Prison History

This tour presents the numerous prisons and prison-related sites in East Texas.

Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville

The Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville opened in 1849, one year after the state legislature created the penitentiary system. As the first state prison in Texas, the Huntsville site soon became known as the "Walls Unit" for the 15-foot…

The Wynne Unit

The Wynne Unit was the first prison farm established by the state of Texas in 1883. It was named after John Magruder Wynne who worked for the Texas prison system and served on its Board of Trustees from 1878 to 1881. Today, the farm spans…

The Goree Unit

The Goree Unit is named after Edwin King Goree (1843-1914) who served as a bookkeeper in the office of the Texas Prison System’s Superintendent J.A. Herring. Originally called Camp Goree, the unit was established on 1,000 acres of land as a convict…

Captain Joe Byrd Prison Cemetery

Located on twenty-two acres behind Sam Houston State University, Captain Joe Byrd Cemetery serves as the final resting place for inmates who die in prison without funeral or family arrangements. The cemetery probably began in the 1850s, when the…