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Dennis Carl Weatherford Smith was a patrolman for the Medford Police Department when he decided to run for Jackson County Sheriff in 1982. Smith, who goes by "C. W.," beat out six candidates, including incumbent Duane Franklin, to become Sheriff of the southern Oregon county.
Smith has been winning elections ever since, running unopposed in 1986 and facing two opponents in 1990. A member of the Chickasaw Indian Tribe, Smith is the first Native American to hold an elected office in Jackson County.
A native of Jackson County, Smith was born on March 25, 1947 in Medford. He graduated from Crater High School in Central Point in 1966 and went on to serve four years in the United States Air Force, serving during the Vietnam War.
After he got out of the service, Smith moved to the Portland area and registered at Mount Hood Community College, where he studied radio and television production and theater arts. He also worked at the college for eight months as the Assistant Coordinator for Community Service.
After 2 1/2 years in the Portland area, Smith returned to Jackson County. He sold boats for a while before joining the Medford Police Department in 1973, where he spent nearly 10 years before running for Sheriff.
Smith and his wife, Gina Lee, have three children -- Nathan, Morgan and Kristen. When he is not busy with his law enforcement duties, Smith spends his spare time as a sculptor.
John D. West was appointed to serve as the first Sheriff of Jackson County about five months after the county was formed from the original Yamhill and Champoeg Districts.
The county came of its own on Jan. 12, 1852 and West was appointed Sheriff in May of that year.
Jackson County is named for President Andrew Jackson and included lands that now lie in Klamath, Josephine, Curry, Lake and Coos County. The Southern Oregon county which borders California is 2,081 square miles in size and lists a population of some 134,000 residents. Medford is the county seat.
Pioneers poured into the county in the early 1850s when gold was discovered in Jacksonville. The completion of a wagon road which joined the county with California to the south and Douglas County to the north also helped bring people to the area.
The county continued to grow in the late 1800s with the addition of the Oregon and California Railroad, which is now Southern Pacific. The early 1900s saw extensive plantings of pear orchards in the Bear Creek Valley and that fruit continues as one of the county's major industries. Apple, peach and other fruit and nut trees also contribute to the agriculture industry in Jackson County.
In addition to agriculture, the main industries in the area are timber, manufacturing and recreation. The annual Shakespearean Festival in Ashland draws players and spectators from all over the world to Jackson County. The historic Jacksonville Museum, located in the 19th Century courthouse that was the seat of county government for 43 years, pulls in thousands of visitors annually.
Other points of interest in Jackson County include Mt. Ashland Ski Resort, Peter Britt Music Festival, Howard Prairie Lake, Emigrant Lake, Hyatt Lake, Fish Lake, Rogue River, Lithia Park and Crater Lake Highway.
After John D. West served a year as Sheriff of Jackson County from 1852 to 1853, Matthew G. Kennedy was elected to a one-year term. He served as the Constable in the area until he took over as Sheriff.
Thomas Pyle was elected to a two-year term in 1854 to follow Kennedy. He served as Sheriff of the county until 1856. He later became Supervisor of Roads in 1859.
Legrand J.C. Duncan, a Tennessee native who was born in 1819, was elected Sheriff in 1859 and served until July 1861, when he resigned. Before being elected Sheriff, he was Supervisor of County Roads. A number of years after he left the job as head of law enforcement, he was County Judge from 1866 to 1872.
When Duncan stepped down, William Henry Speed Hyde of Caroline, New York, was appointed to fill the vacancy. He was Sheriff of Jackson County until 1864. Hyde was a Deputy before he was picked to succeed Duncan. Hyde came to Oregon in 1856 from Columbus, Ohio. After he left the Sheriff's job, he served as a County Clerk for a number of years in Coos County.
William Addison Owen was elected in 1864 and spent four years as Sheriff of Jackson County. He was born in 1833 in Platte City, Missouri and was a merchant when he was not serving as Sheriff.
Thomas Given Reames, the former Mayor of Jacksonville, was elected to a two-year term as Sheriff of Jackson County in 1858. He was born in 1838 in Litchfield, Kentucky and moved to Oregon from Illinois in 1852, settling first in St. Helens. Reames was a Brigadier General in the Oregon Militia at one time and also served as Postmaster Inspector before he was elected Sheriff. His territory with the post office covered Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Montana and Alaska.
Henry Klippel, who was born in Germany in 1833, was elected Sheriff of Jackson County in 1870 and served until 1872. He moved to Oregon from St. Joseph, Missouri in 1851. He also at one time was City Recorder for the City of Jacksonville and County Recorder and County Assessor for Jackson County. He fought in the Rogue River Indian War and when he wasn't serving in public office, he was into mining, had a hardware business and worked in a sawmill. Klippel also was a Commissioner for the construction of the Oregon State Capitol in Salem.
In 1872, Thomas T. McKenzie was elected to succeed Klippel. The native of Scotland, who came to Oregon in 1855, served as head of law enforcement until 1874.
John Wesley Manning served four years as Sheriff of Jackson County. A native of Mansfield, Ohio, he was born in 1836 and later moved to Oregon. He was a scout in the Modoc War under Gen. Edward Richard Sprigg Canby and also had a livery stable and held a mail contract with the government, covering the area from Yreka, California to Roseburg. He later moved to Klamath County and was living there in 1885.
