Pictures of Parkersburg WV Chief of Police
Parkersburg Police Chief Larry Gibson
Parkersburg Police Chief Rick Modesitt
Mackey's Antiques & Clock
1249 Gihon Road
Parkersburg WV 26101
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Tygart School Reunion website http://www.tygartschoolreunion.com
Marrtown Reunion website http://www.marrtownreunion.com/
Parkersburg Viscose website http://www.parkersburgviscose.com/
Wood County History Photography & Scenery http://www.wchps.net
For Early Parkersburg History and Old Pictures
I AM LOOKING FOR MORE LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT PICTURES
Roster list of Parkersburg's Chief Enforcement Officers at bottom of page.
Police Chief Badge Photo courtesy Larry Gibson
Most of the below pictures are courtesy Rick Modesitt & Larry Gibson
Under Each Picture a little History of that Chief, i am looking for history information on the chiefs that do not have history under their pictures
Arthur B. Beckwith was a prominent Wood County politician. He served several terms as deputy and turnkey of the Jailor or Jailer and also was district clerk and secretary for the Board of Education in 1867. In 1869, he was elected Assessor for the 2nd District of Wood County. In 1870, he was Assistant U. S. Marshal (who took the census) and he was appointed Commissioner of the Board of Education five years later. Beckwith was a County Commissioner when the Juliana Street Bridge was built. In 1885, he was appointed as Parkersburg's first Chief of Police. His officers were: C. Campbell, Haught, McNerny, and Griffin. While he was in office, two members of the department resigned and were replaced by Officers Henry L. Dils and James R. Mehen. The Chief's salary was $900 per year and each of his officers received $500 annually.
Henry (Had) Logan Dils was believed by many people to be Parkersburg's first Chief of Police until research showed that Arthur B. Beckwith had that distinction. Nonetheless, Mr. Dils did have a couple of firsts: his administration had the first black police officer, Robert Dykes, and the first city detective, James R. Mehen. Dils was born in Pleasants County, Virginia, a son of William and Margaret Logan Dils. The Dils family moved to Parkersburg when Henry was about three years old. Henry grew up in Parkersburg, and, as a young man, worked as a wood turner. He married Nettie Hubbard in 1879 and their first son, Charles Albert Dils, was born. Dils was hired by the police department in 1881 and worked approximately one year, resigning to work at his business. During 1882-1888, he was on the police force most of the time. In 1889, he was appointed as Chief of the Police Department and served in this position until 1891. Police officers were: Robert Dykes, T. E. Rexroad, P. J. Morgan, McNulty and Muncey, and Detective Mehen. Their salary was $45 per month. Dils' and Mehen worked together to solve criminal cases and became very proficient. A new Mayor and Council were elected and J. R. Mehen was named police chief
James R. Mehen was born December 25, 1844, near Dublin, Ireland, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Meighan (the name was spelled Mehen after the family came to this country). Mehen left his two sons, Bernard and James Reynolds, with relatives in Ireland when he emigrated to the United States. The children traveled alone to this country and joined their father when the youngest was 8 years old. The family lived in Pennsylvania for a time and the father remarried, later moving to Parkersburg.
James R. Mehen was living in Pompotoc County, Mississippi, when the war broke out between the States. He enlisted at the age of 17, serving in the Confederate Army's Company C, which became known as the Pompotoc' Grays. From December, 1861, until March, 1862, the young confederate was on picket duty, near Grover's Creek in Loudin County, Virginia, and was in battles of Lewisburg and Bull's Bluff. He was taken prisoner on September 3, 1864, and was sent to Camp Chase, Columbus, Ohio, where he was held until October 18, 1865. His brother, also a confederate soldier, was killed in battle at Missionary Ridge, Kentucky.
Upon return to civilian life, Mehen became a resident of Parkersburg, and compiled an enviable record of public service. His record dates back to the organization of the Fire Department, of which he was the first paid member. In 1872-1873, he was the second person to ever hold the office of Market Master; and was reappointed in 1874 and 1875. Shortly after his discharge from this position, he became a police officer with the City of Parkersburg, where he worked continuously through two or three administrations as a patrolman. In 1881, he became Parkersburg's first Captain of Police, holding that position for four years. In 1885, the new mayor and council came in and, according to the West Virginia Journal, Mehen was expected to be dismissed. But the writer of that particular article was hoping, in some way, they would keep Captain Mehen because of his expertise in police work. He was not among the original police officers appointed by the mayor during the time A. B. Beckwith was Chief of Police, but he was named to the police force shortly there after.
The next Mayor came in and again Mehen was appointed Captain of Police in 1887, serving in that position until 1889, when he was named the City's first detective under Chief Dils. The Sentinel reported that Chief Henry L. Dils and Mehen, working on several cases together, had become very proficient as a team. In 1891, Mehen was appointed Chief of Police of Parkersburg and held that position for two years. His officers were: James Conners, Thomas Burns, Henry Trisler, Thomas Hendershot, and Harrison Dye. During Chief Mehen's tenurehe worked on criminal cases. His name was mentioned several times in the Parkersburg News and Parkersburg Sentinel and the State Journal as clearing up a case or working on a particular case and how efficient he was.
During Chief Mehen's tenure (the exact date not known), he was attempting to arrest a subject in a house; the subject exited with a gun and shot the officer in the leg. Even though Chief Mehen's leg was "busted," he crawled into the back room, where the subject had retreated, and shot him. It is not known if he killed the subject but Mehen told the story several times to emphasize that he got his man. According to Mrs. Katherine Mehen, who provided several pieces of information about Chief Mehen, he was very patient and he always got his man. If he was looking for someone who had committed a crime, he made all possible entries in his notebook and carried a photo with him. When he wasn't busy with his normal duties he would show the photos to the merchants and the people on the streets in his effort to run down leads on a particular criminal. He was described as being six feet tall, 160 pounds, and very persistent.
It was apparent from reading the papers that hardly a week would go by that there wasn't a mention of Captain Mehen making an arrest, and it was obvious that the writers of the State Journal and the Parkersburg Sentinel were impressed with his ability to apprehend thieves. The newspapers published the story just the way the writers believed it to be. They would mention the "thugs" or " the slippery cuss" or however they felt about the person who had been arrested. An example: Mehen arrested a subject by the name of Lee Oakes. The State Journal reported that: "Lee Oakes, one of the meanest and most' slippery cusses' of these parts now stands a good chance to go to the penitentiary this time. "Another example:" A man was riding home on his horse near Volcano and was shot by an unknown subject in the stomach. "The article was graphic in explaining how the ball passed through the subject's body, tearing it apart, and advised that more than likely, even if a doctor had arrived in time, the victim probably still would have died.
Upon his retirement from the office of Chief of Police, after serving several terms, the citizens of Parkersburg presented Mehen with a gold watch for his bravery and faithful administration of his duties. He prized the award highly during the remainder of his life. Mehen continued in police work after leaving the Parkersburg Police Department. He was appointed U. S. Marshal in 1895. A short time later The Parkersburg Sentinel reported that Mehen was working as a Special Police Officer for the B & 0 Railroad. It's unknown whether he gave up the Marshal's position or if he was working both jobs at the same time. Mehen was later made captain of the B & 0 Railroad Police and was in charge of all property and grounds in the area around Parkersburg. Even though he was not a Parkersburg police officer, he made several arrests, turning over to the Parkersburg police the suspects and the necessary evidence with which to convict.
His political life continued almost to the time of his death. City Council Dockets show that in 1907 he was the City Collector. Captain Mehen possessed an interesting and colorful personality. He had a keen mind and a good memory, retaining recollections of Parkersburg's early days and of its earlier citizens. When information was desired, Captain Mehen was consulted as the local expert. Captain Mehen attended every Confederate reunion until two years prior to his death when failing health prevented his participation. He was a member of St. Xavier's Catholic Church and knew every detail of its history, having witnessed the construction as well as growth of the congregation. He was twice married: his first wife, was Miss Mary Gallagher, and to that union was born two sons, Danand Frank Mehen, both of whom died as young men. His second wife was Miss Mary Flynn of Parkersburg, and their children were James V. Mehen, Raymond Mehen, Ann Mehen (Thompson),and Mrs. T. J. Conway. Mary Flynn Mehen died in 1923.
D. W. (Wirt) Heaton was born in 1852 at Elizabeth (Wirt County), Virginia, a son of Mr. and Mrs. William G. Heaton. When he was four years old, his family moved to Parkersburg, Virginia, where he lived the rest of his life. He was a member of Meade Camp, Sons of Veterans, since his father served in the Union Army during the Civil War. D.W. Heaton also served in the Civil War for brief periods. For a number of years after the Civil War, Heaton was owner and driver of trotting and pacing horses, earning a reputation as an expert driver.
During his first term as Chief of Police the first street railway system began operating in Parkersburg (1894). The street car was an open vehicle that was pulled by mules or horses and presented many problems: the mud would bog down the horses or mules, the cars would leave the tracks and, since the cars were not enclosed, the passengers were not protected from the elements. Police officers employed by the City during Chief Heaton's first term were: J. R. Mehen, H. L. Dils, T. J. Helmick, D. C. McHenry, Minor Starkey, E. J. Savage, W. H. Carfer, G. A. Bartlette, R. W. Dyke, P. C. McNerny, and Lt. C. C. Gale. The Chief of Police's annual salary was $1,000 and the police officers were paid $500 per year.
Chief Heaton had been in office two years when his entire police force was involved in a confrontation with the federal court system. A story in the January 17, 1895, edition of The Weekly State Journal gave the details:
FOR CONTEMPT OF COURT
In Discharging His Duties as a Policeman, he Unknowingly Backed up Against Uncle Sam -Bound Over to the U. S. Grand Jury Clash of Authority Between the United States and this Municipality in Which the Latter is Worsted
Friday evening after Judge Jackson, of the U. S. Court, had been notified that Geo. Damron, a man from Logan County, who came here acting as guard to a squad of prisoners, had been arrested by Policeman Bob Dyke in G. Fries' Saloon, taken before Judge Drennen, where he was arraigned on the charge of carrying concealed weapons, to which charge he confessed and was fined $13.50 by Police Judge Drennan. He issued an order for Dyke's arrest for contempt of the U. S. Court. He was arrested at the police station and was taken before Judge Jackson, who, after a few preliminaries, set the case for a hearing at 9:30 next morning. Long before that time the court room crowded with citizens of this town, who came to see what would be done with a faithful officer, who, in accordance, as he thought, with the laws that govern the city had made the arrest. It was nearly 10 O'clock when his honor, Judge Jackson, took the bench and the court convened.
