JOINING OF FORCES
A HISTORY OF EDEN POLICE
by Ron Hooker
This book is dedicated to my beloved wife, Barbara, who suffered through many years with both a father and husband who were police officers, and my writing of this account.
It is with apologies that this account must begin. Apologies to those that may not be mentioned, or to those that are left out due to unavailability of records or persons living
that knew the officers. Apologies to those who are mentioned but, time and space limited the amount of information that could be recorded. And most of all, apologies for waiting twenty years too late to begin this endeavor.
Thanks must be given to those who were so willing and co-operative in making this report possible. Thanks, also to the local news media for their faithful recording of the accounts of the daily life in our growing community.
With these things in mind, the reader should understand that we do not attempt to provide a complete chronological account of law enforcement, but rather a history from the records and witnesses of what evolved into today’s Eden Police Department.
It is most regrettable that the exploits and escapades of every officer cannot be recorded. We attempt, however, to record the most note worthy ones.
To set the scene for the growth of law enforcement, particularly the local police, it is necessary to go first to the development of the area to determine the temperament of the peoples. This scene is very well described in a book written by James E. Garber, entitled "Eden; Past and Present". The following quotes are from that book: "the primary conflict the early employee felt was probably between his independence and the security of his family. Providing for his family in the mill village permitted little leeway; he would have to conform to rules of behavior governing his work and village life, rules he did not set and which did not take conscious account of his claim to "rights" so strongly held in the mountains ... common incidents of rock throwing (sometimes intended for the interruption of religious services), fist fighting, knifing, and shooting, (supposed affronts commonly lead to fights, some of which were mortal) ... the relatively tolerant view of such behavior on the basis that drunkenness, when involved, reduced personal responsibility ... mountain people viewed the making and selling of whiskey as a "right" and that many of them were also heavily engaged in consuming it. It is obvious that those people, accustomed to fighting and drinking in the mountains could not continue to behave in the same manner in the mill villages. They would have to conform to legal behavior as defined and encoded here, and give up those cherished "rights" running counter to law. Moreover they could not rely on lenient enforcement that would recognize limited culpability, when the offender was drunk or excuse him as a participant in a predestined event. The dilemma was usually resolved in favor of security ... it was not gentle suasion that new ways of behaving were acquired in the villages, but by enforcement of prevailing codes..."It is with this background setting, that we unfold the giant men (both in statue and fortitude) of police officers in the early days of the community.
1700's - 1900
It must be realized that it is impossible to find a starting point for what was considered a local police. The May 8, 1885 issue of the local newspaper, the Dan Valley Echo, records the election of the Town Marshall, R.R. Craddock. The November 2, 1883 issue of the Leaksville Gazette, registers the name of Sheriff Johnson, who was responsible for law and order in what is now the Eden area.
It was in the early 1900's, that what was probably one of the most unique police forces in history of the United States came into existence here. Recognizing the need for officers that would reside in and be responsible for the area, in which they lived, the Spray Civic Association, an organization that had no real governing power over an unincorporated area, had introduced to the N. C. Legislature, a bill that was ratified in 1909. This bill would authorize the Resident Superior Court judge to appoint police officers and constables for the Leaksville Township area. These officers would have the same powers as municipal police, and would be appointed for two years. The officers were sworn as deputy sheriffs' and made responsible for law and order in the Leaksville Township area; but primarily the Spray, Floyd Hill (Boulevard), and Draper settlements.
The town of Leaksville had an elected Marshall and sometimes an assistant police officer or night watchman. This "Marshall title was later changed to "Chief" and he was hired by the city fathers rather than elected.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves. To get a picture of early justice, we must go back to 1846 and recount the tale of the murderer who was identified by the sound of his horses' hoofs. Leaksville was a town of about 500 population, Draper and Spray had not really come into existence as settlements. A prominent merchant, John H. Bullard, had in his store a wooden strong box, which was strapped with iron and chained to the sleepers under the floor. On a Saturday afternoon in August, while the store was filled with costumers, Mr. Bullard returned from a collecting trip and deposited a large sum of money in gold, silver, and Virginia State notes in the box.
Early the following morning the body of Victor Louis, a clerk, was found lying on the floor of the store near the front window. He had been shot to death with a shotgun.
The coroner's jury arrested every man who had been in the store the previous Friday when Mr. Bullard had deposited the money in the strong box, but his testimony shed no light upon the case. The jury was about to adjourn, when one of its' members, a Scotsman named Robert Moir, arose and said, in broken English "I object, I smell a rot (rat)." After the room had been cleared of spectators, Mr. Moir very solemnly announced that he had found the murderer. He said the guilty man was Thomas G. Ellington, a young man who bore a good reputation and was one of the deputies searching for the murderer. The other jurors, surprised and unbelieving, protested loudly, by Mr. Moir carried his point and Ellington was placed under arrest.
Ellington, his mother and sister lived in a small cabin across the Dan River from Leaksville. His mother's testimony before the jury included no damaging evidence, but his sister said that on the morning after the murder, Ellington brought her a bloody shirt and asks her to wash it. He said that he had killed a squirrel the previous day and got blood on the sleeves.
After the jury had been in session for a week, a horse drover named Petrillo, who had camped near Leaksville railroad station on his way to Danville at the time of the murder, was called to testify. He said that about 10 o'clock on that night a man on horseback rode up to his camp. He had on a slouch hat and a cloak that covered his whole body and it was to dark and he was unable to distinguish his face. But, Petrillo said he noted the muzzle of a gun resting on the toe of the mans' boot and that he could recognize this gun among a thousand.
All the guns for five miles around Leaksville were seized and placed in a large building, later known as Gwerrants' Tobacco Factory, but then used as a hotel. Petrillo examined 48 of the guns and each time shook his head. But, after picking up the next
one, he looked long and very solemnly at its' muzzle, then turned and said, "I will swear that this is the gun that rested on the toe of the boot of the man at my camp Thursday night, August 13". The number of the gun showed that it belonged to Ellington.
In the meantime, the deputies had collected all the horses for miles around. Petrillo was blindfolded and seated with his back to the track upon which the horses were exercised. It was a level piece of land near the point where the late Dr. J. B. Field had his dental parlor. Fifty or more horses were ridden past the witness and he failed to recognize the gait. Finally a horse came by that seemed to interest Petrillo. "Ride that horse by again and hasten the gait," he said. After this request had been complied with, Petrillo sprang from the chair, tore the bandage from his eyes and said, "that is the horse." The horse belonged to Ellington.
The coroners' jury rendered a verdict naming Ellington as the murderer, and his case was tried in court at Wentworth before Judge William H. Battle. The jury returned a verdict, and Ellington was hanged on November 27, 1846.
Hanging in those days and for many years afterwards was public and thousands witnessed the execution of Ellington. The gallows was erected on a narrow valley near the county poor house, and the slopes on either side afforded an excellent view of the scene. The condemned man, who had never confessed his crime, was placed upon the trap door of the gallows and the rope was adjusted around his neck. The sheriff asked him if he wished to make any statement, and he said that he did not. But, when the sheriff took up the black cap to cover his head, Ellington said, "I alone am guilty of the murder of Victor Louis. I killed him to get the money in the strong box. I found the box fastened to the floor and could not raise it. I then went through the cash drawer and took all the money - just 13 cents. These I dropped in a hole in a sourwood tree near the stable, and they can be found by cutting down the tree."
The tree was afterwards cut down and the 13 old fashioned coins were found.
It is evident from the previous account that law enforcement was provided by the sheriff, with special deputies being sworn in times of need.
This was apparently the situation from 1797, when John Leake petitioned the State Legislature to establish the town of Leaksville, until 1874, when the Act was passed that made Leaksville an incorporated town. It was this act that provided for a town constable, who was elected by public vote. The term constable, in those days simply meant policeman. His title was that of Marshall. This continued until 1901, when an act was passed allowing the town commissioners to elect the constable and his job was combined with tax collector. It was under these conditions that H. F. Moir was elected in 1903; he continued in office until 1905, when he resigned, J.W.Norman, who later became town clerk, replaced Moir. Norman filled this positioned, until the election of John F. Deshazo. He was paid the healthy sum of $10.00 per month, to fill this very important position. Deshazo was a well-respected officer, as recalled by lawyer Allen D. Ivie Jr., who had met him as child.
In 1908, Deshazo was afforded some help, in the person of J. E. Woodson, who was appointed as an extra policeman and night watchman, at a salary of $5.00 per month, this was supplemented by private subscription of the citizens.
At the same time Glenn Fretwell was hired to substitute and assist at a salary of $1.00 per month. In 1917 Deshazo resigned and returned to a job as deputy sheriff, a job that he had held before becoming a town policeman. Deshazo was replaced by J. P. Adkins. Adkins salary increased until, as reported by the minutes of a town meeting, he reached the exorbitant wage of $50.00 per month. After reaching a settlement with the council in a dispute over tax receipts, he resigned and was replaced by Henry Grady Dallas. Mr. Dallas was very meticulous in his record keeping and his ledger of tax records, along with a bond he posted to attest to his honesty, is still kept in the files of the City of Eden. It was during his term of office, that the title, "Marshall" was changed to Chief of Police. He reached the high salary, of $100.00 per month. He was assisted by T. A. Bateman, who was the night watchman. It was also during his term that the police department began to handle town traffic problems. This is evidenced in the August 5, 1921 minutes of the board meeting in which he was instructed to enforce a new parking ordinance, for "auto-mobiles" in front of the post office.
At the town council meeting of July 5, 1923, Chief Dallas was instructed to turn over tax records to the newly appointed tax clerk, L. M. Sheffield. This is the same Sheffield, who in later years, was elected as Rockingham County Sheriff. Although not recorded in town minutes, Dallas apparently resigned about this time, for in the October 4, 1923 meeting, a colorful gentleman, and the first of the Clarks to enter police work, Owen Rash (Race) Clark was hired as Chief of Police and water works Superintendent.
It is here that we must depart from our chronological
account of the Leaksville Police and bring up to date the Leaksville township (known as the Spray/Draper) Police Department.
With the building of the many mills in the early 1900's and the bringing in of the mountain folk to the area, came the need for law enforcement. The prohibition laws greatly contributed to this need. It was during this period of boon that some undesirable
characters, as well as the tradition of making, drinking, and selling of bootleg liquor and home-brew, brought about these new law officers and their conflicts with law-breakers. After working sixty hours a week in the local mills, a man just had to unwind. Many used alcohol to help them. Although many had their own home stills, referred to as the "tin-tub" still, a few locals had genuine copper stills in operation.
