The Office of Sheriff
The Sheriff is one of the oldest, most important and most respected offices in our nation’s system of law and justice. Its origins and responsibilities are rooted deeply in historical England. Only the office of King is older and has greater dignity.
The Office of Sheriff was transplanted to America by the early colonists. The founding fathers made it an elected office, because they were determined that the Sheriff would be responsible to the people.
Today – throughout the nation – the Sheriff continues to exercise vitally important responsibilities in all three branches of our criminal justice system: law enforcement, jail/corrections, and court duties.
In the State of North Carolina, Sheriffs are Constitutional Officers, elected by the people of their counties. On call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, their responsibilities include:
- Patrolling the counties and enforcing the law.
- Maintaining and operating jails
- Properly serving civil process papers, essential to all legal actions
- Providing security for North Carolina Courtrooms
North Carolina Sheriff’s take pride in their tradition. They take seriously their duties and their responsibilities to the people of North Carolina. And they are taking the initiative to meet the challenges of a changing society.
IREDELL COUNTY SHERIFFS – 1789 –Present
Hugh Torrence (Torrance) 1789 -- 1790
Elected by the County Court. Records show that Torrence and his brother, Albert, immigrated to America from Ireland in 1763. He first lived in Pennsylvania and then moved to Rowan County about 1773. The County elected Torrence when Iredell County was formed from Rowan.
John Brevard, Jr. 1790 -- 1791
Elected by the County Court. When Rowan County was formed in 1753; John Brevard, Sr. was appointed Rowan County Sheriff. His two sons, John Jr. and Benjamin would both serve as Iredell County Sheriff.
Benjamin McWorter Brevard – 1791 – 1792
Benjamin was elected by the County Court. Benjamin was the younger brother of John Brevard who preceded him as Iredell County Sheriff. Benjamin served two years, and was replaced.
Thomas Morris 1792 -- 1794
Elected by the County Court. Believed to have resided in the Snow creek area of Iredell County.
Benjamin McWhorter Brevard – 1794 – 1800
Benjamin was elected Sheriff. Benjamin Brevard was re-appointed to serve six more years, for a total of 8 years of service as Iredell County Sheriff.
Robert Worke 1800 -- 1808
Statesville Innkeeper – Elected by County Court. Iredell’s first Sheriff, Hugh Torrence, once arrested Worke. He told the Sheriff that he would not be placed in jail unless his pony was put in with him. The Sheriff complied! Worke was a good Sheriff.
Robert Simonton 1808 -- 1818
Elected by the County Court. Was an Innkeeper. Was unanimously elected sheriff year after year until 1818 when the job was passed to his nephew. After leaving the office of Sheriff, he became Clerk of Court for Iredell County.
Absolem Simonton 1818 -- 1828
Elected by the County Court. When Robert Simonton became Clerk of Court, his nephew; Absolem K. Simonton was appointed Sheriff. Absolem (“Absey”) became Clerk of Court, a position that he held until his death in 1835.
Pickney Caldwell 1828 -- 1834
Elected by the County Court. After serving as Sheriff, Pickney followed in the footsteps of his ancestors and served in the State General Assembly, serving 1830 – 1831 and 1831 – 1832. His brother, Joseph Pearson Caldwell, editor of the “LANDMARK’ newspaper in Statesville, also served as a N.C. State Senator.
Joseph M. Bogel 1834 -- 1842
Iredell’s First Sheriff elected by the people. He was the second son of Robert Bogel and Jennet Smith Bogel and was born in Iredell County in Iredell County June 18, 1793. Bogel was a stock trader, ran a farm, dealt in merchandise, and was in the real estate business. Bogel represented Iredell County in both branches of the N.C. Legislature. He was from the part of Iredell County that would become Alexander County. He was often called the “Father of Alexander County.” He provided 22 acres for the creation of Taylorsville, N. C. He and his wife are buried in the Taylorsville Cemetery beneath a pseudo-double grave marker.
