Click Here to View Sheriff List and Photos



Art Labrousse Pictured Right

Art Labrousse went from a position as Commander on The Dalles Police Department to Sheriff of Wasco County in one move. He was elected to the Sheriff's position in 1984 to become the 26th Sheriff of the county, which was formed in 1854 when it took in an area from the Cascades to the Rocky Mountains.

Labrousse was re-elected in 1988 and will run for a third term in 1992. Born in Portland on August 8, 1946, Labrousse was raised in Central Oregon.

He spent three years in grade school in Redmond before moving to Prineville, where he graduated from Crook County High School in 1964.

He went on to spend a year at Central Oregon Community College. He attended Portland Community College and Treaty Oak Community College, where he earned a degree in 1979 in Criminal Justice.

He was hired in 1971 as a patrol officer for The Dalles Police Department. He worked his way up through the ranks and was a Commander for the department when he was elected Sheriff in 1984.

When he took over as Sheriff, the Wasco County Sheriff's Department had 33 employees. The Department now has 45 employees.

Labrousse lives in The Dalles with his wife, Carla, and three of his five children Deanne, Teresa and Steven. Vicki, his oldest daughter, is employed as a legal secretary in Portland. His son, Ken, is a Marine Lance Corporal stationed in Iwakuni, Japan.

Wasco County

John A. Simms became the first Sheriff of Wasco County when it was created on Jan. 11, 1854 by the Territorial Legislature from the original Clackamas District.

When the County first was formed it embraced all of Oregon east of the Cascade mountain range, most of Idaho and parts of Montana and Wyoming. The county was named for the Wasco, or Wascopam, Indian tribe.

The county now covers 2,396 square miles and lists a population of some 21,000 people. The county seat is The Dalles, now the trading hub of northcentral Oregon's thriving agricultural economy with orchards at its city limits and vast inland wheat and livestock ranches.

Agriculture remains the principal industry of the county followed by timber, manufacturing, electric power, transportation and aluminum.

In addition to Kah-nee-ta and the Columbia and Deschutes rivers, other points of interest include Fort Dalles Museum, Pulpit Rock, The Dalles Dam, Mount Hood, Sorosis Park and Viewpoint, the original Wasco County Courthouse and St. Peter's Landmark.

In the early pioneer days, The Dalles was known as the city at the End of the Oregon Trail. However, state and federal officials in the 1980s designated Oregon City as the end of the trail since many pioneers after 1845 traveled the Barlow Road to reach Oregon City, the hub of early govemment in the Oregon Territory.

Thousands of years before the pioneers headed West, primitive groups migrated from the Bering Straits and scratched strange picture writing on rocks overlooking the Columbia River. Later, Indian tribes gathered for generations near Celilo Falls to fish and trade.

The county's Indian heritage is apparent today. Kah-nee-ta, a popular Oregon resort, is part of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation located in Wasco County.

In the early days, the first Sheriff of the county was appointed by the Territorial Legislature. Not much is known about John A. Simms, who remained as Sheriff only until a new one was either elected or appointed in July 1854, seven months after the new county was formed in the Oregon Territory.

Ben M. Reynolds became the second Sheriff of Wasco County, serving a one year term until Charles W. Shaug was elected in 1855. A medical doctor and a native of Iowa, he first came to Oregon in 1852 -- three years before he ran for Sheriff of Wasco County. After he left the Sheriff's Office, Shaug was appointed Justice of the Peace.

B. McCormack served as Sheriff of Wasco County from 1856 to 1858 followed by A. J. Crabb, who was Sheriff from 1858 to 1860. Charles White was elected to the position in 1860-- the first of two terms he would serve. He was Sheriff from 1860 to 1862 and again from 1864 to 1866. N. Olney was Wasco County Sheriff from 1862 to 1864.

Albert Ferguson Pictured Left

Albert W. Ferguson was elected in 1866 and spent until 1870 as Wasco County Sheriff. Born in Virginia, Ferguson came to the Oregon Territory in 1850 from California. Some six years after leaving the Sheriff's Office, Ferguson moved to Astoria, where he spent time as Justice of the Peace, City Alderman and a director of schools.

J. M. Bird followed Ferguson as Wasco County Sheriff, serving from 1870 to 1872. He was succeeded by E. Shultz, who spent until 1876 as Sheriff.

