Contributed by Maureen Whyte*
The Pennsylvania Industrial Reformatory at Huntingdon (Huntingdon County) opened in 1889 to house males aged 15 to 25 who were first offenders. Transcribed here are some genealogical gleanings from the reformatory’s records from February to April 1889.
Listings include the date of incarceration and the names and ages of 55 young men convicted of crimes (typically larceny), their home county, and the names, ages, and locations of their parents and siblings (or notes about their deaths or absence from the family home). In addition to the genealogical information transcribed here, The full records are rich in personal details about the “inmates,” including notes about their relatives’ background (Insanity, Epilepsy, Dissipation, Education, Pecunary Condition, Occupation, Pauper or Criminal) as well as comments about the young men and how they were raised (Family, Schools, Labor, Religion, and Associations, such as “Bad boys and loose women”). Other comments mention their Condition on Admittance (Physical, Mental Natural Capability, Moral Susceptibility, Sensitiveness) and dates of promotions, parole, infractions (“spitting on floor”), and release.
Many of these families appear in the 1880 Census (and some in the 1900 Census), but in the absence of the 1890 Census, these records offer family information likely unavailable elsewhere. For example, one inmate’s record indicated that his father was “In Colorado. Has been away from home 18 yrs.” In many cases, younger siblings are listed (which is helpful in identifying those born since the 1880 Census) and the names of married sisters’ husbands appear. Occasionally, other relatives were mentioned: “Father died 9 yrs ago at 35 yrs–Mother died four months later. Prisoner has since lived with his Grand mother, Mary Birmingham 77 yrs old.”
To complement this transcription, PDFs of the original records are available here to GSP members, who can access them to see the complete details about each inmate.
*The contributor is a member of the Old York Road Genealogical Society, Abington, PA
1 Source: Pennsylvania Industrial Reformatory, biographical register, 1889 (FHL 1,032,654).