James F. Johnson 1842 – 1846
Iredell’s Second elected Sheriff. Sheriff Johnson was born about 1820 in North Carolina near the town of Davidson.
Henry Troutman 1846 – 1848
Iredell’s Third elected Sheriff. He was from the settlement south of Statesville, which became known as the Town of Troutman. Henry Troutman died July 29, 1876. He was a native of Iredell County and was 79 years old when he died.
John A. Roseboro 1848 – 1850
1850 U.S. Census records show him as Sheriff. Born April 30, 1811, he was married to Mary C. Belt in 1837. Roseboro died August 6, 1868. 1850 Census records of 1850 show him as Sheriff. Roseboro was a South Iredell Farmer. In the pre-Civil War days he apparently owned a large farm and had 14 slaves that worked his farm and kept house for his family. After serving as Iredell County Sheriff, he served in the N.C. House of Commons from 1856 – 1864. Roseboro died August 6, 1868 at the age of 57 years of age.
C.L. Summers 1850 -- 1858
As Gen. George C. Stoneman’s troops entered Statesville during the War of Northern Aggression, the first shot fired was at C.L. Summers, who was wounded in the leg and taken prisoner by Stoneman’s Yankee troops. He was considered one of the best-known men in Iredell County. Summers held a succession of offices including the Office of Sheriff, Register of Deeds, Probate Judge, and the office of Clerk of Court.
William Franklin Wasson 1858 -- 1874
Frank Wasson served well during this period, made extremely difficult because of the Civil War and the invasion of our area by Yankee troops. He served as Iredell County Sheriff for 16 years, one of the longest serving Sheriff’s. Wasson went out of office with clean hands and during his official career enjoyed the confidence and esteem of the public. Members of the Wasson family still reside in Iredell County. One of relatives, the late Jake Wasson and his wife Kay, provided the writer with a very important page from Sheriff Wasson’s notepad. From this page dated October 2, 1867, we find some very interesting information. Included are the names of the persons jailed in the little log jail located on Broad Street where Cooper Street intersects today. They were:
- William A. Sheffey, age 35, Horse Stealing
- John A. Mayo, age 25; Horse Stealing
- Joe Black, age 25, freedman; Stealing
- Pallosan, freedman, escaped from jail by force over the jailer. Age, about 22, not very darke. The escape was on Oct. 2, 1867.
- Thomas C. Duly, age 23, Murder. With Ann Milton’s help, murdered Laura Foster Dula was tried in the tiny courthouse that once stood in the town square, defended by none other than Zebulon Baird Vance, former Governor of N.C. Dula was convicted and was executed on the “Circus Lot,” the land where the Statesville Depot sits today. Dula rode in the back of a new Ohio wagon sitting atop his casket, which was in the rear of a brand new OHIO Wagon. Dula sang the song made famous by the Kingston Trio in the 1960’s, The Ballad of Tom Dooley! Sheriff Wasson may be responsible for Tom being Dooley rather than his real name Dula. He spelled it in his note pad, DULY. The Sheriff hanged Dula May 1, 1868. Wasson did not seek re-election in 1874. He died at his home in Sharpsburg Township at the age of 80 years in 1893 and is buried at the Snow Creek United Methodist Church Cemetery in North Iredell County. After 16 years as Sheriff Wasson, tired of the work and did not seek re-election.
