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Sheriff's Office History Page

The First Sheriff

The first criminal court was established in Washington County by one of the first men to arrive in the area. He was also the first Sheriff of Washington County.  Here is the Wikipedia article about him.

For a list of all the Sheriffs of Washington County and their years of service click here!

Col. Ebenezer Sproat had made an impression on everyone, including the local Indians who nicknamed him, "Big Buckeye".  Some people believe this is where the nickname "Buckeyes" for Ohioans originated.

Sproat was a distinguished soldier. When Sproat was elected Sheriff, he marched triumphantly up the main thoroughfare on a horse with his sword drawn. He immediately convened the first session of the Court of Common Pleas for Washington County. It was the first court convened in the new Northwest Territory. Court was immediately adjourned as there were no cases to be heard.

The 1800's

The second Sheriff, John Clark, served from 1803 until 1810. Clark was Sheriff during Aaron Burr’s expedition.

Clark would later serve subpoenas during the case brought by the Federal Government against Burr. In 1798, Clark began building his family homestead on Fifth Street.

William Skinner served as Sheriff from 1802 to 1803, and later from 1810 to 1812. He was the first sworn Sheriff under the newly written Constitution of the United States of America.

Capt. Alexander Hill, Sheriff from 1814 to 1816, thought to make his life on the sea. Hill loved the water and came to America as a cabinetmaker. He only stopped in Marietta because he ran out of money on his way to New Orleans. He earned his money in Marietta as a cabinetmaker and craftsman, making furniture and coffins.

Jesse Loring, who served one full term and one half term as Sheriff during the 1820’s and the 1830’s, was the first locally born Sheriff. He was a native of Belpre and died at a young age of 51 in Waterford.

Junia Jennings, was Sheriff from 1846 to 1850. He was a shoemaker by trade, but after leaving the office of Sheriff, the outbreak of the Civil War led him to form the "Silver Greys", a military organization whose members were 60 years old or older, to protect Washington County families from the confederate rebels.

Many of the early men who served as Sheriff investigated cases ranging from petty theft to murders of spouses and children. Most of them did so with very few deputies under their command. Things have changed since Fort Harmar set aside the stockade and a room for a jail, and the Sheriff’s contract guaranteed him his own horse as part of the job.

The responsibilities remain the same, to protect the citizens of Washington County and prevent crime.