Gratiot Street Prison

Main page/Introduction

Notes on prisoners held at Gratiot from the ledger transcriptions.

Joseph Lanier - Lanier (his name is misspelled Lenier in the ledger) was a farmer accused along with his uncle Andrew of burning a mill and killing the owner near Savannah, Missouri. Lanier was held in the 'strong rooms' in Gratiot's tower along with the other condemned prisoners. Shortly before his execution, his fellow prisoners worked to help him escape. Griffin Frost recorded: "June 9, 1864—Joseph Lanier was taken from here about midnight last night and sent to Savannah, Andrew county, Mo., where he is to be shot to-morrow. Ten or fifteen minutes later, would have placed him beyond their reach. He and his room mates were working vigorously; had a rope already prepared and a hole cut nearly through the wall. Their effort was a desperate struggle for the life of a fellow prisoner. Lanier knew it was his only hope. They continued work until the tramp of the jail men at the door told them that all was over, and it was too late. The doomed man was taken and loaded with irons and carried off..." Lanier was executed in Savannah a few days later. His uncle Andrew Lanier, also sentenced to death, died apparently of disease, in Alton June 14th.

Brig Genl M. Jeff ThompsonBrig. General M. Jeff Thompson - the "Swamp Fox". He was exchanged. Mayor of St. Joseph in 1859. Photo of Gen. Thompson's grave from Find-a-Grave (use your back button to return here)

Jasper M. Peery - Jasper Marion Peery, born April 24, 1832, married Gertrude L. Woods

Robert Louden - name misspelled Loudon in ledger. Spy, saboteur, mail carrier. More on his story in North & South magazine, Issue 5.1, December 2001 ("Sultana: A Case For Sabotage") and in the Boat-burners. Oldest son of Andrew and Christina Louden, Scottish immigrants from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Died in New Orleans Sept. 1867.

Mary Louden - wife of Robert Louden. Mary J. Gibson, daughter of William Gibson of Pittsburgh and Heloise Daguet of Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, born November 1, 1832. First married to William Lynch (who died in the Gasconade Bridge Disaster Nov. 1, 1855). Had two daughters, Lulu Lynch (later McCarron) and Katie Lynch. Remarried to Robert Louden Aug. 28, 1858. Daughter Mollie Louden (later Conroy & Bell) born June 2, 1860, daughter Anna Louden born February 1864. Mary was arrested April 25, 1863 both for being part of Grimes' and Louden's mail smuggling ring, and also to try to extract the location of her husband from her. Banished to the south with numerous other women May 13, 1863. Allowed to return to St. Louis December 1863 after Robert's arrest. Remained in St. Louis until her death at age 81. Buried in Calvary Cemetery.

John F. Abshire - Hanged October 14, 1864 for being a "guerrilla and murderer," for participating in the killing of William Hayes of  Wayne County, Missouri. John F. Abshire was born in Arkansas about 1843. He grew up in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. In 1861 served four months under General Jeff. Thompson. Enlisted under Captain Townstend. Captured at Bloomfield Jan. 27, 1863. Exchanged. Assigned to 6th Missouri Infantry and sent to Vicksburg. Captured at Vicksburg July 4, 1863. Sent to St. Louis where he was tried, convicted, and executed. Married (wife's name unknown).

Griffin Frost - Born March 14, 1834 in St. Clairsville, Ohio. Moved it Missouri in 1854 where he owned a newspaper in Palmyra. Married Elizabeth R. Johnson September 10, 1857. One child, Annie, born January 1859. Brother Daniel Frost was a Union Colonel in the 11th West Virginia Infantry. Griffin Frost died April 4, 1909. Griffin Frost was in Gratiot Street Prison twice and later at Alton. He kept a detailed diary of his time there which he published after the war as "Camp and Prison Journal" (Available from Camp Pope Bookshop)

Mrs. Mary Russell alias Margaret A. Russell - sent to the penitentiary at Jefferson City, Missouri July 3, 1865. Military prisoner. Sentence 1 year, sentence expired December 21, 1865

Miss Maggie Kelley alias Miss Maggie - military prisoner sent to penitentiary at Jefferson City, Missouri July 3, 1865. Sentence 1 year, sentence expired December 21, 1865

 Mrs. Drusella (or Drucilla) Sappington & Mrs. Siegler or Ziegler - a newspaper article about Dursella Sappington can be seen on the St. Louis in the News page. Both of these women were held in the main Gratiot building in the room next to Ab Grimes in 1862; they aided his escape.

