1900s - Present
Sheriff J.G. Swofford became sheriff in 1906. I was not around at that time, but I understand he was well liked. I knew his widow, Nan Swafford, some 30 years later. I did not expect too much difficulty in my quest here. I was mistaken and was sternly advised to never disturb members of this family! I did not.
Several years later, I learned the rest of the story when I was given a copy of "The Graphic-Democrat," which was published in Granbury on March 16, 1909. Here on the front page was a photograph of Sheriff Swofford along with a suicide note he left when he shot a lady friend and himself in a Fort Worth apartment. Continued on page two was the entire sermon preached at his funeral. I was much wiser and did fill in one blank picture frame on the wall.
Moving to the Jail
During the Depression years, most sheriffs moved their families to the first floor of the jail building. In this manner, they and their wives became the jailers, and cooked meals for the prisoners. This meant some additional income as well as a place to live.
I was always pleased if my mother would sometimes visit there, and I could explore carefully. The last sheriff to live in the jail was O.C. Baker during his term that ended in 1972. Mrs. Baker said she cooked as though the inmates were her guests. They all ate the same diet; she just cooked extra for her "company" living upstairs.
In 1949, Mr. E.P. Crook was elected to the office. It was very interesting one morning when the citizens opened their "Fort Worth Star-Telegrams." In "Ripley's Believe It or Not" was an item stating that Hood County, Texas was the only known county to have elected a "crook" for their sheriff. Since we kept him for two terms, I think we approved of our "crook."
O.L. and Mrs. Campbell
Following Mr. Crook in 1944, O.L. Campbell filled the office and moved his family into the jail. Unfortunately he died before his term ended in 1948. The county officials agreed to allow Mrs. Campbell to finish the year; so when we speak of Hood County sheriffs, remember that a lady is to be included. As I collected these photos, I learned that her children regretted that Mrs. Campbell was not allowed to fill the second term that was awaiting her husband.
All of these many years, the sheriff's office was combined with the tax assessor-collector in the courthouse until 1972. The two jobs were separated as Henry Robertson took office. Our county had begun its population and criminal explosion by this date. Sheriff Robertson moved his office as well as every other law enforcement office to the old jail's first floor. He cooked meals in the old kitchen and added a radio department with a dispatcher in one room, too. To say both the downstairs and upstairs were overcrowded would be an understatement!
Adding to the History
Space limits repeating many other stories I gathered along with the pictures. Some are better if not repeated. Humans are not all perfect and neither are elected officials. At the current law enforcement center, the men elected since 1978 have continued to add their photographs to the gallery; now, it can be kept current. Only two empty frames remain where I failed. At the Hood County Museum in the old jail, we have photocopies of all the men and the lady using this building and the log cabin jail before 1865.
-By Mary Kate Durham