Comer & McCurdy

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Comer & McCurdy was a leasing agency for convict labor. It was operated by John Wallace Comer, the brother of future governor B. B. Comer, and William McCurdy, who resided at the Pratt Mines with his two daughters.

County Commissions at the time routinely auctioned the services of their convicts, entering into contracts with the highest bidders to take custody of prisoners under the provisions of state law. The firm of Comer & McCurdy primarily engaged the prisoners in their charge to work in the Pratt Mines, though they also contracted individually and with other partners to supply labor to other mines and plantations. State inspector Reginald Dawson found the conditions at the coal mine prisons to be particularly inhumane, with large numbers of deaths and crippling injuries. He also noted numerous cases of prisoners being subjected to virtual slavery as records of their scheduled release dates went missing.


  • Blackmon, Douglas A. (2008) Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II. Anchor Books