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Howard County

Howard County was created January 23, 1816 by an act of the General Assembly of the Territory of Missouri. It was taken from St. Louis and St. Charles counties and was the ninth county in the territory to be established. Howard County was named after Benjamin Howard of Kentucky who was appointed by President Madison in 1809 to be the governor of the Louisiana Territory before it became the Missouri Territory in 1812. He resigned this position in order to fight in the war of 1812 and died in St. Louis in 1814. At its conception, Howard County had a landmass of about 22,000 square miles from which more than 30 counties and partial counties, some extending into Iowa, were birthed. This is why Howard County received the nickname "Mother of Counties". By an act of the Missouri Legislature, approved February 16, 1825, Howard County was reduced to 463 square miles. It is now 471 square miles due to change in the course of the river. When Governor William Clark appointed Nicholas Burckhartt as the county's first sheriff in 1816, the county still encompassed 22,000 square miles. Upon admission of Missouri into the Union in 1821, Burckhartt was elected to the same office. He was also one of the delegates in the convention that framed the state constitution of Missouri in 1820. When his second term as sheriff expired, he was elected to the state senate and was about to be elected for a second term when he died in 1834. By law, the sheriff's office is to be located in the county seat. When Howard County was first formed, Hannah Cole's Fort was designated as the temporary county seat until the commission, appointed to that task, located an appropriate permanent site. In 1817, the town of Franklin was selected. However, it had to be moved to higher ground because of flooding of the Missouri River. It was then relocated to Fayette in 1823 where it remains today. Howard County's old jail is still standing and is located at 203 E. Morrison in Fayette. In fact, it is among those buildings in the city listed on the National Register of Historic Places. According to an old newspaper article, the jail wasbuilt and ready for occupancy in the spring of 1894, when George Crigler was sheriff.. Ten prisoners that were being held in the Howard County Jail were to be its first occupants. When the jail opened, it could house approximately 15 men, but included no provisions for women. And although it was built with gallows, no hangings were ever reported. It was typical of the county jails in the late 19th century to also include a residence for the sheriff and his family and Howard County was no different. The first sheriff to live in the jail was George C. Crigler, who served from 1891 to 1894. The last sheriff to occupy the residence was Randy Yaeger, who served from 1981 to 1998. He lived there two years while serving as a deputy under Hardin Dougherty and from 1980 to 1991 as sheriff. The jail residence was occupied throughout most of the years but, eventually those who held office chose not to live there. Thanks to the citizens of Howard County, who agreed with the special advisory board and the Howard County Commission that a new jail was needed, a bond issue was passed in 2002. The new jail was built adjacent to its predecessor on Mulberry Street and features a modern security system; space to house female prisoners; a recreation room for the prisoners; and a sally port to provide a safer transfer of prisoners. The new facility also includes much-needed office space for the sheriffs and deputies that, up until this point, were located in the courthouse. When the new jail was completed, the old one, which had served Howard County 100 years, was closed. This took place during Sheriff Charlie Polson's time in office. Later, the jail was sold on Ebay and the buyer, a man from California, had it restored. While much has changed throughout the history of the office of sheriff in Howard County, there are elements of the office that remain the same the sheriff is an elected official who is answerable to the people of the county; he has arrest powers; he has the authority to serve and execute civil and criminal process; he has the responsibility of overseeing the jail; and he is still sworn to protect and serve the citizens of the county and guard their constitutional rights. The sheriff should never forget that the office of sheriff is more than a job it is a calling to be a "minister of God" (Romans 13:4), to honor and serve.

Sources: Information about the old and new Howard County Jails taken from an article written by Jim Steele; old picture of Howard County Jail also provided by Jim Steele. Special thanks to Milly Haggard for her assistance with the history of Missouri; the Howard County Library in their assistance in locating information; Harold Kerr for his inexhaustible patience in finding information; and Jim Steele for his invaluable help with
this project.


Former Sheriffs

Sheriff Charlie Polson
Sheriff Randy Yaegar 1981-1998
Sheriff Hardin Dougherty 1973-1980
Sheriff Casey Jones 1973
Sheriff J. Archie Walker 1969-1972
Sheriff Delgar Wells 1957-1969
Sheriff Kerman Ashcraft 1945-1956
Sheriff Robert L. Farmer 1941-1945
Sheriff Kerman Ashcraft 1937-1940
Sheriff Thomas P. Gaines 1933-1936
Sheriff J. Oliver Wells 1928-1932
Sheriff Joe M. Howard 1925-1928
Sheriff O.N. Chipley 1921-1924
Sheriff Fred L. Pryor 1917-1920
Sheriff William H. Dollard 1913-1916
Sheriff George D. Gibson 1907-1912
Sheriff R.P. Howard 1903-1906
Sheriff George D. Gibson 1899-1902
Sheriff W.F. Mitchell 1895-1898
Sheriff George C. Crigler 1891-1894
Sheriff Joseph C. Maupin 1887-1890
Sheriff V.J. Leland 1883-1886
Sheriff Nester B. Howard 1879-1882
Sheriff V.J. Leland 1875-1878
Sheriff William O. Burton 1874
Sheriff James G. Maupin 1872-1873
Sheriff Rice Patterson 1868-1871
Sheriff John L. Morrison 1867
Sheriff Prior M. Jackson 1866
Sheriff Thomas G. Deatherage 1863-1865
Sheriff James H. Feland 1861-1862
Sheriff Boyd McCrary 1857-1860
Sheriff Bird Deatherage 1853-1856
Sheriff Newton G. Elliott 1849-1852
Sheriff Jacob Headrick 1845-1848
Sheriff Lewis Crigler 1841-1844
Sheriff Alfred W. Morrison 1833-1840
Sheriff Nathaniel Ford 1830-1832
Sheriff David Prewitt 1827-1829
Sheriff Benjamin R. Ray 1823-1826
Sheriff Nicholas Burckhartt 1816-1822


Howard County Sheriff's Office © 2016100 N. Mulberry Fayette, MO 65248 | 660-248-2477 | Fax 660-248-1444