‘233 Years of Public Service’

Book details Richmond County Sheriff’s Office history

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

ROCKINGHAM — The book is not for sale.

That in itself ought to make “Richmond County Sheriff’s Office: 233 Years of Public Service” a hot commodity for those interested in the history of Richmond’s primary countywide law enforcement agency. In addition to that, the 150-page book is chock full of tidbits that those younger than 50 years of age might not know about the county’s history of law enforcement.

A Richmond County Historical Society photo This photography by Marchant shows a 100-gallon still captured in 1909 near Hamlet. Sheriff M.L. Hinson (third from left) and his deputies found it.

A Richmond County Historical Society photo
This photography by Marchant shows a 100-gallon still captured in 1909 near Hamlet. Sheriff M.L. Hinson (third from left) and his deputies found it.

The book was compiled by Tom and May MacCallum with support from the Richmond County Historical Society. It was produced especially for the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office at no cost to taxpayers. It’s believed the release of the book was delayed until after the November 2014 election cycle to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

The MacCallums featured their research during a February meeting of the Richmond County Historical Society at Rockingham City Hall. Sheriff James Clemmons Jr. presented a copy of the book to county commissioners on Tuesday night.

Bootlegging, the Ku Klux Klan, chain gangs and murder, along with milestone moments of the first female deputy and the first African-American deputy.

Highlights include:

* Constable William David Smith of Marks Creek Township Constable’s Office was shot and killed on June 12, 1929. Suspect Ray Evans, 20, was captured in Roanoke, Va., two weeks later. The night of the murder, Evans was trying to elude Smith while possessing illegal whiskey. He was sentenced to death and executed in the electric chair on Feb. 14, 1930. Evans is believed to be the last person to receive the death penalty in Richmond County;

Photo from Nathan Grant Deputy Nathan Grant, center right, and Rockingham Police Chief Eddie Martin, left, in 1976 are involved in bagging up marijuana plants confiscated in raids around the county. Grant was honored by Sheriff James Clemmons Jr. in 2012 for his 51 years in law enforcement. At age 78, Grant was still working part-time as a deputy.

Photo from Nathan Grant
Deputy Nathan Grant, center right, and Rockingham Police Chief Eddie Martin, left, in 1976 are involved in bagging up marijuana plants confiscated in raids around the county. Grant was honored by Sheriff James Clemmons Jr. in 2012 for his 51 years in law enforcement. At age 78, Grant was still working part-time as a deputy.

* At age 24 in 1903, John Samuel Braswell was a policeman in Concord when a man threatened to kill him. Braswell shot and killed the man, and was later arrested for murder. He was not prosecuted, however, and after serving as Hamlet police chief from 1912 to 1923, Braswell was elected Richmond County sheriff in 1926;

* Inmates assigned to chain gangs were housed in wagons measuring 7 feet, 4 inches wide by 7 feet, 4 inches tall and 22 feet long. Each wagon could hold 18 men and required between four and six oxen to pull;

* In the early 1900s, children ages 12 to 18 were limited to 66-hour work weeks in factories;

* Mrs. DeWitt Ormsby was the first woman to apply to become Richmond County sheriff, doing so in January 1943. The second female to vie for the office was Eunice Bruce, who ran against R.W. Goodman in 1970. In the 2009 Republican primary, Georgia Cagle filed as a candidate.

* On May 25, 1946, R.W. Goodman, 31, suffered his first and only loss in an election when Carl Holland earned 2,931 votes in the Democratic primary to Goodman’s 2,281 votes. Goodman won the Democratic primary on May 31, 1950, and served as county sheriff for 44 years — the longest tenure in North Carolina history.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Steve Futrell, Richmond County attorney, thumbs through "Richmond County Sheriff's Office: 233 Years of Public Service" Tuesday night during the Richmond County Board of Commissioners meeting.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Steve Futrell, Richmond County attorney, thumbs through “Richmond County Sheriff’s Office: 233 Years of Public Service” Tuesday night during the Richmond County Board of Commissioners meeting.

* James Clemmons Jr. was appointed on Nov. 30, 2010, as county sheriff to fill the unexpired term of Dale B. Furr, who retired.

The book takes from a number of newspapers, including the Richmond County Journal, the Richmond County Daily Journal, the Hamlet News-Messenger, the Rockingham Post-Dispatch, the Richmond Headlight and many more.

Clemmons told county commissioners Tuesday night he hopes to get a copy of the book in county schools and libraries in the near future. In addition, he’s working on preparing a wall inside the sheriff’s office dedicated to former county sheriffs.

“It’s time to show homage to those who got us to where we are today,” Clemmons said.

Filed in: Ellerbe/Norman, Featured News, Hamlet, Hoffman, Latest Headlines, News, Public safety, Rockingham

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  • Edie Bailey

    Looking forward to reading this book! There is also a book entitled “The Killing of Bob Hines in Richmond County, NC” which probably portrays another look at Richmond County law enforcement…the information for this book came from the Post-Dispatch…

  • April Banks

    Is the book available for the public to purchase this would be a great book to read and learn about the history of our country and something great for our kids to read about

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