Officials (seated left to right):
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Additional images from the latter will be added to the presentation as the research progresses.
Terence J. Mills, who held important NYC Correction uniformed posts during the 20th Century's early decades, may well have been the first commanding officer of the city's Prison Keepers Training School.
NYCHS is researching that possibility. Clearly Mills headed the Prison Keepers School in 1930, its first year as an all-DOC operation -- in staffing, in instruction, and in location.
Started in 1928 by NYC Correction Commissioner Richard C. Patterson, the agency-initiated training school was the first of its kind in the nation and the forerunner of the Department's present Correction Academy.
Massachusetts, New Jersey and the federal prison agency were among the first to follow NYC DOC's lead, and eventually its prison keeper training school concept came to be adopted and adapted all across the country. So in a real sense these appear the earliest known class photos of "America's first Correction Academy."
The school was formally established on paper in late December 1927 but first classes actually began in late January 1928. The New York Times of Jan. 23, 1928 reported that the first class of 30 was set to begin the two-month series of courses at the Police Academy in Grand Central Palace the next day. On June 14, 1928, the Times reported that graduation ceremonies for the first 50 who successfully completed the new school's seven-week training program had been held the previous evening in the Palm Garden, 306 W. 62 St.
DOC for some years had been seeking ways to train its rookies. That effort appeared to gain increased emphasis in the wake of the Nov. 3, 1926 attempted escape at the Tombs that ended in five deaths: Warden Peter Mallon and Keeper Jeremiah Murphy and the three inmates who had tried to break out with guns that had been smuggled into them.
Initially NYPD housed the Prison Keeper School classes and provided the instructors, but Patterson pushed to have DOC assume increasingly more instruction duties, streamline curriculum to fit prison keepers' real on-the-job needs, and have classes held in a DOC facility.
In 1930, the year the graduate and trainee class photos in this presentation were taken, those goals were reported by Patterson as having been met. The school moved from the Police Academy to its own quarters, a large room in the Penitentiary on Welfare Island (now Roosevelt Island); two specially selected, carefully screened and heavily trained keepers became the physical ed. instructors, and all classroom instruction was being given by DOC personnel, with DOC-invited special guest lecturers -- some rather high profile -- occasionally addressing trainees.
Click underlined link line to read Commissioner Patterson on "the death of the head of our school" (1931 annual report excerpt).
Mills' granddaughter, Jacqueline, and grandson, Ted, have generously made available to NYCHS copies of photographs and a newspaper clipping reflecting his Correction career of more than 20 years. It included supervisory posts at the New York City Reformatory in New Hampton, Orange County, N.Y., the Tombs and the keepers training school.
Jacqueline, who has researched her family's history, told NYCHS about her grandfather:
Terence John Mills was born in Brooklyn on March 18, 1882 to William C. Mills and Ellen Malone Mills. He was one of 13 children. Only five of the 13 children were alive in 1900: Terence J. Mills (1882), William C. Mills (1884), James Mills (1887), Charles Mills (1890), and Mary Mills (1892).
William and Ellen owned and operated a restaurant, the Woodcock Inn, in Brooklyn.
The family lived at 498 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn.
In 1900, at the age of 18, Terence was a waiter at the Inn. Terence and Charles also owned a pet shop for a while.
Terence's father William had been born in Pennsylvania in December, 1842. At the age of 19 in 1861, William and his brother John mustered into the Union military in West Chester, Pa.
Terenceís mother Ellen had been born in Ireland (possibly Cork) in July, 1856 and was a naturalized citizen. She emigrated from Ireland in 1875.
Terence married Mary Avelino Quirk August 21, 1904 at St.Vincent De Paulís Church. Mary was born in New York and her parents Patrick and Catherine (Ward) Quirk were both born in Ireland (Roscrea, Tipperary). Patrick was a New York City Fireman who died of a heart attack at the age of 46.
Terence and Mary had five children: Veronica, (June 4, 1905), Geraldine (August 6, 1906), Terence John Mills, Jr. (December 7, 1909), Katherine (October 12, 1911), and Mary (July 27, 1913).
In 1920 Terence and Mary Mills owned a home on Caladonia Avenue, Jamaica, Queens.
Later the family moved to 140th Street in South Ozone Park, Queens.
Mills' death certificate lists the place of death as the Correction Hospital, Welfare Island (now Roosevelt Island), Borough of Manhattan; the date of death as May 6, 1931, and the cause of death as "cardiac failure," with "acute lumbar pneumonia - bilateral" listed as a "Contributory (secondary)" cause.
At the time of his death of a heart attack at the age of 49 in 1931, Terence was Head Keeper of the Tombs as well as supervisor of the keepers' school. He had been a NYC employee for more than 20 years. Forty prison keepers attended the funeral rites. Burial took place at Mount Olivet Cemetery, Maspeth, Queens.
It is family lore that Terence John Mills is buried in the grave next to or very near that of John (Legs) Diamond in the cemetery. Granddaughter Jacqueline recalls that her father, TJM II, always joked that her grandfather's spirit and that of "Legs might have a few sips of spirits over the tombstone in the afterlife." Head Keeper Mills was buried on May 9, 1931 and "Legs" was buried in December 1931.
-- To More 1930 Keepers School Photos -- To Mystery Photos in Tombs Head Keeper Terence J. Mills Album --