Richard: Somebody got in need like a house burned something like that everybody was there to help ‘em.
THERE ARE A THOUSAND TOWNS LIKE BRYANT INDIANA OUT IN YOUR COUNTRY…WIDE SPOTS IN THE ROAD THAT WERE ONCE THE WHOLE WORLD TO THE PEOPLE WHO LIVED THERE. BRYANT SPRANG UP IN THE 1800’S, PART OF THE OIL BOOM THAT POURED MONEY AND LIFE INTO BRYANT AND THE REST OF JAY COUNTY…THE TOWN SERVED THE OIL WORKERS WHO SIPHONED THE BLACK GOLD OUT OF THE GROUND. TODAY BRYANT IS MORE GHOST TOWN THAN TOWN..THE GROCERY STORE’S GONE..JUST LIKE THE BANK, THE BARBER SHOPS..THE HARDWARE STORE. THE LAST TO GO WAS THE FEEDMILL…THAT HUNG ON ‘TILL THE 1960’S. A LOT OF LIVING HAPPENED IN THESE BUILDINGS BUT THE MOST INTERESTING OF THEM ISN’T ON MAIN STREET..IT’S DOWN A BACK ALLEY, LOOKING MUCH AS IT DID WHEN IT WAS BUILT A HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS AGO.
Richard: You see that old jail kind of reminds you of the old western days. Whatever the weather is outside, that’s what it is on the inside.
THAT’S RIGHT, THIS LITTLE SHED WAS THE BRYANT JAIL, THE ONLY JAIL THE TOWN EVER HAD…THE ONLY ONE IT EVER NEEDED…TWO SMALL WOODEN CELLS WITH PLANKS FOR BUNKS,..THE TOILET, A BOX IN THE CORNER THAT HELD A SLOP BUCKET. 89 YEAR OLD JIM SPADE’S A LIFELONG BRYANT RESIDENT, HE CAN’T REMEMBER THE JAIL EVER HOLDING A PRISONER. NEITHER CAN DICK RENBARGER, HE LIVED IN BRYANT AS A KID.
Richard: Judge Brock was the town marshal at that time and some hobo would come hitchhiking through town and needed a place to sleep, judge would let him spend the night there.
BRYANT’S OLD TIMERS ARE VERY PROTECTIVE OF THE OLD JAIL..JIM SPADE PUT A NEW ROOF ON IT TEN YEARS AGO, AND IT’S KEPT LOCKED TO KEEP KIDS FROM VANDALIZING IT. MORE THAN ANY OTHER BUILDNG IN TOWN THE OLD JAIL IS BRYANT’S CONNECTION WITH ITS HARDSCRABBLE PAST, WHEN A TOWN BUILT WHAT IT NEEDED ITSELF OR DID WITHOUT. MAYBE FOLKS HERE FIGURE AS LONG AS THE JAIL STANDS THAT INDEPENDENT SPIRIT LIVES ON, EVEN IF ONLY IN MEMORY. ERIC OLSON REPORTING OUT IN YOUR COUNTRY.
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