Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 12, Number 2, Fall, 2000 Page: 44
This periodical is part of the collection entitled: Legacies: a History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas and was provided to The Portal to Texas History by the Dallas Historical Society.
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
SOUTH AMERICA, AND WAR
A Historic Intersection
BY KATHY LOVAS
ocated approximately twenty miles
southeast of Dallas, the Federal Correctional
Institution (FCI) at Seagoville lies
just off Highway 175 on the edge of the town of
Seagoville. Since its birth in 1940, FCI Seagoville
has undergone several name and mission
changes. But the title change in I942 from Federal
Women's Reformatory to Federal Detention
Station marked the most dramatic transformation
in the institution's sixty-year history, one that
continues to reverberate today.
The United States Bureau of Prisons was
created in I930 by an Act of Congress under
President Herbert Hoover. The Bureau was
charged with developing a system of federal
prisons that would provide for the incarceration
and treatment of a variety of types of offenders,
some of whom were women. At that time, the
only federal women's prison in the country was in
Alderson, West Virginia. By I937 the Bureau recognized
the need to build an additional prison for
female offenders west of the Mississippi.
Recognizing the positive impact such an
institution could have on the local economy,
Congressman Hatton W. Sumners of the 5th
District of Texas brought the matter before the
Dallas Chamber of Commerce. Since the
chamber lacked sufficient funds to purchase land
for the project, Dallas banker and chamber president
E. C. Tennant initiated a campaign to raise
the money. Land near Seagoville was selling for
$40 to $79 an acre. The chamber was able to raise
enough money to purchase 833 acres and thereby
gain approval from the Bureau to build the new
Federal Women's Reformatory at Seagoville.1
Seagoville's mayor, C. J. Murphy, invited all
Dallas County mayors to attend a grand outdoor
picnic at Shady Grove Golf Course to celebrate
the awarding of construction contracts. Several
thousand citizens attended the celebration,
where refreshments included two thousand icecold
watermelons. KRLD radio broadcast
speeches by Congressman Sumners, E. R. Tennant,
and Captain A. H. Conners, Associate
Commissioner of Prisons. Tennant announced
that the project would create a payroll of
$200,000, while Conners said that the institution
would require a staff of 125 to i50 Civil Service
The construction contract was awarded to
the Dolph-Bateson Construction Company in
the amount of $I,750,000 for buildings and
$4I6,800 for a well. By late 1939, as construction
entered its final phase, James V. Bennett,
Director of the Bureau of Prisons, assigned Miss
Helen Hironimus, formerly associate warden at
the Federal Reformatory for Women at
Alderson, as Seagoville's first warden, and Dr.
Amy Stannard, a well known psychiatrist, as
Another celebration, this time a three-day
program of events, marked the official opening of
the Federal Reformatory for Women at Seagoville
on Thursday, October Io, I940. The Dallas
Morning News described the prison as "a beehive
of industry in preparation for the first inspection
guests. Furniture, all in maple, was arriving from
Leavenworth; mops, brooms and brushes from
the Atlanta prison."4 The physical plant consisted
of one and two-story red brick buildings with
Here’s what’s next.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Tools / Downloads
Get a copy of this page or view the extracted text.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Dallas Historical Society. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 12, Number 2, Fall, 2000, periodical, 2000; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth35101/m1/46/?q: accessed May 13, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.