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Veral E. Tarno was appointed Sheriff of Coos County in August 1981 to take the place of Leslie D. Miller, who resigned. He has been elected to the office of Sheriff every four years since then. In 1982 and 1986, he ran unopposed for the office.
Tarno was born on April 10, 1937 in Nashville, Ark. His family later moved to Southern California where he graduated from Baldwin Park High School. He spent two years studying law enforcement at Mt. San Antonio Junior College.
He began his law enforcement career in 1959 when he joined the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office. He was a patrol deputy and a detective there until 1971, when he moved to Oregon and joined the Coos County Sheriff's Office. He worked as a Deputy and Narcotics Officer in Coos County before being named Undersheriff in 1975.
While a member of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office, Tarno was one of 7,000 deputies in the large county. Today, there are more than 11,000 deputies with the department.
Tarno heads up a Sheriff's Office in Coos County that includes 29 certified deputies along with 20 reserve deputies. He was chosen to serve as President of the Oregon State Sheriffs' Association in 1989. He also is a 1976 graduate of the F.B.I. National Academy.
Tarno is married and has two daughters and two grandsons. He lives in Coquille.
A physician, J.H. Foster, was the first Sheriff of Coos County. He only served as head of law enforcement in the southern coastal county for three months and was one of five men who was appointed to the position from 1854 through 1858.
Coos County was established on Dec. 23, 1853 from parts of Umpqua and Jackson counties. The county included Curry County until 1855. Empire City was the county seat until 1896, when it was moved to Coquille.
Trappers were in the area 25 years before the county was established and Camp Castaway had temporarily sheltered soldiers and sailors from the wrecked ship "Captain Lincoln" in 1852. But the first permanent settlement in present Coos County was at Empire City by members of the Coos Bay Indian Tribe, where the county derived its name. Two Indian meanings for Coos are "lake" and "place of pines."
The county covers 1,629 square miles and has a population of some 61,000 people. Timber, fishing, agriculture, shipping and recreation are the major industries in the county. Coos Bay is known as one of the best natural harbors on the West Coast between Puget Sound and San Francisco and is the shipping point for exported forest products.
The county's first Sheriff was born in New York and came to Oregon in the winter of 1853. He was one of the people who signed the petition to form the county in 1853. Foster was appointed Sheriff and served only three months until someone could be elected to the position. When he left office, Foster played a part in establishing the town of Randolph and was a member of the Coos Bay Wagon Road Co.
C.H. Haskell, the second Sheriff who also was appointed, took over the job as head of law enforcement in July 1854 and served until 1856 when William H. Jackson was appointed to take his place. Jackson, from Greene County in Alabama, resigned less than a year later and John A. Chick was appointed to replace him.
Chick, a deputy sheriff with the Coos County office, lasted only eight months before he resigned. He was replaced with John S. MacNamara, an Irishman who was appointed in December 1857 to a term that ended in 1858. MacNamara was back again a year later when his successor, J.C. McKay, who was the first elected Sheriff in the county, resigned.
MacNamara was appointed to fill the post until 1861, when Joseph Burgess was picked to serve a one-year term. Prior to taking office, Burgess had been county Coroner following his election to that post in 1860 -- the same year that Stephen Davis was elected Sheriff. But Davis lasted about a month before he was removed from office for refusing to obtain a new bond and Burgess was back as acting Sheriff until August 1861, when William S. Dryden was appointed and served until 1863.
During Dryden' s term in office, a well known pioneer died in jail. A.H. Hinch was locked up after being accused of murder.
Isiah Hacker was elected in 1863 to the first of two terms he served. He was born in Weld, Maine and came to Oregon in 1862 from Boston, Mass. Hacker also served a one-year term in 1885. Hacker held a number of other public offices. He was elected to the State Legislature in 1864 and was Coos County Superintendent of Schools from 1872 to 1874. He also was Justice of the Peace and City Recorder in Marshfield from 1876 to 1879, when he became Collector of Customs at the Port of Coos Bay.
Hacker had an impressive business career; as a sawmill worker, cobbler and store clerk, school teacher, director and cashier of the First National Bank of Coquille. He also was one of the owners of the Coast Mail newspaper.
A.J. Moody, who also was born in Maine, was elected Sheriff in 1864 and served until 1870. Before his election to the law enforcement job, he was Coos County Assessor from 1862 to 1863. He signed the 1870 census as Deputy U.S. Marshal for the Ninth District of Coos and Curry counties.
Charles A. Hanscom, another man from Maine, was elected to a two-year term following Moody, serving from 1870 to 1872. He was the owner of another newspaper, the Coos County Record in Empire, and also was a lumberman.
George W. Sleeper from New Hampshire was elected in 1872 and served only until April 1873, when he resigned after he was accused of defaulting on his taxes. T.G. Owen of Missouri was appointed to take Sleeper' s place and served until 1874. He moved to Oregon shortly before he was appointed Sheriff and later became a lawyer. Before coming to Oregon, Owen had served for four years with the Confederate Missouri Cavalry from 1861 to 1865.
Joseph Ferry was elected Sheriff in 1874 and served nearly a year before he resigned. Ferry was born in 1811 in Pennsylvania and came to Oregon in 1857 from Oroville, Calif. He was a gold miner and also in the mercantile business. In 1903, he was the postmaster at Riverton in Coos Co.
