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John Pardon is the 40th man to serve as Sheriff in Douglas County. He was elected in 1988 and took office in January 1989.

Pardon served more than 13 years with the Oregon State Police before joining the Douglas County Sheriff's Office as a Deputy Sheriff in 1970. In 1971, he was promoted to Sergeant, assigned to the Patrol Division. In 1977, Pardon was placed in charge of Warrants, Fugitives and Prisoner Transportation. While there, he was instrumental in developing the State Cooperative Transportation System that economically transports inmates throughout the state.

Realizing a lifelong ambition, Pardon is serving as Sheriff in the department he has worked in for the past 20 years. He is working on his goal of introducing new and innovative methods of law enforcement going into the 21st Century.

John Pardon and his wife, Joyce, have four children ranging in age from 23 to 32 years. All the children attended Roseburg schools and went on to college.

Pardon heads up a department of 124 employees, including 37 road deputies. Douglas County, with 5,071 square miles, stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the Cascades near Crater Lake.

Fleming R. Hill, who moved to Oregon in 1844 after living in Virginia, Tennessee and Missouri, was the first of a string of nine Sheriffs in Douglas County in the first 10 years of the county's history. Hill was appointed to the position more than a year after the county was established on Jan. 7, 1852. Hill served only three months before another man was appointed to a seven-month term.

Douglas County stretches from the Pacific Ocean inland, covering some 5,071 square miles. It was established from Umpqua County. Douglas County is named for U.S. Sen. Stephen A. Douglas, who served from 1816 to 1861 and was the Democratic candidate for the presidency against Abraham Lincoln in 1860. Douglas also was a strong congressional advocate for Oregon.

The county extends from sea level to the 9,182 foot peak of Mt. Thielsen in the Cascade Range. The Umpqua River marks the boundary line between northern and southern Oregon and the river's entire watershed lies within the boundaries of the county. The county seat is Roseburg.

There are 2.8 million acres of commercial forest lands in the county, which also includes the largest stand of old growth timber in the world. An estimated 25 to 30 percent of the work force in Douglas County is employed in the timber industry. Mining, agriculture, fishing and recreation also add to the county's economy. The only source of nickel in the United States was mined and smelted by the Hanna Company, a Riddle mine that closed in mid-1982.

Douglas County also boasts the state's first parks system. There are some 50 parks and boat launching points in the Douglas County Parks Department. In addition, the Umpqua River is one of Oregon's best fishing streams, with the North Umpqua pulling in fly fishermen from all over the world.

Law enforcement over the years in the county has seen 40 men serve in the capacity of Sheriff. Hill, who built and operated the Wilbur Inn, which still is used as a house, led the long list of Sheriffs. His brother, Ryland Hill, proved to be the first homicide of the new county when he was killed on election day.

The first Sheriff of Douglas County came to Oregon with the Hudson's Bay Company. During the Civil War, he had the job of alerting settlers to the important news that was brought in by stage coach drivers. He was the one who lowered the flag to half mast the night the driver brought in the news of President Lincoln's death.

After serving only three months, Hill resigned and Elijah Perry was appointed to take his place. A New Yorker who owned stores with a partner in Jacksonville and Canyonville, Perry lasted only six months before he resigned. When Perry resigned, James "Pat" Day was appointed to take his place, but he was disqualified before he took office and the job went to Lewis Dozier Kent.

Kent had to resign, though, when a court ruled that Day was qualified to serve as Sheriff and he took over in April 1855 and served until 1856, when the next Sheriff of the county was elected to the position. Kent later drowned while crossing the Umpqua River in 1857.

Daniel T. Craig was the county's first elected Sheriff. He was responsible for building the county's first jail. Before he was elected, he served as a Douglas County Commissioner. But Craig resigned before his term was up and James Richardson was appointed in April 1858 to fill out the three remaining months of Craig's term. Richardson had served as a Deputy under Craig.

John Fullerton was elected in 1858 and served the first of two periods until October 1861, when he left the office and was replaced by Matthew C. Ruckles, who was Sheriff for two months until his appointment was voided by the court and Fullerton returned and remained Sheriff until the end of 1862.

