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Leg Irons

Date: c. 1900


Description: This pair of heavy leg irons were used by the Sioux City Police Department, probably around 1900. They are very heavy and attached with a heavy link chain, and they open with the use of a large key. These irons were used with similar hand shackles and were a crucial part of transporting prisoners and criminals to the city jail. In the early days, the police department was little more than a town marshal and a few other officers. The marshal had to maintain both the police force and the city jail, which was housed in a building nearby the police headquarters. In the 1880s the police department underwent a huge transformation, becoming more centralized with fully-staffed uniformed officers. By 1893 23 officers and patrolmen were in service, with a 24 hour watch on the city. When Sioux City became the county seat the city jail was replaced with the county jail, run by county Sherriff’s office. Since its inception the Sioux City Police Department has overseen many crimes like the Reverend Haddock murder, and kept order in the city in situations like the Great Depression, when unemployed workers and angry farmers rioted in the city, seeking aid. From 1958 to 1975 Sherriff Rosenburger initiated many reforms in the county force, making improvements to the jail and initiating the first county-wide patrol force, both of which received national honors. The men and women of the Sioux City Police Department and Woodbury County Sherriff’s Office continue to protect and serve both the city and county to this day.


Donor: Lou Miller


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