Policeman Dyke was represented by Hon. G. W. Atkinson, of Wheeling, who kindly volunteered to defend the officer whom he believed not to have trangressed the authority vested in him. Gen. Watts represented the United States.
The first witness called to the stand was Geo. Damron, the man who was arrested by Dyke. He testified he had been summoned by U.S. Deputy Marshal Hatfield to come along up from in Logan County to act as guard over a batch of prisoners. He had been told by Hatfield to procure a gun. When he arrived here two prisoners were put in his keeping, but yesterday afternoon before he entered G. Fries' saloon Deputy Hatfield took the prisoners away from him. He and a friend named Walker entered the saloon and after going out into the back yard and returning they ordered up the drinks. Soon Officer Dyke came into the saloon and told him he wanted him for carrying concealed weapon. After some conversation Damron went with Dyke to the police station, where a warrant was issued by Judge Drennen on information of R.L. Dyke, an officer, against Geo. Damron for carrying a concealed weapon.
Damron was on the stand for some time and was questioned and cross-questioned by the attorneys on both sides. In appearance Damron looked the typical mountaineer. He was dressed in corduroy, dark shirt, red necktie, and looked to be over six feet in height. From his appearance he looked as if he was just getting over a spree. After Damron was through, his partner, Walker, was called but he told nothing new. Deputy Hatfield was called and testified that the prisoners Damron had in charge were in his (Damron's) keeping at the risk of himself (Hatfield). Hatfield was not certain about Damron's condition when he relieved him of the charge of the prisoners. Leach, one of the prisoners, testified to the sober condition of Damron. B. L. Priddie said he went to the police station, when notified of Damron's arrest, and told them that he was a U. S. guard. Priddie said he thought Damron was sober. G. Fries testified about the men being in his saloon and said they acted gentlemanly.
Policeman Dyke, the defendant, was next called and said he was on his way up Market Street and that Tim Davis told him there was a big man in Fries' saloon with a big gun, and that this man had had trouble with him (Davis) about a fish-lunch. He went into the saloon and went up to Damron and asked him if he carried a gun, to which Damron replied "Yes". Dyke then asked him if he was a U.S. Officer and Dyke says that Damron said first that he was a U. S. Marshal, then a deputy, and finally admitted that he was a guard. Dyke thinking he was neither, told him to come along with him and after some talk the fellow started. On the way down to the police station he objected to being "run in" by a "nigger" and asked that a white man be allowed to take him. Dyke said Damron was drunk at the time.
Recorder Drennen testified and while on the stand Judge Jackson took occasion to pay him a very high compliment for the splendid management of his official duties. Chief of Police Heaton testified that Damron was drunk and that after the trial he (Damron) asked Heaton to show him where the court house was. Tim Davis testified that Damron applied to him a vulgar epithet while in Fries' because he (Davis) refused to pay for a fish lunch for Damron. He also testified that Gus Rockenstein's little boy told him that Damron had a gun. A man named Deem collaborated Davis' story about the trouble over the fish lunch. District Attorney Watts spoke for Damron and the U. S. Court, and Hon. G. W. Atkinson for Dyke. When they had finished Judge Jackson spoke at some length condemning the actions of the police in interfering with the progress of U.S. Court, and said that the dignity of the U. S. Court would have to be upheld, if he had to put the whole lot of city officials in jail for contempt. In conclusion he required Officer Dyke to enter into recognizance in the sum of $300 to answer before the U.S. grand jury for contempt of court.
Chief Heaton's first term also covered the period in which construction began on the City Building at the corner of Fifth and Market Streets. While the corner stone for the beautiful Romanesque building was laid in 1895 the structure was not completed until October 1, 1897, due to financial and other difficulties. Because Council had decided upon an all-stone structure, the appropriation was revised, and those who secured the bonds had to help pay for the building. Adding to the building's cost was the fact the southeastern corner was built over Pond Run and there it was feared the weight of the structure would cause it to sink. The clock tower was located directly over the former creek bed. Additional work was done to strengthen the foundation. The contractor was Thomas J. Miller. The following was the itemized cost of the building. Original Cost of building $47,900.00 Entire Cost of Building 64,899.38 Tower clock 1,347.61 Fire alarm bell 644.04 Fitting up Fire Department 507.56 Door plates 34.00 Filing cases for Clerk's office 189.00 Gas, electric light fixtures 1,500.00 Furniture, carpet and blinds 5,757.04 Decorator lighting 961.55 Architect commission (est) 146.00 Cement pairment 738.95 To complete Library 500.00 Fitting gas & water pipes l30.17 Total $77,355.95
The year the City Building was completed coincided with the completion of Heaton's first term at the helm of the police department. The post of city detective, which had been repealed in 1893, was reinstated in 1897 with Heaton's election to that office after eleven ballots by City Council. The roll was called eleven times before the councilmen could all agree. Under usual circumstances, the Chief of Police would have kept the vote count. Heaton's second term as Chief of Police began a year later (1898). Officers serving during this term were: Tom Merriman, Ed Landsittle, Lou Baker, P. C. McNerny, J. C. Brown, George Ditman, Lt. T. J. Helmick, J. W. Watson, John Dye, Joe Carter and H. L. Dils. Chief Heaton witnessed the modernization of the city's transportation system when the electric street cars began running. The operation was described in the July 2, 1898, issue of The Parkersburg Sentinel.
CARS Some Things That Passengers Should Know Green Cars for the
Inner and Red Cars for the Outer Loop
James H. Anderson was born December 2, 1853, in Washington, D. C., a son of William Thomas and Mahala Skidmore Anderson. His father was a blacksmith and followed this vocation in Washington until after the Civil War, when he moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. James did not learn to read or write until after he was 17 years old. Until he was 24, Anderson followed various vocations, including farm work, blacksmithing, railroading, milling, steam boating, operation of stationery engines, etc.
In 1876 and 1877, under two special enlistments, he served in the United States Navy on the steamships Tallapossa and Gedney. After being discharged from the latter vessel, he traveled to Parkersburg where, for the first year, he was employed as helper in a blacksmith shop. He saved $25 and used the money to establish himself in the green-grocer's business. Good business practices resulted in expansion and his grocery store became one of the best equipped and most patronized in the city. In 1881 he married Sarah E. Garlock of Belpre, Ohio. They had two children, James S., and Eva V. The daughter died at the age of 5.
Anderson was a staunch Republican. He served two terms as a member of the City Council of Parkersburg, under the regimes of W. W. Smith and Harry Thomas. In 1897, he was appointed Chief of the Police Department and served 15 months before resigning to return to his grocery business.
Officers who served under Chief Anderson were: Tom Morrisman, Edward Landsittle, Lou Baker, P. C. McNuncy, J. C. Brown, George Ditman, John Carter, John Dye, Lt. T. J. Helmick, William Best, J. H. Watson, Desk Sgt. R. E. Mumaugh, and Detective D.W. Heaton.
in the 1920 election he won a six year term as a member of the Board of County Commissioners and early in 1921 he turned over the active control and management of the family's retail grocery establishment to his son, James S. Anderson. This gave the former police chief time to devote his attention to the affairs of the county. The Andersons resided at 1433 Seventh Street in Parkersburg. He died December 15, 1932, and is buried in Riverview Cemetery, Parkersburg.
Joseph Spencer Cook, one of eight children, was born to Tillinghast J. Cook and Celia Elizabeth Samuel Cook in Wood County, Virginia, in 1853. When he became an adult he purchased property on Covert Street, Parkersburg, where he raised farm animals. Cook was involved in buying and selling different pieces of property in the area, including land along Bull Creek, just at the edge of Wood County. He had dealings with politicians and worked with his father in this area, handling properties, until 1899, when he became Chief of Police.
Policemen who served under Chief Cook were: E. E. Berkley, C. R. Fare, S. D. Arnold, William Hickman, Cooper, N. Coberly, Night Clerk J. C. Weyer, E. N. Hopkins, Lt. T. R. King, and Lt. T. V. Clark. While he was police chief, there were many problems, including robberies and political unrest. Newspapers, particularly, The State Journal and The Parkersburg Sentinel, reported the different crimes, citing in particular armed robberies and thefts of shanty boats on the river. Council passed an ordinance approving the purchase and use of the patrol wagon during this period.
The streets were claimed to be infested with mad dogs and Council put a bounty on the animals' heads. Any police officer who killed a dog was paid one dollar. Any dog on the street without a muzzle was to be declared a mad dog and killed. Some of the police officers made more money shooting dogs than they earned in salary. One particular officer collected $62 in a month's bounty, which exceded his salary by $12. The Mayor and Council suspended the Chief Cook for traveling to pick up a prisoner when the Mayor had advised against it. Council Dockets indicate wholesale suspensions. If charges were brought against police officers, the Mayor and Council would suspend the men.
During this particular time period, smallpox and typhoid fever were diseases dreaded by society. The newspapers editoralized on the possibility of quarantining homes in which smallpox or typhoid fever had been contacted. Upon occasion the newspapers even made reference to some one dying of typhoid. Police officers walked their beats in and out of the saloons in an effort to keep order. If the police officers were to go out of the City, they had to go by horseback. If they had to go to another city, usually the railroad was used to transport prisoners.
Cook was described as being a friendly person, who smiled often. He picked up the nickname of Uncle Josey, because of his friendliness. Quoting a 1901 edition of the Parkersburg Sentinel He had gained a reputation of being smiley. His temper ament was generally sunshiney, and he had a wide circle of friends. This nickname remained even after he left the office of Chief of Police. The article continues: April 17, 1901, seconds after his successor was sworn in, some bold bad man touched the gilded doomed detective. They werere ferring to the fact that while he was trying to keep order in the Council Chambers, while the administration changed, someone put their hand in his pocket and removed his black jack. This action infuriated the ex chief and due to his reputation of being strong but still friendly, the paper couldn't believe that someone would have the courage to take the blackjack from his pocket. Inspite of the fact that he was going out of office.
Cook was married three times. He married Delia M. Horner, June 16, 1877. They had one daughter, Blanche. Delia died August 11, 1881, of heart disease. His second wife was Amelia Lou Cook. They had two children, Josephine C. (Jossie) and William Bell. His third wife was Ida Dickerson, whom he married October 22, 1890. On Christmas Day, 1901, approximately six months after he left office, he was milking cows at 1737 Covert Street. He returned to the house, set the bucket down and then fell over the stand on which the bucket was sitting. The newspaper story related that Blanche found her father on the floor and summoned the doctor, who pronounced the 48 year old former police chief dead.
