ALBION — The city of Albion wants back its old jail cells that have been in Oakley for more than 80 years.
The jail cell block once held Diamondfield “Jack” Davis in Albion in the late 1890s and early 1900s.
“It would be really nice to have it back for our 150-year celebration,” Albion Mayor Sharon Hardy-Mills said.
The Albion valley will celebrate its anniversary of being settled next July 4.
Hardy-Mills sent a letter to Oakley Mayor Robert Bell on Sept. 25, asking Oakley to return the jail cell block.
“Contact has been made off and on over the years with no resolution,” Hardy-Mills wrote in the letter. “I am unsure of the course to take to accommodate this matter, and would like to open some dialog with you on this issue.”
Oakley Mayor Robert Bell said he hasn’t seen the letter.
“I’ll have to do some research and see where the letter is,” he said.
Bell said the letter may have gone to the city and has not been forwarded to him.
“I’ll have to talk to the board and see what they want to do,” he said.
Oakley City Council President Ralph Barnard said Council will hold its meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at the city office, 200 W. Main St.
“I haven’t heard anything about the jail,” he said.
In the winter of 1923-24 a fire destroyed Oakley’s jail, according to an article in the Week Ender dated Sept. 5, 1976.
For years, Oakley went without a jail, and in the 1930s the historic cell block, that has two cells, was taken by truck from Albion to Oakley.
“They needed to borrow the Albion jail,” Hardy-Mills said.
The cell block sat out in the open on Main Street in Oakley and was not a place of comfort for those who were arrested, the article said. Unprotected from the elements, the jail was hot in the summer and cold in the winter, a Week Ender Sept. 11, 1977 article said.
In 1936, the jail was moved to a room between the old Farmer’s Commercial Bank and Simmons Furniture store, where it was used as a jail.
In September 1976 the jail was moved again, this time onto an Oakley street.
The article said in September 1976 the Oakley City Council discussed the fate of the old jail after receiving a request from the city of Albion to return it for display at the Albion City Park.
The Oakley Council decided to keep the jail and had it moved to the Oakley City Park, where a cement slab was poured that summer for it, the article said.
A roof was constructed over the top of it to protect it from the weather.
Hardy-Mills said the Albion City Council discussed requesting once again that the city of Oakley return the jail so Albion can have it for its celebration.
Newspaper articles were found documenting that it originally belonged to Albion, which was the first county seat.
Diamondfield Jack was arrested and held at the jail after two sheepherders were found murdered at their sheep camp in 1896 during the cattlemen-sheep herder wars. He was sentenced to hang in 1897, but one appeal after another followed with the hanging date was postponed each time.
In 1901, the board of pardons gave him a stay of execution. He was freed in 1902 and he moved to Nevada.
The cell block was not used by Albion after the county seat shifted to Burley in 1919.