Thomas A. Watts 1874 -- 1884
He was editor of the MASCOT newspaper, a mill operator on Third Creek. In what appears to be the first issue of the LANDMARK newspaper, dated Saturday June 19, 1874, Volume 1, No. 1 comes the following announcements of the two candidates running for Sheriff of Iredell County. Sheriff Wasson had declined to run for re-election. The two candidates were Thomas A. Watts and James A. F. Watts. Thomas Watts was elected with a lead of 1290 votes over his opponent. But, the new Sheriff was smart enough to keep James A.F. Watts aboard since he had been a deputy and had experience. It is not known IF these two candidates were related. Watts was one of at least two early Iredell men who would serve as Sheriff who had close connections to the War of Northern Aggression. The approach of Yankee Troops was first spotted by Thomas A. Watts and J.S. Miller who had been scouting down the road toward Salisbury. They “rid like madmen” through the streets of Statesville alerting the town according to reports in the LANDMARK newspaper. During the terms of Sheriff Watts, he was involved with the execution of Bill Mecimore, who was hanged for the murder of his mother-in-law. Mecimore was a resident of Rowan County where the crime took place. For the sake of safety, the trial was conducted in Iredell County. Mecimore killed Mrs. Helig with a bludgeon and he threw her body in a well. Even in those early days, the sheriff sought evidence and clues to crimes. During his search he found a convincing clue! Tracking from the scene of the crime proved that a club-footed man committed the murder. Bill Mecimore was a club-fitted man. Other evidence found by the officers convicted him of the crime without any doubt. After the conviction, when he realized that he would have to pay for his crime, Mecimore confessed his guilt. Sheriff T.A. Watts led him to the gallows.
Thomas Johnston Allison 1884 -- 1893
Resigned the office of Iredell County Sheriff when appointed U.S. Marshall. In 1884 he was elected Iredell County Sheriff and the LANDMARK ran the following remarks. “Sheriff Allison has good reason to be proud of his magnificent majority and his friends everywhere will rejoice with him in this hour of his triumphant victory. Good for the Sheriff! Sheriff Allison would resign as Sheriff when President Grover Cleveland appointed him U.S. Marshall. Marshall Allison was also a close friend of Vice-President Adali E. Stevenson and he and Mrs. Allison hosted the Vice-President and his wife on their visits to Statesville a 1921 stroke curtailed his ability to work and communicate.
John H. Wycoff(D) 1893 -- 1894
A Catawba County native born in 1848, served as Sheriff Allison’s Mooresville Deputy. Ousted in the Democratic Convention. One of Wycoff’s accomplishments was to move the county convict camp several miles south of Statesville where about 30 prisoners were kept. The prisoners were kept busy working on the roads and the old wooden bridges. Some of the old prison buildings are still in use and are part of what we now know as the Iredell County Fair Ground.
Moses A. White 1894 – 1896
White first ran for Sheriff in 1890 when he ran against Sheriff Allison. White lost that election to Allison by 1257 votes. White again donned his campaign suit to run for Sheriff in 1894 after winning nomination by one vote, in an effort to unseat Wycoff. This time his effort was successful. He received 2199 votes to Wycoff’s 2116, a lead for White of 83 votes.
John H. Wycoff 1896 – 1902
After losing to Moses White in 1894, he served as Sheriff during the time that the new courthouse was being built on South Center Street. Deputies Templeton, Thompson, Ward and Scroggs on duty on August 6, 1900, assisted Sheriff Wycoff when Judge Henry R. Bryan of New Bern conducted the first court session in the new Iredell County Court House. The judge opened court by congratulating the people of the county on the new court house, “the handsomest and best arranged” that he had seen in the State.
W.A. Summers (D) 1902 – 1908
Executed Wilfred Roseboro – the last public hanging in Iredell County. Roseboro was convicted of the murder of Dovie Beaver, in her home in the Cool Spring area. Her son and husband left for Statesville that morning and they saw Wilfred in the area. When Mr. Beaver and his son returned that evening, late, they could not find Mrs. Beaver. They recruited the neighbors for help in a search. The neighbors found the body of Mrs. Beaver stuffed into an old unused well. Roseboro was working on the railroad bed in the western N.C. Mountains near Saluda. The sheriff took the train to the work camp. He found evidence there that would convict Roseboro of murder. Roseboro was convicted and was sentenced to hang in private. Drapery material was installed all around the borrowed scaffold. The public ripped it all down. There was nothing private about this last public execution in Iredell County. Citizens were everywhere, in trees, office windows, on roofs, etc.
