Sheriff David Shaffer

Sheriffs of Knox County

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Silas Brown 1808 Allen J. Beach 1883-86
Ichabod Nye 1809-13 John G. Stevenson 1887-90
John Hawn 1813-17 John G. Fowler 1891-92
John Shaw 1817-19 Noah W. Allen 1893-94
Alexander Elliot 1819-20 Charles S. Sapp 1895-96
William Beavans 1820-24 Justus D. Smoots 1897-1900
Charless Colerick 1824-28 Isaac C. Lynde 1901-03
John Shaw 1828-29 James Shellenbarger 1903-05
Johnston Elliot 1829 Rollin C. Clements 1905-08
Hugh Neal 1830-34 Peter J. Parker 1908-13
Isaac Hadley 1834-36 John M. Woolison 1913-17
William Beam 1836-40 Walter B. Mosholder 1917-21
Absalom Thrift 1843-46 Burr H. Lytle 1921-25
David C. Montgomery 1847-50 Clifton G. Stream 1925-29
Thomas Wade 1851-54 Hoy C. Lynde 1929-33
Lewis Strong 1855-56 F. Dowe Mason 1933-37
Israel Underwood 1857-60 Clyde E. Biggs 1937-41
James Shaw 1861-62 Charles R. Lawrence 1941-44
Allen Beach 1863-64 Bertha Lawrence 1944-45
George W. Steele 1865-68 Salathiel Bumpus 1945-53
Allen Beach 1869-72 Paul M. Cochran 1953-65
John Armstrong 1873-76 Ralph D. Peairs 1965-77
John Ferguson Gay 1877-80 Paul K. Rowe 1977-93
John A. Schnebly 1881-82 David B. Barber 1993-2013
David Shaffer 2013-

Knox County Sheriff's Office History

The American Sheriffs trace their heritage back to ninth century England when the King had a personal representative in each Shire, whose title was Shire Reeve.  A shire was the equivalent of an American county, and the title Shire Reeve evolved into a single word Sheriff.

When English subjects came into the New world, they brought with them the traditions of the English criminal justice system, including the office of the Sheriff.

The first Sheriff of Knox County was Silas Brown who was appointed in 1808.  In his first year, Sheriff Brown performed the first public whipping of a criminal in Mount Vernon.  Our first county jail was built on what is now the present square in Mount Vernon in 1809. 

In 1877, Knox County Sheriff John Fersuson Gay conducted the county's first public execution by hanging convicted murderer William Bergin.

In May 1905, Sheriff James Shellenbarger was shot while attempting to arrest a man named Frank Coile in Miller Township for assault.  Sheriff Shellenbarger never recovered from his wounds and died five months later.

In 1913, a new Knox County Jail was built next to the County Court House on East Chestnut Street, which served as the residence of the Sheriffs and their families for many years.

Sheriff Hoy Lynde, who served from 1929 to 1933, was the father of "Hollywood Squares"  celebrity and film star, actor Paul Lynde.

In 1938, Sheriff Clyde Biggs escorted Fred Mosley to the Ohio Penitentiary, where Mosley was the first person from Knox County to die in the electric chair for the murder of his wife.

From 1944 to 1945, Knox County had its first woman Sheriff, Bertha Lawrence.  Bertha was appointed to finish her husband, Sheriff Charles Lawrence's unexpired term after he died in office unexpectedly at the age of forty-one.

It was not until 1945 that any of the Sheriffs of Knox County ever served more than four years in office at one time.

The Knox County Special Deputies Unit was formed in 1955, the first such unit in the State of Ohio.

The current Knox County Sheriff's Office and 100 bed jail opened on Upper Gilchrist Road in 2002, replacing the ninety year old Chestnut Street Jail, which has been torn down for parking at the court house.

Sheriff David Barber was the longest serving Sheriff in the history of Knox County, who at the end of his current term served as the county's chief law enforcement officer for twenty years.

In 2007, the Knox County Sheriff's Office became only the fifth Ohio Sheriff's Office to become internationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement agencies.

In 2010 that distinction was maintained as the Sheriff's Office was re-accredited by CALEA.