Edward Landsittle was born to Jacob and Elizabeth Landsittle at Stockport, Ohio. He grew up on a farm in that area, and after he became an adult he bought his own farm in Lowell, Ohio. He married Calle Muncey on June 6, 1893, in Washington County, Ohio, and they moved to Parkersburg, settling on Covert Street, and he took a job with the Parkersburg Police Department. His duties were like any patrolman's of those times: he spent approximately twelve hours a day checking buildings and saloons for any trouble. The streets were dirt and most people traveled by horse, horse and buggy, or by train. He worked under Police Chiefs D.W.Heaton and James H. Anderson.
The police officers usually walked beats in and out of the saloons to keep order. The officers made arrests on drunks, discharging a gun in a reckless manner, etc. The officer's salary was $500 per year. The uniforms were copied from the Cincinnati force. The police officers were all big men, some had worked in the oil fields, and others had held various jobs, such as saloon keepers and ice men. In 1901, he was named as Chief of the Parkersburg Police Department and served in that position until he resigned November 13, 1902. His tenure was not smooth; the Mayor suspended him one time for failure to make sure the saloons were closed on Sunday. Each time he was given time off, he headed back to his farm at Lowell, Ohio. The chief may have aggravated the Mayor to get time to work on his farm.
His police force included: Lt. Will Smith, Ellis Mathers, George McHenry, Charles Moreland, Lew Baker, W.G. Franklin, James Dye, John Williams, Ed Williams, A. L. Corbin, l.H. Moore, Hirlan Wilson, C.G. Bardon, and r.w. Wilson. Landsittle, 36, died March 10, 1904, four years after his wife, Calle, died in childbirth. They were survived by their son, Clyde, born in 1896.
Walter S. Barr was born in Wood County, Virginia, to James and Marietta Barr. He was raised in Parkersburg and attended local schools. As an adult he opened a butcher shop on Seventh Street in Parkersburg, operating it until he was appointed Chief of Police in 1903 after B. F. Vaughan was originally selected for the post but could not serve because a new ordinance had been passed stating that officers had to live in Parkersburg in order to serve.
Officers who served under Chief Barr were: Lt. W. A. Smith, Granville Uhl, Edward Pickering, W. F. Hickman, James G. Perdue, L. A. Runkle, Albert Schwartz, Walter Cook, James H. Jennings, George L. Buckley, William Wise, and James O'Neil.
On September 7, 1904, the Chief Barr and Officer Pickering were wounded in a bizarre accident. Pickering was going off duty. He took off his coat, laid it on a table, took off his gun, a .38 pistol, which was enclosed in its holster, and laid it on top of his coat. In rising from the table where he had been sitting, Pickering's movements caused the coat to move and the weapon tumbled to the floor. The gun fell on its hammer, causing it to fire. The bullet struck Pickering just above the ankle and then struck Barr in the breast. The Chief raised up off the stool where he had been sitting and said "Boys, I am shot!" The attending physician found the ball had entered the lower part of the Chief's left breast, ranging upward and backward, in a sort of semicircle, lodging in the muscles of the back. A cab was called to take both men to the hospital. They recovered but Chief Barr experienced problems from the injury for the rest of his life.
After completing his term Barr returned to his butcher shop. Later he accepted a job as a U. S. meat inspector and moved to Washington, D. C. where he lived for the remainder of his life. Barr married America Pitcher on June 29, 1887. They were the parents of eight children: Roberta, Clara, Lucille, Myrtle, Donald, Bernice (who died at the age of 5), and two other children who died at birth.
America died at the age of 35 and was buried at Odd Fellows Cemetery. Walter died in 1941, at the age of 79. His body was returned to Parkersburg and buried beside that of his wife. Barr was a member of A. O. U. W. and M. W. A. Societies.
Patrick Oliver was born in Pennsylvania in 1850 but spentmost of his life in Parkersburg. In his earlier years, he clerked in the Camden Oil Company store and later worked on the construction of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad bridge crossing the Ohio River. He served several terms as constable of Wood County before he was chosen by the Mayor and Council for the position of Chief of the Parkersburg Police Department in 1905.
Officers serving under Chief Oliver were: Lt. W. A. Smith, Sgt. A. L. Schwartz, Clerk J. H. Jennings, Night Clerk B. F. Nern, Patrol Driver G. L. Buckley, Night Patrol Driver A. H. Logan, and Patrolmen H. J. Wigal, W. J. McMannus, C. G. Gordon, W. E. Deem, G. F. Bodie, E. D. Pickering, W. F. Hickman, E. D. Williams, L. L. O'Neil, D. M. Taylor, W. S. Clark, and B. F. King.
After leaving the police department, Oliver operated a grocery store at Eleventh and Market Streets in Parkersburg. Illness forced him to retire several months before his death. He was a charter member of the Knights of Columbus and a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Woodsmen of the World. His wife's name was Margaret and they were the parents of five sons: Arthur, Fred P., Patrick J., Harry H., and Walter S. Oliver.
Born: June 27, 1866 Died: April 19, 1925 Chief of Police: 1911-1925 W. A. (Will) Smith was born in 1866, a son of James and Elizabeth Sheets Smith of Belleville, West Virginia. When he was a young man, Smith moved to Parkersburg and was employed for a time by the Adams Express Company. He also was employed by Dudley's Florist and later, at the age of 18 or 19, as a turnkey at the Wood County Jail. Later he became a deputy sheriff. When he was appointed to the Parkersburg Police Department April 15, 1901, he came on as a lieutenant of the night shift. He earned a reputation for integrity and at all times was anxious to perform his duties to the best of his ability. On many occasions he worked from twelve to eighteen hours a day. Even when the Department was reorganized on an eight hour basis, Smith would remain at headquarters until late at night.
New Civil Service police officers on August 28, 1911: Captain W. A. Smith, Police Clerks J. H. Jennings and T. E. Quinn, Patrolmen George W. Fleming, S. L. Swesey, Ed T. Pickering, C. H. Ruble, Thomas Fox, W. Fittickman, W. J. McManus, M. J. Keegan, Lts. A. M. Schwartz and J. H. Bohlander, Special Officers w. e. Reil, J. H. Moore, Special Officer C. M. Calligan, and George W. Dye. Annual salaries in 1911 were: Chief,$1,000; Lieutenant, $900; Clerk, $858; Patrolman, $780. As lieutenant, Smith was acting head of the police department and had been on duty at a fire at the Chancellor Hotel all after noon on August 23, 1911, directing police work, keeping back the crowd, and assisting the fire department in its work. He was also there when bodies of two black children and one white child were removed. At 5 O'clock he received information from his wife that their son was down town watching the fire and she was unab le to locate him. Smith asked his wife how their son was dressed and when told that he was wearing a pair of overall she remembered that the white boy taken from the ruins was wearing overalls. With fear in their hearts, the couple hurried to the funeral home. There his worst fears were realized: the mangled remains of the white lad were those of his own son. Friends said he never fully recovered from this shock.
The same year of the boy's tragic death, Smith was appointed Captain of the police department and continued working 12 to 18 hours per day. Capt. Smith once arrested a woman for indecent exposure in front of a church on Market Street. Dresses touched the ground at that period of time but this lady was showing her ankles! Another problem during his tenure was that of bullies to see which area had the toughest men. The man proving his toughness would fight on the weekend for the honor of the area here presented. Smith was walking one evening in the area of Fourth and Market streets, where there had been a disturbance. He asked the people to leave the area. One subject refused and Smith advised him that everyone was going to leave. The man responded that he was not going to leave and maybe he should let the officer know with whom he was dealing: the champion bully of the Parkersburg area. Smith, not impressed, repeated his order for the man to move on or suffer the consequences. The bully's answer was that if Smith didn't have that cane we would see who the better man was. Smith hung his cane on a hitching post and the fight was on. The police officer never was hit and the man was put in jail.
Other officers mentioned in City Council books during 1912-23 were P. E. Ruble, W. E. Rutter, C. C. Smith, W. H. Yates, M. V. Buskirk, P. O. Carder, C. W. McPherson, S. B. Rice, J. A. Lowthers, James O'Neil, M. Joyce, Humes DeVaughn, O. Lish, L. L. O'Neil, F. H. Duncan, Harry L. Dye, G. H. Graham, John W. Flinn, Arthur C. Chaddock, J. M. Trader, John Rose, W. C. Jordan Jr., Charles E. Posey, C. C. Simmers, A. P. Yoho, L. P. Stanton, John K. Heaton, Ophia Taylor, Patrick H. Gayner, C. T. Yoho, C. E. Boice, Ptl. Nolan, Lt. E. S. Harpold, Merchant Police S. J. Emerick, Special Officers J. M. Leary, W. J. Ruberry, P. J. Way, J. H. Moore, C. E. Criss, John F. Hill, J. D. Hoblitzell. The department's yearly salaries in 1922 were: Captain, $1,680; Lieutenant, $1,560; Clerk, $1,330; Patrolman, $990; and Special Officer, $500. Smith died at the age of 58. His wife, the former Sarah J. Wigal, died May 24, 1952. They are buried in the Hopewell Cemetery, near Lubeck, West Virginia.
James E. O'Neil was born to Bernard and Margaret O'Neil in 1869. He grew up in Wood County, and, as a young man, worked for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad as a locomotive engineer. In July, 1896, he was accepted as a patrolman with the Parkersburg Police Department. He was assigned to walk the downtown area, going in and out of the taverns, making sure that the peace of the City was maintained. In 1901, he worked as a City Detective. The Parkersburg Sentinel complimented him on his ability to clear up cases. On several occasions both The Sentinel and The State Journal printed articles commending O'Neil's ability as apolice officer.
Mr. O'Neil was promoted to lieutenant on May 1, 1923, and then as head of the Parkersburg Police Department on September 1, 1925. His first lieutenant was W. A. Schwartz. Monthly salaries were: Captain, $150; Lieutenant, $140; Desk Sergeant, $135; and Patrolman, $125. At this time in history, The Parkersburg Sentinel forecasted on July 2, 1925: the population will grow from twenty thousand, the number of the 1920 census, to sixty thousand by the time the 1930 census is taken. The reason for the rapid increase in population would be the two new plants that had just been built or were being built in the Parkersburg area: American Viscose Company and Penn Metal Company.
When the new administration was appointed in 1926, Chief O'Neil was replaced, after which he retired from the department. He lived in Parkersburg for the remainder of his life and died at the age of 89. He was survivied by his wife, Mary R. O'Neil, and a step son, Herbert E. Dearth.
