Click Here To View Sheriff List For Benton County

David Scott Cook became Sheriff of Benton County when he was appointed to the position on June 2, 1989, having served as Undersheriff for four years from 1985 until his appointment in 1989. Scott was elected to a four-year term in 1990. He joined the Benton County Sheriff's Office in 1970 as a Deputy Sheriff and later was promoted to Sergeant. Leaving law enforcement, he lived in California, where he worked as owner and manager of Ace Builders Center in San Leandro from 1975 to 1981.

Cook returned to Oregon and the Benton County Sheriff's Office in 1981, where he became a Corrections Officer and Assistant Corrections Facility Manager. He became a Lieutenant and Chief Civil Deputy of the department from 1982 to 1984 before being named Undersheriff in early 1985. He was appointed Sheriff following the resignation of Sheriff John T. "Jack" Dolan.

Cook was born on Guam Sept. 28, 1947. He moved to Oregon in 1965 from Alamo, Calif. He graduated in 1965 from San Ramon High School in Danville, Calif. and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in humanities in 1969 from Oregon State University. From 1970-1974, Cook attended the education and business graduate schools at Oregon State.

The Benton County Sheriff later took a number of advanced classes to become certified with the Board on Police Standards and Training. He also attended the Northwestern University Traffic Institute, graduating on June 2, 1989. Cook is a member of the Oregon Peace Officers Association, Oregon State Sheriffs' Association, American Jail Association, Commission on Law Enforcement Accreditation and the National Sheriffs' Association.

Cook also is involved in a number of community activities in Benton County, including United Way of Benton County, Boy Scouts of America, American Youth Soccer Association and the Rotary Club of Greater Corvallis.

Benton County

Shortly after Benton County officially was created in late 1847 from Polk County by an act of the Territorial Government of Oregon, the first in a long list of Sheriffs was named. F.W. Hofins was the first leader of law enforcement in the county -- but it was a short term. He took office sometime in 1848 and left less than a year later to join the gold rush in California.

Benton County has had 26 sheriffs since the 679-square-mile county was established on Dec. 23, 1847. Benton is one of seven counties in the United States named after Sen. Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, an advocate of the development of the Oregon Territory. Benton County was created out of an area that originally was inhabited by the Klickitat Indians, who rented the land from the Calapooia Indians to use as hunting grounds. At that time, the boundaries began at the intersection of Polk County and the Willamette River and ran as far south as the California border and as far west as the Pacific Ocean. Later, portions of Benton County were taken to form Lane, Douglas, Jackson, Lincoln, Josphine, Curry and Coos counties.

When the first sheriff left, Abraham Nelson Locke was appointed to take his place on Oct. 15, 1849. That term lasted a year but Locke came back in 1860 to serve a second term, this time for two years. Locke was replaced in 1850 by Samuel F. Starr, who resigned in late 1852. S.M. Stout was Sheriff from December 1852 to 1853. T.J. Wright followed Stout, serving from 1853 to 1855. John B. Congle followed, serving one of the shortest terms in the county's history -- two months -- before he resigned.

In 1855, James A. Bennett took the office for a year before being replaced after a year by Sheldon B. Fargo. Bennett tried for a second term in 1858 but was told he did not qualify. James P. Stewart followed Fargo in 1858, but resigned only three months after taking office. George P. Wrenn was appointed in December, 1858 to take Stewart's place, serving through June 1860.

From 1862 to 1864, Joseph Alexander served as Sheriff of Benton County. He later moved from the area and'served in the State Legislature.

The terms started getting longer in the 1860s. Julius Brownson, who followed Alexander, served from 1864 to 1868 followed by J.B. Palmer, who served for eight years from 1868 to 1876.

One of Benton County's more colorful Sheriffs was Solomon King, who followed Palmer with a 1 O-year term from 1876 to 1886 -- the longest term served so far in the county. Sol King was "taller and bigger than most men of his time" and the best known of the historic King Family in Benton County. He came to Oregon in 1845 on a wagon train when he was 12 years old. In 1872, Sol King and his wife and six children moved to Corvallis, where he purchased the Corvallis Livery, Feed and Sale Stable. The family ran the business for 14 years before giving it up after the barn burned. In 1876, King ran for Sheriff for the first time and was given the support of the Corvallis Gazette, the local newspaper. The paper praised him for his struggle "to manhood thro' the pioneer difficulties... For his opportunities, no man, for generosity and whole-souled help, to those in need, has more to rise up and call him blessed than Sol King."

