Prisoner Escapes

Herman Volk escapes
Copyrighted by NewsBank and/or the American Antiquarian Society. 2004
And Now Wears a Ball and Chain–and There Are Others.

Tuesday, November 19, 1895  Grand Rapids Press (Grand Rapids, Michigan) Page: 1

There was a jail delivery on a very small scale at about 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon at the county prison. Deputy Sheriff Gates was working a gang of eight prisoners on the driveway just outside the yard entrance. Herman Volk, doing a thirty-day sentence for stealing coal, was laboring at the end furthest from the officer. All at once he took a notion to scoot.

He scooted.

With head down he made for the railroad track like mad while the other prisoners yelled to him to stop. Deputy Gates could not give pursuit on account of his other charges, and he did not care to shoot. The alarm was given at once, the other prisoners were locked up, and the force was turned upon the trail. At 5 o’clock Deputy Carroll found him in an Ellsworth avenue alley barn. He made no fight and said he was coming back anyway.

Sheriff Woodworth announced this morning that hereafter Volk would wear some restraining jewelry during the remainder of his confinement. He is tired of these fence jumpers and runaways and proposes to try the ball and chain method of impressing them with the necessity of not abusing their privileges. The sixteen-pound ornament was made today and Volk is wearing it.


There were two Herman Volks living in Grand Rapids at the time this article was written.  Herman T.  (father of Sarah Elizabeth Volk Roetman) was 48  years old.  His son, Herman F. was 23.  Without further research, we cannot tell which Herman Volk the article is referring to.  Whichever one, we can be ‘proud’ that one of our Ancestors set the standard in Kent County Michigan for prisoners’ accessories.