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The Sheriffs of 21 Butternut St.


Sheriffs of the First Jail

1823-24 Thomas Armstrong

1825-27 Reuben H. Foster

1828-30 Cullen Foster

1831-33 Calvin D. Palmeter

1834-36 Truman Heminway

1837-39 Hiram Mann

1840-42 Simon V. W. Stout

1843-45 John Borradaile

1846-48 George W. Barnard

1849-51 Chester A. Ward

1852-54 George W. Paddock

Sheriff William Nottingham
1855 - 1857

The first sheriff to work in the newly constructed Wayne County Jail.

William P. Nottingham was born in Claverack, Columbia County, New York, in June 1805.

  • His first residence in Wayne County was in Walworth, as landlord of the hotel there.

  • He then moved to Palmyra to run the Bunker Hill Hotel on Canal Street.

  • Afterward, he bought The Palmyra Hotel in 1838 on the corner of Main and Fayette Street and owned and ran that for a quarter of a century.

  • In 1855 he was elected Sheriff of Wayne County, and at about the same time, was chosen President of the Palmyra Union Agricultural Society, which he held until his death, December 15, 1877.

Adrastus Snedaker
1858 -1860

Sheriff Snedaker lived in the Town of Galen.

  • After his term as sheriff, he became the Town of Galen Supervisor.

  • In 1845, Sheriff Snedaker purchased the  Canal Mansion House and renamed it the Franklin House.

  • During his term as Sheriff, Snedaker had the dark task of arranging for and carrying out the execution of William Fee, the only execution in the history of the county. 

  • Although a snowstorm was raging, thousands came and stood outside the jail during the hanging.

  • Tickets to the gruesome event were sold, and 100 spectators came inside to see Fee hanged.


John Paul Bennet
1861-1863 & 1867-1869

Sheriff Bennet was born in 1824 and emigrated to America when he

was five years old.

  • In 1847, he was appointed collector of the port of Pultneyville and

held this position between three and four years, boarding at the

home of Washington Throop.

  • Bennet was also elected Justice of the Peace in Williamson and held that office for nine years.

  • In 1854 and 1855, he was elected Member of the Assembly and introduced the bill to build the first suspension bridge at Niagara Falls.

  • In 1861, he was nominated for sheriff. During his first term as sheriff, the murder case of Jonathan Lape occurred.

Bartlett Rogers

Sheriff Rogers was born in Palmyra on June 30, 1807.

Five years later, he moved to Lyons, where he resided until his death in 1880.

  • He learned the trade of a tanner (transforming animal skins or hides into leather) from his father and began business on the west side of Butternut Street in Lyons.

  • In 1847, he went into the tanning business with Henry Teachout.

  • While a tanner, he also worked as a contractor on the canals and as a lumber dealer.

  • Rogers also held three terms as Supervisor of Lyons and County Treasurer from 1849 to 1852.

John N. Brownell


Sheriff Brownell was born in Hoosick Falls, NY., moved to Lyons in 1845, and became a farmer.

  • In 1870, he was elected sheriff of Wayne County on the Republican ticket by the largest majority ever given to any county official.

  • In 1880, he was appointed keeper at Auburn state prison, retaining the position for five years.

Richard P. Groat
1873 - 1875

Born March 28, 1822, Richard P. Groat's family moved to Newark

shortly after his birth from Columbia County.

  • Groat was appointed as keeper of the Wayne County Alms House

            (poor house) in 1861 where he served for nine years.

  • After only one term of office, Groat became "Deputy Collector of

  • Internal Revenue," a position he held for nine years.

  • Groat continued on in public service and was representative to the

  • New York State Assembly from 1889 through 1891.

  • Groat was also the Newark Postmaster until December 31, 1906.


Thomas M. Clark

  • Sheriff Clark, like other sheriffs of the times, was in the auctioneering business and quoted as a "celebrated auctioneer of 36 years experience." Clark was an auctioneer before and after he served his term as sheriff.

  • Sheriff Clark is buried in the Clark family plot in the Marion Town Cemetery. His headstone reads that he was born in 1828 and died in 1910.

William J. Glen

Sheriff Glen was born May 22, 1836, in Milton, NY and died on January 15, 1906. Early in his teens, his family moved to a farm in Rose, NY.

  • He entered into service in the Sheriff's department under Sheriff Groat.

  • Upon his election to Sheriff, he moved into 21 Butternut with his wife and son.

  • As Sheriff, Glen had to preside over two very gruesome murder/suicides, both taking place in Lyons.

  • After his term as Sheriff, he retired to a house on Phelps Street in Lyons and continued to work the farm in Rose.

Vernon R. Howell

​Sheriff Howell was born in 1847 and died in 1897,

  • During his term as Sheriff, 18 men were captured and sentenced to Auburn or Elmira. One of the more
    illustrious prisoners was William Courtwright in 1884 for murder, although ultimately acquitted.  