Having liquor available locally served an immediate desire, the mountains from where these workers came. This desire for the
old home stuff brought about the tradition of meeting at the "spring". One citizen related that "In the early days there used to be a `Red Store' that was at the bottom of what is now Church Street, near its' intersection with Park Road, that had a spring out back, and was the meeting place to sit and drink. It was from this spring that Spring Street got its name. It was to this spring that new settlers would come in their Conestoga wagons
bringing along their possessions, which usually included a few jugs of that favored `mountain dew'. This spring became the scene of numerous fights and at least one case where a fellow had his throat cut by a drunken friend and bled to death on the ground". Another native states, "I have been told that, during those days, my father used to haul apples down here from the mountains in a wagon. He would sell them by the peck or bushel. The price on each one was different, depending on whether it contained a pint, quart or gallon of liquor".
It was into this environment, that these intrepid new officers stepped, after the passage of the 1909 Act, were submitted by the Spray Civic Association. The term "stepped” should be used literal, as these first officers had to patrol on foot. Although horses were available at the local livery stables, the officers' salary could only afford their rental in the event of traveling long distances in solving their cases. Areas of coverage for these officers were usually the populated sections known as Floyd Hill (Boulevard). Flint Hill and surrounding area (Spray), North Spray and Draper.
Draper was the only one the three towns that was a planned "model" mill village. The streets were numbered 100 to 1,000 and the business area built up near the mill. A store on Mill Avenue burned down in a fire and it along with other buildings near it were torn down. A new business section built just around the corner on a street, and then known as Lake Street, but today as Fieldcrest Road, is called by the residents "The Front". Another business area sprang up near the railroad depot referred to as "across the tracks". In later years as new residents moved into the area a new housing development sprang up known as "New Town".
The earliest remembered officer in Draper was a gentleman known as W. K. Flannagan or Flanigan, as his name is recorded both ways. Flannagan was a Deputy before the passage of the 1909 Act, but was considered by the town folk as their "policeman". The news media records that he was shot by W. Belt Samuels in Danville, Virginia in 1908. This case was retried in the Virginia courts in 1910 with local lawyer A. D. Ivie acting as prosecutor and Samuels received the same sentence of eighteen years that he was given in the earlier trial. It was rumored by the Draper folk that Flannagan's demise was the result of his personal "under cover" investigation of a "bawdy" house in Danville. This rumor cannot be documented however.
Another officer of those early days in Draper was a fellow by the name of Will Slaughter. Although little is known about this officer, it is recalled that he shot Tom Weaver off his wagon and a young lad by the name of Broadus Burgess stopped the runaway horses. After the shooting the County Sheriff arrived to swear in part time officer John Rea who kept Slaughter prisoner in his home overnight until he could transport him to the county jail. It was very cold weather and as the "calaboose" was not heated he did not want to lock his friend in it over night. Rea remained an officer in Draper for about two years, and then he quit, and moved to Henry County, Virginia. He later became a deputy in that county and remained one for many years.
The next officer of prominence in the Draper area was Harry Lindsey. The Reidsville Review Newspaper reported that Deputy Lindsey had stopped three men on a buggy and they drove off and left him standing. Lindsey pursued on his wheel but abandoned it for a ride on a jitney (bus). Upon overtaking the buggy, he jumped to the ground, leaped on the back of the buggy and drew his pistol. The gun Lindsey carried was a "squeezer", so called as it could be fired by squeezing rather than pulling a trigger. When he grabbed Murphy by the collar with his gun hand, the weapon went off, shooting Murphy who died from the wound. Lindsey was tried for the shooting and was ably defended by lawyer A. D. Ivie.
Draper's earliest jail was located near the mill in and area that later became a parking lot. It was known as the "Calaboose". The Draper police station was located in the back of the Bank building.
The Spray police department and courthouse was located in the mercantile building. Offenders were tried in Magistrate's court with the Recorders Court being established in 1915. If a jail or road sentence was imposed, the prisoner was transported to the county jail, which was nine miles away in Wentworth, by buggy. A sentence of working on the county roads was common, as the building of roads was a great need and many could not pay the fines and court cost imposed on them. Even in 1931, when a fine fine for speeding 35 miles per hour through Draper could not be paid, a subject was sentenced to twenty days shoveling road clay.
The Spray jail was a two-room structure located between the mercantile building and Spray Cotton Mills. Many referred to this “Calaboose” as the “Pig Pen”, and some say it was not much better than one. The deplorable condition of this jail was the topic of discussion of the October 4, 1912 meeting of the Spray Civic Association. This building burned with an incarcerated inmate in it. The prisoner's name was J. C. Overman. He was called the "Blind Tiger" and had been placed there because of several warrants that had been issued for him for hauling liquor into the area on Sundays. This was in October of 1916 and it was cool weather. It is believed that Overman may have started the fire to keep warm, as there was no heat in the jail. A later story relates that another person had told Overman of an escape in which the prisoner had started a fire in the jail and had fled when fire fighters came to extinguish the flame.
The officers were sworn as deputies as the area they covered
was unincorporated. Although under direct responsibility of the county sheriff, a chief deputy was appointed to supervise the local officers and was referred to, by local citizens, as "Chief of Police".
The earliest known of these "Chiefs" was Harden Eanes. Eanes is remembered as wearing a broad brim hat. A fair but firm officer of Eane's day was somewhat different from today. He received most of his training in law by experience in the courtroom and from information supplied by local lawyers. Officers had to be large of statue and able to handle themselves in a fight. This meant, many times that the officer had to be very physical. Some may today consider his definition of necessary force as brutal.
Chief Eanes was a deputy before the Act was passed for the Spray Civic Association to hire officers, but remained after it was passed and was appointed Chief Deputy by the Sheriff. He was an officer for twelve years. During this time he was engaged in several shoot-outs with bootleggers and criminals. At least one of these times he came home with his coat riddled with bullet holes. One tale, related by a local citizen, tells of a time, in an attempt to arrest a subject, that he was involved in a fight where the subject drew a knife, cutting Eanes and knocking him sprawling into the canal. Eanes retaliated by coming out of the canal, parted the subject's hair with his pistol barrel, and dragged him to the nearby calaboose.
In addition to being an officer, Eanes looked after the mill housing for new settlers. He was known to have evicted a few people for refusing to stop raising pigs. At least one family moved out, under his watchful eye, for being a community nuisance. The ladies of the house had come under ill repute. He is also remembered to, at one time; to have ran the Colonnade Hotel.
Eanes career came to an end in November of 1920 when, accompanied by officer Vernon, he was walking up the railroad tracks to make an arrest, he keeled over from what was reported in the Tri-City Gazette as "apoplexy". He was 58 years old. The Gazette also carried two tributes to this well liked and respected officer.
It is here that an explanation of the way the officers were assigned by the Sheriff's office may help clarify how the present day police department came into existence. Rockingham County was divided into townships; these were Leaksville, Ruffin, Stoneville, (Mayo), Madison, Wentworth, Reidsville, Price, Monroeton (Simpsonville), Huntsville, New Bethel, and Williamsburg. The officers were assigned to these townships and usually paid by the merchants in the areas. The Spray and Draper officers were responsible for the Leaksville Township, of which Spray was the largest unincorporated area. Since they were headquartered in Spray, they became known as the Spray Police Department, with the same being true of those stationed at Draper.
Only two officers are mentioned in the minutes as being hired directly by the Spray Civic Association. These were George Chatham in 1912 and W. D. "Will" Covington in 1913. However it is known that most of the Leaksville Township officers were on the Marshall Field payroll. An exception to that may have been officers that were paid by the merchants of the Boulevard.
Some of the officers, who worked with Eanes were John Grogan, Bob Dillion, Grooze Smith, and William Leftridge Vernon.
Grooze "Grover" Smith was a constable in the early days but later became the Boulevard officer. John Grogan was an Early Boulevard officer but was transferred to Draper after the death of Eanes and the Lindsey shooting incident. Bob "Neighbor Joe" Dillion then took Grogan's place.
It is during this time period that we really see the team effort begin to emerge that was the bases for the development of law enforcement in the Tri-City area.
After Eanes' death, officer Vernon was appointed chief deputy and is remembered even today as "Chief" Vernon. Very few people remember or knew his first name but simply refer to him as "Chief". Vernon was originally from Surry County but came here from Helena, Montana. It seems he took the advice of an earlier writer that said "Go West young man, go West". After being a sheriff in Montana for a short time, he decided to return to his home state of North Carolina. It is not exactly clear why he came to this bustling little textile area, but nevertheless he arrived one day on the train, with, his horse that he had bought in Montana. He went to work with the local officers in 1917 and worked very closely with Eanes. His horse was his early patrol vehicle and some of the older citizens can still tell tales of chases and arrest he made while astride this magnificent steed. They recall him sitting tall in the saddle, wearing his broad brim hat and riding boots. The sound of hoof beat was either welcome or fearful, depending which side of the law you were on. Much of the time he spent patrolling on foot, as Eanes did not own a horse. He only rented one when traveling long distances.
It was under Vernon, that a group of men begin to show up in the local newspapers that were constantly raiding stills, and confiscating liquor. It was also during his early days as Chief that the news media ran continuing articles on the declining morals of the community. The Tri-City Gazette ran a response letter by Chief Grady Dallas to an earlier letter from a citizen in Spray that accused the officers of being in cahoots with local bootleggers. It was shortly after this response that Dallas resigned and was replaced by Owen Rash "Race" Clark as Chief of Police in Leaksville.
Here our report of the Leaksville Police Department and the Leaksville Township (Spray) Department begin to run together. The names of Clark, Fair, Dillion, Vernon, and Grogan are mentioned time and time again together in the newspapers.
George Chatham had left the department earlier and Will Covington fell victim to the legal system of the State of Virginia. It seems that in March 1921, the department had several warrants for George Bryant for retailing whiskey. This was the same Bryant that Eanes had do wade in the water to arrest when he ran into the river trying to escape. Officer Vernon, Covington and a Revenue officer by the name of Jefferies spotted Bryant coming through Spray and pursuit began. The chase continued into Henry County, Virginia. During the encounter there were shots fired at the officers but they were not sure whether Bryant or someone on the roadside had done the shooting. Bryant was making his escape good by jumping on the running board of a car belonging to Buck Clark and ordering him to drive him to safety. Covington stated that as they neared the Pittsylvania County line Bryant fired at the officers and the bullet whizzed past their heads. He returned fire but Bryant had apparently turned back around as the bullet struck him in the back of the head. Bryant died from the wound and two guns were recovered. The guns had spent shells in them, corroborating the officer’s statement of earlier shots being fired. The three officers were arrested by Virginia authorities but were released on
Virginia government officials were up in arms because the North Carolina officers had invaded their sovereignty and demanded that justice be carried out. A prominent local lawyer was hired to defend the officers. This lawyer was Allen D. Ivie, Sr. Ivie managed to defend successfully and got charges dropped against Jeffries and Vernon, however, Covington received a ten-year active jail sentence. Ivie took an appeal and managed to get this sentence cut to five years, which he promptly appealed. The last sentence given Covington was two years. Ivie then loaded his young son, A. D. Ivie, Junior, on the train and went to see the Governor of Virginia. The Governor could not release the officer without a jail term but, after promising Ivie to help all he could, he did pardon Covington after the officer pulled six months of his sentence.
