A trip to the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department can result in a bit of a history lesson, thanks to one woman’s efforts in bringing the names of Pulaski’s past sheriffs to light.
“The sheriff had been wanting to do this because he couldn’t find a lot about their history,” said Teresa Brummett, with the sheriff’s tax office.
Brummett worked for around six months to identify and track down what pictures she could of Pulaski’s past sheriffs. Thanks to election records, microfilm, the “Find A Grave” website www.findagrave.com, and help from the Pulaski County Historical Society, Brummett was able to trace the county’s sheriffs back to 1799.
The approximately 60 names that are mounted in the sheriff’s department start with Samuel Newell, who was elected the first sheriff of Pulaski County in 1799. For nearly 100 years after that, sheriffs would serve two-year terms and were not allowed to succeed themselves.
It wasn’t until former sheriff Sam Catron was first elected to his position in the 1980s when laws were changed so that sheriffs could succeed themselves. The term of sheriff was later changed in the 1990s to five-year terms to help line the sheriff’s position with other state offices for election rotations.
And those who were killed while serving are marked with an asterisk.
Former sheriff John McHargue, who served from 1885 to 1886, was killed by two brothers as he was putting his horse in his stable, according to Brummett’s research. Records suggest that three days later a mob took the brothers from the county jail and hung them in an act of revenge.
Former sheriff James B. Jasper, who served from 1942 to 1945 and then from 1950 to 1952, according to Brummett’s research, was shot and killed in 1952 by a Knox County bootlegger. Brummett said Jasper, although he’d been shot in the chest, nevertheless said “Help me up” after he was injured.