Veneida Smith

Sheriff Says No Jail Can Hold Fair Tomboy of Mountains

Parkersburg authorities refused to pursue Veneida Smith, pretty 16-year-old girl, an alleged horse thief and jail breaker, into her mountain hiding places today. The sheriff and his deputies, opined "There ain't no jail that'll hold her," following the last escape when she sawed the bars in her cell window with a tiny blade of steel smuggled into the jail in her shoe. Sliding to the ground on a rope made with bed clothes, the "Holy Terror Tomboy," as she is known to authorities, evaded pursuit to outskirts of town where she secured her pony and galloped away in the direction of Cairo. Veneida is the veteran of a long string of jail breaks, according to authorities. Once she wrecked her cell with an iron bar because the sheriff refused to give her cigars to smoke. Previously she had broken out of a reform school, and numerous efforts of social workers to reform her were met with this reply: "The devil got me into it, let him get me out." Parkersburg authorities describe the girl as "pretty as a picture, wild as a deer, hardy as a mountain goat, as hard as nails, and able to care for herself anywhere."

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7 Responses:

  1. Happen Muche says:

    wud smash

  2. jm says:

    "Am I... speaking to Veneida Smith... now?"

    Coolness. I wonder what became of her...

    • Line Noise says:

      I like to think that she ran off to Chicago and joined Al Capone's gang and became the inspiration for Jodie Foster's character in Bugsy Malone.

  3. Rob says:

    I enjoyed this story so I typed up all the articles.
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    Athens Messenger, Oct 12 1922
    YOUNG GIRL IS SAID TO HAVE STOLEN HORSE

    Parkersburg, W. Va. Oct. 12. -- Veneida Smith, 16 year old girl, was indicted by the grand jury in session Wednesday, on a charge of stealing a horse. She was immediately arrested and is being held in the county jail. The girl is accused of taking a horse belonging to F. E. Mixer, Valley Mills, an oil operator. Mixer left his horse standing along the road and on his return from an errand found only the harness and buggy.

    ---

    Athens Messenger, Oct 13 1922
    POSSE CAPTURES DARING TOMBOY
    GIRL, 16, IMPRISONED AFTER JAIL BREAK AND ALL NIGHT PURSUIT

    Parkersburg, W. Va. Oct. 13. (By Universal Service.) -- After a sensational escape from the county jail here and a wild ride on horseback, pursued by officers, Veneida Smith, age 16, alleged horse thief and holy terror tomboy, is again behind iron bars. After an all night search, the girl was found hiding in her home on the outskirts of the city today.

    The girl, whose Wild West stunts and other escapades have gotten her in to trouble numerous times, was arrested a week ago, accused of stealing a horse. Yesterday the grand jury indicted her on that charge.

    About that time the girl, finding an iron bar in her cell, used it as a lever and sprung the bars sufficiently to permit her to slip through. She made her way into the warden's quarters and slipped out through a side door. Going to her home, she mounted one of her riding horses and sped away from town.

    Neighbors who saw her fleeing notified the warden and several officers immediately gave chase in an automobile. Catching up with her about six miles from the city, they commanded her to halt.

    "Go to Hell!" she shrieked as she wheeled and doubled on her tracks.

    When the officers tried to pursue her further she turned into a narrow lane, where the machine could not follow. A moment later horse and rider disappeared from view over a hilltop. The hills were searched for her all night.

    ---

    San Antonio Evening News, Oct 19 1922
    TOMBOY OF 16 STARTS RIOT IN JAIL; DEMANDS CIGARS BUT IS CONTENT WITH CHEW

    By Universal Service. Parkersburg, W. Va. Oct. 19. -- Miss Veneida Smith, 16, Parkersburg's "Holy Terror Tomboy," who is being held in the county jail here on a charge of horse stealing, went on a rampage in the jail and created such a disturbance that Warden Callahan was forced to place a special guard over her. He says that a guard will be maintained as long as the girl remains a prisoner.

    When the girl went on the rampage she tore the padding from her cell and punched a hole in the ceiling over her cell. Her explanation of her actions was that she wanted to go home.

    The girl then demanded cigars to smoke, but had to be satisfied with tobacco to chew, as the warden feared that if allowed to smoke, she could set the building on fire. She also threatened to commit suicide, it is said.