Charles Sanford Hamer was one of four children born to Sam and Mony Hamer in Hinton, West Virginia, where he was reared. As an adult, he served in the U.S. Army during World War I. After his discharge from the military, he joined the newly formed West Virginia State Police in 1921, serving five years with two of those years spent in Parkersburg where he was sergeant in charge of Headquarters, Company B. The Parkersburg News and The Parkersburg Sentinel published several articles about Hamer's bravery as a State Police officer. One article in The Parkersburg Sentinel read.
Sergeant C.S. Hamer of the State Police probably saved Officer Summers' life today, according to the officers who took part in a raid on a shanty boat operated by a Mrs. Horner. Upon entering the house boat they searched for illegal liquor in one of the rooms where Mrs. Horner stayed. The officers started to enter when they saw Mrs. Horner with a loaded revolver and a wicked looking butcher knife. Mrs. Horner pulled the weapons on the approaching officers, of whom the leading officer was Officer Summers. Mr. Hamer sprang into action and took the weapon from her. This action probably saved Summers from death or a serious wound by the hands of the woman.
In April 1926, Mayor Stout appointed Sgt. Hamer as Chief of Police. He noted that while in Parkersburg, Hamer had impressed everyone as being a capable and efficient officer who had at all times been absolutely fair in the performance of his duties and had met every situation confronting him in a fearless manner. The Mayor also noted that Hamer had been given an indefinite furlough from the State Police while he was in the chief's job. On July 3, Hamer announced that the Parkersburg Police Department uniform would be like that of the State Police except it would be dark blue instead of khaki. William L. Hays was the chief's lieutenant. On September 15, 1926, Chief Hamer took a leave of absence from the police department and tendered his resignation effective October 1, 1926. Acting as Chief of Police in his absence was Lt. William L. Hays. Hamer returned to the State Police October 1, 1926, and was stationed at Moundsville.
In 1929, Hamer moved to Ocala, Florida, where he was a motorcycle officer for Ocala Police for twelve years. After that he worked as a guard at Camp Blanding, Florida, and at Camp Butner, North Carolina. Hamer married Jean Bitting of Ocala, Florida, in 1930, and they had a son, Charles Jr. On February 8, 1943, Hamer and his family moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where he accepted the position of assistant guard chief for the Manhatten Engineering District.
In 1943, Oakridge, a very secret city, was the site for the Atomic Energy Plant. Security was so tight that the government would not reveal the number of people living on its 60,000 fence-enclosed acres. It was called "the City behind the fence. The guard consisted of approximately 1,400 military men. In August, 1943, John B. Livingston and Hamer were appointed captains of Town Sites, which was the newly formed police force, to patrol the residential area of the city behind the fence. In 1945, the name of the unit was changed to City Police. Hamer and Livingston were the police captains, still under the control of the military. Later the military guards were reduced in number and Hamer and Livingston were reclassified to the rank of shift lieutenants.
With the additional reduction of military, Hamer's rank was changed to that of sergeant in 1947. The military gave up its control over the City in that same year. No one could own property in Oak Ridge until the late 1950s. Hamer was described by a fellow Oakridge Police officer Capt. Arbie Addison, as a "very polished, neat, and courteous officer. When his superior walked into his office, Sgt. Hamer stood until the officer was seated." He was six foot, one inch tall, weighed 180 pounds and was "all police officer" until his death, October 29, 1954. One of his brothers, Frank, was one among Texas Rangers assigned to the Bonnie and Clyde case. In other phases of community life, Hamer was a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the American Legion and the Masonic Order. He was a member of the First Methodist Church of Oakridge. He is buried at Sunset Cemetery in Clinton, Tennessee.
Harlan H. Abels was one of the three children born to George W. and Rosa Belle Abels in Parkersburg. He graduated with honors from Parkersburg High School in 1919, where he was on the Debating Team with the well known local sports announcer, Bill Slater. During the summer after graduation he was a beat officer for the Parkersburg Police Department. He quit to enter Ohio Wesleyan College, where he was a left guard on the football team when it won the conference champion ship. Team members were awarded miniature gold foot balls in recognition of the conference win and Abels wore his every day, and requested that it be buried with him. He graduated from Ohio Wesleyan with an A. B. Degree and then entered Garrett Seminary. In October, 1926, he returned to his Parkersburg home to recuperate from a bullet wound to his foot, sustained while serving as night clerk in the Melbourne Hotel in Chicago. He was shot by a holdup man, who, with a partner, attempted to rob the hotel. Mayor Stout asked Abels to become Chief and clean up the city while his foot healed.
The Parkersburg Police Department. had two automobiles then: one was an open Chrysler touring car and the other was either a Ford or Chevrolet. As Chief, Abels oversaw the operations of the Police Department as it closed the brothels and illegal gambling establishments in Parkersburg. The problems of drug addiction, which were to become pronounced years later, were first encountered by Chief Abels and his crusading officers. His brother, G. R. (Dick) Abels, recalled that he was at the police department when a young man was brought in on a burglary charge. His pockets were emptied and among the items inventoried were a bent spoon, syringe, and a rubber hose which resulted in a lengthy interrogation about his drug habit, which was new to the area.
Abels served for fifteen months, resigning to return to his studies at Garrett Theological Seminary. He was pastor of several different churches, and was serving at the York Street Episcopal Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the time of his death. He was the father of three children: two sons, Gene H. and George H., and a daughter, who was killed when a balcony fell in Dayton, Ohio. Abels was also a brother of Ester Abels Cunningham, former music instructor at Parkersburg High School.
Born 1892 Died September 7 1967 Chief of Police 1928-37 C. H. Watson was born in Wood County, West Virginia, a son of James A. and Julie Ann Watson. He grew up in Parkersburg and attended local schools after which he went to work for the B & 0 Railroad.
In 1928, the City of Parkersburg needed a chief of police who could not be controlled by the politicians. Watson was the Mayor's choice for the job. He took a leave of absence from the railroad and began the task of keeping the city from being run by outside political control. Watson was described as a large man, about six foot, one inch tall, weighing 235 to 250 pounds, and fearless; furthermore, according to an older police officer, "he could hob-nob (carryon conversation or get along) with anyone.
Officers serving under Chief Watson were: Floyd H. Dugan, J. Gordon Williams, Frank McPherson, Harry S. Dougherty, William W. Shutts, Clarence A. Murrin, Clarence W. Hylbert, Ray Shafer, Norman Mehl, Corder Weese, Charles W. Clark, M.E. Prince, Camden O. Butcher, Robert Bailey, Harry H. Rasel, J.E. Beckett, Raleigh Clement Berry, Wetzell Spencer Hamrick, Albert M. Swartz, Charles Ruble, Charles W. McPherson, Charles F. Terrell, Harrison Riggs, Jordan Williams.
James M. Deem, former Street Department Superintendent, was appointed as Chief of Police in 1937, succeeding C. H. Watson. Deem's appointment was a complete surprise and came immediately after C. H. Watson's resignation was tendered by Attorney George Shedan. Watson's resignation had not been expected, and, on the previous evening, Mayor H. R. DeBussey and administrative authorities claimed they did not have a successor in mind for Watson, should he resign.
Deem's name frequently had been mentioned by politicians as the administration's choice to head the Police Department when Mayor DeBussy and Councilmen began their duties at City Hall in April, 1935. City observers remembered seeing Deem frequently in City Hall after the new administration took over. The Mayor said Deem had been a resident of Parkersburg for thirteen years, and, after careful examination of his qualifications, appointed him Chief of the Parkersburg Police Department.
Deem's selection was based on his success in law enforcement and criminal investigation in Harrison County, West Virginia, where he had been Sheriff, and because of his integrity and unquestionable character. Experience which fitted him for the appointment included nine years as a deputy sheriff in Harrison County, in charge of law enforcement in time of great stress. He was a special investigator for the prosecuting attorney and coroner, and he also served eight years in the Parkersburg Office of the U.S. Treasury Department.
Deem later was engaged in the oil and gas business, was employed by the Internal Revenue Service for nine years, and then retired from FMC. Deem and his wife, Mary, were the parents of three sons, James J., Thomas Richard, and Fred C. The family resided at 809 Quincy Street in Parkersburg. Deem died May8, 1957, in Charleston, West Virginia, and is buried in Mount Carmel Cemetery, Parkersburg.
Clarence W .Hylbert was born in Roane County, West Virginia, a son of George A. and May Stutler Hylbert. Little is known of his youth or his education. He joined the Parkersburg Police Department June 1, 1926, when he was 35. He was described as being tall (six feet, two inches) and thin a mild mannered man, but stern. Hylbert's first assignment was with the uniform division of the Parkersburg Police Department and he worked that position until November 30, 1937, when he was appointed Acting Captain. Three years later, May 28, 1940, he was named Chief of Police and he remained in this position until his retirement on April 29, 1947. A patrolman's annual salary was approximately $1,600 and each man paid one dollar per month into the officers' retirement fund.
Officers serving under Chief Hylbert were: Lt. Floyd H. Dugan, Harry S. Dougherty, Desk Sergeants Ray Shafer, Emil Y. Satterfield and Harry Rasel, Patrolmen Mervin E. Prince, Charles F. Terrell, Jay Gordon Williams, Joe Beckett, e. O. Butcher, Corder H. Weese, Charles W. Clark, J. Norman Mehl, Robert Bailey, Clarence H. Hopkins, Wetzel S. Hamrick, and Bill Schutts.
In 1959 Parkersburg residents demonstrated their faith in the ex Police Chief by electing him Mayor. No person before or since (through 1984) had carried so many precincts, winning all but two of the city's fifty four precincts. His opponents received eighty-five votes each. The editorial section of the Parkersburg News April 9, 1959, stated The decisive manner in which the electorate of the City endorsed the candidacy of Clarence Hylbert for Mayor of Parkersburg was indicated by not only, overwhelming majority extending him, but by the wide spread support accorded the new Chief executive.
Hylbert was a 32nd Degree Mason with the Mt. Olivet Lodge #3, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, member of the Scottish Rites Bodies and Nemesis Temple Shrine, Parkersburg Chapter 14, Order of the Eastern Star, Bethany Shrine No.4, Order of the White Shrine of Jerusalem, a Past Master of Burning Springs Masonic Lodge, a Past Grand Patron of the Order of the Eastern Star Virginia, and a Past Watchman of the Shepherd of the White Shrine. A member of the Parkersburg Kiwanis Club, he was also a Kiwanis District Governor. He was a member of the Emmanuel Baptist Church. He married Christine Fought and they had one son, Paul W. Hylbert.
