[While incarcerated at the jail in 1920, which was then part of the Kane County Courthouse in Geneva, heavyweight champ Jack Johnson ordered shoes from Peterson's Shoe Store on State Street. The Geneva History Museum has a wooden shoe form with Johnson's name and the date August 31, 1920. In the days before shoes were mass produced, shoemakers made a wooden mold of a person's foot and custom made their shoes.]
“The museum has a wooden shoe form with ‘Jack Johnson, August 31, 1920’ written on the side, which is on display in the museum’s main gallery, ‘Geneva’s Story,’” Emma said.
The July 22, 1921 Geneva Republican reported that a year after his release from jail, “Jack Johnson, former heavyweight champion pugilist, his wife and a party of friends, motored out from Chicago last Sunday and spent several hours in this city. Jack paid a visit to Charles Nelson, county jailer, who had charge of the famous man when he was a federal prisoner here last summer.”
Johnson was sent to federal prison at Ft. Leavenworth where he served out his sentence, according to the article.
“Jack worked into the position of athletic director and was a popular leader in various forms of sports,” the article stated.
Johnson was well-liked and well-treated in Geneva, was given a key to come and go at the jail as he liked, Emma said.