kindly to them and the patients seemed appreciative of her efforts to make them comfortable. Mrs. Herndon, however, is n stickler for discipline when prisoners are well and able to work and the visit of the suffragists plainly harassed her and brought the fear of a disturbance of prison routine and authority. All of the suffragists, ranging In years from 20 to 62, were put in the sewing room on the day of their arrival. They sewed away for the entire day, except for the time allowed for conferences with counsel. The confinement was irksome to most of the suffragists and some of them actually wanted the outdoor work on the prison farm. "Yes, you're going to the blackberry farm to-morrow," said Mrs. Herndon, whose plans were upset by the President's action. It was Mrs. Herndon's Intention to keep a strict account ot the quantity of blackberries picked by each suffragist. "Each- woman Is capable of turning in so many pans of berries a day," she said, "and I Intended to put a checker right behind these suffragettes to see that they picked their share." The Occoquan prison is practically self-supporting and there is a farm for both the male and female prisoners. The two departments are about two hundred yards apart and there Is no communication whatever between the two. The District of Columbia workhouse lies about a mile from the railroad. When prisoners are sent from police court in Washington a bus meets them at the station and the offenders are piled In and taken "over the hills to the workhouse." The suffragists left Washington late Tuesday In company with a group of colored women convicted that day. There was also along "Big Jane" Gannon, white, returning to the workhouse for another stay. The colored women were placed In a separate bus at the station. "Big jane" rode with the suf frapists, greeted the warden with the affability that comes of a "hangover" .SPECIAL FEATURE SUPPLEMENT OUT AGAIN and expressed the hope that no special favors would be shown the suffragettes. Aakril for Mke Treatment. "Warden," she exclaimed as she alighted, "are these suffragettes going to get the same treatment that I get?" "That's right, Jane," said the warden. "That's -the way," said the unfortunate prodigal, "and that's why I don't mind coming down here now and then." When the women lined up to furnish the enrolling officer with their names "Big Jane" stood at the head of the line. The District's farm nt Occonuan covers a lnrgo acreage, most of it under cultivation. On an average there are about BOO male convicts In the men's department and the females range from 50 to 100. Everything on the women's side of the road separating the two departments is operated by the feminine Inmates. They cultivate the vegetable patches, conduct the laundry, lay out the walks and keep the grounds in order. It was tho intention of tho matron to put the majority of the suffracists nt outKlde work. Mrs. Hrc..uan. more than 62 j ears old. was schcilulril fnr lighter employment Inside. Entering tho fomnlo department one comes first to the offico of tho matron. on each side of corridor are six sleeping rooms fcit tho ofllceri. Just beyond Is tho officers' dining room, and a few feet further there is a big kitchen with a rnnne in the middle of the room. Just off tho kitchen Is the dining room, and it was hero that the suffragists first came In contact with the derelicts who constitute the or dinary grist of a police court. This dining room is approximately 30 feet wide nnd 60 foot long. Tho tables for the white women aro on the right as one enters. On tho left are two rows of tables for the colored women. Should the colored 6lde become crowded, nothing would be thought of switching tho overflow to tho opposite side. Just as the overflow from the colored sleeping quarters occupied eighteen cots in the bleeping quarters for whites. The prisoners cat their meals rather sullenly because of the absolute sllenco rule. This was one of the galling regulations to the suffragists. Tho food Is said to be wholesomo hut plain, and the suffragists claim they ate but little at Occoquan. Some friend In Washington sent down three crates of rruit on Wednesday. It was returneil by the warden and never reached th-addressees. Branching to tho right nnd left of the kitchen are the dormitories. Each consists of a long, narrow room with cots beside the walls. The cots are about three feet apart. At the far end of the room Is the washroom with tho trough and spigots. Just off the washroom Is the shower bath toward' which prisoners are required to wander "at least once a week." Complain of Xo Prlrnry. The suffragists complain there was absolutely no privacy ahou the bathrooms. They also rebelled at the common drinking dipper, the rough underclothing and the absence of toilet articles. "Why, do you know what happened?" asked the attractive Mrs. Rcy. neau and the attractive Miss Hurlbut Sixteen Advocates of Cause Complain Bitterly of Treatment Before PresidentWilson's Pardon Arrived In chorus. "Some of the regular prisoners told us that on MJonday, the day before we arrived, all the women ier required to wash out their clothing v, that we might have clean suits. Thlt shows that It was expected the court would send ua down there. We hail t put on these second hand suits that had been worn by other women na tellfltg w-hcrwbrtrtlrem. "The woollen stockings they gave us were so thick that we couldn't get them in our shoes. They didn't havo enough prison shoes to go around and several of us were forced to go without stockings the whole time. The underwear they gave us v'as unbleached cotton end ticking. It was awful, and some of us didn't have a hairbrush, and we Just wouldn't use the ono furnished by the prison." Miss Mary Hall Ingham of Philadelphia Interjected with: "There it. one thing to be said In favor ot Occoquan. It was delightfully cool there at night. A breeze came through our sleeping rooms all the time. The place was clean, too, but it was awful to bo cooped up with all there othr prisoners Just as though we had committed some crime. Several of thoso women asked ma how we happened to be sent down 'on our first offence.' " Miss Ingham t-ays that severa; years ago she attended a banquet given at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel by the Puhllo Charities Association of Philadelphia "Among the speakers of that evening," said Miss Ingham. wus .i Mr, Whlttaker, who spoke on muln work houses and penal Institutions I lis tened with much interest. This weoW I was a prisoner in the workhouse at which Mr. Whlttaker Is general super-. Intendent. I didn't mention the mat-tor of our formo- opting." As tho Iittlo gi'Hjj of returning suf. fragists talked animatedly of their ex porlences, Bhootlng Information at md so rnpldly that I had to call for timo, one or another of the sixteen sufTr.i gists, breaking into the conversation wherever the thought occurred, eaid: "I missed my nail fllo wnr than, anything." "My hair hasn't been iiuo since J left Washington. I never wanted 4 comb so badly in my life." "Don't .ay the meals were good an wo had plenty of sugar and coffee. It Isn't so." "We wore permitted to talk a llttlci while In the sewing room, but not more than two or three wero allowed to sit together." "Wo had to dress nnd undress right before everybody else." "They started ou calling us by our first names, but that didn't last long. It was Just Impossible (or these prison guards to speak of Mrs. Brannar, as 'Eunice.' It was remarkable how ro-flnoment and breeding showed even in prison clothes.. Even In that old gray prlion suit Mrs. Brannan was sull MRS. BRANNAN." (This latter .entenco of rommint 'ame froni pretty Mrs. Reyneai,. ono of the youngest of tho Imprisoned if. fragists.) "They wouldn't give us anytlilr. to write a letter with and ne er, t.iid that only business letters could tie 'ir-warded." "I know I wanted to write my n-.s-band very much and I couldn't gee nk or pen or paper," commented Mrs, Reyneau. The prison rules say that prisoners may write ono letter a week on hiisl-ncss, tho same to be submitted io ha superintendent before mailing The superintendent will take into consideration requests for permission to wita additional letters. There are three ways by which one may reach Occoquan, railroad, boat and automobile. The suffrage' a wnt to the workhouse on a lato ri' -noofl r4 IS e r. e y .e g o s. IP d n b r d ! e ir h lO if ie b r, lr i 41 tr ; it i, :e y e n IV e d y . t P n n d in 1 '1 I 'mmt ilk

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