The forming of the Law and Order League, which was established in 1921.This, was an important force in the shaping of the local police departments. It was through their efforts that the citizens became aware of the needs of law enforcement. The early officers were kept busy with liquor problems as was evidenced not only by the newspapers but also by the minutes of a meeting by the Spray Civic Association in 1915. These stated ".... General order of the town had been about usual up to May, at which time Ridgeway (Virginia) opened a saloon just south of town, making whiskey available day or night. Heretofore under the dispensary law it was available only in the day. Drinking has been increased by one-hundred percent". These same minutes refer to the establishment of a Juvenile court and probation system.
Confrontations with "Bootleggers" and "Moonshiners" begin in earnest when in 1917 a bill was passed stopping all legal manufacture of liquor and in 1920 constitutional prohibition went into effect. This is documented by news reports of Eanes, Covington, and Chatham capturing liquor in 1918. Also Eanes, Vernon, and Chatham raiding a still. This raid was one in which a gun battle ensued resulting in a bullet passing through the coat of Eanes, the arrest of several moonshiners, and the confiscation of thirty gallons of whiskey took place in 1920. In 1924 Clark, Vernon, Fair, and Dillion captured a still with twenty gallons of whiskey and four hundred gallons of mash. It was during this year that these four officers, along with Dehart, captured and destroyed at least one other still and caught a car loaded with liquor. 1924 turned out to be a very eventful year. It was in August that officer Grogan got his throat cut. Grogan was working the area called Draper at the time. It happened that the owner of Holland's cafe had called Grogan to report J. E. Stevens who had been drinking and creating a disturbance. Grogan joined with his partner, a fairly new officer by the name of Earnest "Johnny" Powell, and entered the cafe where they arrested Stevens and W. H. "Slim" Williams. After starting up the street to the calaboose, Williams produced a knife from some mysterious place and cut an eight to ten inch gash around Grogan's throat across the jugular vein. He was making a second stab when an individual knocked his hand away and officer Powell took Grogan's blackjack and knocked Williams down. All this occurred in front or Doctor Webb's office that had witnessed part of the affair. Webb carried Grogan inside his office, called for Doctor Dillard and began to sew the policeman's wound up. The operation required seventeen stitches inside, but the number on the outside is not remembered. Grogan really never recovered from this experience and died just a couple of years later.
The twenties gave rise to the transportation of bootleg by car and the purchase of them by the officers to keep up with the speedier mode of travel by criminals. The streets and roads in and around the Leaksville Township were the scene of many a chase by local police, constables, and "revenoors" (Revenue agents) as they pursued these flaunters of the law. 1925 news media reveled that this team of officers captured at least five cars that year. However, fervency could be contributed to the factor that the officers received twenty-five percent of the value of the car if it was returned to the owner or finance company, or if it was auctioned.
1925 was also the year that officer Howard Fair became a hero in the community. Fair was sitting in the police office at the Mercantile Building when the wife of the town's beloved
Reverend Gordon parked her car across the canal at Mr. Mebane's office. Mrs. Gordon left her two small children, Laura, four, and Elizabeth, one and a half years old, in the car with the motor running. Somehow the brakes loosened and the vehicle began to roll back toward the canal that ran in front of the Mercantile building. Fair, looking out of the window saw this and ran out onto the steel ramp that lead from the second floor, on which the police office was located, and jumped over the railing into the chilly water. He did not stop to think that he could not swim nor that the water was eight feet deep and that it was wintertime. He hit the water about the same time as the car. The vehicle turned partially over and the children were thrown clear.
Catching hold of the part of the car that was unsubmerged, Fair grabbed the older child. The younger child had a firm hold on her sister and Fair lifted them clear of the water. Monroe Fields was nearby and saw what had happened. He came running with a plank, which he placed on the bank and the overturned car and Fair and the children were on the bank before Mrs. Gordon knew the accident had happened. When questioned about the brave deed, Fair modestly said, that "it was nothing that any real man would not have done". It was after this heroic rescue that the Rotary Club honored the officers for the services they had rendered to the community. It was also at this time that a photo was made that is still displayed by many descendants and by those that remember them. Individual photos were also made and can be found many homes today. Many have been hand painted. There were seven men in the group photo. They were: Chief W. L. Vernon; John Grogan; Howard Fair; Bob Dillion; "Race" Clark; Harry Dehart; and Nester Smith. Not photographed with the group but in an individual picture was Earnest Powe
It was during these years that an occurrence took place that almost stopped short the career of Charlie Poole. A noted local banjo player, Charlie has come back into prominence during today's revival of "Blue Grass" music. Poole and his friends decided to play a little music and, as the story goes, he may have accompanied it with a little liquor and female companionship. As fate would have it, someone complained about the "goings on", and Officer Dehart came to quiet them down. Dehart arrived, and told Poole that he was under arrest, to which Poole replied, "Under arrest, hell," and knocked out the light. A struggle ensued in the dark and as Dehart began to lose the battle, he pulled his pistol and placed it in what he thought was Poole's ear. As it turned out, the barrel was in Charlie's mouth and as he drew back the gun went off with the bullet searing his lip. Needless to say, this brought a halt to any further resistance. Charlie escaped and fled to the mountains. He came back later and had the warrant served on him.
1925 news reports show many of Clark's deeds as Chief of Police in Leaksville, as well as with the officers of the township. But 1926 seems to have been a lean year for excitement that made front-page news. However, the court records continued to show that the officers we working to provide enforcement for the community .
In 1927 the officers began to make headlines again, with Clark and Dillion catching a booze car. It was during this year that the funniest a one of the more serious situations took place.
The funniest event happened to Clark in an attempt to arrest a three hundred pound woman. To properly tell the story with the flower that reporters used in that day, we quote this article from the Friday, July 15, 1927 issue of the Leaksville News. "A prize bootlegger was bagged here Tuesday by officers C. R. Clark and Earnest Mabe. The peddler of the poison was of the female persuasion and not only colossus in size, weighing 300 pounds, but could shame any sailor or private in blasphemy and had a voice that would silence a foghorn. She proved a tartar when an attempt to arrest was made and Chief Clark had to call on Fireman Mabe for assistance. So great was the circumference of the Amazon that Mabe couldn't enfold her in one arm so took both, still he could not get her in the police car. She lay down on the street and the officers went into consultation as to ways and means. Mabe finally solved the engineering problem. He forced her hands up to Clark in the car and with one pulling and the other pushing the drunken, howling swearing female animal of the genus homo was heaved aboard and taken to jail." This report is but one of hundreds of the type that officers have experienced that the public never hears about.
The serious situation came about when Fair was charged with maltreating a prisoner or what is commonly called today, police brutality. Fair had arrested Jesse Edwards for drunk and disorderly conduct. Edwards, known as somewhat of a scrapper, is said to have resisted arrest and Fair hit him in the head with his pistol. This cut a large wound in Edward's scalp. Then Fair dragged him to the calaboose, lacerating his legs where they came in contact with the street.
The case came to trial with Barney Walker defending Fair; with P. W. Glidewell of Reidsville acting as prosecutor, and the prominent young lawyer Harry Fagge sitting on the bench as judge.
The trial stirred a great deal of interest and bitterness. Friends of Fair say the bitterness came from the bootleggers and their friends and that "Edwards had got no more than any drunken offender would get if they resisted arrest." Judge Fagge found Fair not guilty. A delegation of 117 approached Sheriff "Lit" Gardner that night and asked for Fair to be fired. He responded by asking for Fair's resignation, which he got.
Fair left Spray and became an officer in Thomasville, N. C. for a short time, returning later to become Chief of Police of this same department, but that is another story and will be covered when the period is recounted.
Before leaving this time period, we should mention Bob "Neighbor Joe" Dillion. Dillion is remembered as "The" Boulevard officer. He went to work in the early days under Hardin Eanes. He
and John Grogan lived across the street from each other and worked the Boulevard area together. He also worked it with Grooze Smith. Along with the many liquor raids he made with other officers in Spray, he kept the Boulevard clear of troublemakers. Many citizens recall "Neighbor Joe" telling them, when they were teenagers, that if they wanted to play to go to the park or that, after coming out of the movie house, it was time to go home and not be hanging around the Boulevard. Many a rebellious child got carried home and many a parent got "chewed out" for not exercising better control over their offspring.
This well thought of officer died in 1934 while attending an auction at the old Patterson place in Leaksville. It was this Patterson place that a street was named for that is in the Leaksville section of Eden today. Many photos still exist today in the homes of those who remember him.
It was in 1927 that Bob Dillion and Chief Vernon cleared the Heiner's Store break-in. Heiner's was a merchandise store located on the Boulevard. Vernon and Dillion proved to be real sleuths when they tracked the vehicle used in the robbery all the way to
Kings Mill Road near Sam Martin's house and found some of the goods wrapped in quilts in the nearby woods. It seems that the car had only one chain on the rear tire and left a distinctive track. The other suspect, Luke Redman, had been befriended by Mr. Heiner just a week before the robbery. Redman had appeared at Heiner's Store and begged him to sell him a pair of shoes on payments, offering one dollar down. Heiner noted the down-and-out appearance of the man and refused the dollar and gave him a pair of shoes. The day after the robbery, Redman bought a second-hand car from Herman Easily and gave him the first payment which consisted of a five, a ten and twenty-five cent pieces. It was the large amount of coins that stirred Easley’s curiosity and brought about Redman's arrest.