Joseph E. Beckett, a son of Samuel G. and Addie Sellers Beckett, was born in Belleville, Wood County, West Virginia. He lived practically all of his life in Parkersburg. Beckett joined the Parkersburg Police Department as a patrolman on April 2, 1928, and in May of the next year he accepted employment with the Federal Alcohol Tax Unit in Washington, D. C. He returned to the Parkersburg Police force in 1933 and was appointed sergeant in 1941. While sergeant, he established the Identification Unit at police headquarters. From 1943-1946, Beckett served in the U. S. Navy and was stationed in the Philippines where he was injured. He also was commissioned as Chief Warrant Officer. At the end of World War II he returned to Parkersburg and was named Chief of Police on April 29, 1947. At this time Beckett setup the Traffic and Detective Bureau. Beckett was a strong advocate of police training and inaugurated many programs, including both in-service and recruit schools.
Officers serving under Chief Joe. Beckett were: Lts C. E. Winans, H. S. Dougherty and J. Norman Mehl, Patrolmen John Dulin, Clair A. Snyder Jr. Joe Renforth, Charles H. Swain Jr. Charles H. Hardman, Hap Grotey, Jess Starcher, W. W. Lazzell, Ronald Gainer, W. S. Hamrick, Gail Smith, Russell Smith, Delvin Waide, Dorr Hale, Kenneth E. Dougherty, J. C. Booth, W. R. Rardon, Clair Rardon, C. O. Butcher, Bruce Parsons, H. F. Dougherty, Corder Weese, E. Y. Satterfield, F. E. Kerrigan, Wilbur R. Watson, H. H. Rasel, Chester B. Smith, A. Russell Mowery, James W. M. Spears, Ray Shaffer, David Full, C. W. Hylbert, F. H. Dugan, M. E. Prince, Robert Null, and William Shutts.
Beckett retired May 1, 1953, after more than a quarter of a century as a law enforcement officer and on November 16, 1953, was appointed a deputy sheriff in Wood County. On April 16, 1956, he was appointed to an unexpired term of justice of the peace and was elected to a four-year term of that office in the General Election in November of that year. He was hospitalized at the time of election and died of pneumonia on November 20. A graduate of the National FBI Academy, he was a member of the St. Andrew Methodist Church and also was affiliated with the Parkersburg Lions Club, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion in addition to the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 79 of Parkersburg. He also was a member of Lodge 3 of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Nemesis Shrine, and Jerusalem Chapter No. 3 of the Royal Arch Masons. He married Wilma Allman Beckett and they were the parents of four sons, James W., Joseph William, Stephen, and Earl.
Otto C. Boles was born in Oak Hill, West Virginia, a son of Grover Cleveland and Rose Mande Boles. The first eighteen years of his law enforcement career were spent with the West Virginia State Police. Prior to being assigned to Parkersburg, he was stationed at Grantsville. At Parkersburg, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant, and was commander of the barracks. Upon his retirement from the State Police he remained in Parkersburg and was appointed Chief of Police during the 1953-56 administration of William G. Brown.
Officers serving under Chief Boles were: Lts. W. S. Hamrick, W. R. Rardon and J. Norman Mehl; Gail Smith, W.W.Lazzell,JosephE.Beckett,HarryH.Rasel,C.N.Rardon,JessStarcher,JamesE.Wildt,RoyE.Collins,JohnDulin,Clair Snyder, Charles H. Swain Jr., H. S. Dougherty, George L. Fox, John D. Vaughan, Lester K. Walters, Dale V. Eaton, Gilbert B. Swartz Jr., Russell Smith, Delvin Waide, Kenneth E. Dougherty, H. F. Dougherty, Charles H. Hardman, K. E. Burdette, Ronald A. Poe, Robert R. Nuzum, Charles L. Plum, Arthur C. Swain, Fredrick Barrows, James W. M. Spears, Clair Rardon, Chester B. Smith, B. E. Parsons, and Ronald C. Gainer.
From 1956 to 1960, Boles served as Sheriff of Wood County and in March, 1961, became warden at the West Virginia State Penitentiary. While at the Penitentiary, he received an award in 1962 as the U. S. Outstanding Warden for that year, based on his efforts to establish a Jaycee charter among prison inmates. He also approved art classes for the inmates and started the Dale Carnegie course and other programs to rehabilitate the prisoners.
He married Jean Boles and they were the parents of a son, Otto C. Jr., and three daughters, Sharon, Jean Carole, and Nancy Pat. Boles was a member of the Methodist Church. He was also a Mason, a Shriner, and a member of the Parkersburg Lions Club. He was a past president of the YMCA, where he was a member of the board for six years. He served seven years on the Salvation Army board, including being president. He also was president of the West Virginia Chiefs of Police, while he headed the Parkersburg Police Department.
Bruce E. Parsons was born at Elizabeth, Wirt County, West Virginia, a son of Scott E. and Nora D. Dye Parsons. He received his elementary schooling in Elizabeth, moved to Parkersburg, and graduated from Parkersburg High School, where he played football. After graduation from high school, he attended Glenville State College. After college he joined the U.S. Maritime Corps and, upon completion of his military obligation, worked in Pittsburgh with the Jones and Laughlin Steel Company as a security officer. The security division was trained by the Pittsburgh Police Department.
In 1946 he joined the Parkersburg Police Department after six years of municipal industrial police training. Parsons' assignments were either the beat or cruiser duty with the uniform division. In 1947 he was assigned to the Traffic Division where he worked until 1951 when he was promoted sergeant in charge of the Traffic Division. While a patrolman and a sergeant with the Parkersburg Police, he attended several schools for more training, including military schools, Northwestern Traffic Institute, and Penn State University for traffic control, and Indian Junior College in Huntington, West Virginia, for additional training in traffic. He attended the Florida Bureau of Investigation Academy for training as an investigator, and also attended the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
Parsons was appointed police chief in 1956. Three years later he resigned to become police chief of the Fort Pierce, Florida, Department. He later served in a similar capacity at Port S. Lucie, Florida. In September, 1962, he became Chief of Police in Cocoa Beach, Florida, serving for fifteen years. After his retirement from the Cocoa Beach post, he worked for three years with the Berard County (Florida) Sheriff's Department as comptroller in the Finance Department.
He married Louise V. Harris and they were the parents of one daughter, Barbara Lee.
Gale V. Smith, a son of Alfred and Cario Smith, was born in Wood County, West Virginia, January 21, 1914. His father was a member of the Parkersburg Fire Department, and Smith recalls accompanying him on a 1919 fire call when, for the last time, a team of horses was used to pull the fire equipment.
Smith joined the Parkersburg Police Department August 21, 1941, at which time the Department had four cars equipped with one way radios. At that time the Department had approximately sixteen men, each of whom worked eight hours per day for eighteen days and off one day. After one year of service, each man was entitled to one week's vacation. Several years later they received one day off after working eight days. In 1945, the work week was cut to forty hours.
Smith became a sergeant in August, 1961; a lieutenant in March, 1964; and was appointed Chief in June, 1968. When Smith joined the Department, the salary was $125 per month the first year. He paid one dollar per month into the pension plan. After one year's service, the salary was increased to $135 per month and after the second year, the salary was $150 per month. His total salary for the first year was $1,603 and the salary for his last year was $9,530. The chief's philosophy was "do the best you can" and one cannot be expected to do any more. He retired October16, 1970.
Officers serving at the time Smith was Chief of Police were: Lts. C. E. Winans, C. A. Snyder Jr., A. R. Mowery, and L. K. Walters; Sgts. C. L. Plum, J. E. Woollard, H. F. Dougherty, G. F. Fox, and D. V. Eaton; Patrolmen F. R. Snyder, A. C. Swain, J. R. Barrows, J. E. Fought, D. L. Buckley Jr., L. C. Gibson, W. R. Rhodes, G. B. Swartz Jr., R. R. Nuzum, R. A. Poe, F. J. Lowers, W. H. Wade, G. L. Hartshorn, R. L. Newhouse, B. H. Pickens, J. D. Greathouse, J. I. Tracewell, G. E. Gaston, W. C. Whitecotton, G. E. Board, K. E. Dougherty, H. L. Barnhouse, J. G. Midkiff, J. L. Ashwell, A. M. Barnette, C. A. Lawrentz, R. E. Nonamaker, R. E. Williams, and K. H. Williams.
During an interview in 1984, Smith indicated it was a real pleasure to be a police officer. He stated that a patrolman was assigned the same zone at all times, unless another officer was off because of illness. Each officer was responsible for his particular zone. If there was trouble in a certain zone, it was the officer's responsibility to clear it up or put enough pressure on the perpetrator to force him out. He married Emogene McVey and they were the parents of two sons, Gale V. Jr., and Joseph.
Dale V. Eaton was born in Mineral Wells, West Virginia to Wilbert McKinley and Affie Lucille Stephens Eaton. He was reared in Wood County and attended local schools. While at Parkersburg High School he played football and was captain of the 1950 team. He was also class president in his sophomore year and after graduation, attended West Virginia Technical College in Montgomery, West Virginia.On February 1, 1954, he joined the Parkersburg Police Department and, in April, 1956, was appointed to the Detective Bureau. He was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 1958 and remained in the Detective Bureau. Usually, when a patrolman was promoted to sergeant, he was placed in the uniform division to work as a supervisor.
William P. A. Nicely was elected Mayor in 1970 and his choice for the Chiefs position was protested by several police officers causing the would be appointee to withdraw his name. Eaton was asked by several of the uniform and detective personnel to accept the position as Chief of Police. When he agreed, a representative group of the department went to Mayor Nicely and asked that Eaton be considered for the position. On October 15, 1970, Chief Eaton took over the Parkersburg Police Department.
Eaton was aggressive and advocated schooling for his officers. He also believed that a man who was sloppy in his uniform, would also be sloppy in his work. If a patrolman's uniform was not clean and sharp, his shift commander was notified to take care of the situation. The next time the officer reported for duty in such manner he was sent home, with instructions not to return to work until his attire was suitable. Needless to say, pride was instilled in the officers and they knew they were the best; they dressed the best and looked the best, because the Chief demanded it. As for schooling, the nation had just come through the 1960s with all its student unrest, riots, demonstrations and protests. Protest movements of the Vietnam War had just ended and the government granted considerable money for schooling. Chief Eaton took advantage of the government programs which also provided funds for equipment to fight crime or drugs.