King, a Republican, was nominated for a fifth term but declined to run because he did not have the full support of the nominating committee. He told the group he would accept the nomination only if it were unanimous. But two men -- Democrats who changed their party affiliation a year earlier so they could attend the nominating meeting -- voted against King and he refused to accept the nomination.

William MacKay followed King and put in six years as Sheriffof Benton County, serving from 1886 to 1892 with David A. Osborn following with a four-year term from 1892 to 1896. Peter Rickard served a four-year term from 1896 to 1900, bringing law enforcement in the county into the 20th Century. M.P. Bumett followed up with four, two-year terms, serving the county from 1900 to 1908.





L/R: Sheriffs David Osborn, Peter Rickard,
William Gellatly & Emery Newton 1928



William Andrew Gellatly, the man who served one of the longest terms as Sheriff in Benton County from 1908 to 1920, left the job after resigning. The popular Gellatly received the largest majority of any candidate in the state for public office in one election. Before he went into law enforcement, Gellatly, a native of California, was a farmer who dabbled in wholesale stock deals. He had eight children, including two daughters who were deputies with the When Gellatly called it quits he was replaced by Samuel Newton Warfield, who finished up the last few months of Gellatly's term and served until 1925. Emery Jesse Newton was appointed as Sheriff of Benton County in 1925 and served for 10 years. Before he was appointed Sheriff, Newton also had served as County Recorder and County Clerk.

Wilbur M. "Bill" Harper was elected to follow Newton, serving 10 years as Sheriff of the county. When he resigned in 1946 to become the Campus Marshal at Oregon State University, Clifford N. Lilly came on board and ended up serving 17 years with Benton County. In 1963, a former captain with the Los Angeles Police Department, Charles Edson "Ed" Ream, became Sheriff, serving until 1971.

John T. "Jack" Dolan took office in 1971 and served 18 years before resigning. David Scott Cook, the current Sheriff, was appointed to the office on June 2, 1989.







Early Crimes in Benton County

The first case of homicide in Benton County was the killing of an Irishman in 1852 by Nimrod O'Kelly, who accused the man, Jeremiah Mahoney, of trespassing. O' Kelly claimed he was carrying the gun to scare the crows away from his grain crop. He was tried for his crime and found guilty of murder. He was sentenced to hang but the Governor of the Oregon Territory overturned the conviction and he was set free. It cost the county a great deal of money in guarding and keeping the prisoner after the conviction, so the Legislature in 1853 gave the county $630 to handle the cost.

The first and only execution in Benton County was on June 22, 1860, when convicted murderer Philip George was hanged. He was charged with killing John Clark, a partner in a rooming house, on April 14, 1860. George had been drinking heavily when he threatened Clark with a kitchen knife. Clark escaped and returned the next morning, when the two men began arguing again while Clark was weighing hay.

George grabbed a piece of wood and clobbered Clark over the head. Still holding the money he had received from selling the hay, Clark stumbled around to the front of the building where the argument started and told several men that George had struck him on the head. As soon as he got the words out, Clark collapsed and died. George was taken into custody and a grand jury charged him with the crime. At the trial, he pleaded not guilty but was convicted by a jury.

A few years later, another man who got into a scuffle with a friend and ended up stabbing him did not face the same fate as George. William Grubbs and Williana Robinson had been on friendly terms but during a simple scuffle while Robinson was whittling a piece of wood, Ginbbs was stabbed to death. Robinson was arrested and convicted of manslaughter, receiving only a one-year sentence for the crime.

Peg-Leg Keady

In the early 1900s, a Corvallis teenager went on a rampage that ended in the shooting death of Corvallis Policeman James Dunn and serious injuries to Benton County Deputy Sheriff David A. Osbum. The suspect, Chester "Peg-Leg" Keady, was gunned down by Benton County Sheriff M.P. Burnett.