1927 was also the year that the county changed their policy for paying officers for captured stills. In discussion of the 1926-27 it was discovered that the county had paid out $1,800.00 to the officers for captured stills, most of which were "tin tub" type or galvanized metal. These were considered useless junk and would not bring much if sold. Furthermore, after capturing 90 stills, only three or four operators were arrested and convicted. The amount being paid per still was not less than $5.00 and not more than $20.00. With the perpetrators going free, this left them free to set up another location. When the law was originally written, copper was being used to make stills and selling them would reimburse for some of the costs paid to the officers. In 1927 a bill was introduced that allowed nothing to be paid for the still unless the operator was captured and convicted, then would the officer be paid $20.00. The result was almost twice as many operators were caught and convicted. It was during this year we see Charles Barnes step into the picture, although related to Robert and Frank Barnes, who come later, he is the first of the three to figure prominently in the shaping of local law enforcement. We see his name mentioned in the news reports with Vernon in recovering the Boy Scouts' hats and with the Draper officer, Earnest Johnny" Powell.
The year ended on a comical note with the capture of a bootlegger’s car and 110 gallons of liquor by "Race" Clark and Bob Dillion. Again, to show the flare and flavor of news reporters of the day, we quote directly from the Leaksville News of Friday, January 6, 1928. "On Sunday, the 17th day of December, Brother Race Clark and Brother Bob Dillion were riding around town seeing that all mankind was keeping the peace, when lo and behold they spied a Hudson touring car that seemed to be loaded with something that did not meet their approval, and Brother Bob said to Brother Race 'we had better catch that car at once,' and Brother Race stepped down on his Hudson and away they started toward Reidsville. The car in front decided to go faster and so did Brother Race Clark, and the race lasted to about two miles this side of Reidsville, when the chased car met two or three cars and could not pass them and stopped.
The gentleman left the car right away and started toward tall timber not caring to see Mr. Clark and Mr. Dillion for some unknown reason. The officers examined the car and found that she contained 110 gallons of liquid dewdrops of joy, known to so many people about Christmas time. They proceeded to take the car and to destroy the whiskey, which was poured in the Smith River at Spray in the presence of a large gathering of people who raised their hats and sung that old familiar song "How Dry I Am," and "Good-bye Booze Forever More." ...Judge Fagge ordered that the car be sold according to law governing captured cars filled with booze."
The year continued to pass quietly with the exception of a few big arrest, such as the one hundred gallons of booze captured by Clark and Grover Smith, and in September the resignation of Chief Clark at the request of the town council. The council was upset with Clarks arrest and police work outside of the town limits of Leaksville. But who could really blame him, as a percentage of all booze cars captured was given to the officers, and captured stills and moonshiners arrested added to that income. These catches were rare inside the town limits, but plentiful within a mile or two radius outside. For all the hours the job demanded these prizes only helped make the salary a little more acceptable.
It should be noted here that, although not remembered by many people, Clark was given another job by the town, in addition to his police duties. That was electrical, plumbing and building inspector. The town clerk at this time was J. W. Norman. These facts may not seem important at this time, but will show a quirk in history later in this account.
Upon Clarks' leaving, the job was given to R. M. "Moody" Davis. On October 29, 1929 the second of the Barnes, J. Frank, entered law enforcement as an assistant to Davis and on December 5th, 1930 G. W. wood was added. Another officer to join the Leaksville force in the early thirties was R. H. "Captain" Hundley. Wood had served as a constable, and Hundley as a deputy before joining the Leaksville police. This team of Hundley and Wood is evidenced by a recorded raid, in which these two, along with officer Chatham and the colorful officer from Draper, known as Henry L. "Pistol Pete" Stuart, captured 32 pints of liquor. This occurrence took place in July of 1929 in the Spray area.
"Pistol Pete" was well known to the Draper citizens and many still recall that, as teenagers, when they saw "Pistol" coming they would dive in the bushes or head for tall timber before he had a chance to find something to arrest them for. Many still remember his fervor in stopping poker playing and gambling. In fact, one person tells of the day that he and his buddy decided to play some poker and to keep from being caught by "Pete" they chose a big oak tree in the middle of a wooded area to meet. Each came in from a different direction, making sure not to be followed. They sat under the tree, dealt the cards and had just laid out their money, when "Pete" dropped out of the tree and arrested them both.
His fervor for arresting bootleggers is just as well known. One particular tale recounted of his exploits is of the time he spent four days under a house living off of Irish potatoes that had been stored for the winter. His patience paid off and the booty and moonshiners were captured.
"Pete" got his nickname for the two pistols that he donned when he got the job of police officer. Heretofore the officers only wore one pistol visible, although many carried a second in their pocket or concealed on their person. The name also came from his adeptness for using his weapon. Although he did use it instead of a blackjack occasionally, it was not this but rather, his method of shooting dogs that earned him the name. Before judging him to harshly, the times and situation should be explained. It was during this time period that hydrophobia began to spread, carried by stray dogs in the community. Several people were bitten and died as a result. To combat this problem, the Spray Civic Association and the Rockingham County Health Department passed ordinances allowing the officers to destroy strays. The officers were still purchasing their own personal cars for police duty and much of the time their patrolling was done on foot. It was these factors that brought about the poem about "Pete" that was chanted by the Draper youths and is still remembered today. The poem goes; "PISTOL PETE WITH HIS DIRTY FEET, KILLS EVERY DOG THAT HE SEES IN THE STREET!"
October of 1928 was the month of one of the most tragic events in the history of the community, and in the career of Chief Vernon. A car was stolen from Jones Motor Company by John McIver and Summerfield Martin. Mr. Claude Jones was one of the area's most well thought of citizens, and owner of a very prosperous business on the Boulevard. Martin was an escapee from Forsyth County Jail, and had surrendered to local officers. He was serving time on the road gang with McIver and Rance Elledge when they escaped from the convict camp. McIver was serving time for car theft and store breaking. Mr. Jones and Chief Vernon had gone to Chattanooga, Tennessee to drive back a Ford sedan that had been stolen by Martin and McIver. The Tennessee authorities were holding the prisoners for the local officer. Mr. Jones had agreed to bring the prisoners back in his car. Other officers had volunteered to go with Vernon, but due to the need of having officers on duty here, and the limited finances, he had decided to go alone. All went well, until they were near Yadkinville, where the prisoners attacked Vernon and Jones.
The prisoners were handcuffed in the rear seat with Vernon. One asked to see the road map, which Mr. Jones had in his pocket. As he slowed down, to get the map, one of the prisoners drew a knife on the officer and the struggle began. Both of the prisoners got into the fight as Jones was stopping the car. One of the prisoners tried to get the Chief's pistol and Vernon tried keeping it away by passing it to Jones. The prisoners grabbed the gun about the same time as Mr. Jones did. In the scuffle Jones was shot in the stomach, with the prisoner gaining possession of the weapon. The gun was then turned on the officer and he was forced to unlock the handcuffs. The Chief then had to remove the injured man from the car, and the prisoners drove away with the car, the gun, and the knife.
A passing motorist took the injured man and the Chief to the Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem where he filed his report with the local police. The car was located again in Knoxville, Tennessee after deputies chased and stopped it by shooting out the back tires. The driver leaped from the vehicle and disappeared. The car had damage to the right front fender and the spare tire, as if it had been wrecked.
Mr. Jones died from the wound at the age of forty-two. His funeral was well attended by those of the community. John McIver was captured in Forest City, Mississippi. Summerfield Martin was also arrested in Mississippi, but escaped again after being wounded by the Mississippi Lawmen. He escaped into the swamp and was never seen again. McIver, however was tried and sentenced to thirty years. He escaped in August 1930.
Before the year ended another controversial occurrence took place. The courtroom was moved from Spray to the new Realty Building in Leaksville. This aroused the competitive feeling of the people in Spray, who circulated a petition demanding that the courtroom be returned to its' traditional location.
January 1929 Leaksville News printed an article that, today, leaves us with an unanswered mystery. Chief Vernon went to the residence of Walter Massey to serve a warrant for breaking into Hubbard and Jones' store. When Massey’s wife attempted to open the door, Massey shot her and emptied his revolver point blank at the officer. Massey’s wife was sent to the hospital, but Vernon arrested Massey without receiving so much as a scratch.
1929, being a pre-election year, was the time that bitter feelings and opposition toward the officers began to surface. A public statement made by a Boulevard merchant after a burglary of Pyrons’ Jewelry evidences this. It seems there was a ring of thieves, who were hitting the merchants on the Boulevard on a regular basis. It was after their raid on Pyrons', and the demolition of the stores' interior that one of the merchants made the accusation; If there was suspicion that a gallon of booze was hid out, the police would be on the scent till found, but thousands of dollars worth of goods are burglarized here every year and the police fear to make arrest of local boys under suspicion.
Whether this criticism was unfair, or even whether it stirred action is unknown, but Vernon and his assistants cleared the Pyron case the next day. Chief Vernon’s handling of the Claude Jones case contributed to public dissatisfaction with the officer, as many felt that he could have prevented Jones' death.
The nation's dissatisfaction with the Republican Party and the county citizens dissatisfaction with a Republican Sheriff brought about a clean sweep in the November 1930 elections, with the Democrats winning almost every office. The new Sheriff was L.M. Sheffield, who was the Leaksville tax collector. One of Sheffield’s promises was to provide the community with a new police department, which he fulfilled. He replaced all of the officers except Willie Jim Robertson, who had been serving in special duty as pay roll guard for Marshall Field and Company along with his duties as police officer. When the new department was formed, he not only stayed on, but became its' new Chief. Vernons' name was last mentioned in print, as an officer, in September of 1930. He ran later as an unsuccessful Republican candidate for Constable. Marshall Field, grateful for Vernon's services and recognizing his abilities, retained him as a security officer until his death in 1950.
1930 began a decade of change for local law enforcement. After the election of Sheffield as the new Sheriff, he immediately swore in new officers. Charlie Hunter, Tom Meeks, Lacy Cook, and Arthur Fagge who took care of the Leaksville-Spray area, B.J. "Peg" Carter and Frank Barnes assigned to the Draper area. Jim Robertson was appointed as the new Chief (Deputy). A special officer, by the name of John Smith, was used at the county fair; he promptly resigned after a fracas took place in his presence that he could not control. The news reported Smith's attempt to stop an "all around, free handed, catch-as-catch can, knock-down and drag-out melee." A fight had broken out between Clyde Weaver, Bonnie Martin, and Will Frazier, who came to Martin's aid. Martin grabbed a stick from someone, who turned out to be officer Smith, and began to frail everybody within reach. Smith told the court at the trial, "I don't think I am cut out to be a policeman." It was too bewildering when bottles and fist were flying. He intimated that when toughs could take away his only means of defense, it was time to "go away from there."