 Annie E. Fickle - Annie Fickle was 21 years old in 1865, born in Missouri with auburn hair, grey eyes. She was connected with several of Quantrill's guerrillas, her boyfriend being one of them. She was arrested after an escape attempt by the boyfriend and the subsequent deaths of some Federal soldiers ("Noted Guerrillas" John N. Edwards tells this story. "Confederate Mail Runner" by Absalom C. Grimes tells a variation--he met Annie at Gratiot, probably heard a garbled version of her story. "Border Bandits" by J. W. Buel tells of Annie Fickle's Quantrill connection, of her presenting them their black flag which she is said to have sewed. All these books are out of print but available from Annie was sent to the penitentiary at Jefferson City with a 10 year sentence but was pardoned by order of the president Jan. 30, 1865

 Welthy Robinson - Griffin Frost describes her as the one with the child: SEPT. 2.—Our new lady prisoner, of last evening, is a Miss Jane Hancock, arrested for smuggling ammunition through the lines. Eleven of the Myrtle street ladies were brought over this evening and all except two are young ladies, one of the two is a very old lady, seemed quite feeble, scarcely able to walk; the other had a little child with her. Nearly all of them were dressed in black.

SEPT 3 -Another female prisoner was introduced to Gratiot to-day. She is a large fine looking lady, reported to be from Kentucky, her name I have not heard. The following is a list of the shipment of ladies consigned to our house from the firm on Myrtle street: Miss Jane Ward, Mrs. Eliza Spencer, Mary Spencer, Mrs. Harriet Spencer, Mrs. Welthy Robinson, and Miss Fannie Little, of Johnson county; Miss Sue Bryant, of Cooper county; Miss. Mary Call, of Henry county, and Mrs. Mary A Harlow, of Lafayette county. All the above ladies are from Missouri, and are quartered in a building opposite Gratiot, as the house in the rear was found to be too small to accommodate them. "Camp and Prison Journal" (Available from Camp Pope Bookshop)

 Sarah Gray, Harriet Martin - these women worked on the steamer White Cloud, upon which was found a Rebel mail being smuggled by Robert Louden. The women were held prisoner as witnesses in the White Cloud smuggling investigation. See more on the White Cloud Incident.

 Martha Cassell - 23 years old, b. Missouri, black hair, black eyes, fair complexion, sentenced to imprisonment during the war. Pardoned by president Oct. 31, 1864

 James YarbroughJames Yarbrough - married to Nancy Pankey. James Yarbrough passed on the following story of his stay at Gratiot Street Prison to his family, "Supposedly he had very little food, and felt he was near to starving. According to my grandmother, James told her he and several others he knew in prison would have starved if it were not for a  black woman who took special care of prisoners who were in obvious need of more nutrition. Supposedly, what the black woman would do is wrap large leaves of turnip greens around her body before she would dress in the  mornings and would unwrap these raw leaves and give them to prisoners when she couldn't get caught.  Apparently she worked at the prison feeding the prisoners, and therefore could tell who was dying from starvation, and therefore would supplement those she felt needed it out of her own food at  home."

Eugene Elton - survived the war, raised two families, died in Citra, OK in 1911


Gratiot Street Prison Main page/Introduction


Prisoners List Transcription from Gratiot ledgers

List 1-200 men List 2 - 200 men List 3 - 34 men, more to come Women & Children - 212 names  Prisoner Notes

A. C. Grimes -- Confederate Mail Carrier & escape artist

Elijah Alexander Mays - story of a Missouri man held at both Gratiot St Prison and Alton prison

Robert Payne Byrd - story of a Missouri man who vanished to a small pox hospital never to return

Gratiot Street Prison FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions about the Union prison in St. Louis

Information Sources -- Print and microfilm sources on Gratiot 

Gratiot Street Prison-Then & Now - The site as it appeared in 1848, the 1860s, and now

Gratiot Journal:journal account of Gratiot Street Prison with notes on the people and events described

January - February 1863

March - April 1863

October - November 1863  

December 1863 - January 1864

March - April 1864

True Tales of the Tenth Kansas Infantry Articles by Howard Mann

Raid On a Nest of Nymphs

Excitement at Alton Prison Story of an escape from Alton, Ill., prison

Paradox of Capt. George D. Brooke

Sorrowful Revenge by Firing Squad the execution of six Confederate soldiers in St. Louis

 True Tales of the Tenth Kansas Infantry: The Wrong Place at the Wrong Time, The Execution of Barney Gibbons  execution of a Union deserter in St. Louis

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