Chief Eaton encouraged his policemen to educate themselves to become better officers and he encouraged them to go to school. Furthermore, if an officer was interested in college, Eaton made sure that the man's shift was arranged so he could attend classes. Chief Eaton worked hard to get the incentive pay for college credits earned by the police officers, who received a dollar per hour per each college credit they earned. The Parkersburg Police Department purchased new radios for both the station and the cruisers, riot gear for any type of emergency, a burglary prevention van for the Crime Prevention Bureau, and in service training films for the officers. Furthermore, Chief Eaton setup the Tactical Unit which fought organized crime and worked on drug related offenses.
Chief Eaton kept himself up-to-date as well as encouraging his men to do so. He attended the West Virginia State Police Academy, Civil Defense, Rescue Schooling, Criminal Investigation in Charleston, West Virginia; Special Schooling on Fingerprinting and Photography, Southern Police Instituteon Criminal Investigation and Homicide, Scientific Crime School, Tri-State Arson, etc. He retired August 1,1974, and entered the insurance business. He married Janet Irene Buckley and they were the parents of three children, Kimberly Ann, Michael William, and Kevin Ray.
Parkersburg Police Department personnel under Chief Eaton: Lts. H. F. Dougherty, C. L. Plum, C. A. Snyder, L. K. Walters, C. E. Winans; Sgts. J. R. Barrows, R. L. Newhouse, A. C. Swain, J. E. Woollard; Detectives J. L. Ashwell, A. M. Barnette, D. L. Buckley Jr., L. C. Gibson, J. J. Lantz, J. G. Midkiff, W. R. Rhodes, K. H. Williams; Patrolmen F. R. Snyder, R. R. Nuzum, R. A. Poe, F. J. Lowers, B. H. Pickens, W. H. Wade, G. L. Hartshorn, J. E. Fought, G. E. Gaston, W. C. Whitecotton, G. E. Board, C. A. Lawrentz, R. E. Nonamaker, J. L. Lyons, J. K. Smith, E. J. Layton, R. D. Martin, R. L. Brannon, R. N. Vensel, T. J. Gribble, J. A. Knapp, J. W. Holcomb, G. H. Montgonery, G. F. Mathers, C. E. Burgy, D. C. White, T. J. Skinner, R. D. Newell, K. L. Miller, L. A. Wilson, and K. D. Hall.
Charles Leslie Plum was born in Hundred, West Virginia, a son of Challen D. and Goldie Henderson Plum. He graduated from Chester County High School in Henderson, Tennessee, and attended Freed Hardman College and Vanderbilt University. Plum worked at Penn Metal Company in Vienna prior to joining the Parkersburg Police Department in September, 1954. After his appointment, he worked all three of the shifts. In June, 1959, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant after which he worked in the detective bureau and on all three shifts as a shift commander. Most of the time, as sergeant, he was assigned to night turn. As a shift commander, he was not hard to keep happy. When one of his officers made a good arrest or performed admirably, he would exude pride as if he had made the arrest himself. He would brag about how well the officer handled the case and carried it through. A leader who enjoyed his position, he was fearless when faced with a tough situation.
In October, 1971, he worked as the traffic manager and on March 1, 1973, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant and continued working in the Traffic Department. When Chief Dale V. Eaton was on vacation, Plum served as acting chief. So, when Chief Eaton retired in 1974, Plum was appointed to replace him. As chief, he was a mild-mannered man and didn't make any changes. Those serving under Chief Plum were: Lts. C. E. Winans, C. A. Snyder, H. F. Dougherty, L. Walters; Sgts. J. E. Woollard, D. V. Eaton, A. C. Swain, J. R. Barrows and L. C. Gibson; Patrolmen J. E. Fought, D. L. Buckley Jr., W. R. Rhodes, R. R. Nuzum, R. A. Poe, F. J. Lowers, W. H. Wade, G. L. Hartshorn, R. L. Newhouse, B. H. Pickens, J. I.Tracewell, G. E. Gaston, W. C. Whitecotton, G. E. Board, H. L. Barnhouse, J. G. Midkiff, J. L. Ashwell, A. M. Barnette, C. A. Lawrentz, R. E. Nonamaker, K. H. Williams, R. L. Brannon, T. J. Gribble, R. N. Vensel, William Brannon, J. K. Knapp, E. J. Layton, J. K. Smith, D. N. Shannon, Gary F. Mathers, R. D. Martin, J. W. Holcomb, G. H. Montgomery, Jerry L. Lyons, Harold L. Barnhouse, Charles E. Burgy, David C. White, Kenneth L. Miller, Thomas J. Skinner, Karl D. Hall, Lance A. Wilson, Mark J. Douglas, Robert D. Newell, Joseph Lantz, Vernon G. Cowan, Roger P. Echard, Robert M. Sams, David A. Tallman, R. L. Cowan, Cecil D. Dennis Jr., Don E. Hale, Joe A. Kuhl, Todd Clevenger, Delbert Gregg, Steven Plum,. Stephen B. Jackson, Rick W. Modesitt, Douglas E. McLain, John Elliott, Douglas E. Boone, Don W. Dougherty, R. J. Ritchie, George B. Fox and Jerry R. Harvey.
While serving with the police department, Plum completed the following courses: Basic Recruit Training, National Auto Theft Schooling, Northwestern University Traffic School, F. B. I. Firearms Training, Civil Defense Training, Laws of Arrest, Search and Seizure Training, First National Institute of Police and Prosecution Relations, International Municipal Signal Association Seminar.In 1976, just before his unexpected death, he went to Charleston, West Virginia, where the convention of the State Fraternal Order of Police was underway, to ascertain if there was any way that he could help the Parkersburg lodge secure a better position on the executive board. He died following surgery and was accorded full honors in a ceremonial rite conducted by the officers who served under him. He married Lillian Dougherty, a sister of two police officers, Ken and Francis Dougherty. Her father was also on the police department. The couple had two sons, Steven and Edward. Both followed their father's, grandfather's, and uncles' footsteps: Steven joined the Parkersburg Police Department; Ed worked for the department as a dispatcher and as a civilian employee for several years.
Harry Francis Dougherty was born to Harry Sherman and Marie Dotson Dougherty in Wood County, West Virginia, June 9, 1923. He was reared in Parkersburg and attended local schools, graduating from Parkersburg High School in 1941. Dougherty joined the U. S. Army in January, 1943, and earned the rank of sergeant in a paratrooper unit. After his discharge from the military, he worked for a time at Rogers Motors.
Dougherty joined the Parkersburg Police Department June 15,1947, and became part of the department's changing times. When he was first hired he was a beat man. All the downtown beats were filled and there were only two or three automobiles for the complete department. Most of the twenty-eight officers were foot patrolmen. Patrolman Dougherty was assigned the Lower Beat, which consisted of the area between Fourth Street and the Kanawha River, from Green Street west to the Ohio River. After approximately one year on the beat, he was moved to the Traffic Bureau, directing traffic on the street corners and patrolling in a cruiser.
Beginning in 1958, Dougherty worked out of the Detective Bureau for approximately ten years. He did general detective work (each detective did the entire investigation, from the initial report to the crime scene. At the crime scene, they would process it, take their own photographs, fingerprints, make plaster casts, interview the witnesses). If the detective was lucky enough in his investigation to gain enough evidence, he would make the arrest. When the case came to court, he would take it to the preliminary hearing and then do the grand jury brief. (A grand jury brief is a synopsis of the evidence obtained and to what the witnesses could testify.) At the trial the detective was the advisor to the prosecutor.
Dougherty was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 1969 and in February, 1970, was placed in charge of the Detective Bureau. Two years later he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant and was returned to the Uniform Division and assigned to a shift. In 1974, Lt. Dougherty was assigned again to the Detective Bureau as the officer in charge. On August 9, 1976, Lt. Dougherty changed positions again when his brother-in-law, Police Chief Charles L. Plum died. Dougherty was selected to take over as Police Chief and served until the Smith administration was elected in 1978, when he was asked to be the officer in charge of the detective bureau. He served in that position until September 17, 1979, when he was assigned the position of Executive Officer, second in command of the Parkersburg Police Department. He served in this position until his retirement, September 16, 1983.
Dougherty, 5 feet, 11 inches tall and weighing 185 pounds, was a mild mannered man who seldom became angry. It was believed that the worst word in his vocabulary, when he was angry, was "that rascal." He came from a police family. His father, a World War I veteran, was first a deputy sheriff and then a Parkersburg police officer for thirty two years. There were many stories about Chief Dougherty's father and his sidekicks, Wetzel (Ham) Hamrick and Robert Bailey. One particular story appeared February 6, 1966, in The Parkersburg News. Written by Larry Murphy in a column entitled "The Passing Scene," it described an event when H. S. Dougherty was a Parkersburg police officer:Sgt. Wetzel S. Hamrick was driving the police cruiser car which had roared away from the side of City Hall seconds before, and had just rounded the corner by the Wood County Bank to head toward the old Eat well Restaurant, which then was located at the northeast corner of Fourth and Market streets.
Sgt. Wetzel S. Hamrick was driving the police cruiser car which had roared away from the side of City Hall seconds before, and had just rounded the corner by the Wood County Bank to head toward the old Eatwell Restaurant, which then was located at the northeast corner of Fourth and Market streets. The cruiser car seemed to tip dangerously toward the left as it made the right-angle turn to go down Market Street. That may have been because "Ham" weighed 250 pounds, and seated beside him was Officer Robert Bailey, who possibly weighed somewhere between 150 and 160 pounds. Ordinarily, Hamrick's cruiser car "buddy" was Lt. Harry S. Dougherty, whose weight matched that of Sgt. Hamrick. And when the pair were working cruiser duty together, the front seat groaned beneath their total combined weight of 500 pounds, which soon flattened the sturdiest springs, according to other officers who used the same car on different shifts. "Ham" and Bob had just reached the Fourth and Market Street intersection in their cruiser when this reporter, on foot, rounded the corner by the Wood County Bank.
These officers were investigating an armed robbery which had been in progress at this restaurant about a minute earlier. The hold-up man had been witnessed by the Grand Hotel Clerk, who had retreated from the restaurant and phoned headquarters. As this reporter reached the Market Street sidewalk in front of the bank, Bailey was jumping out of the cruiser at Fourth and Market Street. A man dashed from the restaurant, and headed up the sidewalk on the east side of Market. Officer Bailey was some twenty to thirty strides behind the fleeing felon. And Sgt. Hamrick still driving the cruiser was in the process of making a U-turn at Fourth and Market Street. This reporter neither quickened nor slackened his pace, but headed diagonally toward the front of the old Strand Theatre, which has since been converted into a storeroom that today houses another business.
