Yesteryear Sheriffs by Mary Kate Durham
When have you visited the law enforcement center - without an escort, that is? Few people have, which means they are missing an interesting display of photos shown there. In 1978, Henry Robertson was the sheriff of Hood County and the last to use the old jail, which was built in 1885. As the new jail was being built, Sheriff Robertson asked Rash Photo to reproduce a photograph of every person who had served Hood County in the office of sheriff. This was to be his parting gift to the county as his term ended.
It was an interesting idea, but who would provide Mr. Rash with the photos dating from 1866 to be copied? It would require some 30 photographs. A group picture of nine former officers gathered for a reunion in 1920 was available and is how the collection began. I soon received a call for help and began my search.
I had known many of the men from my early childhood years. I set out to find their relatives, who might have a picture that we could copy. The process took weeks, months, and even several years for one. There was a great deal of history brought forth - some good and some not so good.
A.J. Wright and J.C. Hightower
In 1867, A.J. Wright was elected as the first Hood County sheriff. He was immediately removed by carpetbaggers, because he had served in the Confederate army. They replaced him with J.C. Hightower. I knew his grandson and great-grandson; so I called Mr. Cato Hightower and asked to borrow a picture of his grandfather. All I received was a very loud laugh.
Mr. J.C. Hightower had been a carpetbagger and disowned by all of his family. No photo existed and none would ever be available. I continued to ask Cato Jr. after he moved to Granbury. All I have is an empty frame to hang.
In 1873, Mr. Wright was allowed to return to his office and served through 1876. During this period, he also built the rock home still standing on Spring Street. At that time, it was only two rooms with an open dog run in the center such as a double log cabin would have had.
The Sheriff's Home
J.F. Henderson, sheriff in 1898, added the second floor to this home and enclosed the dog run. Today, the house is referred to as the sheriff's home. Mr. C.M. Duncan became sheriff in 1936. He also owned this home and updated it further. His grandson continues to own and live in the home today.
Gradually, more pictures were collected. H.A. McDowell, who was elected in 1882, became a mystery. It was as though he had never existed; however, I traveled to Austin to prove he was recorded in state records. He is. His frame hangs today without a photo, but I would still like to find one person who might have heard of him.
View the history of the sheriff's office from the 1900s to the present.