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Rodd Clark, who moved to the Crook County area in 1983 to farm, was elected Sheriff in 1986, succeeding Howard Becker, who had been appointed Acting Sheriff to fill a vacancy.
Clark was born on Jan. 14, 1944 in Bellingham, Wash. He moved to California, where he graduated from Denair Union High School in Denair outside of Turlock. He attended Azuza Pacific University for three years before linking up with the United States Army. He got a taste of law
enforcement as a company commander in the military police, spending one year in Vietnam.
After leaving the service, Clark spent five years as a Patrolman with the Los Angeles Police Department. After leaving Los Angeles, he moved to Northern California and was involved in the wholesale building supply business in Sacramento until the late 1970s. He got back into law enforcement when he joined the Nevada County Sheriff's Ofrice in Truckee, California before moving to Oregon in 1983, settling in the Lone Pine area to farm.
After three ,years, Clark decided again to get back into law enforcement and ran for Sheriff, being elected in 1986 after running against six opponents. In the last election in 1990, Clark was unopposed.
Clark heads up a Sheriff's Department in a county that has only one incorporated city, Prineville. Some 14,400 people live in the county, including 9,000 in the unincorporated area covered by the Sheriff's Office. Crook is one of two counties in Oregon that does not run its own corrections department, so there are no corrections officers. Clark has a Chief Deputy and six road deputies.
The Crook County Sheriff is married to Jennifer and they have three children.
George Henry Churchill of Sangamon County in Illinois was the first in a line of 24 Sheriffs in Crook County. He was appointed to the post in 1882 when Crook County was formed.
Located in the heart of Oregon, Crook County was established on Oct. 24, 1882, from Wasco County. The new county was named for Major General George Crook of the U.S. Army. Geographically, it is Oregon's most centrally-located county. It also is unique in that it has only one incorporated population center, the City of Prineville, which was founded in 1868. Other communities in this county, which is spread out over 2,991 square miles, are Powell Butte, Post and Paulina.
The county's only city has a colorful past. It was the scene of Indian raids, range wars between sheep and cattlemen and vigilante justice in the early days.
The timber industry, agriculture, livestock and recreation make up the economy in Crook County, which lists a population of some 14,000 people. Thousands of hunters, anglers, boaters, sightseers and rockhounds are annual visitors to the streams, reservoirs and the Ochoco Mountains in Crook County. Those hunting rocks can dig for free agates, limb casts, jasper and thunder eggs on more than 1,000 acres of mining claims provided by the Prineville Chamber of Commerce.
Recreation was not on the agenda when Churchill was appointed Sheriff of the Central Oregon county by Gov. Z.F. Moody in 1882 when the county was formed.
The first Sheriff of Crook County served until 1884, when he ran for the position but lost to James M. Blakely.
Churchill was born on May 13, 1837 in Illinois. He came across the Plains with his family to Douglas County when he was a youngster. He married Sarah C. Reed in Linn County and they moved across the Cascade Mountains to Wasco County, settling near the town of Richmond, which later became a part of Crook County when the new county was organized. In 1899, Wheeler County was formed from a part of Crook, Grant and Gilliam counties. Richmond, which now is a ghost town, is in Wheeler County.
While Sheriff of Crook County, Churchill lived in Prineville in a house that was located near the Ochoco Creek Bridge over Main Street. He helped build Prineville's first jailhouse, which was located at the southeast comer of East Second and Belknap streets.
Photo Right: Former Sheriff Jim Blakely [right] was 93 years old when this photo was taken in 1944 with then-Sheriff Reuben Booton.
Blakely, who was born in historic Brownsville, Ore., was the first elected Sheriff of Crook County, beating Chumhill in 1884 and serving until 1886. His father was Captain James Blakely, an Oregon pioneer who led a company of volunteers in the Rogue River Indian War of 1855-56. Jim Blakely began trailing cattle from his parents' Linn County ranch when he was 12 years old and literally grew up in the saddle.
Before he was elected Sheriff of Crook County, Blakely served as Marshal of Brownsville. Eighteen years after leaving office, he was elected Sheriff of Wallowa County.
Blakely was elected Sheriff after successfully running a band of vigilantes
who had taken control of the county out of the area. He was not even a law enforcement officer when he was called on by citizens of the area to help rid the newly-formed county of the vigilantes.
After Blakely left Crook County, he moved to Wallowa County and served as Sheriff there from 1904 to 1908. He had three brothers who also were in public service. William Blakley was elected Sheriff of Umatilla County in 1898 and again in 1900. He later went on to be elected to the State Legislature. Joe Blakely was Sheriff of Gilliam County from 1886 to 1888 and later was Chief of Police in Pendleton in Umatilla County. The third brother, George, was Wasco County Judge and the first licensed pharmacist in Oregon.
All four of the brothers lived past the age of 90. James Blakely was 100 when he died on Jan. 23, 1953.
John Newton Williamson was elected Sheriff in 1886 and served until 1888. He was born in Lane County. When he left the office of Sheriff in Crook County, Williamson went into politics. He served as a State Representative from 1898 to 1899, was a State Senator from 1901 to 1903 and a U.S. Congressman from 1903 to 1907. He returned to Prineville, where he was Postmaster from 1922 to 1934. Williamson also was the owner and editor of the Prineville Review from 1893 to 1896.
John Combs followed Williamson as Sheriff of Crook County when he was elected to the first of three non-consecutive terms in 1888. Combs also served from 1894 to 1896 and from 1919 to 1921. Born in Lebanon, Ore., Combs was a Deputy Sheriff in Crook County before he was elected Sheriff. Later, he served as Game Warden for the county. He was a descendant of a pioneer family and the Combs Flat area was named after his family.
William Andrew Booth, who was born in Lee County in Iowa, served as Crook County Sheriff from 1890 to 1894 before Combs was elected again to a two-year term. Booth lived in three other counties -- Yamhill, Douglas and Josephine -before coming to Crook County. After leaving his post as Sheriff of Crook County, Combs served as Mayor of Prineville in 1895 and 1896 and was County Judge in 1902.
John Henry Gray, another Oregonian who was born in Linn County, was Sheriff of Crook County from 1896 to 1900. When he left the law enforcement job, he served as County Assessor from 1892 to 1894, County Commissioner in 1909 and County Treasurer from 1925 to 1928. Prior to his election as Sheriff of Crook County, Gray was City Marshal in Prineville.
In 1900, William C. "Billy" Congleton was elected to a two-year term as Crook County Sheriff. He was born in Kentucky and moved to Oregon in 1885. Congleton owned a sheep and cattle ranch in Crook County's Paulina Valley near the town of Paulina about 55 miles east of Prineville.
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