James M. Deaton (D) 1908 -- 1916
Sheriff Deaton was born May 21, 1869 in Mooresville, the son of James Cornelius Deaton and Martha Ann McNeely. Sheriff Deaton died on his sixty-first birthday. Deaton had experience in law Enforcement having served as Mooresville Police Chief. He held Huge Fiddler’s Conventions at the Iredell County Court House raising funding for the Sheriff’s Office. Eventually left office to devote his time to the sales of Ford automobiles. He had organized the Carolina Motor Company in 1913 and had dealerships in Statesville and Mooresville. He served as President of the company until 1924, when he turned the dealership over to his sons. It was during this period that the incorrigible Otto Wood appeared on the scene as well as many other crooks and would-be crooks.
Moffatt P. Alexander (D) 1916 – 1928
Moffatt Pressley Alexander was born December 8, 1875 in the Shiloh Township. He was the son of Allan Leander and Susan McLain Alexander. A grocer, Moffatt P. Alexander decided to run for Sheriff. Alexander carried 20 of Iredell County’s precincts and he won the election by almost 1,000 votes. It was during Sheriff Alexander’s service that the airplane first made an appearance in Iredell County. Trouble came when Lt. M.A.C. Johnson insisted on taking Sunday afternoon flights in 1923. He was confronted by Sheriff Alexander, who threatened to take him before a magistrate every time that he took a passenger up. The fine would be $1.00 for every flight, plus the time lost in going before the magistrate. Statesville’s churches applauded the Sheriff’s efforts to keep Sundays quiet. Sheriff Alexander also endured the shooting death of Deputy Sheriff John H. Miller who was shot to death by Charlie Williams. This was just one of the major crimes that he endured during the Roaring 1920’s.
Jesse Sherrill(R) 1928 – 1930
Sheriff Sherrill faced a crime wave that was National in proportion, as well as un-welcome Innuendos from the Democratic Party Officers and candidates. In 1928 Alfred E. Smith alienated North Carolina Democrats. Jesse Sherrill easily won the Office of Sheriff in a Republican sweep and was only the second known republican sheriff to ever be elected in Iredell County. Throughout his term of office, Sheriff Sherrill was faced with a crime wave that was national in proportion. This was the case all across the country. One of the most famous bandits in this area was Otto Wood who was one of the most seen and one of the most daring bandits working this part of the country. Sheriff Sherrill died unexpectedly on 4/11/1932. He had just completed making a talk to the board of stewards at Broad Street Methodist Church when he sank down in his seat. He was quickly removed to the Long’s Hospital but he died enroute.
Godfrey Click Kimball (D) 1930 – 1934
Godfrey Kimball, a Democrat, won the Office of Sheriff when he defeated Sheriff Jesse Sherrill. During his term, Sheriff Kimball endured the death of his 30-year-old wife. Deputy Ralph Gilbert was badly wounded and Sheriff Kimball was Fatally wounded in a shootout 8/17/1934, by Ralph Davis, a 25-year-old outlaw. The shooting took place in the Elmwood area of Iredell County. Sheriff Kimball had his hands up and was unarmed when shot! He was rushed back to Statesville’s Long’s Hospital where he died soon after his arrival.
Notley D. Tomlin (D) 1934
Mr. Tomlin was the Iredell County Coroner and at the time of the death of Sheriff Kimball, and he automatically became Acting Sheriff until members of the Sheriff’s political party (Dem) could make a selection of a replacement. He held the office of Sheriff until Aug. 22, 1934.
John White Moore (D) 1934 – 1942
Mooresville native John White Moore, was sworn in as Iredell County Sheriff on Aug. 22, 1934 to fill out the unexpired term of Sheriff Godfrey C. Kimball. While Sheriff, Moore and his wife resided in Statesville at the Mulberry Street Apartments at 114 South Mulberry St., since demolished by Mitchell Community College.
