Monday, August 28, 2006

Sub-Terra Cell

Wayne Irby was mowing the grass at Philadelphia's Fort Mifflin when he felt the earth move under his feet.

Irby "turned the mower loose" just as the ground collapsed beneath him.

Curious, he shoveled aside a few feet of earth over the next couple of days and made a stunning discovery: a tunnel and a two-room jail cell recalling the sad tale of a decorated Civil War soldier, a murder, clemency pleas to President Lincoln, and the only execution at the fort.

The barred cell at casemate No. 11 once belonged to convicted killer William H. Howe before he was hanged Aug. 26, 1864.
A message written on a cell door reads, "Shun this place, oh man, whom soever thou art." But not everyone is heeding this advice.
William Mifflin, a descendant of the fort's 18th-century commandant Thomas Mifflin and member of the board of directors of Fort Mifflin on the Delaware, called the find remarkable, "another significant chapter in the fort's long history."

"It not only gives us one more educational and interpretive opportunity - but it's entertaining," he said before ducking down a small, muddy hole that opened into the tunnel. [Link]
Probably less entertaining for someone waiting to be hanged.

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