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Mansfield Reformatory Guard | What was it like?

It’s one thing to face the darkness of the prison as an inmate. Try as a Mansfield Reformatory guard. As Dr. Phil says, “No matter how flat you make a pancake, there are two sides!”

The inmates had their stories of tragedy and death. But being a in this position wasn’t easy either. These examples make me hope they had decent salaries.

Mansfield Reformatory Ohio State - current day building
Mansfield Reformatory in Ohio

Heroic Mansfield Reformatory Guard Killed by Madman – How Urban Wilford Died

Urban Wilford was a 72-year-old guard still working at Mansfield in the 1920s.  Officials wanted him to retire, “Go on, spend retirement with your loving wife”.  The former British police officer refused.

Seemed he loved his job more… until meeting Philip Orleck.

Mansfield Reformatory Ohio State - Phillip Orleck
Philip Orleck, murdered a Guard

Orleck was recently paroled.  Given an opportunity to start over, but friendship brought him back with a plan help his buddy escape.

Entering through the West Gate.  Wilford recognized Orleck and blocked his path.  Orleck pulled a gun and fired.  Wilford held him to the ground on as other guards rushed in.  Pulling them apart to find Wilford was dead.

At one time a free man, just one year later Orleck sat in the electric chair.  Executed for murdering the kindly old guard.

Poorly Planned Escape – Murder of Guard Frank Hanger

Mansfield guard Frank Hanger saw inmates sneaking out a back door.  Yelled, “Stop!”, and two of the convicts turned to greet him.

One grabbed an iron bar and hit Hanger.  The guard fell to the ground as the other convict rushed in. 

They beat him with bare fists and the bar until Hanger stopped moving. Then leaving but not getting far.  Every one of the inmates were caught, returned, and had Hanger’s death added to sentences. 

The 2 inmates who turned back felt the cold wood of an electric chair.

Mansfield Reformatory via the Cleveland Memory Project (Mansfield Library) | Guard Station
Old Guard Station inside Mansfield Reformatory

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