Walter D. Morrison (D) 1942 –1950
Walter D. Morrison was a well-known and respected North Iredell Dairy farmer and Iredell County Sheriff. Morrison served two four-year terms as Iredell Sheriff winning in 1942 over incumbent John White Moore in the primary. Sheriff Morrison, age 74 years, died January 17, 1963 where he had been a patient for nine weeks.
Jay Charles (“Charlie”) Rumple (D) 1950 – 1966
Charlie Rumple first served the City of Statesville in 1924 as a combination fireman- policeman and was later assigned to traffic work as a motorcycle patrolman. In 1935 he installed the finger printing and identification equipment for the Statesville Police. Rumple was the first candidate to announce for Sheriff in 1950 on the Democratic ticket. Four other Democratic candidates would also run. Rumple faced a run-off with Sheriff Walter Morrison, and won the primary and the general election.
LeRoy Reavis (R) 1966 –1974
Well-known Funeral Home owner/Director, LeRoy Reavis easily won the Office of Sheriff in 1966. He faced the huge Love Valley Rock Festival as well as the annual Fiddler’s Conventions at Union Grove, N.C. Sheriff Reavis was the first Sheriff to get the county to provide vehicles and county-owned radio equipment for the deputies. Iredell noted a significant drop in the crime rate, one of few counties to have a reduction.
Thomas S. Thompson (D) 1974 –1978
In a 1974 Democratic sweep, Mooresville Police Lt. Tom Thompson was elected Sheriff narrowly defeating Sheriff Reavis. The tide changed again in 1978.
LeRoy Reavis 1978 – 1986(R)
The Iredell County Sheriff’s Office, under Sheriff Reavis’ leadership, was the first Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina to be presented the J. Edgar Hoover Memorial Award for “Outstanding Contributions to Public Safety and Advancement Of Law Enforcement.” In his 16th year as Sheriff, LeRoy Reavis collapsed at the Sheriff’s Office on May 22, 1986. He died the next morning on May 23, 1986. County Commissioner Larry Hedrick said, “Everybody In Iredell County knew LeRoy Reavis. That is the Best way to describe him. He had so many friends in the county. He was always in a pleasant mood and took time to visit with everyone.”
J. D. Benfield (R) 1986
Iredell County’s Republican Party selected J.D. Benfield to serve out the term of Sheriff LeRoy Reavis. Benfield was administered the oath of Office by Iredell County Clerk of Court Carl G. Smith. Benfield did run for the seat, but was defeated by veteran Statesville Police Officer Clyde Lloyd.
Clyde Lloyd (D) (1986 – 1994)
Clyde Lloyd, a Statesville Police Officer, attained the rank of Captain. Lloyd ran for Sheriff and was successful in his bid to unseat J.D. Benfield. Sheriff Lloyd started the first Lake Patrol unit with the Sheriff’s Office with a donated boat. He also started the first Tri-County Drug task force in the county to help with getting drugs off the streets of Iredell County. Sheriff Lloyd started the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program in our elementary schools. He also opened the first full time Sheriff’s Office annex in the southern end of Iredell County. Sheriff Lloyd was well respected in the county.
Phil Redmond (R) (1994-2014)
Sheriff Phil Redmond has been instrumental in bringing the Sheriff’s Office totally up-to-date with new and better training, technology, and equipment. He had been a powerhouse in curtailing the trafficking of illegal drugs in, and passing through, Iredell County. Through the drug interdiction program of Sheriff Redmond, the many drug seizures have provided the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office with Drug Interdiction Funds, which have been used to provide more vehicles, and equipment that will continue to serve in the fight against crime in Iredell County. Sheriff Redmond is now the longest consecutive term Sheriff in Iredell County.
If you have, or know anyone who may have pictures or information on past Sheriff’s of Iredell County call the Sheriff’s office 704-878-3180 and ask for Captain Rick Eades.