Sheriff Biographies 

 


Leonard Howe
1851

Leonard Howe was appointed Lane County's first Sheriff in 1851.  He held the office for approximately three months and then returned to farming and surveying.  In 1853, he moved to the Roseburg area and was elected Sheriff of Douglas County in 1868.  After completing two terms of office as Douglas County Sheriff, Howe moved to Colfax, Washington where he lived the remainder of his days. 


James Robinson
1851 - 1854

James C. Robinson had long been considered Lane County's first Sheriff, however, election records show that he was actually Lane County's second Sheriff.  Robinson was from Shelby County, Ohio; he traveled to Oregon by wagon train with his parents and family.  The Robinson family predominantly lived in the Dallas area of Polk County.  James C. Robinson moved from Polk County and lived in Creswell until his death.  He is burried in the Creswell Piorneer Cemetery.


Robert Fletcher Walker
1854 - 1856

Robert Fletcher Walker played a part in the population and development of the Willamette Valley in the 1800's.  Walker was a surveyor who helped chart the wilderness areas of the Oregon/Idaho border.  He also helped in the development of the Free Immigrant Road.  This road was built west to east from the Oregon/Idaho border, and led directly to Eugene City in Lane County.  The Free Immigrant Road, which was one of the primary passages for wagon trains and supplies, eventually became known as the Willamette Highway, and is now known as Highway 58. 

 
James E. McCabe
1856 - 1858

James E. McCabe arrived in Lane County with his family by wagon train and became a farmer in the Mohawk Township which is currently the Marcola area.  Newspaper articles state that, as Sheriff, he was nearly killed when confronted by a knife-wielding man.  It's reported that McCabe disarmed the man, but no other information is available about the incident.  The McCabe family eventually moved to Latah, Idaho.  James E. McCabe is buried in Farmington, Washington, just across the border.

 Photo Not Available
H.H. Howard
1858 to 1860

H. H. Howard is also not mentioned in Lane County historical records; other than the fact that he was Sheriff.

 
Joseph B. Meador
1860 - 1862

Joseph B. Meador was an oxen driver for the Mahlon Harlow Company and was a "Road Viewer", which was a survey crew charting the Oregon/Idaho border areas.  It is suspected that the same survey crew employed Robert Fletcher Walker.  While working as a "Road Viewer" near the border, Meador was injured in the leg.  It is believed that Meador had been involved in a fight with Indians while assisting a wagon train.  Meador served two separate terms as Lane County Sheriff.  It's been said that when he lost his attempt at a third term to James N. Poindexter, he became upset and relocated to Crook County where he managed a ranch at Shoofly Creek in Spray.

 
Thomas J. Brattain
1862 - 1864

Thomas J. Brattain was a rancher and cattleman.  Research has found that he was quite successful and well liked, and strove to do well toward his neighbors and fellow citizens.  Brattain served just over a year as Lane County Sheriff, and then resigned.  He moved to Lake County where he became the first Sheriff there and was heavily involved in local politics.

 
Wm. H. Haley
1864 - 1866

William H. Haley was a Lane County law clerk before becoming the Lane County Sheriff.  He was appointed Sheriff when Thomas J. Brattain resigned.  Haley was a Springfield resident.  Little else is know about Haley.  

 
Joseph B. Meador
1866 - 1870

Joseph B. Meador was an oxen driver for the Mahlon Harlow Company and was a "Road Viewer", which was a survey crew charting the Oregon/Idaho border areas.  It is suspected that the same survey crew employed Robert Fletcher Walker.  While working as a "Road Viewer" near the border, Meador was injured in the leg.  It is believed that Meador had been involved in a fight with Indians while assisting a wagon train.  Meador served two separate terms as Lane County Sheriff.  It's been said that when he lost his attempt at a third term to James N. Poindexter, he became upset and relocated to Crook County where he managed a ranch at Shoofly Creek in Spray.

 
James N. Poindexter
1870 - 1874

James N. Poindexter, a local blacksmith, was widely known for his skill, and well liked among Lane County citizens.  According to articles in the newspaper articles printed in the Eugene Daily Guard, Poindexter was a tenacious law man and tax collector.  He was plagued by jail escapes during his term.  After serving as Lane County Sheriff, Poindexter moved to Prineville where he returned to blacksmithing and became a well-liked and respected member of the Prineville community.

