Law officers of today salute the bravery displayed in the past
Every year on National Peace Officers Memorial Day wreaths are laid at the corner of Third and Putnam streets in Marietta.
It’s a tradition that’s part of Police Week, which recognizes the sacrifices, sometimes of officers’ lives, that law enforcement take on to serve the public.
Last year, in addition to this memorial service, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office also unveiled a new gravestone at the final resting place of the county’s first sheriff, Ebenezer Sproat.
This year the office stepped further down the path of honoring its former leadership since the settlement of the Northwest Territory to present day.
Now brass stars, with the emblem of the county sheriff’s badge will appear at every gravesite of a former sheriff.
On Tuesday, a graveside service recognized George W. Barker, who served as sheriff from 1842 to 1846, and the father and son duo who brought the office through a revolution in the support and funding of law enforcement locally, Dean Ellis and Richard “Dick” Ellis.
Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks, who has served as the highest ranking law enforcement official in the county since 2005, choked up when he spoke of both Ellis men.
“I knew them both,” he said. “They were good men.”
Together, the Ellises led the county’s law enforcement for a combined 44 years.
“I came in under Dick and he is really credited with building the department’s criminal division,” said Major Brian Schuck. “Back then there was one deputy per shift, which meant many midnight shifts when you’re the only law enforcement on duty responsible for the welfare of the entire county.”
When Dean was still a deputy, Schuck explained, the major challenge was combating moonshiners in Little Hocking and other rural areas of the county.
“He was actually in a gunfight down there with the moonshiners, and he had to reload his revolver,” said Schuck. “Back then the problem was moonshiners, then Dick was fighting marijuana growers, now we have the hard drugs like meth and heroin.”
Major Troy Hawkins said these stories, and the memories of former sheriffs have led him down the research path to find all of the final resting places of the county’s former leadership.
“I’ve found all but one,” he said, noting Jackson A. Hicks who served as sheriff from 1865 to 1869, but whose final resting place has yet to be located. “Most are in Marietta either at Mound Cemetery, Oak Grove or Harmar, but there are many in the county and even one as far out as Nebraska.”
On Tuesday, Dick Ellis’s sister and daughter were both present with other family members to see the sheriff’s office recognize their kin.
“My dad was elected sheriff the year that I was born in 1964,” said Leslie Ellis Bronski. “I know that they have always been men of service and I know that the job of sheriff has evolved and it’s not an easy task. There’s even a big difference from the sheriff’s office back when my grandfather was the sheriff to today.”
Ann Nicholson, Dean Ellis’s daughter, said she had fond memories from when her father was in office.
“After all the years we lived in the courthouse,” she said chuckling, recalling the cartwheels performed off a judge’s desk and skating above the courtrooms when the office required residence in the courthouse and administration of the jail in the courthouse. “I was surprised but I’m glad they’re recognizing the service, and what the families sacrificed too.”
Those sacrifices were recognized at the polls on Nov. 7, 1989, when by a slim margin of 713 votes the campaign to add a half-cent sales tax in the county was successful.
“It was 8,076 for and 7,363 against but Dick campaigned hard for that and it passed,” said Schuck. “But we run off of that sales tax today. It provides deputies vehicles, training and equipment for the criminal division. That’s something he will always be remembered for because with that tax he was able to build up the department.”
In 2017 the sales tax brought in $4,379,503, which is what the office based its main budget on. The office’s corrections and civil division are funded by the county general fund under the purview of the Washington County Commissioners.
Also on Tuesday, the sheriff’s office hosted a luncheon recognizing current law enforcement officers for the execution of their roles and the lives they have saved.
The Marietta Police Department, Beverly Police Department, county dispatchers and corrections officers were all lauded at the luncheon.
At a glance
Law Enforcement Recognitions Tuesday:
¯ Deputy of the Year 2018: Det. Sgt. Craig Call.
¯ Corrections Officer of the Year 2018: Sgt. Alicia Strahler.
¯ Dispatchers of the Year 2018: Andrea Gibeaut and Jessica Dungan.
¯ Sheriff’s Awards:
– Sgt. Bradley Oliver of the Beverly Police Department.
– Major Crimes Task Force members Det. Lt. Josh Staats, Det. Sgt. Eric Augenstein, Det. Sgt. Craig Call, Det. Tyson Estes of the Marietta Police Department, Sgt. Coy Lehman of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
¯ Lifesaving Awards:
– Sgt. Bradley Holbert.
