HISTORY


 

Victoria County was created in 1836 as one of the original Texas counties and was named for Guadalupe Victoria, the first President for the Republic of Mexico.  The county was organized in 1837 with Victoria as the county seat. The first records found in the county records are dated February 7, 1838.  There have been 40 men who have served as Sheriff during the history of the county, with three of them serving twice.

HISTORY OF THE OFFICE OF SHERIFF

 Courtesy of the Sheriffs' Association of Texas

The Office of Sheriff is a very ancient one. The origin of the office can be found in the institution of the king's reeves who watched over royal interests in the towns of the 9th century. By the end of that century, the king's reeves acquired judicial as well as financial functions; and early in the 10th century, he became a shire, instead of a town, official and was called the shire-reeve.

By the end of the Anglo-Saxon period, he had supplanted the “ealdorman” as the effective head of the shire, and, soon after the Norman Conquest, his powers touched their zenith. The financial, judicial and administrative importance of the office, added to the personal influence of the great landowners who normally filled it, constituted a serious menace to the crown as well as an unending source of oppression to the crown's subjects.

Conversing a span of many centuries, a long struggle took place, in which various measures were employed to curb the powers of the sheriff, and to establish the principle that the sheriff was but a servant of the crown and not an independent magnate. Among the most ancient duties of the sheriff is that of conserving the peace and suppressing disorder with the help of the posse comitatus.

Until the development of the office of the lord lieutenant in the 16th century, he was also the head of the military forces of the shire. His duty of receiving writs, summoning juries, and executing judgments is as old as the common law itself, and remains one of the most important parts of his work.

The office of sheriff was introduced into America as part of the county organization. In New England, this was a slow development, for local government centered for most part in towns. Further south, however, where larger units of local government became the rule, the sheriff rapidly became the leader of his county. Appointment was generally by the governor, but as early as 1705, the office became elective in Pennsylvania, and other states soon adopted this procedure for filling the office.

The Texas constitution, prior to 1954, provided that the sheriff shall be elected biennially in each county. In November of 1954, this section was amended increasing the term of the office of sheriffs from 2 to 4 years. The office has been provided for under every Texas constitution and supersedes the alguacil of Spanish and Mexican rule.

The main duties of the sheriff are to act as the conservator of the peace and the executive officer of the county and district courts; serve writs and processes of the courts; and supervise the jail and all prisoners. In counties of less than 10,000 population, he is also the ex-officio tax assessor-collector.

SHERIFFS OF VICTORIA

Malcolm O. Johnston elected the first sheriff February 7, 1838 served until April 1, 1839

Daniel McDonald elected April 1, 1839; re-elected February 1, 1841 served until March 11, 1843

Thomas Costello elected March 11, 1843 served until February 3, 1845

Daniel McDonald elected a second time on February 3, 1845 served until June 8, 1846

James T. Peacock appointed acting sheriff on June 8, 1846 served until August 3, 1846

F. B. Webb appointed acting sheriff on August 3, 1846 served until July 13, 1846

Alfred S. Thurmond elected July 13, 1846; re-elected August 7, 1848 served until August 5, 1850

George W. Wright elected August 5, 1850 served until August 2, 1852

James W. Cunningham elected August 2, 1852 served until August 7, 1854

Robert W. Turner
elected August 7, 1854 served until August 4, 1856

John Field elected August 4, 1856 served until August 2, 1858

George James Hampton elected August 2, 1858; re-elected August 6, 1860 served until August 1861

W. P. Jordan appointed August 1861 served until August 14, 1862

William Wayne Denney elected August 14, 1862; re-elected August 1, 1864 served until September 16, 1865

John L. Cunningham appointed September 16, 1865 by Governor A. J. Hamilton served until June 25, 1866

Harold Garnet elected June 25, 1866 served until October 1867

T. H. Leeds appointed October 29, 1867 by General J. J. Reynolds' Special Order # 192 but failed to qualify.

M. Stuart appointed November 22, 1867 by General J. J. Reynolds' Special Order # 210 served until October 12, 1868

William W. Hammond appointed October 12, 1868 by General J. J. Reynolds' Special Order # 55 served until June 18, 1869

A. B. Hammond appointed June 18, 1869 by General J. J. Reynolds' Special Order # 44 served until July 23, 1869

Charles Alden appointed July 23, 1869 by General J. J. Reynolds' Special Order # 173; was elected December 3, 1869 served until February 23, 1870

William J. Van Norman appointed February 23, 1870 by General J. J. Reynolds' Special Order # 42 served until July 14,

Christopher Cassner
appointed July 14, 1870 served until November 2, 1872

Thomas W. Pearson elected November 2, 1872 served until January 4, 1874

C. L. Thurmond appointed February 4, 1874; elected February 24, 1874, February 15, 1876, November 5, 1878 served until November 2, 1880

John E. J. Moody elected November 2, 1880 served until October 16, 1881

F. A. Fenner appointed October 19, 1881; elected November 7, 1882; re-elected November 4, 1884 served until August 18, 1886

Charles Maliz elected August 18, 1886 served until November 2, 1886

C. L. Thurmond, Sr. elected a second time on November 2, 1886; re-elected November 6, 1888, November 4, 1890 served until November 8, 1890

H. D. Sullivan elected November 8, 1890; re-elected November 6, 1894 served until November 3, 1896

W. R. Callender elected November 3, 1896; re-elected November 8, 1898, November 6, 1900 served until August 27, 1902

Edwin W. Klein appointed August 27, 1902 served until November 4, 1902

George Henry Heck elected November 4, 1902; re-elected November 8, 1904 served until November 6, 1906

R. S. Weisiger elected November 6, 1906; re-elected November 3, 1908, November 8, 1910, November 5, 1912, November 3, 1914, November 7, 1916, November 5, 1918 and served until November 2, 1920

Louis O. Hudler elected November 2, 1920; re-elected November 7, 1922, November 4, 1924, November 2, 1926 served until January 1, 1929

R. S. Weisiger elected a second time on November 6, 1928; re-elected November 4, 1930, November 8, 1932, November 6, 1934 served until May 13, 1936, served a total of 21 years, 4 months and 13 days (the longest sheriff term in the history of Victoria County)

S. R. Weisiger appointed May 13, 1936 served until January 1, 1937

Richard Austin Rogan elected November 3, 1936; re-elected November 8, 1938, November 5, 1940, November 3, 1942, November 7, 1944 served until January 1, 1947

W. F. Crawford elected November 5, 1946; re-elected November 2, 1948, November 7, 1950, November 4, 1952 served until February 15, 1954

James C. Durant appointed February 15, 1954 served until January 1, 1955

M. W. "Montie" Marshall elected November 2, 1954; re-elected November 6, 1956, November 8, 1960, November 3, 1964, November 5, 1968 served until January 1, 1972

Dalton G. "Dutch" Meyer elected November 7, 1972; re-elected November 2, 1976, November 4, 1980, November 6, 1984, November 8, 1988; served until November 1992

Michael Lewis Ratcliff elected November 1992 and served until November 2004

T. Michael O'Connor elected November 2004 was sworn in January 1, 2005 and is currently the Sheriff of Victoria County