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The Office of Sheriff was the first county office established in the Americas and records show the first Sheriff was selected in the Colony of Virginia in 1634. Thomas Jefferson wrote of the importance of the Sheriff in his treatise, The Value of Constitutions; "The office of the Sheriff is the most important of all the executive offices of the county... there is no honorable law enforcement authority in the Anglo-American law so ancient as that of the county sheriff whose role as peace officer goes back at least to the time of Alfred the Great."

The Sheriff is a constitutional officer and offers the people in his jurisdiction the most effective liaison to law enforcement. When citizens have a complaint concerning an issue in their county the Sheriff is ultimately their best remedy. Although modern times have placed more glamorous attention on police departments and state law enforcement agencies, in reality they create a myriad of problems. The Sheriff can respond faster to a citizen's complaint than any police department, as his fast and efficient abilities for handling these concerns are derived directly from his constitutional foundation, while other types of agencies continue to struggle with their bureaucratic red tape. Independence and self-governance is critically important to this office, as it lends itself to an autonomous nature greater than all other appointed law enforcement officials. The Sheriff answers directly to the people, rather than to other government officials. As an elected official the Sheriff can be a social force in the community and can represent the public's will on issues of community importance. "One voice one vote" provides for individual participation in the selection of the Sheriff and the Sheriff can point to the fact that if the public isn't satisfied with the job he is doing that he can be voted out of office.

Throughout American history many colorful individuals have held the office, to include George Washington's father, Augustine, (Sheriff of Westmoreland County in Colonial Virginia), "Wild Bill" Hickok, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Pat Garrett and Bill Tilghman. President Theodore Roosevelt served as a Deputy Sheriff in the Dakota Territories and President Grover Cleveland is the only President known to have personally hanged a man...while serving as the Sheriff of Erie County New York!

Colbert County was originally settled as early as 1810 and was part of Franklin County. The County was created by the Alabama Legislature on February 6, 1867. A Constitutional Convention abolished the county on November 29, 1867 and then on February 24, 1870, the Legislature once again re-established Colbert County.

William Reese Julian served as a Captain during the Civil War and became the first elected Sheriff of Colbert County in 1870 after the close of the war. Twenty six (26) individuals have served as Sheriff of the county.

After over a year of research, those listed below are believed to be an accurate list of all who have officially served as Sheriff of Colbert County. If you have knowledge of a sheriff and/or a picture and biographical information, it would be greatly appreciated if you would email your information to us.

Each name that is underlined can be clicked on to read more about that Sheriff and his history.

William Reese Julian.

William Reese Julian
1870 - 1874

Picture Still Needed

James G. Alexander
1874 - 1877

William Reese Julian.

William Reese Julian
1877 - 1880

John Alexander McWilliams.

John Alexander McWilliams
1880 - 1884

Picture Still Needed

William R. Alexander
1884 - 1888

Picture Still Needed

George S. Weaver
1888 - 1892

James Shelby Grisham.

James Shelby Grisham
1892 - 1896

J. Ben Grisham.

J. Ben Grisham
1896 - 1900

Charles Gassaway.

Charles Gassaway
1900 - 1902

Picture Still Needed

William Edward Bevill
1902 - 1905

Alfred Felix McCleskey.

Alfred Felix McCleskey
1906 - 1910

George W. Leggett.

George W. Leggett
1911 - 1915

John Edward Keeton.

John Edward Keeton
1915 - 1919

Tillman Powers Miller.

Tillman Powers Miller
1919 - 1923

Henry Cobb.

Henry Cobb
1923 - 1927

John Edward Keeton.

John Edward Keeton
1927 - 1929

William J. Blankenship.

William J. Blankenship
1929 - 1931

Herbert F. Moore.

Herbert F. Moore

Jeptha Blake.

Jeptha Blake
1931 - 1935

John B. Sockwell.

John B. Sockwell
1935 - 1939

Otis Houston McRight.

Otis Houston McRight
1939 - 1947

Robert Lee McCorkle.

Robert Lee McCorkle
1947 - 1955

W. Raymond Wheeler.

W. Raymond Wheeler
1955 - 1963

Hermon Red Cook.

Hermon "Red" Cook

Frances Cook.

Frances Cook
1963 - 1967

W. Raymond Wheeler.

W. Raymond Wheeler
1967 - 1971

Clyde G. Ayers.

Clyde G. Ayers
1971 - 1975

John L. Buddy Aldridge.

John L. "Buddy" Aldridge
1975 - 1999

Ronnie May.

Ronnie May
1999 - 2015




Officers Killed In The Line of Duty

Sheriff Hermon Cook
  EOW: Sunday, August 18, 1963
Deputy Sheriff James Payne
EOW: Monday, April 7, 1902
Deputy Sheriff H. E. Thurman
EOW:  Tuesday, December 13, 1927
Deputy Sheriff William Gassaway
EOW: Monday, April 7, 1902
Sheriff Thomas P. Miller
EOW: Tuesday, June 14, 1927
Deputy Sheriff Jesse Davis
EOW: Monday, April 7, 1902
Deputy Sheriff Don Stephenson
EOW: Saturday, January 22, 1921
Deputy Sheriff Bob Wallace
EOW: Monday, April 7, 1902
Deputy Sheriff Pat A. Prout
EOW: Monday, April 7, 1902
Sheriff Charles Gassaway
EOW: Monday, April 7, 1902
All officers were killed by gunfire.