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Tamaha Jail

Tamaha Jail

Location Class:
Built: 1886 | Abandoned:
Historic Designation: National Register of Historic Places (1980)
Status: Abandoned
Photojournalist: John Rupp
Not much is left within the town of Tamaha, Oklahoma but one thing that does still stand is its historic rock jail. Built in 1886, it’s said to be the oldest jail in Oklahoma. The towns dwindling population has been proud of its historic roots and tiny jail. The rock work has been repaired several times over the years but without annual upkeep, it has deteriorated and the roof is obviously collapsing into the building.
Tamaha Jail
Bass McGuire, a former Haskell County sheriff, left, and Burl Prentice, nephew of Frank Prentice, former prisoner. Credit to David McDaniel, December 10, 1993.

Supposedly the first inmate within the Tamaha Jail was Frank Prentice, how he got there is a store all in itself. Prentice had supposedly been hired as a horseback mail carrier for the Whitefield to Tamaha route. Deciding to have a little fun on his trip he decided to have a few drinks, apparently, he had a few more than expected because a majority of the letters in his saddlebags had been scattered throughout the some twenty or so miles between the towns. Upon arrival, his drunken mistake was discovered and authorities threw him into the Tamaha Jail, just long enough to sober him up.

Gallery Below


McDaniel, David. [Photograph 2012.201.B0389.0635]photographDecember 10, 1993; (https://gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc420848/accessed February 6, 2021), The Gateway to Oklahoma History, https://gateway.okhistory.org; crediting Oklahoma Historical Society.

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Emily Cowan

Emily is a two-time published author of "Abandoned Oklahoma: Vanishing History of the Sooner State" and "Abandoned Topeka: Psychiatric Capital of the World". With over two hundred published articles on our websites. Exploring since 2018 every aspect of this has become a passion for her. From educating, fighting to preserve, writing, and learning about history there is nothing she would rather do.

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