 
Stewart B.
Eakin, Jr.
1874 - 1880

Stewart B. Eakin, Jr. was a prominent, respected and well known local businessman in the Eugene/Springfield area.  He was also a banker who co-owned and ran the First National Bank of Eugene.  Eakin served six years as Lane County Sheriff, yet there are no records of significant events during his terms.  Eakin returned to banking after serving as Sheriff.   

 
John M. Shelley
1880 - 1882

John Monroe Shelley was a prominent citizen and pioneer of Lane County and was a major contributor to local and state government.  Among his many endeavors, Shelley was a Civil War veteran, and a traveling salesman.  He was a resident of Pleasant Hill and a partner in the Williams & Shelley firm that owned the Eugene Mill & Elevator Company; the largest mill south of Salem.  Shelley served two years as lane County Sheriff and then served one year as an Oregon State Legislator.

 
John R. Campbell
1882 - 1886

John R. Campbell, along with his brother Ira, was co-owner and editor of the Eugene Guard newspaper for over seven years.  (In 1933, the Eugene Guard merged with the Eugene Register to become the Eugene Register Guard.)  Campbell was also a prominent local contractor and is credited with the construction of several structures through the Eugene area, including the Central School.  Campbell served as Sheriff for four years and then as Justice of the Peace and local politician.  In 1913, he died in his childhood home of a sudden illness, and was mourned by the community.

 
J.M. Sloan
1886 - 1890

J. M. Sloan was a local businessman and blacksmith.  He served as Lane County Sheriff for four years.

 
James E. Noland
1890 - 1894

James E. Noland was a very young man when he became Sheriff.  During his tenure as Sheriff, he was accused of illegally appropriating collected taxes and applying the funds to the Sheriff's Office.  Noland "fought" for the truth.  It was discovered that the Sheriff's Office was entitled to the taxes collected and that the County Commissioners had not reimbursed the Sheriff's Office for performing the task of collecting taxes.

 
Alvin J. Johnson
1894 - 1898

Alvin J. Johnson was a local businessman who owned a dry good store in Eugene, and another in Creswell where he lived.  Johnson served as Lane County Sheriff for four years and then relocated to the Halsey area where he became heavily involved in State and County politics.  He held of the office of Senator of Linn County for several years.

 
William W. Withers
1898 - 1903

William W. Withers is probably one of the best known Sheriffs of Lane County.  Withers was well liked and respected by the citizens of Lane County.  Withers was known to be a Sheriff "who always got his man", and was noted as being personally involved in any criminal investigation conducted by the Sheriff's Office.  Withers presided over the first hanging in Lane County when Claude Branton was convicted and hung for the murder and burning of John A. Linn in the Three Sisters wilderness area.  In February of 1902, Withers was attempting to apprehend a horse thief, Elliot Lyons, in the Walton area.  During the struggle, Lyons shot Withers and escaped.  Withers was taken to a nearby stagecoach stop where he died the next day.  Lyons was later captured trying to board a train in Creswell.  He was convicted for the murder of Sheriff Withers, and was hung behind the Lane County Jail; the last hanging in Lane County.

 
Fred Fisk
1903 - 1906

Fred Fisk was a Deputy Sheriff under then Sheriff William Withers.  When Withers died as a result of being shot by Elliot Lyons, Fisk was appointed Sheriff.  Fisk served three years as Lane County Sheriff.  He went into the timber business when he left office, and was later elected to the State Senate.  Fisk was also a Lane County Judge in the early 1930's.

 
Harry L. Bown
1906 - 1913

Harry L. Bown served as a Deputy Sheriff under Sheriff Fred Fisk, and was considered to be a pure law man.  He had a reputation as a "natural born manhunter".  Bown began a second term as Sheriff in 1929.  In 1930, during a search warrant service for the arrest of Ray and Vaude Sutherland for running moonshine in the Marcola area, a state Game Warden and a Eugene Police Office lost their lives.  Ray Sutherland shot and killed Officer Oscar Duley from the cover of a barn.  Bown nearly lost his own son, Deputy Lee Bown, when they returned to Marcola a few days later in an attempt to capture Ray Sutherland.  Bown conducted a month-long manhunt for Sutherland.  The search finally ended in the woods of Westfir with a shootout between deputies and Sutherland that ended Sutherland's life. 

