CANASERAGA — If you are anything like my family then you love to go on adventures.
On my adventure through the sleepy town of Canaseraga I noticed the cutest little jail I have ever seen.
Naturally my reporter instincts took over, and I went on a personal quest to find answers inside those tiny walls.
Having trouble digging answers from such a small-town I just went on my merry way using my imagination to fill in the blanks.
However, during the Canaseraga Fall Festival a gentleman informed me that the jail is now open to be viewed, so I high tailed it down there to uncover the secrets.
Upon entering what is known as the oldest village jail still standing in New York State; my excitement was beyond measure.
You think of the crazy old westerns with the small jails, and the outlaws that have been wrangled by the marshals.
This has the old western vibe as you enter the white jail cells with rusted out beds and tiny windows.
Burns Jail was established in 1873 after a grisly case of domestic abuse involving a small child. Henry Mosher and a woman living with him at the time had brutally beaten the seven year old child. They had the honor of being the first prisoners in the tiny jail. The child’s back had been covered in black and blue bruises, and his head had cuts from a chair the female had used to hit him with. These prisoners were eventually sent to Angelica and the child was sent to the poorhouse.
The decision came in 1872 to develop a place to hold the riff raff of the town. Land had been donated by the Cemetery Association. After they found they had bricks left over from the Union School they used them to build the jail in 1873.
In the start they had a iron toilet and cot in each cell. By 1924 electricity had been added. The town had inspected it in 1930 and it was said that there were two built-in metal cells. Each cell had a waterproof mattress with quilts and a small iron toilet. The jail was heated by a small stove, and there was electricity for adequate lighting. It had been used the most that year with six male prisoners, and 75 lodgers had been housed. It shut its doors in the 1940s, and became a place to sober up. A few citizens banded together to save and repair the historic jail in 1976.
This is an important part of our history, and has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is open usually on Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. when the weather is good.
(Jasmine Willis is a reporter for Genesee Country Express)