The night of violence began in downtown Corvallis when a gang of teenage boys, led by the 18-year-old Keady, went on a drinking spree. Word got out that the Deputy Sheriff was looking for Keady and he became violent. After Osburn heard a shot in the vicinity of Broder's Saloon, he approached Keady, who was alone at the time, and ordered him to go home. When he refused, Osbum tried to arrest the man. As Osburn approached, Keady warned the Deputy not to come any closer. Osburn did not obey the order and Keady hacked off. But by this time, the intoxicated teenager was waving his revolver in all directions. Several friends approached him in an attempt to get him to put the gun away, but he pointed the gun at them and they quickly backed off.

A crowd had gathered to watch the excitement as Osburn, who was then joined by Dunn, continued to advance on Keady. The law enforcement officials got within four feet of Keady when, after a warning, he opened fire and hit Osbum. While Osburn was moved to a nearby hotel to be treated for his injuries, Keady continued to hold others at bay.

In the meantime, Sheriff Burnett was called to the scene. Keady had reloaded his revolver and was aiming at the Sheriff as he approached, saying he would kill him if he attempted to arrest him. Bumett got close enough to lay his hand on Keady's shoulder, saying, "I want you, Keady." Keady' s answer was a shot, aimed at Burnett, that went wide of its mark. Dunn then stepped forward and Keady fired again with the shot hitting Dunn in the stomach. Dunn staggered and dropped to his knees, firing a succession of two or three shots, one of them hitting Keady.

Bumett also fired a shot, which is believed to have been the fatal blow to Keady. The teenager was taken to the morgue and Dunn was moved to the hotel for treatment.

Of the two wounded men, Dunn's injuries were more serious. Only 52 hours after the shooting, Dunn died froin his gunshot wound.

While Osbum was being treated for his wounds, he told the story, in jerky sentences, of how he was shot.

"I could have killed Keady several times, if I had tried. I did not think he would shoot me. I was on the best of terms with him. Several times while I was following him up the street, he told me to stop or he would fire. Each time, I kept on advancing and on every occasion until the last he lowered the pistol and got further away.

"A moment before he fired, he told me to stop or he would shoot. I thought he would do as he has done before, but he didn't. I was then within five or six feet of him and he was watching for a chance to close in. His shot put me out of business, but I will soon be alright again."

An article that appeared in the April 27, 1904 edition of The Corvallis Times, broke the news of Dunn's death.

"The last shot that Chester Keady fired from his revolver gave a mortal wound to James Dunn. After 52 hours of suffering, the wounded man breathed his last life in his room at the Occidental twenty minutes to five o'clock Tuesday morning...

"Early Monday night it became known that the patient could not survive the night. Peritonitis appeared, and after that, all hope was abandoned by the physicians...The patient remained perfectly conscious until long after midnight. He was a close observer of the physicians and others about the room. His two brothers, his sister and daughter and two sons were at the bedside...

"The same cool courage that was with him when he stood by Osbum's side when the latter was shot, and that was present again when he received the fatal bullet that otherwise would have slain Sheriff Burnett, was with him still when the grim reaper called. A more generoushearted man or a more dauntless friend than James Dunn never dwelt in Benton, for all of which the evidence is and always will be, when and where he died."

There were several witnesses to the shootings and several different versions of the incident were being discussed around town.

According to some, Keady did not spend the evening alone. Burt Turner was with him more than any other person that night. Turner later was taken into custody after the second shooting and held as an accessory to the shooting because many people figured Keady used Turner's gun to shoot the men. Turner had a good view of the chase that began across the street from Allen's Drugstore and headed south to where a crowd had gathered. He also was nearby when Osburn and Dunn followed Keady out of the crowd.

The doctor who tended to Keady said he did not think it was Sheriff Burnett's bullet that killed Keady. He felt it was one of the shots fired by Dunn that proved fatal to the teenager.

The Humphrey Brothers

On June 2, 1911, Eliza A. Griffin was found dead in Benton County and no one could tell if it had been a murder or suicide. About nine months later, the mystery was solved when George Humphrey was arrested in Washington County and confessed to the Griffin murder. Humphrey was returned to Benton County.

His brother, Charles T. Humphrey, later confessed to being an accomplice in the Griffin murder. He also stunned law enforcement officials and newspaper reporters with the revelation that George Humphrey had murdered more than once.