The October 1,1931 Leaksville News reported on the capture of a still and relates that this case is the first of its' kind for some time. Whether the use of illegal stills had become unpopular or this new department was proving their adeptness as officers is not explained. However, the first mention of a plain- clothes officer used by the department is recorded. The account goes: The first case to be tried in a long time for real old fashioned stilling was heard in Recorders Court last Friday with R.H. Pulliam and Branston Hubbard playing the role of defendant stillers.
From the evidence produced it seems that Mr. Hunter, plain clothes
division of the Spray Police, was wandering around in the vicinity of the
Virginia line some time during the later part of the week before last, when,
while following the meandering of a small branch, he keened to an odor
different from nothing except the admixture of corn meal, malt, a little
yeast, perhaps a bit of horse manure, and maybe a dash of lye.
Anyhow, following his nose up the branch, he finally came within sight
of, all rearing to go, a real old-timey blockade distillery:
'kittle, cap, worm, mash tubs 'n everything.' Hastening to
headquarters, Mr. Hunter, reported his find, and organized a posse composed of
officers Cook, Robertson, Fagge, and Meeks, who with Mr. Hunter, returned near
to the scene located by him. As they approached the distillery voices were
heard, one I particular, not whistling to keep his courage up; but telling the
world in general, and his companions in particular:
'Aw, I’m not
afraid.' Just then, crash! and the phalanx of officers was slap dask in the
middle of everything: the fearless one, he just riz and flew, but right into
the waiting arms of d'law, thence to Court and trial.
Upon arraignment before the Court the defendants plead not guilty, but from the testimony of the raiding party, together with the route evidence, a sixty-five gallon copper 'kittle' exhibited at the trial, it was hard for the Judge to concur in this peal. So, the judgment was for each defendant to work on the roads for eight months, or in lieu thereof, to pay a fine of $150.00 and the costs. Hubbard decided the State Highway Commission needed him. Pulliam's mind, as he was married a day or so before the escapade, ran along the educational lines; he preferred to contribute to the school fund.
Although the year started off on a positive note, the new department was not without its problems. This was related in a later news article from the same newspaper company. Quote: "Officers Fagge, Robertson, and Cooke are suffering much chagrin these days because their headquarters in Spray was burglarized recently."
It seems they chased a liquor-laden car over half the county, finally capturing the car but not the driver. In the car was forty-five gallons of whiskey which was brought to the police station at Spray and located in a strong box."
"On the night of the day of capture, even before bedtime, headquarters was entered by prying the door and then the burglars proceeded to smash the Yale lock to the liquor box and remove the goods; not all, however, merely taking the cargo captured that day by the foregoing officers."
"It is suspected that the owner of the liquor considered, in his warped mentality about the prohibition law, that the officers has robbed him, so he lost no time in recovering his own, and having a fine sense of the Mosaic Law 'Thou shalt not steal' did not molest the other gallons of firewater taken from other poor (?) bootleggers."
"The Sheriff and his Deputies claim that the illicit cargoes are kept intact every time, but the fact is that if all liquor was poured out when captured, our Police Station would not be burglarized and just so much booze would go into the ground instead of in the stomachs of our will-less mortals."
Chief Robertson also suffered embarrassment when, after sending his clothes out to a local washwoman, he was told they were purloined from the clothesline. After discovering who the perpetrator was, he promptly arrested him and cited him to court. On the day of the trial, when he was called to witness stand, he saw, much to his chagrin and embarrassment, that the defendant was wearing his B.V.D.'s. His ire at the subjects' boldness was evident when Robertson pointed out this fact in court.
The new sheriff not only changed the personnel of the department but also made other lasting changes. One of these was the opening of an operational office in Leaksville that was later moved to the new courthouse. It remained one of their primary operation centers and central radio communications dispatch until the 1970's. The sheriff also had new uniforms purchased for the officers, the style of which is still in use today. The eight-point hat and cap badge was in continuous use by the local departments until 1990. He also set up the department with uniform and plain-clothes divisions, a practice that still exist today. Because of the increasing interest, of some citizens, he hired Tom Meeks as the community’s first and last designated "motorcycle cop". Although this idea has been explored several times since, it has been discarded for various reasons.
The close working situation that was the cause of Rash Clarks' resignation was not continued, but because of Spray and Leakesville’s adjoining boundary lines, a spirit of co-operation continued down through the years. This relationship can be seen in the arrest of Sam Turner, the "Love Nest" bootlegger. Officers Moody Davis, Jim Robertson and Lacy Cook had been to Greensboro working on a case and were returning by Fowlkes Hill (Highway #87) when they spotted a couple of cars making peculiar movements ahead of them. One of the vehicles they recognized as belonging to two gentlemen from Greensboro. The two vehicles and forty gallons of liquor were captured along with the men.
The hiring of full-time night police paid dividends in the thwarting of night burglaries as evidenced by the efforts of George Wood. Wood was Davis' assistant and the frightening away of thieves from J. S. Wilson’s store, as reported by the
Leaksville News is only one of his efforts that are recorded.
On May the eighth of 1932 the first of the great tragedies struck the Spray department. Just a few days after the killing of local storeowner, J. W. Carter, in which he was shot seven times with a .32 and .38 caliber pistols, Chief Robertson was killed with the same caliber weapon.
On Sunday night a call came into the police department that the lights were on in the Spray Graded schoolhouse. There had recently been several entries of this school by what had appeared to be kids or young hoodlums. In anticipation of catching them in the act, Chief Robertson and officer Charlie Hunter jumped into the formers' car and headed for the school. Parking nearby they approached the school on foot. Robertson, giving directions for Hunter to go around the front of the building, approached the schoolyard from the south. Robertson was approaching through a vacant space near the back yard of Reeves Cooper. As Robertson was passing Coopers' yard he spied two young men in the shadows. On approaching them, the men opened fire with their pistols, shooting Robertson eight times, killing him before he could return their fire. Robertson was not aware that there would be dangerous characters at the school, but rather expected to find hoodlums that had found a place to play poker. The Sheriffs' investigation of the murder scene revealed that a car was parked in the Reeves Cooper garage that contained a shotgun, some ammunition, and burglary tools. The Desoto car was jet black in color with a so recent coat of paint that it was still soft to the touch. The car appeared to have been painted with a brush, and when a small amount was removed, it revealed a Nile green color under the new paint. This car was then considered to be the one that Mrs. Carter had mistakenly called blue in the murder case of her husband. Upon questioning Reeves Cooper, he stated that the car belonged to Olin Clay Fogleman and Jimmie Napier. Cooper testified that he was a relative of Fogleman and had refused the former and Napier shelter and the use of his garage. When they were leaving the Cooper residence Fogleman and Napier were approached by officer Robertson and probably thought that Cooper had turned them in. Fogleman and Napier had been serving time in the Federal prison in Fayetteville for prohibition violations and vehicle theft. They had escaped the previous November. Hunter stated that Robertson was not aware of their presence in the community or involvement in the Carter murder and could not have identified them in the darkness of the night.
Oldeman Fogleman, Olin Fogleman, Clay Fogleman or Clay York, names and aliases that he used, along with his unnamed partner were declared outlaws by the State of North Carolina. Nine hundred dollars in reward money was posted.
On July 13, 1932 Sheriff Sheffield was notified that Olin Fogleman was in custody in Englewood, Ohio. Thus began the legal process that ended in Fogleman’s execution. He was held, along with a Gilbert Hamilton (suspected of being Jimmy Napier), for seriously wounding a Cincinnati detective. Ohio authorities were reluctant to give up the prisoner until such time as it was determined whether the detective would live or die. After being persuaded by Sheffield that North Carolina had precedent with the two murders that Fogleman was suspected of here, Ohio gave up their prisoner to officers of this State. In August word came that Napier had been killer in Jackson, Kentucky in a gun battle with officers, who had attempted to arrest him. It was said that Napier had bragged "They'll never take me alive" and had made good on his boast.
Fogleman was tried and found guilty by a jury from Stokes County. Judge A.M. Stack sentenced him to die on October 26,1932. Fogleman declared his innocence and appealed to the State Supreme court, stating that he had not had a fair trial and that the public had been inflamed against him, influencing the jury. In March 1933 the State Supreme court upheld the conviction. Fogleman proclaimed his innocence all the way to his execution. The sentence was carried out on August 4,1933. Controversy continues even today as to Fogleman's involvement and his tombstone bears the inscription "Murdered by the State of North Carolina".
Upon the death of Robertson, an officer that had been ask to resign a few years earlier returned to the department. The reasons are not exactly clear, but Howard Fair was brought back from Thomasville as Chief, replacing Robertson. In February of 1933 a tragic auto accident occurred that might have contributed to Fair's fatal demise. Fair and Arthur Fagge were chasing a suspicious car, when they left the roadway and crashed near the Leaksville Woolen mill. Fair's face struck the steering wheel crushing his nose, lacerating most of his face, and lifting his lip up, tearing the skin loose. Fagge hit the windshield, fracturing his skull and leaving him critical condition. Fair left the hospital after a short stay but complained of headaches frequently until his fateful demise. Fagge spent a long time recuperating and never quite recovered from it.
The Spray force continued their battle against crime as evidenced by Fair, Cook, Meeks and Hunter's capture of the sugar thieves breaking into the Cook Brothers grocery. The Leaksville department under the able leadership of Chief Moody Davis thwarted bootleggers and thieves that entered their territory and "Peg" Carter continued to see that Draper remained a quiet town.
After thirty-five years of being banned, legal beer sales once again started in the Leaksville Township on May l, l933. Although the brew was only 3.2% alcohol by volume, it was considered, by many to be an intoxicating drink, while others thought of it as another beverage that contained food value. A crowd of about two hundred, mostly those of the younger generation that had never tasted beer, was waiting for the sales to begin. Sheriff Sheffield, who professed to be a teetotaler, stated in an interview that, although he was not in favor of beer sales, illicit beverage sale appeared to be considerable less. Legal beer sales seemed to have hit the poison liquor traffic hard. This statement may have been true, but public drunkenness continued to be the highest in number of the officers' arrest as was evidenced in T.L. Cook's report to the public a few years later.
The opening of beer parlors (joints or halls as they were often called) gave rise to the story that attest to the respect and fear that the public, especially law-breakers, had for Chief Howard Fair. As one local citizen tells; "Fair was a tough officer. If he went to make an arrest the offender either came back walking on his feet or being dragged by them, it was their choice. If he pulled up beside you on the street in his car you either got in or got put in. One day Fair pulled up in front of one of the new beer joints on the Boulevard. He recognized one of the town imbibers on the end stool near the window as having too much to drink to be in public. Fair just waved for him to come to the car. There were five other patrons on the stools beside the offender and all saw Fair's gesture. Not knowing to whom he was waving, nor wanting to stir the officer's ire, all six stood up and walked out to the car."