There are times when snap decisions of questionable wisdom are made without due regard to the possible consequences. And this was such an occasion. This reporter, while starting across Market, had quickly calculated the speed of the man sprinting up the sidewalk, and made the instant decision that he could reach sidewalk in front of the theatre at about the same moment the bandit reached the spot. With proper luck, maybe the reporter could stick out a leg and trip the fugitive. This would enable Bailey to overtake and grab the man before he could regain his feet. Such reasoning was, perhaps, as reckless as it was rapid. There was no thought of bravado, nor any attempt at a grandstand play. In fact, there was nobody in the "grandstand." The only persons in sight along that section of Market Street were the bandit, Bailey in pursuit, and Hamrick in the police cruiser. But the fleeing man must have sensed our intentions. While he was still about fifteen feet from the south end of the theatre marquee, and the reporter was still about three or four steps from the sidewalk curb in front of the old Strand, the man started waving his hand. It was then that the reporter noticed the pistol in the man's hand, which during the excitement of the past few seconds had been forgotten. The pistol was pointed right at our mid-section, and the man shouted an excited warning as he continued sprinting northward: "Don't worry! Keep going! I'm not going to try to stop you!" And you can readily believe that he meant it!
Just as the man with the menacing pistol passed us, so close we could hear his excited breathing and with the gun still pointed at us as he went by the cruiser car passed in back of us, close enough that we could feel the breeze from it, as Hamrick headed north up Market toward the Fifth Street intersection. Ham turned to the right on Fifth Street, and stopped, blocking the path of the fleeing bandit. Bailey sprinted past us next, with his drawn police pistol in his right hand. He was grim faced, we noticed. Who wouldn't be under such circumstances? When the bandit saw the cruiser car stop in front of him, blocking his northward path of escape, he attempted to stop and turn toward Bailey, who was closing in rapidly. The ex-convict's feet slipped from under him as he turned, and he dropped to his knees, with his feet under the right side of the cruiser car, between front and rear wheels. Desperately, he squeezed the trigger, with his gun pointing at the belt buckle of Bailey, who was getting nearer!
The cruiser car, with Sgt. Hamrick inside, was only forty or fifty feet to our left, although we never actually measured the distance. Anyway, we were close enough to the action that we could hear the firing pin click against the cartridge. We heard that ominous "click" twice. Before the man could squeeze the trigger a third time, Bailey was upon him and had taken the pistol from the man. After they had the man safely jailed in the basement of City Hall, Hamrick and Bailey took the man's gun into the alley and squeezed the trigger once more. That time there was a "live" shell in the firing chamber!
Bailey had been saved by two defective cartridges The reason we mentioned these particular people in Chief Dougherty's life is because of some coincidences: every time Bailey, Hamrick, and Dougherty were photographed, Bailey was always in the center. While Bailey was in the military during World War II and stationed overseas, he was killed in the line of duty. A downed plane was on fire and the pilot was trying to get away. Bailey at tempted to save the pilot's life and lost his own. When Bailey was buried in Saipan, he was placed between two other servicemen by the name of Hamrick and Dougherty. (Bailey's remains were returned to the United States for burial in Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Parkersburg, in June, 1948.)
Harry Sherman Dougherty had two sons on the police force: Kenneth and Harry Francis; his son-in-law, Charles L. Plum; grandsons, Donald W. Dougherty, son of Harry Francis Dougherty, and Steven Plum, son of Charles Plum. Another grandson, Edward Plum, also worked for the department. Those serving under Chief H. F. Dougherty were: Lts. C. A. Snyder, A. C. Swain, J. G. Midkiff, L. C. Gibson; Sgts. R. L. Brannon, L. A. Wilson, J. W. Holcomb, W. R. Rhodes, T. J. Skinner; Patrolmen R. R. Nuzum, F. J. Lowers, J. E. Woollard, W. H. Wade, G. E. Gaston, J. L. Ashwell, J. L. Lyons, G. H. Montgomery, C. D. Dennis, J. W. Elliott, R. A. Poe, J. E. Fought, R. D. Martin, J. A. Knapp, G. F. Mathers, K. L. Miller, D. A. Tallman, J. A. Kuhl, T. D. Clevenger, D. E. McLain, R. J. Ritchie, G. B. Fox, C. A. Lawrentz, R. E. Nonamaker, T. J. Gribble, K. D. Hall, V. G. Cowan, R. P. Echard, R. M. Sams, R. L. Cowan, S. M. Plum, S. M. Pierce, D. W. Dougherty, J. R. Harvey, R. W. Modesitt, D. E. Boone, B. H. Pickens, G. E. Board. Patrolmen working in the detective bureau were:K. H. Williams, J. K. Smith, R. N. Vensel, D. C. White, R. D. Newell, M. J. Douglas, D. E. Hale, G. Gregg and A. M. Barnette.
William R. Rhodes was born in Parkersburg a son of T. R. and Bonita Rhodes. He attended local schools and graduated from Parkersburg High School in 1958. A member of the Big Red Football Team in 1957 and 1958, he was voted third team All-State football player. Additionally, he was a State Champion Wrestler for the Big Reds in 1959. After high school, he was employed by a local insurance company. On February 10, 1964, Rhodes was assigned as a patrolman with the Parkersburg Police Department, Uniform Division. From 1964 to 1967, he was a uniformed police officer on all three shifts. In 1967, he was assigned to the detective bureau and remained there, except for a short period of time, until 1978, when he became Chief of Police.His special training included drugs and alcohol abuse, sponsored by the W. Va. Council of Alcoholism; fingerprinting classification and police photography sponsored by West Virginia Department of Public Safety; bomb disposal and riot control at the Southern Police University of Louisville, Kentucky. He also attended drug abuse school at the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, special police psychological course at Virginia University at Vienna.
As a detective, Rhodes compiled an outstanding record on cases cleared involving various types of crimes. He was promoted to sergeant in 1975 and to the rank of lieutenant in September, 1979, while he was Chief of Police. While he was Chief of Police, he organized the Parkersburg Police Honor Guard, and was the first Chief in the new Municipal Building located at One Government Square (Third and Avery streets). He increased the Detective Bureau from seven to fourteen men, reorganized the Traffic Bureau for the first time in several years, and hired the department's first female officer, L. I. Reed.
Officers serving under Chief Rhodes were: Executive officer H. F. Dougherty; Lts. J. G. Midkiff, T. J. Skinner, L. A. Wilson, L. C. Gibson; Sgts. C. A. Lawrentz, D. C. White, J. W. Holcomb, R. P. Echard; Detective Sgt. A. M. Barnette, Traffic Sgt. R. L. Brannon; Cpls. R. W. Modesitt, J. A. Kuhl, R. N. Vensel and K. H. Williams, Detective Bureau. Patrolmen: F. J. Lowers, W. H. Wade, B. H. Pickens, G. E. Gaston, G. E. Board, J. L. Ashwell, J. A. Knapp, G. F. Mathers, D. E. McLain, K. D. Hall, R. A. Poe, J. E. Fought, G. H. Montgomery, T. D. Clevenger, S. M. Plum, J. W. Elliott, D. E. Boone, G. B. Fox, S. A. Bodge, T. E. Gant, D. L. McCullough, R. E. Nonamaker, R. D: Martin, T. J. Gribble, K. L. Miller, M. J. Douglas, V. G. Cowan, R. M. Sams, D. A. Tallman, L. I Reed (only female), V. S. Flinn; Detective Bureau: J. L. Lyons, J. K. Smith, R. D. Newell, D. E. Hale, D. Gregg III, R. J. Ritchie, D. W. Dougherty, J. M. Spellacy, T. A. Dent; Traffic Bureau; R. R. Nuzum, S. M. Pierce, and J. R. Harvey.
James G. Midkiff, born February 1, 1943, at Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital in Parkersburg, was the youngest of two children born to Charles C. and Marguerite K. (Carney) Midkiff. His sister, Patsy D. Midkiff, married Fredrick Helms and, after an Air Force career, they made their home in Belpre, Ohio. Midkiff attended Wood County schools, graduating from Parkersburg High School in 1961. Immediately thereafter, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, serving for four years. Upon discharge in 1965, he became a member of the Parkersburg Police Department. In October, 1966, Midkiff married Dottie L. Cantwell of Vienna.
Over the years, Midkiff attended classes at the State Police Academy where he earned the status of instructor. Also, he attended the University of Louisville, East Carolina College, Marshall University, Hocking Technical College, Marietta College, Northwestern University, West Virginia State Colleges and the U.S. Department of Justice. In 1976, he received an Associate in Applied Science Degree from Parkersburg Community College. During his career as a police officer, Midkiff worked in all phases of the department including cruiser car patrol, foot patrol, radio communications, detective bureau, tactical unit, and drug unit. In June, 1975, he was promoted to the grade of sergeant and in July, 1977, was promoted to lieutenant. His rise to the top continued and finally culminated in being appointed Chief of Police in January, 1982. The Chief held that position until August, 1984, when he was forced to retire after undergoing a coronary bypass and pacemaker surgery early in 1984.
During his tenure as a police officer, he was an active member in the Fraternal Order of Police, served on the Police Pension Board, was a member of the Law Enforcement Advisory Committee at Parkersburg Community College, as well as being a member of other boards and commissions. Over the years, Midkiff received many awards and letters of commendation, probably the most notable being the departmental citation for the apprehension of two armed felons in the commission of an armed robbery and the selection by the Parkersburg Jaycees as the Out standing Young Law Enforcement Officer in 1977.
Officers serving under Chief Midkiff were as follows: Executive officer H. F. Dougherty; Lts. J. W. Holcomb, T. J. Skinner, L. A. Wilson, R. P. Echard, L. C. Gibson; Sgts. R. N. Vensel, R. W. Modesitt, J. A. Kuhl, R. L. Brannon; C. A. Lawrentz, Special Operations Unit (Drugs); A. M. Barnette, Public Relations; Cpl. K. H. Williams, Detective Bureau, T. A. Dent, D. W. Dougherty, V. S. Flinn; Police Artist; Patrolmen G. E. Board, R. D. Martin, V. G. Cowan, R. M. Sams, D. A. Tallman, J. W. Elliott, G. B. Fox, K. D. Hall, J. A. Nohe, R. H. Fluharty, C. E. Sizemore, G. H. Montgomery, K. L. Miller, D. E. McLain, S. M. Pierce, L. I. Reed, B. D. Stephens, J. Hunley, R. L. Parsons, J. G. James, D. L. McCullough, G. F. Mathers, T. D. Clevenger, S. M. Plum, D. E. Boone, J. R. Harvey, M. E. Davis, S. M. Nohe, S. D. Morgan, R. D. Bradley; Were assigned to the Detective Bureau: J. L. Lyons, J. K. Smith, R. D. Newell, D. E. Hale, D. Gregg, R.J. Ritchie, J. M. Spellacy, and S. A. Bodge; Vehicle Maintenance and Traffic Bureau, Patrolman B. H. Pickens.