In 1878, William Bybee was elected to follow Manning as Sheriff. He was born in Clark County in Kentucky and moved to Oregon from California in the mid-1800s. He served as Sheriff of Jackson until 1882. Bybee, who also was a farmer and a miner, fought in the Indian War in 1854. After he left the office of Sheriff, he reportedly was shot--but not fatally -- by a nephew on Aug. 1, 1885.
Abraham S. Jacobs, who was born in the 1830s in Johnson County in Indiana, followed Bybee as Sheriff of the County. He was elected in 1882 and served until 1886, when Bradford W. Dean was elected to a two-year term. Dean, the first native Oregonian to be elected Sheriff of Jackson County, was living in Coos County in 1904.
In 1888, James G. Birdsey, who was born in Jackson County, was elected to follow Dean as head of law enforcement in the County. A blacksmith, he was Sheriff until 1892, when Sylvester Patterson was elected to the office.
Photo Right: Sheriff Sylvester Patterson [right] with Deputy Taylor Paine. Patterson was Sheriff of Jackson Co., from 1894 to 1896.
Patterson was born in Charlotte, Michigan in 1856 and first came to Oregon in 1862. He owned an orchard and was a farmer. At one time, he served on the Ashland City Council.
Albert Seymore Barnes was elected in 1896 to a two-year term following Patterson. He was born in New York and moved to Oregon in 1882. Barnes owned a general store in Ashland and had a number of relatives who also were in law enforcement. His son was a Jackson County Deputy Sheriff and a grandson, A. Donley Barnes, was a Deputy Sheriff and later Sheriff in Josephine County.
Alex Orine followed Barnes as Sheriff of Jackson County. He was elected in 1898 and was Sheriff until 1902, when Joseph M. Rader was elected to the ofrice. Rader was another native of Jackson County. He was born in 1864 and was a rancher in the county. Rader served as Sheriff until 1906.
David H. Jackson served for two years as Sheriff from 1906 to 1908. Jackson was born in Maine in 1856 and later moved to Oregon. Before becoming Sheriff of Jackson County, he was in the State Legislature. Jackson owned Jackson Hot Springs for 40 years.
In 1906, W. A. Jones was elected to a four-year term, serving as Sheriff until 1913 when August D. Singler won the election to head up law enforcement in the county. Singler, who was born in Plymouth County in Indiana, was killed by Lester Jones while serving as Sheriff on April 23, 1913. Jones died at the scene. (See chapter on Sheriffs killed in the line of duty.)
August Singler was replaced by his older brother, William Henry Singlet, who was Sheriff of Jackson County until 1917.
Ralph Jennings, another Jacksonville native, was elected in 1917 and served until October, 1918, when he resigned to enter the military service during World War I. He later returned to become Sheriff of the county once more from 1925 to 1933.
Leslie Stansell was appointed to take the place of Jennings when he resigned, serving only until 1919. Stansell went on to become the City Recorder in Jacksonville in 1921.
Charles E. Terrell was elected to the position in 1919, heading up law enforcement in Jackson County until 1925. A native of Albany, New York, he was a farmer who raised thoroughbred horses.
Following Jennings second term as Sheriff, Gordon L. Schermerhorn was elected Sheriff but only ended up serving three months before he left office and Walter J. Olmscheid was appointed to take his place. Olmscheid remained as Sheriff of Jackson until Sydney Isaac Brown, a Texas native, was elected in 1935. After 10 years in office, Brown died and was replaced in June 1945 by Howard Campbell Gault.
Gault ended up serving for 14 years as Sheriff of the county. A native of Medford, he was a Chief Civil Deputy under Sheriffs Olmscheid and Sydney Brown until Brown's death. After leaving the office of Sheriff, Gault became the official Court Reporter under Circuit Court Judge Edward E. Kelly until Gault's death in 1965.
Joseph Durant Walsh followed Gault as Sheriff of Jackson County when he
was elected Sheriff in 1959. He served until June 1962, when he resigned due to failing health. A native of Bridgeport, Connecticut, he was on the Bridgeport Police Department in 1949 until he moved to Oregon in 1953. Walsh was on the Medford Police Department for a while before joining the Jackson County Sheriff's Office as a Deputy in 1955. He had two relatives who also were in law enforcement. His father was a Jackson County Deputy and his uncle was a policeman in Hartford, Connecticut.
When Walsh resigned, Paul Bettiol was appointed to finish out the term, serving only six months. A native of Los Angeles, he had worked in law enforcement for a number of agencies, including the Ashland and Medford Police Departments. He was Chief of Police in Astoria for two years after leaving Jackson County. De Armond Leigh was elected as Sheriffof Jackson County in 1963 and held the office until 1975. Leigh was born in Brookings, Oregon. He worked as a patrolman with the Ashland and Medford Police Departments before joining the Jackson County Sheriff's Office. He was Chief Deputy in Jackson County from 1946 to 1954.
In 1975, Duane D. Franklin became Sheriff of Jackson County when he was elected to the first of two, four-year terms. He was succeeded by Dennis "C.W." Smith, who took office in 1983.
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