As noted in the account of "Pistol Pete", the thirties was a decade of rabies problems, both for the peace officers and the public. While the Health Department and veterinarian George Ferguson tried to combat the spread of the disease through vaccination, the officers continued to destroy stray dogs. By June of l933 the officers had killed l90 dogs in the Leaksville Township. Warnings and pleas were issued to the public in the Leaksville News, like those printed by Chief Moody Davis and Dr. Ferguson.
Major cases seemed to dwindle for the rest of the year and even though the officers stayed busy with minor arrest, such as drunkenness and petty larcenies the township remained fairly peaceful.
March l934 became a memorable time in the history of local law enforcement. Old timers recall that Fair had been complaining with headaches since the auto wreck that he and Fagge had about a year earlier. Many feel that these headaches caused an increase in his drinking. They also thought that financial woes contributed to Fair's drinking. Many thought that financial woes also contributed to Fair's increase in drinking. On March 19, 1934, Sheriff Sheffield discharged Fair as an officer. On March twenty-second, Pete Mabes and Elizabeth Younts left with Fair enroute to a hospital in High Point. They had stopped at Fontaine's Service Station in Guilford County, where John Gordon worked. The service station had cabins to rent so Fair and Mrs. Younts decided to stay the night. Mabes was to return the next day and they would continue their journey to the hospital. Local citizens state that Fair had procured some liquor and had gotten drunk. John Gordon stated, "Just before dark on Friday night, after eating two big suppers, Fair lost control and went wild. From about nine o'clock, 'til about one, he nearly scared us to death by shooting through the floors, the windows and doors. He was breaking into rooms, beating on walls and knocking the plaster down. There wasn't anybody that could do anything with him and he threatened to kill himself and all of us. My wife and four kids was scared nearly to death and we stayed back in the living quarters most of the time, hoping that he would calm down. Finally, about one o'clock after wandering all over the place and the yard, he came up to the kitchen window, and threatened to kill us. Just as he drew back a shovel to break the window, I shot him." Sheriff Sheffield and the Guilford county deputies investigated the shooting and after hearing all the testimony of the witnesses determined it to be self-defense. The Leaksville News printed this epitaph; "He was a splendid citizen and enjoyed an excellent reputation as being a fearless, courageous officer - one who could be depended upon to answer any call, regardless of the possible danger involved."
Officer Lacy T. Cook was appointed as the new Chief Deputy replacing Fair. The department continued their fight against law-breakers under Cook's leadership. This was illustrated in the capture of a Ford automobile loaded with seventy-five gallons of illegal liquor. Involved also in the chase, that lasted from Leaksville to about four miles out of town on the Fowlkes Hill road, were officers Muncey Hodges, Tom Meeks and Donohue. During the same week Charlie Hunter, Tom Meeks, and W.O. Jenkins arrested a subject for transporting illegal liquor and home brew
Another headache in the form of slot machines arose for the officers. The local ministers and prominent citizens brought to public notice this form of gambling and asked that action be taken by law enforcement. Pete Mabes was arrested for the operation of slot machines. The machines paid off in slugs. This became a test case in the local Recorders Court. Mabes was found guilty and fined one hundred dollars and cost of court.
Since the advent of the automobile and the availability of alcohol, drunk driving became an increasing problem and concern in the community. This new problem presented another situation for the law officer to deal with. A local citizen arrested by Jenkins and Meeks fell victim to the wrath of the court after being found guilty of drunk driving, and driving with no headlights. He received four months on the county roads for these offenses.
The new beer joints may have made a dent in the illegal liquor traffic, but it by no means stopped it. In August of 1934,
Deputies Arthur Fagge, Muncey Hodges, Charlie Hunter, and Joe Moore raided and captured a sixty gallon still and its' operator. The still was made from steel oil drums. Along with the still they captured five hundred gallons of malt beer and fifty gallons of singlings. Singlings is the technical term for first run liquor. The singlings were to be run the second time to make real proofed corn liquor.
The August 1934 special edition of the Leaksville News carried a report on the three departments. The Leaksville, Spray, and Draper departments, reported they had only minor cases for the past three years. At this time there were only nine officers who were on duty within the confines of the Leaksville Township. None of the reported crimes came within the sphere of the national crime problems. It should be noted that during this era, the nation rocked from crime waves, by such notorious criminals as John Dillonger, "Pretty Boy" Floyd, Clyde Barrow and others. In the last three months of the year of the report, one hundred and fifteen arrest were made with most of them being liquor arrest. Chief Moody Davis reported that during his six years as Chief in Leaksville, no more serious arrest than petty breaking and entering had been made. The traffic regulations within the city were so well followed and enforced that only one serious accident had occurred. In Draper, the same situation of lawfulness prevailed under the able administration of Chief J. F. Barnes and the watchful eye of B. J. "Peg" Carter. Chief Moody Davis, of Leaksville, attributed this attitude of law-abiding to the citizens being well grounded in moral ethics and good citizenship.
It was in 1934 that the second of the Clark clan appeared on the scene to influence local law enforcement. Leonard V. Clark was to meet a tragic end to his police career after only a few years of public service.
The 1930's saw many changes in law enforcement, both locally and nationally. The crime wave that began in the twenties continued into the thirties bringing into prominence the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.), which was to help in the fight against crime. Although liquor problems were nation wide, new crimes, such as safe cracking, began to show up locally. Though local officer had not been plagued with bank robberies and armed robbery, these were soon to come.
Changes in local law enforcement were being made rapidly. A policeman's ball was held to raise money for uniforms. The new uniforms included the eight-point hat that was worn by the local departments until 1990. The new cap shield (badge) design that was chosen has been continuous use by one of the three departments since 1934 and still adorns the hats of the Eden officers today.
The concern for criminal activity brought about a renewed interest in the League for Law Enforcement This organization was the banning together of local citizens whose goal was to provide the community with good law enforcement. Through their efforts the need for new laws, support of the officers, for officer training and equipment, and other such items were brought to public attention. One of the programs that was recommended by this organization was Crime Prevention, but its' real value was not recognized until the 1970's. Some of the early members of the organization were; Dr. T. D. Taylor, G. C. Truslow, W. H. Wise, C. E. Hubbard, R. D. Shumate, Mrs. H. W. Peters, and C. P. Smith. A representative from each church made up the executive and working committees.
Training at the F.B.I. academy became the goal of many officers. The State began to use the F.B.I. agents as instructors for North Carolina officers. Although training had a feeble beginning, and was primarily the effort of one man through the Institute of Government, its' value was soon to be recognized. Schooling for the officers did not begin in earnest until after World War II.
Faces on the local department began to change with many officers running for elective offices. Some of these were Tom Meeks, who ran for constable, Lacy Cook, who also ran for constable, and Charlie Hunter, who ran for magistrate
Some of the faces to appear were J.F. Barnes as chief deputy, and W. O. Jenkins as the Chief of Police of Leaksville, replacing Moody Davis, who entered private business. B.R. Webb, Monroe Stultz, Posey McBride, and E. P. "Lige" Craddock appeared on the Spray force. They were added to "Pug" and "Peg" Carter, who kept on the list to maintain the positions of "workhorses" in the Spray and Draper departments for years to come. Another new face to appear on the Leaksville department was that of a well-liked young man by the name of Spencer Hege. G. W. Wood was to resign, to be replaced by J. Robert Barnes. Barnes was to become Chief in l940 when Jenkins left for military training. Jenkins returned to employment with Leaksville later, but in Public works and not in the police department. Spencer Hege soon left the force, and was replaced by A.B. Nivens.
On March 9, l938 tragedy again struck the officers. Leonard R. Clark, Deputy in the Spray department, was shot and killed in an attempt to serve a warrant. Rueben Bennett's wife had taken a warrant for assault and in Clark's first attempt to serve it; Bennett had threatened to shoot anyone coming into the house. Clark returned to the station to get assistance. He then returned with "Peg" Carter and B. R. Webb. When Clark entered the door Bennett shot him in the head and again in the back as he fell. In June of l938 Bennett was tried and found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to thirty years.
The increasing mobility of the criminal brought about the need for changes in the availability of the officers and their ability to police the community. The first notable change was an agreement worked out by Sheriff Leon Worsham, with the county commissioners to purchase automobiles for the officers. The demand for officers to patrol the communities and the criminals’ usage of vehicles to transport liquor, stolen merchandise and make fast get-a-ways, made it recognizable that the officer could no longer provide his personal car for police business. By the end of Worsham's term of office the Sheriffs department owned ten vehicles.
l940 - l950
The l940 decade continued to see changes in both the community and the law enforcement profession. The purchase of new two-way radio equipment, with funds raised by a barbecue and through private donations, gave the officers the ability to be in his car and receive complaints that came into the office. He could call for assistance from other officers, making his job safer. The growth of telephone installation and its usage meant that more and more complaints were coming in by telephone and dispatched by radio to the officer in the field. This facilitated a much more rapid arrival at the scene of the incident. The town of Leaksville followed the Sheriffs' lead and purchased a vehicle, uniforms, and a rifle. Leaksville councilmen allowed the Sheriff to place a radio in the police car, for which they paid a monthly fee. Working conditions for the officer began to improve. It was finally recognized that an officer could not work twenty-four hours a day, seven day a week. Extra officers were hired, to give the men a day off and to shorten their work hours. These extra officers salaries were many times paid by private business and industry. Even with this additional help, the regular officers' workday was still twelve hours long, and many times they worked around the clock. One of the best photos of "Peg" Carter was of him sleeping in the car after pulling a long shift the day before. Draper citizens recall this as happening often, as Carter was called out all hours of the night, but he would be parked on the corner the next day. Although he may have been asleep, he was on duty and available for call. A feat that he accomplished for thirty-three years.
World War II brought about a slow down in crime problems, but after its' conclusion, with the men returning and with a period of boon hitting local industry, this slackness was soon to change.
It was during this era that men who entered law enforcement would shape the local departments into the l970's. Some of these were Carl Axsom, Lem Shelton and Marshall Clark, just to mention a few. Marshall Clark was the third of the Clark family to enter police work. Rash was his grandfather and Leonard was his uncle. This is only one example where policeman in the family is a tradition. Others were the Atkins (James and Timothy), the McBrides (Posey and Elmer), the Chaneys (Melvin, Barry, and Jerry), the Axsoms (Carl, Llyod, Michael, and J. B.), the Gallimores (Paul and John), the Priddys (L. J. and George), the Carters ("Pug" and Wayne) and this just mentions a few. Other descendants with different names also entered law enforcement with Michael Martin (Charlie Hunter's grandson) and Owen Brown (Len Clark's grandson) serving as two examples. Many nephews, cousins, in-laws, etc. have entered police work, but are to many to name or trace.