Ferry was replaced in 1875 by Jay Tuttle, who was appointed to the job at Ferry's request. Turtle was from New Hampshire and became a medical doctor in 1880 and the state Deputy Health Ofricer in 1882. The prominent physician and surgeon was a United States Senator in 1903.
Following Tuttle, Andrew "Glenn" Aiken was elected to two, two-year terms, serving as Sheriff from 1876 to 1880. He crossed the plains with a team of oxen, arriving in Oregon in 1853 from Lawrence County in Pennsylvania. He later served as Postmaster of Coquille. He first settled in Albany and later the Washington Territory before moving to Coos County.
Joseph Lane followed Aiken, serving as Sheriff from 1880 to 1884. He was County Assessor from 1879 to 1880 and served in the Confederate Army with Gen. Robert E. Lee, where he was inspector in the Indian Department. He also at one time was the Mine Superintendent of Coos County. His father was Gen. Joseph Lane, who served in the U.S. Senate and was Oregon's first governor.
William Robert Simpson was elected to a two-year term in 1884, but he resigned after seven months into the term and was replaced by Isiah Hacker, who filled in until the next Sheriff, Lintner Harlocker, was elected. Harlocker spent four years as Sheriff in Coos County. Born in Columbus, Ohio, Harlocker came to Oregon in 1871 from Sonoma, Calif. In addition to serving as Sheriff, he spent time as Coos County Assessor, County Judge and Postmaster of Coquille.
Zachary Taylor Siglin was elected Sheriff in 1890 and served until 1892. The first City Marshal of Marshfield was born in Pennsylvania. He also at one time was a school teacher and rancher. Siglin was followed by Reuben Martin Wieder, a native Californian who spent two years as Sheriff of Coos County.
When Wieder's term was up, William Washington Gage was elected to serve the first of four terms he served at different times. Gage, who was born in Dallas, Ore., was Sheriff of Coos County from 1894 to 1902, 1906 to 1911, 1915 to 1921 and 1925 to 1929. He died while in office on Oct. 24, 1929. When he wasn't serving as Sheriff, Gage ran a freighter between Crescent City and Grants Pass and owned a ranch on the west branch of the North Fork, Coos River. His grandfather was Sheriff Washington Smith Gilliam of Polk Co. and his brother, C.A. Gage, was a deputy sheriff in Coos County.
Stephen Gallier followed Gage after his first term, serving from 1902 to 1906 before Gage was back for his second term. Gallief was born in Illinois and came to Oregon in September 1878. He also served at one time as Mayor of Bandon. His brother, Edmund Gallier, was a Deputy Sheriff with the Coos Bay Sheriffs Office.
When Gage left office after serving until 1911, Alfred Johnson was elected to two, two-year terms before Gage was back for six more years. In 1921, Edwin Peter Ellingsen was elected Sheriff and Served until Sept. 6, 1925, when he was killed in an off-duty automobile accident. Gage left his position as a Coos County Commissioner in 1925 to accept an appointment as Sheriff to replace Ellingsen.
Ellingsen was the second Sheriff in Coos County who was a native Oregonian. He was born on Lampa Creek on the Coquille River and never attended high school or college. Ellingsen and his father-in-law, J.B. Sweet, were killed when an automobile driven by Ellingsen plunged down a 400-foot bank. Ellingsen, Sweet and a friend, who survived, were headed fishing when the Sheriff attempted to pass a car and drove too close to the edge of the highway. The car rolled to the bottom of the embankment and was destroyed.
When Gage died while in office, he was replaced by Henry Elmer Hess, who was appointed to the position and later elected to a four-year term. A native of Michigan, Hess came to Oregon from Humbolt County in California.
William F. "Bill Dad" Howell was elected in 1935 and served for 20 years
the longest term in the county. He was born near Randolph, the town that
the first Sheriff of the County helped establish, and had served as Police Chief in Coquille before being elected Sheriff of the county. He attended schools in Coos County and was the cousin of Sheriff William W. Howell of Grant Co.
Charles Murry Strawn was elected to the post in 1955 and served as Sheriff of Coos County until 1971. Strawn was born in Arkansas and moved from there to Oregon in 1939. Before being elected to four consecutive terms as Coos County Sheriff, he was with the Oregon State Police and was Chief of Police in North Bend.
After his long term as Sheriff, he was Chief of Police in Gold Beach from 1971 to 1972, when he retired due to an illness.
Tony Zarbano, a former Los Angeles County Sheriff' s officer, was elected to a four-year term from 1971 to 1975 followed by Leslie D. Miller, who served from 1975 until his resignation in August 1981. Miller, who was born in Myrtle Point, had been involved in law enforcement for years before being elected Sheriff of Coos County. He was with the North Bend Police Department, Coos Bay Police Department and was a deputy sheriff in Coos County. Miller was instrumental in the Dec. 31, 1977 drug raid south of Bandon involving more than eight tons of Thai sticks along with 17 arrests. The drugs and equipment confiscated were valued at more than $52 million.
Miller resigned from office in August 1981, when Tarno was appointed to the post.
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