When I started this project, I looked at Sanborn fire insurance maps to help determine the age of the calabooses I had visited. I was not always successful in getting an absolute date but what I learned is that it was often possible to establish a window during which time a particular calaboose was likely to have been constructed. If, for example, a calaboose appears on a map dated 1920 but not on the previous map, perhaps dated 1910, it is obvious that it was built sometime during that span of time. While reviewing these maps I decided to check every available Sanborn map for Texas towns in hopes of finding other calabooses that were at the time not known to me and I found quite a lot this way. My source for Sanborn maps has been the online collection at the Perry-Casteñada Library in Austin, Texas. However, the Rice Fondren Library on the campus of Rice University is reported to have the entire set of Sanborn maps for Texas and I plan to visit this facility soon and check those that are not available through other sources.
The purpose of this part of the website is to document the towns where calabooses used to be and provide as much information as possible about them such as location, size, and materials used in their construction. In many cases, there are no recent Sanborn maps for Texas towns. Those available online at the Perry-Casteñada Library cover the years from 1877 to 1922. Therefore, there are probably numerous towns with calabooses that were constructed after 1922 that I am not aware of. Also, the Sanborn Company did not map every town in Texas and many of the small communities were not visited. In some cases, there is only one map for a town or the maps that were drafted did not cover the entire town. I am making my best effort to contact as many persons and agencies as possible to see if any of these calabooses are still standing and if others were built after the date of the latest map I reviewed and I have found a few using this method.
The following towns are arranged alphabetically by county. As new information is obtained regarding the status of calabooses in a particular town, it will be added. In a few cases, I have been able to obtain photographs of calabooses that no longer exist and they are included with the discussion of the town where they were located. The photo of the stone calaboose in Rising Star next to the wooden courthouse is a possible example of being able to match the photo with the Sanborn map. On the Sanborn map for Rising Star in Eastland County dated 1921 there is a small stone calaboose next to a wooden building labeled as City Hall. This building could also have functioned as the courthouse referred to on the photo.
The only jails depicted here are those labelled as a calaboose or small one-story buildings regardless of how they are referred to on the map. In addition, I am keeping a record of how these very small jails are referred to on the Sanborn maps. I have learned that the vast majority of small, one-story jails are referred to as a calaboose while some are called lockups or jails. In Carrizo Springs, there was a one-story rock structure that the mappers labelled as a county jail. Because of its apparent small size that is’/ consistent with those structures referred to as calabooses it is included. In 1900, there was a two-story brick building in El Paso labelled as a calaboose. Normally, this type of structure would be referred to as a county jail but it needs to be remembered that the word calaboose can be applied to any building that was used for the detention of prisoners.