  • Also under Sheriff Howell was the arrest of John Johnson for burglary in 1885. He was the first convict to be
    sent to the electric chair at Auburn.

  • It was under Sheriff Howell that Jerry Collins began his 50 years of service in the sheriff’s department.

R.J. Parshall

Sheriff Rossman J. Parshall was born in Palmyra in 1844.

  • Parshall served in Company A, III NY Infantry Regiment,

  • and mustered out in 1865.

  • After leaving the army he returned to Palmyra and then in 1866 took a position as bookkeeper in the Lyons National Bank.

  • In 1872 he went to Sodus and took charge of the Shaker tract of land, and in 1879 was appointed collector of the Port of Sodus Point and held the position up to 1886, when he was elected sheriff.

  • During Parshall’s time as sheriff, there was one murder committed, and Christopher King, a repeat offender, was also brought in.

Charles R. Reed

Reed was born in the town of Huron.

  • Under Sheriff Reed, repeat offender Christopher King was again brought in for assault, marking the third time King went through the Wayne County Jail. 

  • Sheriff Reed only held the office of sheriff for a year as he died November 17th during his term at the age of 38. 

  • Funeral services were held at the jail.

George W. Knowles

Sheriff Knowles was born July 14, 1834, in Lyons, NY.

  • Before becoming Sheriff, he was a partner in C.D. McDougal & Company and was an agent

for the Merchants Express Co. on Water St. in Lyons.

  • Sheriff Knowles was also the President (Mayor) of Lyons in 1873 before joining the Sheriff's Office.

  • He only served as Sheriff for one year, taking over for Sheriff Reed following his death.

  • Robbery, assault, and burglary were the popular crimes during Sheriff Knowles's short term.

There was only one murderer, George A. Lumbert.

Walter Thornton

Thorton was born in the town of Sodus in 1844

  • Sheriff Thornton was in office when one of the most famous criminals,

Oliver Curtis Perry, was captured and brought to the Wayne County Jail.

  • Sheriff Thornton’s term was cut short, as he too died while in office.

  • The funeral was held in Sodus and was the largest funeral held in Wayne County.

walter thornton.jpg

Theodore B. Trowbridge

Mr. Trowbridge was born in Susquehanna County, PA, on December 23, 1837, and came to Wayne County in 1860.

  • He was commissioner of highways for the town of Sodus from 1876 to 1888, was a charter member of Wallington Grange, Patrons of Husbandry, and was a member of Sodus Lodge, No. 392, F., and A.M.

  • After Sheriff Thornton died, Theodore B. Trowbridge took over as sheriff.

  • Sheriff Trowbridge didn’t seek office again, as he was declared insane by Drs. William G. Thirkell and

Harry F. Seaman and sent to Willard State Asylum.

Charles H. Ford

  • Sheriff Ford served on the Wayne County Board of Supervisors from 1896 to 1898.

  • Seven women were arrested during Ford's term for being "disorderly."

  • Only one man was arrested for murder in 1894, Fred Chields.


George M. Sweezey

Sheriff Sweezey was born in 1843, died in 1915, and was a Civil War Veteran.

  • He ran the Atlantic Hotel on Main Street in the Hamlet of Marion,

  • the apartment house across from the present Town Hall.

  • Repeat offender Christopher King was again arrested, this time in 1895. 

This was his fourth time through the Wayne County Jail.


Dewitt C. Wheeler

Sheriff Wheeler was a resident of South Butler.

  • He married Nettie Hibbard making Jerome Hibbard of the Hibbard Basket Factory his father-in-law.

  • Before and after Wheeler was elected Sheriff, he worked at his father-in-law’s basket factory in Butler.

  • Wheeler also held the position of Wayne County Clerk.

George R. Miles

  • Sheriff Miles lived in Wolcott and also served on the Wayne County Board of Supervisors during his term.

  • He was honored with a silver tea set by the Wayne County Board of Supervisors, the set is currently on display at the Museum of Wayne County History.


Albert Yeomans

Sheriff Yeomans was born in 1848 and died in 1918. He married Clara Billings and

they lived in Palmyra and also for a time in Walworth on his family farm, Elm Hurst.

  • Many murderous criminals were jailed under Yeomans, most notably “Big” Ed Kelley.

  • Although the Kelley gang was arrested under Yeomans, they were convicted under

Sheriff Jerry Collins.

  • Kelley and his gang, Fred Shultz and James McCormick, were brought in for the murder of the Knapp Bank
    watchman, Edward Pullman of Sodus. They were the most dangerous gang ever to be confined in the jail.


Jeremiah “Jerry” Collins
1907-1909, 1913-1915, 1931-1933

Jerry was born in 1855 and is still known as one of Wayne County's most colorful figures for over half a century.

  • Of all sheriffs, Jerry worked in the old jail the longest.

