113 EAST MARKET STREET - WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE, OH  43160

Ph 740.335.6170 ~ FAX 740.333.3589 ~ Annex 740.333.3504 ~ Jail 740.333.3783

History

History of the Office of Sheriff

 

The Office of Sheriff is the oldest law enforcement office known within the common-law system and it has always been accorded great dignity and high trust. For the most part, the Office of Sheriff evolved of necessity. Were it not for laws which require enforcing, there would have been no necessity for the Sheriff. Throughout history there have been those who covet the property of others and who are willing to take the property by any means. Society wanted order and the Office of Sheriff was created. The County Sheriff is a peace officer entrusted with the maintenance of law and order the the preservation of domestic tranquility.

Sheriffs have served and protected the English-speaking people for a thousand years. The creation of the Sheriff dates back to the reign of Alfred the Great of England. Alfred divided England into shires, or counties.

 

English kings over the centuries appointed representatives who were called "reeve" to be their representative in each of the shires. Over time and the changing of the English language the shire reeve became Sheriff. The Sheriff was and still is the chief law enforcement officer in each shire, or county.

 

The Sheriff is the only viable officer remaining of ancient history. Although time have changes from the crossbow to computers and digital technology, Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Value of Constitutions, "the Office of Sheriff is the most important of all the executive offices of the county".

 

The Office of Sheriff has played a significant role in the history of our Nation, and the Sheriff's of Ohio are no exception. Nationally, the Office of Sheriff is the oldest law enforcement position, and the only one by virtue of a vote of citizens.

 

Ohio gained statehood in 1803. Prior to statehood, Sheriffs were appointed by the Colonial Governor. The first Ohio Sheriff of record was Colonel Ebenezer Sproat. He was appointed in 1788 and his jurisdiction covered all of Washington County. In 1788 Washington County consisted of all of eastern Ohio from Lake Erie to the Ohio River.

 

Upon gaining statehood, only 3 public offices in Ohio were filled through elections, and the Office of Sheriff was one. In the first election, William Skinner became the first elected Sheriff in Ohio.

 

In each of Ohio's 88 counties, the Sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer. By statute, the Sheriff provides the following services; law enforcement, court security, service of papers, jail operations and extradition process.

1811-1813 Thomas  Robinson

1813-1815 Thomas Clark

1815-1817 James B. Webster

1817-1819 Aaron Johnson

1819-1822 Robert Robinson

1822-1823 Norman F. Jones

1823-1827 Aaron Johnson

1827-1831 Joseph Bloomer

1831-1835 William S. Williams

1835-1839 Joseph Bloomer

1839-1841 John Jackson

1841-1845 Robert Cissna

1845-1849 Joel  S. Bereman

1849-1853 James Vance

1853-1855 John C. Jones

1855-1857 William H. Blakemore

1857-1861 William Burnett

1861-1865 William Smith

1865-1869 James Straley

1869-1873 Conrad Garis

1873-1877 John Millikan

1877-1881 Oswell Smith

   Sheriff's of Fayette County

S. C. Phillips

1901-1905

1881-1885 James F. Cook

1885-1889 A. B. Rankin

1889-1893 G. W. Patton

1893-1895 James F. Cook

1895-1897 Solomon Loofborrow

1897-1901 S. O. Wilson

1901-1905 S. C. Phillips

1905-1909 James McLean

1909-1913 Samuel Nelson

1913-1915 O. S. Nelson

1915-1919 Henry W. Jones

1919-1923 N. B. Hall

1923-1925 W. L. Lewis

1925-1929 R. S.  Ramsay

1929-1933 O. S. Minton

1933-1945 W. H. Icenhower

1945-1961 Orland Hays

1961-1981 Donald L. Thompson

1981-1991 Robert W. McArthur

1991-1997 William R. Crooks

1997- Vernon P. Stanforth

 

We are seeking information about our former Sheriffs. If you are a family member or friend and have pictures or general information, please contact the Fayette  County Sheriff's Office. We will post the information on the site.

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Background image is copyrighted by Buckeye State Sheriff's Association. Used with permission