 
James C. Parker
1913 - 1915

James C. Parker was a descendant of the Lane County pioneer Parker family that resided in the Pleasant Hill area.  Parker was a framer and a builder throughout Lane County and served as a Deputy Sheriff under Sheriffs Harry Bown and Fred Fisk before being elected Sheriff.  It was difficult for Parker to fill the position after the popular Harry Bown was Sheriff.  Although Parker was a successful lawman, he suffered several degrading accusations as Sheriff, and later resigned.

 
Dillard Elkins
1915 - 1918

Dillard Elkins was a Deputy Sheriff for five years before becoming Sheriff.  After his term of service, he went on to become an attorney in the Eugene/Springfield area.

 
Frederick G. Stickels
1918 - 1925

Frederick G. Stickels was a Deputy County Clerk for Lane County and also a Eugene City Treasurer before becoming Sheriff.  He once recruited the assistance of his wife while extraditing a female prisoner from California.  Due to the prisoner being a "comely young woman", the two-day and two-night trip could have compromised both the professional reputation of Sheriff Stickels and his family, had Mrs. Stickels not assisted.  A change made by the County Commissioners also occurred during Stickels' term of office.  Due to safety concerns with regard to prisoners, the practice of allowing the Sheriff and his family to reside in the living quarters of the Jail was discontinued. 

 
Frank E. Taylor
1925 - 1929

Frank E. Taylor was a Spanish-American War veteran who was heavily involved in the local Masons, Elks, and VFW lodges in Eugene and Springfield.  Taylor narrowly survived an attempted recall during his tenure as Sheriff.  Many Veneta area residents attempted the recall when Taylor refused to fire his Undersheriff when the shooting of three Veneta bar patrons occurred.  Taylor had been out of Oregon when the incident occurred.  Taylor moved to Vernonia when he completed his term as Sheriff.

 
Harry L. Bown
1929 - 1933

Harry L. Bown served as a Deputy Sheriff under Sheriff Fred Fisk, and was considered to be a pure law man.  He had a reputation as a "natural born manhunter".  Bown began a second term as Sheriff in 1929.  In 1930, during a search warrant service for the arrest of Ray and Vaude Sutherland for running moonshine in the Marcola area, a state Game Warden and a Eugene Police Office lost their lives.  Ray Sutherland shot and killed Officer Oscar Duley from the cover of a barn.  Bown nearly lost his own son, Deputy Lee Bown, when they returned to Marcola a few days later in an attempt to capture Ray Sutherland.  Bown conducted a month-long manhunt for Sutherland.  The search finally ended in the woods of Westfir with a shootout between deputies and Sutherland that ended Sutherland's life.

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C.A. "Tom" Swarts
1933 - 1942

C.A. "Tom" Swarts served as Lane County Sheriff for nearly 10 years before taking a leave of absence to serve in World War II.  When he returned from service in the U.S. Army, Swarts served another 7 years as Sheriff.  Swarts was instrumental in the formation of the Lane County Sheriff's Posse.  He spent a significant amount of time with the members, and helped create the program as it exists today.  Photographs of Swarts include well-known actors and actresses who were filming on location in Lane County.  Swarts also diligently lobbied to have a new Lane County Jail constructed.  


Oral E. Crowe
1942 - 1945

Oral E. Crowe served two terms as a Lane County Commissioner prior to becoming Sheriff.  He was also a local businessman.  Crowe was appointed Sheriff when then Sheriff A. A. "Tom" Swartz left Lane County to serve in World War II.  Crowe was known as a tenacious investigator.  That tenacity paid off during the investigation of the murder of Warren Warfield.  A small speck of mud on a windowsill proved to be the undoing of Ben Rogers, who was responsible for the murder of Warfield.

