A Civil War veteran from Ohio, John was shot 7 times during the war. After the war he came to Jackson to become a Night Keeper in Michigan's first prison. Known for his Integrity, he went by the premise that if you show a man respect, you will receive respect in return. A tough man who was not afraid to mete out punishments to both other Keepers and inmates, if needed; he was also thoughtful of a man's dignity. The Michigan Department of Corrections eventually printed his nightly reports, and the stories are both humorous and bizarre.
When you book The Historic Jackson Prison tour called the "The Jacktown Double", you will be amazed to hear the tour guides tell some of Purves' tails, and will be able to purchase the "The Night Keeper's Reports" in the old Prison gift shop.