– Deputy Logan Schwendeman.
– Patrolman Rick Smith, MPD.
– Det. Lt. Josh Staats.
– Det. Matt Abbott.
Source: Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
Deceased former Washington County sheriffs, their term and final resting place:
¯ Ebenezer Sproat: Sept. 2, 1788 – 1802, Mound Cemetery Marietta.
¯ William Skinner: 1802 – 1803, Harmar Cemetery, Marietta.
¯ John Clark: 1803 – 1810, Mound Cemetery, Marietta.
¯ William Skinner: 1810 – 1812, Harmar Cemetery, Marietta.
¯ Timothy Buell: 1812 – 1814, Mound Cemetery, Marietta.
¯ Alexander Hill: 1814 – 1816, Mound Cemetery, Marietta.
¯ Timothy Buell: 1816 – 1820, Mound Cemetery, Marietta.
¯ Silas Cook: 1820 – 1824, Mound Cemetery, Marietta.
¯ Jesse Loring: 1824 – 1828, Rockland Cemetery, Belpre.
¯ Robert R. Greene: 1828 – 1832, Oakwood Cemetery, Pittsfield, Ill.
¯ Jesse Loring: 1832 – 1834, Rockland Cemetery, Belpre.
¯ Benjamin M. Brown: 1834 – 1838, Gard Cemetery, Washington County.
¯ John Test: 1838 – 1842, Mound Cemetery Marietta.
¯ George W. Barker: 1842 – 1846, Putnam Cemetery, Devola.
¯ Junia Jennings: 1843 – 1850, Oak Grove Cemetery, Marietta.
¯ Jesse Hildebrand: 1851 – 1853, Mound Cemetery, Marietta.
¯ Marcellus J. Morse: 1853 – 1857, Mound Cemetery, Marietta.
¯ Mark Green: 1857 – 1861, Henry, Deming and Wolcott Cemetery, Washington County.
¯ Augustus Winsor: 1861 – 1865, Oak Grove Cemetery, Marietta.
¯ Jackson A. Hicks: 1865 – 1869, Unknown.
¯ S.L. Grosvenor: 1869 – 1873, Oak Grove Cemetery , Marietta.
¯ George Davenport: 1873 – 1877, Prospect Hill Cemetery, Norfolk, Neb.
¯ William T. Stedman: 1877 – 1881, Grandview Cemetery, New Matamoras.
¯ Daniel B. Torpy: 1881 – 1885, St Mary’s Cemetery, Marietta.
¯ I.R. Rose: 1885 – 1889, Round Bottom Cemetery, Coal Run.
¯ Arthur B. Little: 1889 – 1893, Newport Cemetery, Newport.
¯ William P. Dye: 1893 – 1897, Oak Grove Cemetery, Marietta.
¯ John S. McCallister: 1897 – 1901, Oak Grove Cemetery, Marietta.
¯ Jesse Morrow: 1901 – 1905, Bartlett Cemetery, Bartlett.
¯ Charles Owen: 1905 – 1908, Beverly Cemetery, Beverly.
¯ E. Clark Jr.: 1908 – 1913, Rose Hill Cemetery, Spartansburg, Pa.
¯ Henry C. Posey: 1913 – 1917, Oak Grove Cemetery, Marietta.
¯ Clyde Posey: 1917 – 1919, St. Joseph Cemetery, Franklin County.
¯ A.E. Roberts: 1919 – 1924, Waterford Cemetery, Waterford.
¯ Edward Lincoln Yarnall: 1924 – 1927, Waterford Cemetery, Waterford.
¯ Perley J. Way: 1927 – 1931, East Lawn Cemetery, Reno.
¯ C.G. Thorne: 1931 – 1935, Gravel Bank Cemetery, Washington County.
¯ Arthur D. Mackey: 1935 – 1941, East Lawn Cemetery, Reno.
¯ W.O. Lindamood: 1941 – 1948, Oak Grove Cemetery, Marietta.
¯ Dean Ellis: 1948 – 1965, Putnam Cemetery, Devola.
¯ Richard “Dick” Ellis: 1965 – 1992, Putnam Cemetery, Devola.
Source: Washington County Sheriff’s Office.