In l942 new facilities were provided for the department in
Spray. With the Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.) funds, the county built a new building to house the courtroom, police, jail, welfare, and other government functions. They moved into the new structure on Boone Road in Spray in March of l942. The police were downstairs and the jail and courtroom were on the second level.
The Spray and Draper areas were now establishing sanitation districts. The Draper folk had considered incorporating at one time and decided against it. The mood prevailed however, and in May of l949 they voted to incorporate. In the May 23, l949 council minutes is recorded the new commissioner's concern for supplying the new town with good services. One of these services was police protection. On May 30, they discussed the method of payment of the officers’ salaries, and then on July 11th the council voted on a list of names of applicants for police officers. The list contained the names of Jack Talbert, L. M. Shelton, H. R. Stewart, "Tinker" Jones, Monroe Stultz, Harry Stewart, and "Buster" Axsom. Elected were Carl "Buster" Axsom, as Chief, Jack Talbert and Harry Stewart, as officers. Concerns were expressed that Harry Stewart may leave to go to the Sheriffs' office, so a fourth man was elected to replace him if he did. This man was Chester "Tinker" Jones. At the same meeting the council appointed Landon Johnson to accept bids for a new police car. At the July l5th meeting, Sheriff Muncy Hodges attended to advise the council on setting up their new police force and what services and co-operation his department would provide. Some of the recommendations Hodges made were for the town to buy a two-way radio on the Sheriff's frequency and to continue to use the jail at Spray. Harry Stewart did leave the Draper department and was replaced by Jones. Jack Talbert also left and was replaced by Ed Newman.
1950 - 1960
Changes in local law enforcement were taking place rapidly now. Although still driving their personal cars, Draper bought a used car and a radio. They later traded the car for two new Chevrolets. After having a serious accident, Ed Newman was replaced by Jack Talbert. Newman was involved in a high-speed chase when he struck a third vehicle, killing the driver. Lem Shelton was hired to replace "Tinker" Jones and a fourth man was added in the person of Willie Atkins. These men were to shape law enforcement through out the county and state. In l954 Axsom ran for sheriff against Muncy Hodges and won. He was one of the most influential sheriffs in North Carolina and his achievements are a story in them selves. Jack Talbert became Drapers' second chief and died while in that office. Lem Shelton became chief in Spray and later in Madison. Shelton also ran unsuccessfully for sheriff. Willie Atkins became the third and last chief of Draper until the three towns consolidated.
Spray followed Drapers lead and on November l2, l951, they voted to incorporate into a town. On January 21, l952, the new commissioners held their first official public meeting. At this meeting James "Jake" Atkins was appointed as the first chief of police. Other officers that were appointed were Jerome Church, Elmer McBride, and Clarence Vestal.
Sheriff Muncy Hodges was instrumental in helping all three-town police departments. His department continued to provide jail facilities and radio contact. In return he asked each of the three towns to provide a radio dispatcher. Draper responded by hiring Robert Powell. Spray provided Mrs. Peggy Todd for this service on a temporary basis until Leroy "Pete" Grogan was hired to replace her. Leaksville provided Cliff Rorrer for this service.
Soon a fourth officer was added to the Spray force in the person of James Kallam. The new council also purchased cars and equipment for the officers. One of these pieces of equipment was one of the first speed timing devices used by the towns. The instrument was called an electromatic speed meter. Leaksville also bought one of these meters. After a multitude of complaints about their accuracy, the Recorders Court Judge had both meters set up on Boone Road and conducted a test. When a discrepancy between the two was found, the court discounted the use of the meters in speeding cases. Their use was discontinued and it was not until several years later, when Draper bought a radar speed detector, that the towns again used speed-timing devices.
Spray was the first of the three towns to have a standard operating procedure (S.O.P.) written into the minutes of a town meeting. Although both Leaksville and Draper had individual rules mentioned from time to time, this was the first, though brief, complete procedure. These same rules were the grounds for a bitter battle just a few years later. In May of 1953, James Atkins resigned as Chief, and Elmer McBride was made Assistant Chief. McBride was in charge until the new Chief, Llyod Axsom, was hired.
March l7, l950, early in the morning, a disaster struck the
Sheriff's jail at Spray. Six people died in a fire. Around 2:40 a.m. officers Ira Craddock, and Arthur Merritt went to the second floor of the courthouse to lock up the prisoners. At that time the jail was on the top floor, in the rear of the courtroom and the dispatchers were on the lower floor. There was no full time jailer on duty near the jail. Craddock and Merritt smelled smoke as they walked through the courtroom. By the time the prisoners were removed from the jail Harvey Cole, Joe W. Willis, Bonie Martin, Lucille Wimbush, Junior Yarborough, and Marion Morrison had all died, apparently from toxic smoke inhalation. Investigation revealed that Morrison's hand had been burned, indicating that he may have been holding a cigarette. The mattresses in the jail would not burn, but would smolder, giving off a toxic fume. It was this fire that was of concern to the town fathers when they built their new town halls. Draper built a temporary lock-up in their facility when it opened in l954. Spray added a jail to the building that they renovated as a town hall. It was this fire that also prompted the Sheriff to have an addition built onto the rear of the courthouse to house the radio equipment and dispatchers, thereby having a jailer near the cells twenty-four hours a day.
The fifties were also fraught with growing pains common to small towns. This is known as small town politics. An example of this occurred in l959 when the new town commissioner fired Chief Llyod Axsom and assistant Chief Elmer McBride. They immediately hired Lem Shelton as Chief and Clarence "Fat" Vestal as assistant Chief. On May 12, l959, the new council met and a crowd of about one hundred and fifty people attended. After conducting a fairly smooth meeting, Commissioner Russell Hunter made a motion that the dismissed officers be reinstated. The motion failed by the same vote that had been for dismissal, three to two. At this point audience participation began and the question was asked, "Why were they dismissed so quickly?" The reason given for dismissal was "general public dissatisfaction and dislike." One commissioner stated that the firing was due to their having broken the rules of the standard operating procedure, to which ex-Chief Axsom stated, "The rules had been done away with." Another officer, Lloyd Alcorn, who had resigned after the dismissal, stated, "nobody could live by those rules", and he would "like to see the new officers live by them." Things really begin to get out of order and Mayor Harris Nelson told Chief Shelton, "If you can't quiet them down, throw them out." The meeting got so out of hand that Nelson finally called for adjournment. It was after the adjournment that Irvin McBride, Elmer's brother, took a swing at commissioner David Cook, who was blamed for being the instigator of the firings. It was then that Elmer's wife accidentally stepped in the way of the blow. The officers immediately surrounded the commissioners to give them an escort from the building. Irvin, not liking that "Fat" Vestal had taken his brother's job, but unable to get to him, struck his brother, Woody. Woody in turn sought out Magistrate Charlie Hunter and took a warrant out for McBride. Deputy Sheriff John Gallimore then served the warrant on Irvin, and Elmer went his one hundred dollar bond. They finally all departed without further incident. Axsom later joined the sheriff's department, but McBride was rehired as assistant chief in July of l961.
During the fifties the citizens of Leaksville and Draper became familiar with their Chief's, through columns in the Leaksville News, which were written by each of the towns' department leaders. A regular article from each on traffic safety, crime prevention, and other matters of public interest were titled "Tips from Tom" and "Axsoms' Axioms."
One of the most memorable cases of the l950's was the robbery of the Boulevard Branch Bank. This case involved the togetherness of all the law enforcement departments up to and including the F.B.I. Many news articles as well as magazine stories were written about this case. This well planned robbery by seven men was to set a trend in branch bank robberies that was to continue to this very day.
Early in the year of l958 Tom Meeks, the Chief of Leaksville, died. Tom had compiled a long history of law enforcement and his laurels were reported and known by many. The town council of Leaksville published a resolution attesting to his abilities and performance as Chief. Shortly after Meeks’s demise, Marshall Owen Clark was appointed as Chief. Clark had entered law enforcement with the Sheriff's department on December 22, l946. He later joined the Martinsville, Virginia Police department in December of l950, but returned to the area as a Leaksville officer in May of l951. It was March 6, l958 that he was voted Chief of that same department.
December l, l954 Carl Axsom resigned as Chief of Draper, as he had been elected the new Sheriff of the county. At the November l2th council meeting, the board voted for Jack Talbert as Axsom's replacement. Talbert served in this position until his death.
l960 - l980's
The town council of Spray met on Friday February l8, l960 and the topic of discussion was a new Chief, to replace J. L. Shelton, who had resigned. The ballot fell on a new officer that had been with the department less than a year, Wiseman H. "Pap" Terry. Clarence "Fat" Vestal was to remain as assistant Chief until l961.
Following the lead of other small departments, Chief Terry eliminated the position of assistant Chief in l961, but the council had other ideas. The newly elected town board appointed Elmer McBride as assistant Chief over the objection of Terry and the police commissioner. McBride was soon to leave again, this time to join the Sheriff's department.
December l6, l960 became a tragic day for Chief Terry. On the night of the l5th two men broke into Snow's Hardware just across the river in the county. After working a long day, Terry had decided to go home. Taking his personal car he made one more pass through the business areas of the town, expecting possibly to see the perpetrators or someone that had seen them. As he drove slowly by the American cafe and Tuxedo Smoke Shop, two local places for those liking to drink beer, a subject ran out of the alley, jumped in the passenger side of the car and stuck a gun to his head. The gun wielder instructed "Pap" to drive where he told him. The man with the gun did not know that he had abducted a police officer, especially the Chief. He soon discovered that Terry was an officer and relieved him of his pistol. He directed the Chief to a boat ramp at Philpott Lake, about twenty-five miles north of the town of Spray, in the State of Virginia.
It was a cold night in December and the asphalt ramp was coated with ice. After getting "Pap" out of the car he shot him and was going to throw him in the lake, but Terry, being a strong man, stood and threw his flashlight at the abductor. The assailant then left the scene on foot, but not until Terry had been shot thirteen times and had sixteen wounds from bullets passing through his body, and ricocheting back off the asphalt. Terry crawled to his car and attempted to leave, but the car just spun on the ice and slid into one of the post at the side of the ramp which was planted there to stop vehicles from going into the water. Because of the cold, the blood clotted quickly on Terry's wounds and he managed to crawl over a mile to the home of a nurse that cared for him until police and an ambulance arrived. James Weatherman was captured and tried and after serving a portion of his sentence, was paroled. While on parole, Weatherman obtained a job with a construction company. It was while working on a job for this company, that he fell and broke his neck, killing himself. Terry began his slow, long road to recovery with the prayers of the community and the help of family and friends. He was again to resume the control of the Spray department and remain there until the towns consolidated.