    The girl made a sensational escape from the jail last week. Finding an iron bar she bent the cell bars sufficiently to permit her to squeeze through. She then made her way down the corridor and slipped out a side door of the warden's office. Going to her home, she mounted a horse and galloped away. Persons who saw her fleeing on the horse notified the warden and several officers gave chase in an automobile. She was captured the next day.

    ---

    San Antonio Evening News, Nov 9 1922
    "HOLY TERROR" GIRL OF 16 AGAIN ESCAPES FROM JAIL
    VENEIDA SMITH, PARKERSBURG, SAWS BARS OF HER CELL AND SLIDES TO THE GROUND

    Parkersburg, W. Va. Nov. 9. -- Veneida Smith, Parkersburg's 16-year-old "Holy Terror Tomboy" and alleged horse thief, who several weeks ago made a sensational escape from the Wood County Jail, has again left the bastile behind her. By this time she is safely hidden in the mountain fastnesses somewhere about Cairo, it is believed.

    Removing a thin flat blade of steel from the sole of her shoe the girl improvised a crude saw with which she cut through the bars of the window in her cell. With bed coverings, fashioned into a rope, she lowered herself down to a veranda and then slid down a wooden pillar to the ground.

    Going to her home on the outskirts of the city she obtained her favorite pony and galloped away. At last reports she was seen hurrying into the mountain recesses near Cairo. Leaving the jail Miss Smith carried her violin, which she plays brilliantly, although it is said she has never taken a lesson.

    ---

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Nov 10 1922
    HOLY TERROR TOMBOY AGAIN FLEES PRISON
    VENEIDA SMITH CUTS BARS OF CELL IN JAIL AT PARKERSBURG

    Parkersburg, W. Va., Nov. 9. -- Veneida Smith, Parkersburg's 16-year-old "holy terror tomboy'' and alleged horse thief, who several weeks ago escaped from the Wood County Jail here, only to be recaptured the following day, after officers in an automobile had pursued her, on horseback, miles over mountainous roads, broke from jail again last night.

    Removing a thin blade of steel from the sole of her shoe, the girl fashioned a crude saw and severed the window bars in her cell, which was on the third floor of the jail. With blankets and quilts from her bed, the girl made a rope which reached nearly from her cell window to a veranda roof many feet below. She then slid down the rope and dropped the remainder of the distance to the veranda roof.

    Clear of the jail, the girl made her way to her home on the outskirts of Parkersburg and mounting her favorite pony galloped toward the mountains.

    ---

    The Times, Shreveport, Louisiana, Nov 10 1922
    GIRL HORSE THIEF MAKES SECOND PRISON ESCAPE

    (By Associated Press.) Parkersburg, W. Va., Nov 9. -- A sheriff's posse was searching tonight for a 16-year-old girl, indicted for horse stealing, who has made her second escape from the county jail.

    The fugitive is Veneida Smith. Since she first came into conflict with the authorities, because of incorrigibility, the girl has defied the efforts of the jailers and industrial school guards to keep her in custody.

    After having slipped away from two industrial schools she was arrested several weeks ago on a charge of unhitching a horse from a wagon at Valley Mills and riding away. She promptly pried the cell bars loose with an iron slat and escaped to Ohio on a pony. She was arrested when she returned to the home of a relative.

    Today jail deputies noticed a rope of bed clothes hanging from her cell on the third story. The girl had obtained a saw and cut the bars.

    ---

    Indiana Gazette, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Nov 10 1922
    'HOLY TERROR TOMBOY' ESCAPES
    VENEIDA SMITH, 16, MAKES SENSATIONAL GETAWAY IN PARKERSBURG, W. VA.

    By International News Service. PARKERSBURG, W. Va., Nov. 10. -- Veneida Smith, 16, Parkersburg's "holy terror tomboy" and alleged horse thief, who several weeks ago made a sensational escape from the Wood County Jail here only to be recaptured the following day after officers in an automobile had pursued her many miles, is gone again. She is "somewhere in West Virginia." The girl sawed the bars of her window cell on the third floor of the jail. She tied blankets and quilts together and slid down the improvised rope. To the veranda roof and jumped the remaining 12 feet. The exact time of her departure is unknown but it was during the night or early today.

    After leaving the jail, the girl hustled to her home on the outskirts of the city, quickly saddled her favorite pony and then went lickety split toward the mountains. Folks 15 miles away later reported a second edition of Paul Revere going by at great speed.

