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Sheriffs 1828 - 1866

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James W. Carney: 1864 - 1866
  • Died in 1882.
  • On 08-24-1882, in the Fayetteville Weekly Democrat, it listed Carney dying from a fall off a wagon while traveling home from West Fork. His wagon wheels struck a rock, which Carney was thrown out and his neck was broken.
A.S. Gregg: 1862 - 1864
 A S Gregg
  • Born 1827 in Alabama.
  • No other information available at this time.
George Gibson: 1860 - 1862
 George Gibson
  • Born in Washington County in 1832.
  • In 1862, he resigned as Sheriff and enlisted in the 34th Arkansas Infantry. He was promoted to Captain and served until the close of the war in 1865. Afterwards, he returned to his home in Cincinnati and engaged in farming until 1899, when he moved to Westville and engaged in the banking business with Westville Bank. He stayed there until his death on 02-19-1904.
John Crawford: 1856 - 1860
  • Born 12-29-1828 and died on 7-25-1885.
  • In 1856, 3 Negro slaves murdered Dr. James Boone. The Negro slaves were hanged by a band led by Dr. Boone's sons.
  • In 1860, a Negro man, who had confessed to a killing, was taken from the jail and hanged by a group of citizens, but Millis, whom the town called "wife", who was just as guilty as the Negro, was saved from the same fate.
  • John M. Bell and James Crawford were deputies.
  • In 1857, Elizabeth Price was indicted for having a fight.
  • The October 1856 term of the Circuit Court was the first that did not have a murder charge on the docket.
  • James Pettigrew became a deputy.
  • Deputy Robert A. Sawyers was fined $20 for contempt for reading a subpoena to a witness who was testifying without permission.
Zebulon M. Pettigrew: 1852 - 1856
Zebulon Petigrew
  • No information available at this time.
B.H. Smithson: 1848 - 1852
  • No information available at this time.
Elijah O'Bryan: 1844 - 1848
  • On 11-08-1845, Husband Crawford Burnett, and Wife Lavinia Burnett, was publicly hanged for the murder of Jonathan Selby.
  • On 12-26-1845, their son John Burnett was also hung. These were the first legal hangings in Washington County.
  • They were all hung based on the testimony of the 15-year-old daughter of the Burnett's.
Presley R. Smith: 1840 - 1844
  • Died on 12-8-1887.
  • Presley was a member of the Masonic Fraternity from 1853 to 1883.
  • A posse of people in turn killed an Indian who killed George Harrnage, a farmer.
  • Smith served 2 terms and was later elected as Circuit Clerk and served in that capacity for many years.
  • Work began on the new jail in 1840 at the corner of Rock Street and College Avenue. Matthew Leeper, contractor, was allowed to use timber from the old jail in constructing the new jail. The county was taxed 1/6 mill to pay for the new jail.
L.C. Pleasants: 1836 - 1840
  • On 6-15-1839, in Boonseboro, near Cane Hill, William Wright and 4 of his children were murdered. His wife and 5 of his other children escaped. For the murder, 4 men were hanged in Cane Hill.
  • In 1838, Steward Case, a visitor from Pennsylvania, wrote, " This county and town in particular has become one of the most lawless and most uncivilized places in all creation."
  • During his tenure, vigilantes hanged a Negro woman, who murdered her mistress, the wife of Andrew A. Crawford.
  • Major Ridge, a Cherokee Chief, was murdered north of Dutch Mills.
  • In 1837, a brick courthouse was built and sometime during this period the county's first jail was also provided.
  • In 1838, the county's first murder conviction and jail break occurred in September. Spencer Asbury, who was sentenced for hanging for the murder of Enoch Chandler, escaped and was never recaptured.
  • In 1839, W.S. Wallace was tried and acquitted of murdering a Cherokee named Nelson Orr. Shortly after his acquittal, Wallace shot another man on the public square then left and was never heard from again.
  • In 1839, County Judge Thomas Wilson commissioned Archibald Yell to contract for a new two-story jail and the court appropriated $5,000 for the job.
Lewis Evans: 1828 - 1836
  • First registered sheriff of Washington County, in the first year Washington County was legally formed.
  • On 10-17-1828, Washington County was formed and it included Benton County, Madison County, and part of Carroll County.
  • Sheriff Evans could have been appointed instead of elected; he was commissioned on 10-24-1828.
    In 1829, 233 families resided in Washington County.
  • There were not any deputies for a long time, and citizens often had to enforce their own laws, even hangings.
  • In 1829, $49.75 was raised to build the first courthouse, which was on what is now Block Street (between the Lewis Bros. Co. Hardware Store and the Post Office). It was a 20 X 20 rude log house.
  • In 1830, more people lived in the Evansville-Cane Hill area than in Fayetteville.
  • Sheriff Evans owned land on the Oklahoma border, and later became the Captain of the 49ers on April 24, 1849; a wagon train headed for the California Gold Fields.
  • In 1835, the first homicide was recorded at the Washington County Courthouse. Ellis Gregg was convicted of manslaughter and was fined one-hour imprisonment and $1.
  • Evansville was named after Lewis Evans.

The Washington County Sheriff's Office would like to keep an accurate and comprehensive history of the prior Sheriffs and relevant information. If anyone has information to share or corrections that need to be made please contact Kelly Cantrell.