According to Charles Humphrey, George was responsible for the following:

The murder of George Selby, killed near Dallas in October, 1910.
The murder of his father-in-law, William King, killed around 1910.
The attempted murder of Ole Olson at Yoncalla in July, 1910.
The disappearance of his neighbor, Newton I. Patterson, from Dallas in the summer of 1903. Charles said his brother killed Patterson.
The murder of George Damrose of Hayhurst Valley around 1910. There were several witnesses to the shootings, and several different versions of the incident were being discussed around town.

James R. Applegate

On Monday, Oct. 24, 1955, a charter member of the Benton County Sheriff's Posse was fatally shot during the chase of an escaped prisoner. He was struck by three bullets that entered his body -- one on the left side, another through the abdomen and the third in the chest. The 39-yearold man died the next day about 22 hours after being shot. He left a wife and three children.

The tragedy that cut short the life of Applegate began on Sunday, Oct. 23, 1955, when two men were arrested on charges of car theft. Martin B. Reyes, 23, and Jose Demesa, alias Sonny Shadd, 21, were kept in the jail in Grants Pass on Sunday. On Monday, they were returned to the Lane County jail in Eugene by a Deputy Sheriff. At the Eugene jail, Reyes pulled a gun he had been carrying in his belt and forced the deputy to give up his car keys.

The two suspects took off in the Sheriff' s Patrol car headed northbound on Oregon 99W to Junction City before turning toward Monroe. About four miles north of Junction City, they pulled over a car driven by E.H. Butterfield, who was headed to Newberg with his wife and their three young daughters. Reyes and Demesa forced Butterfield into the patrol car and locked him in. Butterfield managed to kick out a window in the patrol car in an attempt to draw the attention of a State Policeman who passed by. In the meantime, the two suspects returned to the patrol car with Butterfield's wife and the youngsters and they all were locked in the prisoner's cage in the sheriff's car.

The two men used the Butterfield's Nash station wagon to escape, heading toward Corvallis. Butterfield managed to get out of the patrol car and call the Corvallis police. City Police Officer B.C. Branson stationed himself beside the highway in south Corvallis and soon spotted the sta- tion wagon coming into town at about 80 miles an hour.

Branson caught up with the men when their car failed to make a turn from Jefferson Street onto First Street and the car went up over the railroad tracks and crashed into a tree. Demesajumped from one side of the car and Reyes from the other. The police officer pulled his gun and stopped Demesa, who raised his hands and surrendered. He apparently had been shot in the foot by Reyes, when Demesa refused to go with him.

In the meantime, Reyes took off down the street and was spotted running by Applegate, who was returning home from drills with the Sheriffs Posse with his 16- year-old daughter, Elaine, and her friend, Dottie Blacker. Applegate flagged down a police officer and told him he had seen Reyes running down the street. The officer got in Applegate's track with the girls and they raced to the alley behind Ben's Asso- ciated Service Station at Third and Van Buren streets. The officer got out of the ttrack and went around to the front of the igas station to ask the attendants if they had seen Reyes.

When the policeman returned to the truck, he found Reyes with a gun pointed at Applegate and the girls. Reyes said he wanted the pickup to make his getaway and Applegate feared that he might kidnap the girls. Reyes threatened to shoot the girls if the officer did not put his hands up. Reyes then went around the back of the truck and met up with Applegate, who got into a scuffle with Reyes. Three shots were fired and the officer ran around the car and was shot at twice by Reyes, who then dropped his .45 Colt automatic and took off running.

Applegate died the next day from his serious injuries. No one was sure if Reyes had been hit, but he took off and wasn't found until Oct. 25 after one of the biggest man hunts in Salem involving state, county and city law enforcement officials.

He finally was spotted in a restaurant in Monmouth and was taken into custody by Police Chief Edward C. Leum, who later turned him over to the Oregon State Police for questioning and Salem General Hospital for treatment of a minor bullet wound. It is believed he shot himself in the struggle with Applegate.

Reyes later was returned to Corvallis where he was charged with first degree murder. He entered a not gailty plea and in December was found guilty by a jury of second degree murder and later sentenced to life imprisonment in the Oregon State Penitentiary.

Applegate was a prominent man in Benton County. Born in nearby Linn County, he was a farmer and tracker who had been one of the first men to sign up for : the Benton County posse.



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