 
C.A. "Tom" Swarts
1945 - 1953

C.A. "Tom" Swarts served as Lane County Sheriff for nearly 10 years before taking a leave of absence to serve in World War II.  When he returned from service in the U.S. Army, Swarts served another 7 years as Sheriff.  Swarts was instrumental in the formation of the Lane County Sheriff's Posse.  He spent a significant amount of time with the members, and helped create the program as it exists today.  Photographs of Swarts include well-known actors and actresses who were filming on location in Lane County.  Swarts also diligently lobbied to have a new Lane County Jail constructed.

 
Edward W. Elder
1953 - 1961

Edward W. Elder was a "true politician", according to research.  Having his photo taken while destroying slot machines or overseeing the transport of prisoners, Elder was quite popular in Lane County political circles.  He was well-liked by the people who worked for him.  He abhorred the consumption of alcohol and the wild lifestyles of the decade.

 
Harry H. Marlowe
1961 - 1973

Harry H. Marlowe was a very experienced lawman, having served in other departments prior to working for the Lane County Sheriff's Office.  He was a Deputy Sheriff under Edward Elder; and is described as a strong, devoted member of the Sheriff's Office.  Those who served with him described him as a hard man that did not tolerate slacking at work, or citizens that disrespected his deputies.  One instance of note occurred in Veneta where a lone deputy attempted to resolve a "bar fight" and was assaulted outside the tavern.  Sheriff Marlow returned to the tavern with adequate force, and the incident was resolved.

 
David N. Burks
1973 - 1991

David N. Burks, having worked his way through the ranks as Deputy under Harry Marlow, served as Lane County Sheriff for nearly 20 years.  Burks earned several awards as Sheriff of the Year, and fought through several budget issues that crippled the Lane County Sheriff's Office in the 1980's.  The Diane Downs case brought notarity to the Sheriff's Office during his tenure as Sheriff.  He also gained unwanted attention when he parked Sheriff's Office patrol vehicles along 6th Avenue in downtown Eugene when County Commissioners refused to provided needed funding for the Sheriff's Office.

 
Robert L. McManus
1991 - 1997

Robert L. McManus' law enforcement career began in 1969 as a reserve deputy.  He was hired by Sheriff Harry Marlowe in 1970 and promoted to sergeant in 1975 and lieutenant in 1979.  In 1985, McManus left the Sheriff's Office to become the Chief of Police of Silverton, Oregon.  He returned to the Lane County Sheriff's Office in 1990 as commander of the Police Services Division.  McManus was appointed sheriff in 1991, when David Burks retired from the Sheriff's Office for health reasons.  McManus served as president of the Oregon State Sheriff's Association in 1995 and was active in the National Sheriff's Association.

 
Jan Clements
1997 - 2005

Jan Clements defeated Robert McManus for the position of Lane County Sheriff and immediately assumed command of a department suffering from internal turmoil and financial woes.  Clements came from an extended law enforcement career with the Eugene Police Department.  During his tenure, the Lane County Sheriff's Office enjoyed a period of prosperity.

 
Russel E. Burger
2005 - 2010

Russel E. Burger, born in Oregon, began his career in Southern California and worked his way through the ranks of the Oregon State Police; eventually assuming command of a division.  Burger hired on with the Sheriff's Office as a Chief Deputy serving under Jan Clements.  When Clements retired, Burger assumed the position of Sheriff.  He then ran for Sheriff and completed a four-year term.  Burger's second term as Sheriff began in 2009.  In January of 2011, as the successful applicant, Burger left the Lane County Sheriff's Office to accept the District of Oregon US Marshal position.



Thomas M. Turner
2011 - Present

Thomas M. Turner was appointed Lane County Sheriff on January 19, 2011 to complete the term of then Sheriff Russel Burger.  Turner, a career law enforcement officer, joined the Lane County Sheriff's Office as Administrative Captain in 2006, and was promoted to Undersheriff in 2007.  His career began as a Reserve Officer for the City of Eugene in 1981.  He was a Resident Deputy for the Lane County Sheriff's Office in 1982.  As a result of budget cuts, he left the Sheriff's Office and joined the Eugene Police Department, where he worked for the next 23 years as a police officer, police agent (detective), sergeant and lieutenant.  Turner is a native Oregonian.