He held the sheriff's office three times, and his career spanned

fifty-one years in the sheriff's department.

  • While he was associated with the Wayne County Jail, nineteen men and one woman were convicted of murder; one of these was the first man electrocuted at Auburn Prison, John Johnson.

  • Of the hundreds of prisoners housed at the jail during the span of

Jerry's time, not one escaped.

  • The most well-remembered case is Oliver Curtis Perry, the train robber Collins captured in 1892.

  • One of the most interesting collections at the Museum are the sixty-odd items confiscated by Collins from prisoners during his tenure. These include the guns, knives, daggers, and burglar’s tools still on display.

Orin H. Sherman

Orin Sherman not only served as Sheriff of Wayne County but also served as an Auctioneer and Constable in
the town of Marion in 1891.

  • During Sheriff Sherman’s time, various prisoners were sentenced to life in prison, including Ross Serge and Santo De Carlo.

  • It has also been written that Sheriff Sherman and Deputy Collins did very clever detective work on the

“Sodus Point Cottage Robbers” case, also in 1911.

Bert E. Valentine
1916-1918, 1922-1924

Sheriff Valentine was born in 1874 and died in 1942.

  • During his first term as sheriff, one of the few women accused of murder was brought in. Charlotte Peterson, alias Lottie Wooby, was sentenced to

life in Matteawan for murder.

  • A couple of repeat offenders also saw their way back to the Wayne County Jail under Valentine, most notably George De Lue.


John L. Newman
1919-1921, 1928-1930, 1934-1936

  • Newman often worked with Jerry Collins, either as Sheriff or Deputy Sheriff, as he and Jerry switched back and forth from Sheriff to Deputy Sheriff for many years.

  • Sheriff Newman presided over the unfortunate and strangely mysterious Warren Family murder in Newark in March of 1928.

  •  Sheriff Newman was also in office at the start of Prohibition in 1920. During his last term as Sheriff, in 1933, Prohibition, also known as the “Noble Experiment,” ended.


Frank C. Rich

Sheriff Rich was born in 1875 and died in 1937.

  • During his term, John I. Fletcher, international swindler, who registered from Clydesdale, Scotland,

was arrested and held in the county jail.

  • After his term as sheriff, Rich took up the business of auctioneer and appraiser in Wolcott.

Charles H. Wright
1937-1942, 1943-1945

Charles Wright was born in the Town of Savannah on August 29, 1878, and died May 3, 1970, at age 91.

  • Sheriff Wright was the first in office to implement Sheriff’s vehicles, and under the Wright administration of the jail, the deputies were uniformed. First, their uniforms were grey and then later changed to blue.

  • Charles Wright was connected to the Sheriff’s office for 21 years and before that was a constable in the Town
    of Huron.

  • Sheriff Wright served three terms and was the first Sheriff in Wayne County history to serve successive terms.

  • Even as State Prison Commission inspectors approved Wright’s administration, cleanliness of the jail, and food, Wright would frequently suggest to the Board of Supervisors that the county build a new jail. It was likely due to him that the new County Jail on Route 31 was built.

F. John Lawrence

Lawrence lived in Wayne County all his life, first in Sodus, then Williamson, and in 1939 he moved to 37 Butternut St. in Lyons. Lawrence died at the age of 93.

  • Sheriff Lawrence held office for six years but had been associated with the sheriff’s office since 1934.

  • He was a deputy under Sheriff Wright for 9 years and with Sheriff John Newman for 2 years.

  • He was a constable in Williamson for 14 years and a welfare officer in Williamson for three years.

  • While he was sheriff, he and Deputy Burns had to investigate the sad stabbing in the Hutchinson migrant camp in Savannah, which involved a 19-year-old girl.

Earl G. Keckison

Sheriff Keckison was born in 1897 and died in 1990.

  • Keckison served in the US Navy in World War I.

  • He was Sheriff of Wayne County when the department received their first short wave talkie.

  • Keckison was also sheriff when 16-year-old Bruce McKenna escaped from the Wayne County Jail and over 100 law enforcement officers hunted for him.

Robert W. Burns

  • Robert Burns joined the Wayne County Sheriff's Department in 1948 after transferring from the Newark Police Department.

  • During 1957 - 1967, the Sheriff's Road Patrol was enlarged to provide 24-hour police protection to the citizens of Wayne County.

  • In 1966, while Burns was president of the New York State Sheriff's Association, patrol cars with the present red and white color scheme were introduced.

  • In 1959, Sheriff Burns graduated from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Academy.

  • Upon the Sheriff's return, he established a pistol range at the Wayne County Jail, patterned after the F.B.I. range.

It is considered one of the best in the Upstate New York Region.

  • During 1959-60, Sheriff Burns saw the construction of the new Wayne County Jail on Route 31 in the Town of Lyons, which retired the old jail

after over a century of service.

  • Sheriff Burns retired in 1967 after serving 19 years with the county agency.

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