Sheriffs of Kosciusko County

by George A. Nye
(Editor's Note: The following story was written by George A. Nye, former Kosciusko county surveyor and Warsaw school teacher who is well-known as a county historian.)

It appears that in the last 122 years this county has had about 33 men who have acted as sheriff. The first sheriff was Isaac Kirkendall in 1836. He lived east of Leesburg and used to ride a grey horse down to Warsaw when he was sheriff. In making a political speech once he told a company of men that if he got in and any of them needed hanging he would hang them "deader than hell." The Kirkendalls ran one of the first taverns in Leesburg. The host was a brother of Ike.

The second sheriff was William B. Blain of Leesburg. The Blains and Metcalf Beck were merchants there during these years. They used to walk to Fort Wayne once or twice a year and there they would take the train and go east to buy new goods. Asa Nye was deputy under Blaine. Asa went to the Mexican War and like many others died of disease in Taylor's army.

Jail then Log Cabin
Ludlow Nye followed Blain as sheriff. He lived in a frame house that used to set about where the Lake City Bank is now. Web Nye was born there in 1840. He used to say that he was often delegated to take the meals to the prisoners and he would let the food down to them through a trap door.

The jail was then a log cabin structure that sat on the north side of the public square. The plans and specifications for it appear in the commissioners records for about 1836. The lower part had three tiers of sawlogs, the middle one being perpendicular to the other two.

It served until 1847 when a brick two story jail was built on the southwest corner of the square. It ran longways north and south and looked about like the present Haymond Building on the southeast corner of Buffalo and Center. This was built in 1854.

Ludlow Nye died while sheriff in 1846 and he was succeeded by Jonas Hacker, the coroner, and then by a duly elected sheriff, Daniel Shoup. One of the worst crimes of those days was horse stealing. Horses were quite scarce and if a man lost his horse he was unable to do much farming. If the sheriff had to travel it was by horseback.

Cigar Smoking Woman
Washington McGrew, William Biggs, George B. Scott, Alex D. Pittenger, Zena Bratt and Jim Cisney served as sheriffs in the old brick jail. The sheriff lived upstairs. Ann Bratt once told us that as a girl she played in this jail and that while playing she fell and hurt her back. She went through life as a hunch-back.

Jimmy Woods once said that Delia Brake, a notorious character about town, got in this jail for delinquency and in smoking a cigar she set the thing on fire. Jimmy and other boys threw her some snowballs and she put the fire out. The Northern Indian of the day said that farmers used to pass the jail on Lake street with loads of wood for sale. The prisoners would sing out "I'll take that wood" whereupon the seller would begin to look for his customer but found none. Cisney was sheriff at this jail and also at the new jail on Indiana street. Prisoners got out of the old brick jail once in a while so that they had to take some criminals to Goshen for safe keeping. It was sold to William Conrad who had a wagon and carriage shop at High and Center.

New Jail Built
The new jail was built in 1870. Ben Richart had lived on this corner. The first new sheriff to serve here was Perry Jaques. The Jaques family was an old family in this county. He was followed by D. W. Hamlin of Etna Green.

There was much talk then of a new courthouse and it was started in 1882 and finished in 1884. John M. Reid was sheriff. The Reids were prominent here in the Presbyterian church which was a frame building on the west end of their present lot. Reid sang in the choir. The Reids moved from here to New Mexico.

Jerry Stephenson, father of the late George Stephenson, was the next sheriff. His family was prominent around Leesburg. In 1890 Lewis Ripple was sheriff. He was proprietor of a livery barn and dealt in fine horses. He was at the height of his glory when he could go down Buffalo street in a buggy pulled by a team of fancy, prancing horses on which he kept a tight line.

Henry M. Stoner followed Ripple as sheriff. He had lived at Syracuse. He was the father of Mrs. Revra DePuy.

The last sheriff of the 19th century was Jerome B. Matthews, commonly known as "Boney" Matthews.

Use Horse, Buggy
In 1900 Oliver Perry Smith became sheriff. He had worked both for Stoner and Matthews as deputy. He had been a prominent school teacher in this county at Kinsey and at Beaver Dam. Sheriffs in his day were still traveling over the county by horse and buggy. A brick barn sat northwest of the jail. Perry had a faithful old horse called "Queen" which had seen service on racetracks. One day in his travels he drove eighty miles which was a long trip for a horse. After leaving the office in 1904 he became a farmer on the old Haas farm north of town.

He was followed by Dr. W. A. Mabie, a veterinarian, who lived on South Detroit street. His son Bert was a deputy.

About 1908 there was some trouble in the Republican ranks and Ed Haas, a Democrat, became sheriff. The Haas family had a meat market here for years. William Haas in the 1860s had a slaughter house on the east side of Center lake and owned a large tract of land here. Ed was a young man and made a good sheriff. It was during his time that automobiles began to appear on our streets. Frank Hafert, Earl Conrad, Allan Widaman, Creed Thomas and Dock Eggleston were some of the first to own these horseless carriages.

First to Use Auto
Charlie Kintzel followed Ed Haas as sheriff and was perhaps the first sheriff to travel about the county in an automobile. This was about 1912. Our roads, however, did not admit of any automobile driving in the winter time and the day of improved roads was still 10 years ahead.

Charlie Moon followed Kintzel as sheriff. The Moon family was one of the oldest in the county. Moon and Cosgrove had one of the very first stores in Warsaw. Moon had been marshall here in town along with Charlie Douglas and Will Winebrenner. Moon was an authority on sewer locations and many other things pertaining to the city.

Jake Huffer followed Moon as sheriff. His brother, Hort, was deputy. The Huffer brothers had run a livery barn for years one block south of the jail. Jake Huffer, Aaron Rasor, and Dr. A. C. McDonald constituted the draft board during the first World War.

Milo Maloy Next
The next sheriff was Milo Maloy who lives now on South Buffalo street. Milo was once in charge of the county farm and later he was chief of police in Warsaw. He could no doubt recall many experiences which he had as sheriff.

The next two sheriffs were Frank McKrill and Virgil Yeager. It was about their time that the old barn was torn down and the jail was remodeled so that an automobile could drive in and be unloaded behind locked doors.

Burton Foulke was the next sheriff. The Foulkes lived on Union street for many years and Jake Foulke used to run the frame grist mill that sat west of the courthouse. It burned in January 1919.

Following Foulke was Harley Person. The Person family has been prominent around Huffman lake for many years.

Frank Lucas, former chief of police in Warsaw was the next sheriff.

Ray Henderson followed Lucas and this brings us to the present time when Carl Latta is sheriff with Sam Holbrook the sheriff-elect. Holbrook will take office Jan. 1, 1959. The office is now a far cry from the days of 1836 when Kirkendall rode his grey mare from Leesburg down to Chapman's new town which in derision was called Redbrush.

The sheriff's office for 75 years was at the south door of the courthouse but March 1, 1958 the office was moved to the northside of the jail and the county surveyor was given his old office.

One of the legal duties of the sheriff is to be with the commissioners when they meet and to open the session by proclamation with several "hear yeas." The minutes of the commissioners court kept by the auditor mention the name of the sheriff and record that the court was duly opened by his proclamation.

I have heard it said that the only man in the county who can arrest the sheriff is the coroner. If the sheriff dies the coroner takes his place until the next election. This happened in 1846 when Jonas Hacker succeeded Ludlow Nye

Warsaw Times-Union Saturday, December 6, 1958

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