John J. Norton a son of Jerome J. and Janet M. Norton was born in San Francisco, California.
His parents were of Japanese descent and during World War II his family was uprooted and forced to live in a detention camp in Arizona, for three years. He was eight when his family was allowed to return to San Francisco.Norton grew up in the Bay area and attended local schools. After graduation from high school, he attended San Jose State College, San Jose, California, and received a bachelor's degree. In 1954, he was seventeen when he joined the United States Marine Corps Reserves while attending college. He holds the rank of colonel in the Marine Reserves.
Norton worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation as an agent in Washington, D. C. Phoenix, Arizona; Seattle, Washington; Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. Prior to becoming Chief of Police in Parkersburg, Norton worked for the State Attorney General's Office of Montana; was Chief of Fire and Police (Public Safety), Foster City,California, and headed the California State Police. A little background on how Chief Norton came to Parkersburg: Chief James G. Midkiff suffered a medical problem which caused him to take early retirement. The Mayor wanted to appoint a lieutenant from the Police Department; City Council had its own choice and would not approve the Mayor's selection. There was never an attempt to reach compromise. The Mayor then advertised the vacancy in the International Chiefs of Police. Norton applied and was chosen. He was confirmed in December, 1984, as Chief of Police after serving for a short period as acting chief.
Parkersburg Police Chief Larry Gibson 1985-89 Photo Courtesy Larry Gibson
Larry Charles Gibson was born in Parkersburg West Virginia attended local Schools, Graduating from Parkersburg High School in 1958. he joined the Parkersburg Police Department July 4th 1961 at the age of 21
Chief Gibson has served in all phases of the Department including Patrol, Juvenile Officer, Detective, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Executive Officer, and Commander of operations Bureau. He was appointed to the Position Chief of Police on August 13 1985 by then Mayor Pat Pappas. in 1973 he was appointed to Sergeant and formed the department's Tactical unit, which was one of the first such units in the State of West Virginia. this unit served as a model for other Police Departments across West Virginia. the Tactical unit was formed with Grant money consisting 90% Federal 5% state and 5% city funding. the unit consisted of 7 officer's whose specific duties to attack and stabilize the incidents of part 1 crimes Including Robbery, Grand Larceny, Automobile Larceny, Assault and drug Law Violations. the unit operated under cover and in conjunction with other division of the department. during the existence of the Tactical unit all part 1 crimes reduced or stabilized with the exception of Grand Larceny
in 1976 Chief Gibson was Promoted to Lieutenant, and was assigned to the office of Executive officer, and held the position until 1979. his duties as Executive officer was to assist the Chief of Police Administratively, was in command of the uniformed Division personnel, and prepared the departments fiscal budget.
In 1979 Chief Gibson was appointed to serve as Chief of Detectives. in this capacity he was responsible for the assignment of criminal Investigations, the overseeing and guidance of investigations to the proper conclusion ie; arrest, court preparation, recovery of stolen property, and case closure. while serving as Chief of Detectives the following case types were investigated. Murder, malicious assault, assault during the commission of a felony, Robbery, Burglary, Sexual Assault, Extortion, Drug law Violations and vice crimes such as Prostitution and gambling.
in August 1985 Mayor Pat Pappas appointed Chief Gibson to Chief of the Parkersburg Police Department. and he held that position through Mayor Pat Pappas Tenure. in 1986 he was once again appointed to the Chief Office by Mayor William PA Nicely and served as such till his retirement in December 1989 and
in January 1990 chief Gibson was appointed by Mayor Helen G. Albright to the position of Personnel director for the city of Parkersburg and served as such till his second retirement in 1994
Chief Gibson and his wife Judy continue to make their home in Parkersburg
Parkersburg Police Chief Russ Miller 1990-93
Parkersburg Police Chief Rick Modesitt (1994-1997) under Mayor Eugene Knotts
Rick is a life long resident of Parkersburg born on December 9 1955 Joined the Parkersburg Police Dept 1971-72 Police Explorer Scout. in August 1 1974 to Feb 1975 Police Dispatcher, from Feb 1975 to Dec 31 1997 Parkersburg Police Dept was a Detective & Motorcycle Police Officer & Uniform Patrol Division, Sgt and Lt. Appointed Chief of Police by Mayor Gene Knotts from 1994 to 1997 After retirement, Elected to 74th and 75th West Virginia State Legislature as a member of House of Delegates, Served 10 years as Wood County Commissioner
Parkersburg Police Chief Tom dent 1998-2001
Parkersburg Police Chief Robert D. Newell 2001-05
Parkersburg Police Chief George B. Fox 2005-06
Parkersburg Police Chief Gerald E. Board 2006-09
Parkersburg Police Chief Joseph E. Martin 2009- Present He's the city's longest running police chief in over 60 years
Roster of Parkersburg's Chief Enforcement Officers
Early city annals indicate that Parkersburg's first elected officials were trustees with one selected as president of the board. In the early stages of city government, the trustees considered and passed twenty-three ordinances on September 21, 1826. They also appointed Henry H. Neal as Town Marshal.
The following men served Parkersburg as Town Marshal from 1826 until the first chief was appointed in 1885. The entire roster follows:
1826- Henry H. Neal appointed Town Marshal
1833- Jefferson Gibbons named Town Marshal (May25)
1834 - William P. Fisher, Town Marshal (June) William P. Fisher resigned (October 3) Adam Ruble named Town Marshal (October 3)
1835 - William P. Fisher named Town Marshal (December 18) 1836-John Taylor named Town Marshal (May30)
1838-Jas.Kirby named Town Marshal (July11) (As Collector, he was paid 6070 of all his collections) William Pool named Town Marshal (November 15)
1839- William Pool named Town Marshal/ Collector (June 6)
1840-John Cain named Town Marshal/Collector (August 10)
1841- John Cain named Town Marshal (June 1)
1842- H. H. Dils named Marshal (June 8) P. M. Dils, Deputy
1844- James Cook named Town Marshal (June 1)
1851- Philip W. Dils named Deputy Town Marshal (January)
1851- M. J. Littleboy, Jr. named Town Sergeant (January1-pay was $2,000 annually)
1852- A. M. Moss named Town Sergeant (January)
1856- An ordinance was passed substituting the title of Town Sergeant for Town Marshal (Town Sergeant allowed 6 % of all taxes, levies, license and other dues collected)
1856 - Hugh P. Neal resigned (January 25) K. S. Boreman elected to replace Hugh P. Neal (January 31)
1857 -William Harris named Town Sergeant (January) John Cain appointed Deputy
1858 - Joseph B. Neal named Town Sergeant (January)
1859- George Creel named Deputy
1860- James L. Bailey named
Town Sergeant (January) George Creel and William Dils, Town Watches
1861- William Dils named Town Sergeant (January)
1862-G. B. Saunder and H .P. Neal named Town Guards
1862-John Burns named City Sergeant
1863 -DeLafayette Davis served as Town Sergeant
1864 -City Sergeant was ordered "to employ one faithful man to patrol each ward for purpose of preventing and putting out fires and suppressing any improper practices in the street until next regular meeting from 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. at $1.50 per night. "(March 18)
1866- William H. Collett served as City Sergeant, Thomas Taggart, Thomas Burns, James McNulty, John Dawson, Policemen ($1.50 per day)
1868 - Charles Grambill, J. H. Dawson, Thomas McNulty, Jacob Weis and Ryin M. Diffit, Policemen
1869- Charles Grambill named Sergeant (duties included collecting taxes with salary set at 5 % of total) John W. Dawson, Thomas Burns, Jacob Weis, P. Clay, Police Officers (paid $50 a month-duties included lighting the gas lights)
1872- J. H. Simson named Sergeant Charles Fox, James Athey, Thomas Burns, James Trainer, and S. Freeman, Police Officers
1873 - H. C. Coffman named Sergeant; Thomas Burns, J. Boner, J. Trainer, and J. Farr, Police Officers
1874-Thomas Murphy named Sergeant
1876-J. R. Hume named Sergeant
1877-P. F. Flaherty named Sergeant
1878-Jno. W. Mitchell named Sergeant
1880- J. E. Rumley named Sergeant
1881-J. R. Mehen named Captain of Police
1885- Arthur B. Beckwith named Parkersburg's first Chief of Police From this date (1885), all other appointments were for the position of Chief of Police and the roster is as follows:
1889-1891 Henry L. Dils
1891-1893 James R. Mehen
1893-1897 D. W. Heaton
1897-1898 James H. Anderson
1898- 1899 D. W. Heaton
1899-1901 Joseph S. Cook
1901-1903 Edward L. Landsittle
1903-1904 Walter S. Barr
1905-1909 Patrick Oliver
1909-1911 Thomas J. Helmick
1911-1925 W. A. Smith
1925-1926 James E. O'Neil
1926 Charles S. Hamer
1927-1928 Harlan H. Abels
1928-1937 C. H. Watson
1937 James M. Deem
1937-1947 Clarence W. Hylbert
1947-1953 Joseph E. Beckett
1953-1956 Otto C. Boles
1956-1959 Bruce E. Parsons
1959 Harry H. Rasel
1959-1961 Hobart E. Martin
1961-1962 William W. Lazzell
1962-1965 William R. Callaghan
1965-1968 William W. Lazzell
1968 Jess W. Starcher
1968-1970 Gale V. Smith
1970-1974 Dale V. Eaton
1974-1976 Charles L. Plum
1976-1978 Harry F. Dougherty
1978-1982 William R. Rhodes
1982-1984 James G. Midkiff
1984 John J. Norton
1985-89 Larry Gibson
1990-93 Russell Miller
1994-98 Rick Modesitt
1998-2001 Thomas A. Dent
2001-05 Robert D. Newell
2005-06 George B. Fox
2006-09 Gerald E. Board
2009-Present Joseph E. Martin
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