In December of 1962 bad news was to come to the Draper department. This time, it was the death of their Chief, Jack Talbert. At the January 3, 1963 meeting of the town council, the city fathers, elected what was to be their last Chief of Police, Willie H. Adkins. Adkins, Terry, and Clark continued to steer their departments through the early sixties and with the cooperation of the Sheriff's department, provided an effective deterrent to crime in the area.
In 1967, after the failure to consolidate Spray and Leaksville in March of 1959, citizens once again brought the issue of joining together to a vote. This time Draper was included, as well as a sanitation district between the three towns known as the Central Area. The pros won and a new city was formed from the four areas that were named Eden.
The consolidation of the towns probably made the most dramatic change in law enforcement that has ever been made in the area. The three departments that had cooperated together, perhaps not always as well as they should have, was now one large organization. It was Clark, Adkins, and Terry that joined hands with the new mayor, Bill Armfield, as a token of the effort to come in organizing the new city.
With the joining of the town's, came a completely new set of problems. Just a few of these problems were, locating the three departments in one headquarters building, consolidating three entirely different records systems, providing police protection for the Central Area which had no police officers prior to consolidation, establishing a working staff structure, and changing uniforms (all three departments had different colors). There were many other problems that would take years to solve.
It was not only becoming the largest city in Rockingham county that presented the new Eden Police Department with change and headaches, but the national problems of the country that were changing law enforcement which were occurring at the same time. Changes in enforcement methods, laws, court systems, and techniques, along with Supreme Court rulings were to demand a new kind of officer for the public. Emphasis on individual rights brought about a new method for officers to deal with the man (or women) on the street. To help stem the rising tide of crime federal assistance programs came into existence. These programs, such as the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (L.E.A.A.), which provided the monies for purchase of equipment and hiring of personnel, and the Law Enforcement Education Program (L.E.E.P.), with funds for training the officers, made many changes in the size and efficiency of the department. Even though the county had an officers training center that began in the area known as the Central Area and had been moved to the county seat in Wentworth. The state was to soon establish the Criminal Justice Training and Standards Council. This council was to establish a minimum training requirement, a certification program, and later, to provide an academy at Salemburg, North Carolina.
The headquarters problem was solved by, once again, locating them in the lower floor of the courthouse. The Sheriff soon moved his communications operations to the county seat, vacating the addition on the rear of the building and the jail, for the city to use. From the very beginning of this two floor operation, problems began to develop. This tended to separate the patrol; officers from the administration and detectives. This problem was to plague the department until 1981.
The problem of administration was not as easily solved. In the begging the dilemma of who was to be made Chief was delayed by making Clark captain, and Terry and Adkins lieutenants. These three were in charge of the total operation. No real chain of command was established. Shifts were set up with four sergeants as supervisors. The lieutenants were also to be responsible for criminal investigations.
It is here that we should pause and mention some firsts for the police department. Mrs. Alma Amos was hired in September of 1955 as the first full time sworn policewoman in Leaksville, on the recommendation of Chief Tom Meeks. Her primary duty was parking control, or better known as "meter maid". She had many other duties, such as arresting and searching females. Upon consolidation she became the city's first juvenile officer. She was later married to Walter Reynolds. Mrs. Reynolds became the department's first Crime Prevention officer and first female lieutenant. The next of these first, was the hiring of Eden's first black officer, Ronald Brown. Brown came to work for the city in 1968 and not only was the first black officer but was one of the first officers to receive his Associates degree in police science, with the help of L.E.E.P. funds. He was also the first officer to receive his Advanced Certificate from the Training and Standards Council, as well as becoming the department's first black sergeant. The last of these first was the hiring of Mrs. Sandra Duncan as the police department's first full time secretary.
In June 1972, Clarence "Fat" Vestal died of a heart attack. Vestal was one of the best known and best liked of the Eden officers, although his career had been stormy. He twice was assistant chief was fired once and could have been chief had he not been limited by his grade school education. It was this same limitation that kept him from becoming a patrol sergeant after consolidation. His death occurred while working his favorite job (police work), at his favorite coffee stop (Ricky's Drive In), and on his favorite shift (night shift). Vestal's demise was a great loss to the department and to the rookie officers he trained. His cheerful laugh and fatherly chiding are still sorely missed.
L.E.A.A. funds brought to the department new shotguns, a new records system, sirens, blue lights, some new cars, radio equipment, a criminal identification section, a drug investigation unit, a crime prevention unit, a checks and forgery unit, and many other items of equipment as well as personnel. Contributing to the additional personnel also was a Federal employment assistance program. An officer hired under this program was Miss Robin Shreve.
The city tried to solve two problems at once by hiring Virgil Wilkens from South Carolina as Public Safety Director to be both chief of fire and police. This idea did not work well and Wilkins soon left. The city then made M. O. Clark chief of police and Larry Rhodes fire chief. Then in an attempt to eliminate other staffing problems, Ed Jenkins, from Virginia, was hired as assistant police chief. This also did not work out and Jenkins left also
In another effort to meet the department's needs, the city paid for an independent study to be made with recommendations for improvements in the department. This study outlined sweeping changes to be made, especially in the staff structure. The city fathers found the cost prohibitive at the time and no changes were made until some years later. These changes came after a revamping of the city's pay plan occurred. Finally the department was able to restructure, in part, the staff to fulfill some of the study's recommendation. The changes divided the department into three major "Divisions". They were the Patrol, the Investigative, and the Administrative, and Technical Services. With this change, and the retirement of Willie Adkins, Lieutenant Garnet Smart, who had replaced "Pap" Terry prior to his medical retirement, became Patrol Captain. Sergeant Michael Martin, who had worked drug enforcement and checks and forgery, was promoted to Investigative Lieutenant. Sergeant Ronnie Hooker, who was Criminal Identifications officer, was promoted to Lieutenant in charge of Administrative Services. The Sergeants at this time were, Posey meadows, Buddy Overby, L. J. Priddy and Lawrence "Gary" Walker.
Overcrowding had not only become a problem for the police department, but the Health Department also needed space. The Health Department was located in a wing adjacent to the police and the County could not afford to build a new building for them. Soon the county commissioners ask the city to move the police officers located on the lower floor of the courthouse. The city complied with the request by moving the detectives, records, administration, and criminal identifications into the basement of the old Leaksville graded school gym, on Bridge Street. This separation of caused further problems between the divisions. Morale dropped, and rumors began to float through the department and the public. Soon accusations of wrong doing fell on the ears of a Superior Court prosecutor and an S.B.I. investigation was launched. Although some wrongdoing was uncovered, it was determined, that most of it was due to the lack of knowledge, (such as retention and destruction of evidence and contraband) or the lack of training in proper procedures. Although three officers were singled out, only one was ever tried in court. This trial ended in the dismissal of the charges against the officer and his reinstatement to his job. The S.B.I.'s strongest recommendation was the same expressed in the earlier police study. This recommendation was for the police department to be housed in one building together and in a central location.
The S.B.I. probe, the pressure of being chief of the larger department, and the low morale caused Chief Clark to express the interest to relinquish the reins of control. It was his wish to remain in the department. In December of 1980, the city manager decided to transfer Clark to the position of assistant building inspector. The irony of history is shown in this move. The mayor of the city was Jones Norman, a direct descendant of J.W. Norman who was city clerk when "Moe's" grandfather "Race" was asked to resign. Clark was transferred to the other job his grandfather had held with Leaksville, building inspector. With Clark transferred to a new job, Captain Smart, out of work from a leg injury he had received while making an arrest, Lieutenant Martin on suspension until the outcome of his trial, City Manager Greeson appointed Lieutenant Hooker as acting chief until a new chief could be hired. While waiting to pick a new chief, Greeson resigned and was replaced by Jim Pittman. Pittman had been assistant manager for several years. The city fathers bought a building beside city hall on Stadium Drive to house the police department and Pittman hired Charles "Ron" Perry from the Montgomery County, Maryland department to be the new chief. It was "Ron's" job to bring the department back from the storm; the department had just come through. The morale problems, the S.B.I. probe, and the transfer of Clark, that had caused a public furor, had left the officers in a state of shock and wonderment. Perry took over in July 1981 and with monies provided to remodel the building, and started the task of reshaping the department. New uniforms, new car markings, new rules and regulations, and a new building lifted the morale and once again these officers were on the road to becoming one of the better departments in the state. After about a year, Perry begin to look for greener pastures. He was asked to resign, which he did. Upon Perry's departure, Captain Garnet Smart was appointed Chief. Maurice Wayne Carter was appointed patrol captain to replace Smart. The department operated for several years under this structure until, Chief Smart retired in 1989. Upon his retirement, Captain Carter applied for the "Chief's" position, but withdrew his request, opting to take early retirement rather than the burdens of administrator. The city then considered applicants from outside of the City of Eden, and hired Gary Benthin, who was chief at Weaverville, N. C., as Smart's replacement. In 1991 Captain Michael Martin resigned his position due to personal problems and the weight of the division head fell on Lieutenant Walter "Skip" Johnson. Johnson, whose father was also named Walter, is from another of the families where law enforcement was passed down. His father was an officer with Leaksville in the late 1950's. With Martin's departure, Chief Benthin consolidated the investigative and patrol divisions into one unit called "Enforcement Division". The Administrative and Technical Services were changed to the "Support Division". Wayne Carter retired early in 1992.
Today finds the Eden Police Department the best equipped, the best trained, and enjoying the highest esteem in the community ever. It consists of three divisions under an able chief, with a total of 45 personnel and five reserve officers. Its operation has already outgrown the new building. Plans are being made to provide the community with new and better services, while providing the officers with challenges and goals to maintain a high level of morale.
Although many changes have affected law enforcement through the years, it is change that must take place to improve the "Man in Blue" (or black as this case is) that protects and serves the community. The officer of today may look back at earlier officers and see differences, but he also sees the similarities and says "thank you" to those great men that made the Eden Police Department what it is today.
About the author...Ron Hooker is an Eden Police Department veteran of 27 years. He started out as dispatcher for Spray in 1966 (1 year before consolidation), and rose through ranks to Captain before he retired. Ron served as acting Chief for 6 months when Marshall Clark was transferred to Inspection Department. Among his other accomplishments was founding the Department of Criminal Identifications.