James Baxter Crossen spent the first of two non-consecutive periods as Sheriff of Wasco County. He was elected in 1876 and served two, two-year terms in office. In 1884, he was elected to one, two-year term. Crossen was born in Ireland and first came to Oregon in 1863. Years after leaving office, he served as Postmaster at The Dalles, County Clerk and Superintendent of City Water Works.

J. T. Storrs followed Crossen from 1880 to 1884 followed by The Dalles native George Addis Herbert, who was Sheriff of Wasco County from 1886 to 1890. Herbert, who was born in The Dalles on Jan. 27, 1860, also spent four years as Sheriff of Baker County from 1921 to 1925. Before being elected to the positions in both counties, Herbert spent a year as a Deputy Sheriff in Wasco County and 12 years as a Deputy in Baker County. From 1900 to 1907 he was Justice of the Peace in The Dalles.

Daniel Cates Pictured Right

Daniel Lycurgus Cates, the stepbrother of Sheriff Herbert, followed Herbert with a two-year term as Wasco County Sheriff. He had served as a Deputy under Herbert. Cates was born on May 7, 1857 in Benton County. He attended high school in The Dalles. From 1917 to 1929, he was City Recorder in The Dalles.

Thomas A. Ward succeeded Cates, spending from 1892 to 1894 as Wasco County Sheriff. Born in Wisconsin, he first came to Oregon in 1864 from California. Ward was a rancher, stagecoach driver and ran Ward and Robertson, a hotel and livery business in The Dalles. After leaving the Sheriff's Office, he served on the City Council and was Water Commission President in The Dalles.

A native of Indiana, T. J. Driver was Sheriff of Wasco County from 1894 to 1898. Born in 1850, he moved to Oregon in 1853.

Robert Kelly

Robert Kelly followed Driver with two consecutive two-year terms. Another native of Ireland, he moved to Oregon sometime in the early 1870s from the Spokane, Washington area.

Felix Sexton succeeded Kelly when he was elected to two, two-year terms as well. Born in Tennessee, Sexton later went on to become Chief of Police in The Dalles from 1907 to 1908. He also spent time as a City Councilman in The Dalles.

Levi Chrisman, who followed Felix Sexton, was well-liked and ended up spending 22 years as Sheriff from 1906 to 1929. The brother of Sherman County Sheriff Hugh Chrisman, Levi Chrisman served nine terms -- seven, two-year terms and two, four-year terms. Hugh Chrisman was Sheriff in Sherman County from 1921 to 1937.

During his long tenure, notorious criminals were unable to elude the grasp of Sheriff Levi Chrisman. One of his first cases involved one of Wasco Counties deepest mysteries: The shooting of Ernest Bonomi, a rancher living near Mill Creek.

The crime was committed on Aug. 5, 1907 and there were no clues. But after investigating the crime for only three days, Sheriff Chrisman swore out a warrant for the arrest of Ed Gosson, who was convicted crime and sent to serve a life sentence in the Oregon State Penitentiary.

In an article in a newspaper in The Dalles in 1928, Chrisman called himself "extremely lucky" in serving through 22 years without a serious injury. He survived fusillades of bullets a number of times and had bullets penetrate his hat and overcoat several times over the years.

In the article, he recalled one of the most sensational cases in the early history of The Dalles in which Police Chief Ralph Gibbons was shot and killed. Chrisman not only had a miraculous escape from disaster, but he brought in two desperate criminals. The two had robbed a bank and were waiting for a train out of town when Chrisman and Gibbons caught up with them. Suddenly Gibbons' prisoner, who was carrying a brown paper bag, pulled a gun out and turned it on Gibbons, shooting him twice in his side. Chrisman was able to chase the man down and brought in both bank robbers.

After spending all that time in the Sheriff's Office, Chrisman went on to become a Representative in the State Legislature. Before joining the Sheriff's Office, he was the owner for 16 years of The Dalles Dressed Meat company.

Lee Harold Sexton, the son of Sheriff Felix Sexton, succeeded the popular Chrisman and spent an even longer time as Sheriff of Wasco County -- 24 years -- from 1929 to 1953.

Sexton was born in Wasco County. He attended The Dalles High School and was a Deputy Sheriff of Wasco County before running for Sheriff. His wife, Veda U. Sexton, was a Deputy Sheriff, serving under her husband from 1940 to 1952.

When Harold Sexton left the Sheriff's Office, he went on to become the United States Marshal for the District of Oregon from 1953 to 1958 and was a Bailiff for the Multnomah County Circuit Court in 1959.

Please Click Here To Continue Reading

Return to "A History of Oregon Sheriffs Index"
Return to "A Place Called Oregon"