Leonard Howe, who served as the first Sheriff of Lane County in 1851, was elected Sheriff of Douglas County in 1862, holding the office until 1864 when Jay J. Crawford was elected. Crawford held the post until April 1866, when he resigned to go to Argentina and Elijah Livingston was picked to serve out the last few months of the term.

Howe was elected to the position again in 1866 and served until 1868, when John D. Van Buren was elected and remained Sheriff until 1872. Van Buren, a native of New York, moved to Oregon from San Francisco in 1859. James Wright was elected in 1872 and served until 1874. After he left office, he was a stage driver and owned a livery stable.

Livingston was back for two years from 1874 to 1876.

Next in the long line of Sheriffs in Douglas County was John B. Noble, who was Sheriff for two years beginning in 1876. In 1878, Franklin P. Hogan won the election and served as Sheriff until 1882. He had been the county's Deputy District Attorney in 1877.

Joseph S. Purdom was Sheriff of the county from 1882 to 1884, followed by Gallatin Augustine Taylor who took office after being elected in 1884 and was Sheriff of the county until 1886. He was the County Clerk in Douglas County in 1888. Benjamin Coats Agee served as Sheriff from 1886 to 1890 followed by Samuel C. Miller, a Deputy under Agee for four years, who was elected in 1890 and served until 1894.

Douglas D. Levens took office for a brief time in 1894 before he resigned and later committed suicide. He was replaced by C.F. Cathcart, who was appointed in 1894 and was Sheriff of the county until 1896. Agee was back for the second time in 1896 before Robert L. Stephens, who also served for four years as a Deputy under Agee, was elected to a two-year term from 1898 to 1900. E.L. Parrott was elected in 1900 and held the position until 1904, when H.T. McCallen was elected and also served for four years.

In 1908, B. Fenton won the election for Sheriff and spent four years as head of county law enforcement. George K. Quine was elected to his first term in 1911 and served as Sheriff for 10 years -- the longest of any Sheriff so far in the county, Samuel Starmer followed in 1921 and served until September 1927, when he resigned to become commandant at the Old Soldiers Home. Percy A. Webb was appointed to the Sheriff's position in 1927 and held the office until 1929, coming back later to serve from 1933 to 1941 after Vivian Theodore Jackson served from 1929 to 1933 as Sheriff. Jackson also at one time was County Judge and was on the State Legislature from 1953 to 1955.

Clifford Thornton Pictured Left

Clifford Thornton was elected Sheriff of Douglas County in 1940 and held the office until February 1943, when he resigned for military service. He was replaced by Orville T. "Bud" Carter, who ended up spending 10 years as county Sheriff. Carter was a cousin of Thornton's.





Pictured Right

Douglas Co. Sheriff Ira Byrd {front row, far right} with others from the department dressed for the 1959 Centennial.

In 1953, Calvin Baird was elected to the office and he served only a partial term, resigning in April 1955. Ira C. Byrd was appointed to take Baird's place, spending 12 years as head of law enforcement until he resigned in October 1967. Byrd joined the Douglas County Sheriff's Office as a Deputy in 1939 where he stayed until 1945 when he signed on with the Oregon State Police. In 1949 he was back with the Sheriff's office.

Lyle C. Dickensen, who had been a Deputy under Sheriff Byrd and later Sheriff Jensen, served one month as interim Sheriff before Charles A. Thomas was appointed as a permanent replacement in November 1967, serving until 1969.

John Taylor Truett was elected Sheriff in 1969 and held the office until 1975, when he resigned to become a Douglas County Commissioner. Prior to joining the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, Truett worked at Police Departments in Bend and Roseburg.

George Davis Jacobs, former Chief of Police in John Day and Winston, was appointed to take Truett's place and served until the end of the term in 1977, when Merle D. Jensen was elected to a four-year term. During his law enforcement career with the Douglas County department, Jensen served under five different Sheriffs.

Norman Neal, a Deputy with the department from 1963 to 1981, was elected to two, four-year terms, serving from 1981 to 1989, when John Pardon won the bid for Sheriff in Douglas County.

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