    The girl was being held in the jail awaiting trial at the January term of Court on the horse stealing charge. During her stay in jail church people and social workers have tried to "reform" her but she said "the devil put me in here and he will get me out."

    The girl claims to possess supernatural powers and women who visited her in jail say she gave them a demonstration of her powers. In the corner of her cell were a number of paper bags filled with air and tied. After a certain amount of "hocus pocus," the women said, the girl commanded the bags to rise from the floor and they did so and floated about the cell at her command, floating back to their corner when she commanded them to do so.

    The girl is described by those who know her — and there are few hereabouts who do not know her — as being "pretty as a picture" wild as a deer, hardy as a mountain goat and as hard as nails and as sassy as a minx but good natured. She is a marvel as a horseback rider. Before she ran afoul of the law she took great pleasure in stirring up this dignified old city by donning brilliant riding garb of the cowboy style and galloping about the streets, "whooping it up," a pistol stuck in the top of each riding boot or flourished in the air in her hands.

    Twice the girl has been committed to a reform school and each time she escaped and "hoboed" her way home.

    ---

    Pittsburgh Press, Nov 10 1922 - Front Page
    AUTHORITIES WON'T HUNT GIRL AMAZON

    By United Press. Parkersburg, W. Va., Nov 10 -- Parkersburg authorities refused to pursue Veneida Smith, pretty 16-year-old girl, and alleged horse thief and jail breaker, into her mountain hiding places today.

    The high sheriff and his deputies opined "there ain't no jail that'll hold her," following the last escape when she sawed the bars in her cell window with a tiny blade of steel smuggled into the jail in her shoe.

    ---
    Franklin, Pennsylvania News-Herald, Nov 10 1922 - Front Page
    SOUTHERN SHERIFF SAYS NO JAIL CAN HOLD FAIR TOMBOY OF MOUNTAINS

    Parkersburg authorities refused to pursue Veneida Smith, pretty 16-year-old girl, an alleged horse thief and jail breaker, into her mountain hiding places today.

    The sheriff and his deputies, opined "There ain't no jail that'll hold her," following the last escape when she sawed the bars in her cell window with a tiny blade of steel smuggled into the jail in her shoe.

    Sliding to the ground on a rope made with bed clothes, the "Holy Terror Tomboy," as she is known to authorities, evaded pursuit to outskirts of town where she secured her pony and galloped away in the direction of Cairo.

    Veneida is the veteran of a long string of jail breaks, according to authorities. Once she wrecked her cell with an iron bar because the sheriff refused to give her cigars to smoke. Previously she had broken out of a reform school, and numerous efforts of social workers to reform her were met with this reply: "The devil got me into it, let him get me out."

    Parkersburg authorities describe the girl as "pretty as a picture, wild as a deer, hardy as a mountain goat, as hard as nails, and able to care for herself anywhere."

    ---

    Pittsburgh Daily Post, Sep 27 1923
    GIRL PRIMED FOR THIRD ESCAPE

    Parkersburg, W. Va., Sept. 26 -- Veneida Smith, whose two sensational escapes from the Wood county jail about a year ago when she was held there on a charge of horse stealing, attracted attention and who was locked in the same prison a few nights ago on a disorderly conduct charge, was found to have a saw and a file concealed in her shoes today. Sheriff W. T. Cochran has sworn out a warrant charging her with breaking jail last year. She was never tried on the horse stealing charge.

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    Charleston Daily Mail, Oct 25 1923
    VENEIDA SMITH GUILTY

    Parkersburg, W. Va., Oct. 25. -- Veneida Smith, heroine of two sensational escapes from Wood county jail a year ago, in one of which she fled on horseback and outdistanced officers pursuing in an automobile, was yesterday found guilty by a jury in circuit court on a misdemeanor indictment charging unlawful escape by force, one of the few times this West Virginia statute has been enforced. She is subject to from one day to a year in jail, but has not yet been sentenced.

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    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Mar 3 1924
    GIRLS SAW JAIL BARS BUT ESCAPE IS FOILED

    Parkersburg, W. Va., March 2. -- (A. P.) -- A bold attempt to escape from the county jail was made today by Veneida Smith and Roxie Starcher, who occupy the same cell, when they sawed some of the bars across one of the windows in two and were about ready to take their departure when the conditions were discovered by Turnkey Ed Callihan.

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  4. Ronald Pottol says:

    There are updates, she lived to be 82 https://twitter.com/KT_NRE/status/991439005676986368

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