Fred Lee Reusser was appointed to take the place of William Robert "Robb" Walker on Feb. 4, 1988 when Walker resigned. Reusser was the Undersheriff of Grant County before being named Sheriff. He ran for the office later that year and was elected with his term beginning in January 1989.
Reusser was born in Portland on May 9, 1948. He graduated from Benson High School and went on to receive an Associate in Applied Sciences degree from Walla Walla Community College in Walla Walla, Wash. Before going to the community college, he worked in sheetmetal construction.
He moved to John Day, where he worked in the sales and service of office equipment and supplies. He was hired as a Grant County Deputy in 1984, working in the patrol division and corrections.
Reusser was appointed Undersheriff by Sheriff Walker in 1987. He was appointed to take Walker's place in February 1988 when Walker resigned.
Reusser now heads up a Sheriff's Department with a staff of 12, including three patrol Deputies, one office worker and eight Deputies in corrections. Grant County covers some 4,500 miles and lists a population of close to 9,000. Most of the population is located in the John Day Valley from Dayville to Prairie City.
The Grant County Sheriff has a married daughter in Canyon City who just made him a grandfather.
M. P. Berry, a man who came to Grant County from the Salem area, was appointed as the first Sheriff of Grant County when it was created from Wasco and Umatilla counties on Oct. 14, 1864.
The county is located in the eastern third of Oregon and was named for U.S. Army Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, who was assigned to protect the early settlers in the state. Grant County covers 4,528 square miles and has a population of 8,050 residents.
Prospectors swarmed into the region when gold was discovered on Whiskey Flat in 1862. More than $20 million in gold dust and nuggets was taken from the Canyon City area.
Areas of four National Forests are located in Grant County. The timbered areas supply lumber for five large mills and numerous small custom mills as well as grazing for the extensive cattle industry in the area.
The Kimberley Orchards located in the county are known for their fine apple, cherry, nectarine, peach and other crops. Grant County also is a popular fishing and hunting area. Deer and elk live in all the county forests and the rivers, streams and high mountain lakes provide plenty of steelhead and trout. Backpackers also are drawn to the county because of the miles of beautiful wilderness trails it has to offer.
The major industries in the county are timber, agriculture and recreation. Points of interest include Fossil Beds National Monument, Grant County Museum in Canyon City, the county seat, Strawberry Mountain Wilderness, and the North Fork of John Day Wilderness.
The county's first Sheriff, M. P. Berry, is believed to have been the nephew of Oregon Gov. A. C. Gibbs, who served from 1862 to 1866. When Berry left Grant County after serving as Sheriff until 1866, he returned to Salem and became Warden at the Oregon State Penitentiary.
Thomas Howard, who had lost the election to Berry in 1865, became the Sheriff in 1866 and ended up serving three, two-year terms. He was born in New York on May 11, 1833 and first came to Oregon in 1862 from California, where he had gone during the gold rush days in 1849. He spent time in Carson City and Virginia City in Nevada and Esmeralda in California in 1859.
Howard worked for a time as a butcher in Marysville, Calif. after leaving the gold mines. In 1862, he accompanied a cattle herd to Oregon. He was with a group of prospectors who discovered gold in the Canyon City area after moving to Oregon.
William P. Gray was elected to head up law enforcement in Grant County in 1872. He served until resigning from the office in Sept. 1878 and then came back in 1882, serving only tWO months of his new twoyear term. However, Gray was back from 1888 to 1890 for one more term.
I. John Wash followed Gray as Sheriff of the county from 1878 to 1882 before Gray was back. When Gray left the office after only two months, Oliver Perry Cresap was picked to replace him in September 1882. Cresap was a member of one of the earliest pioneer families in Grant County. He was born in Cumberland, Maryland. At one time, he owned a store in Canyon City and also mined for gold in the hills near the county seat.
Cresap served as Grant County Sheriff until 1884 but came back later to serve again from 1890 to 1892. When Cresap left office the first time, Alva C. Dore of Penobscot, Maine, was elected Sheriff and served until 1888, when Gray was back.
Dore also came to Oregon from California in 1862. He was a pony express rider with Ben Haliday until 1862. At one time he owned a sawmill in Albany and later in Canyon City, where he also dabbled in mining.
When Gray left the office for the third time in 1890, Cresap was back for another term. In 1892, Joseph D. Coombs was elected to run law enforcement in
Grant County. He served two terms until 1896, when Newton Livingston was elected to two terms, serving until 1900.
Livingston was born in Missouri on April 7, 1850. He moved to Oregon as a young child in 1852. He worked as a farmer in Roseburg until 1886, when he moved to Grant County, about 14 miles north of Longcreek.
Elijah P. Laurance, a Californian, succeeded Livingston as Sheriff of Grant County in 1900. He served in the office until 1904. Laurance was born on Dec. 14, 1859 in Yreka. After moving to Oregon, he worked as a farmer and a stockman. He owned the Grant County Mercantile Company at the time of his death in 1912.
John W. Ambrose followed Laurance, serving as Sheriff from 1904 to 1908. He was succeeded by C. M. Collier, who was Sheriff from 1908 to 1913, when William Welsh took over. Welsh was Grant County Sheriff from 1913 to 1917 followed by William W. Howell, who had been a Deputy under Collier. Howell was the cousin of Coos County Sheriff William F. "Bill Dad" Howell, who ran law enforcement in that county from 1935 to 1955.
Cy J. Bingham from Big Beaver, Michigan, was Sheriff of Grant County from 1921 to 1933, the longest term yet in the county. Bingham moved to Oregon in 1890 at the age of 20 and worked as a stockman. He worked in the mines for a while before taking on a job with the U.S. Forest Service in 1903, stationed between Crater Lake and the Mackenzie Highway. He was appointed Forest Supervisor with the U.S. Forest Service and sent to John Day in Grant County. His job was to take care of a newly-created forest district that covered portions of Grant, Harney, Baker and Malheur counties on the Blue Mountain Range.
Bingham had not been in Grant County very long when he discovered that he had settled in a community where the sheep and cattlemen could not agree on range rights. In 1920, he left his Forest Service job and was elected Sheriff of Grant County, serving three consecutive four-year terms. He was Sheriff during the time of Prohibition and was kept busy tracking down four murders that were committed during his term of office.
Bingham decided not to run for a fourth term because of ailing health, due to a bout with blood poisoning. After he left office, Bingham moved to Southern California, settling in Pomona.
Irving B. Hazeltine was elected to four consecutive four-year terms after Bingham left office. He was followed by Oliver Calhoun, a school teacher who took office in 1949 and ended up serving three years of his four-year term before resigning in December 1951. Robert W. Damon was appointed to fill the vacancy left by Calhoun. Damon was Sheriff until he resigned in July 1956. He was replaced by Martin Bragga, who was appointed to run the Sheriff's Office, serving only six months until Ray H. Brisbois was elected. Bragga later served as a Deputy Sheriff under Tom Negus.
Brisbois was bom on Aug. 5, 1901 in Izee, Oregon. Before being elected Sheriff of Grant County, Brisbois worked as a rancher, restaurant owner and with the U.S. Forest Service for 25 years. He also spent time with the Edward Hines Lumber Co.
Thomas John Negus was elected to head law enforcement in Grant County in 1965. He remained as Sheriff of the large county until 1981. Negus was born on March 25, 1913 in Davis, South Dakota. He came to Oregon in 1933. At one time he worked with the State Department of Agriculture as a meat inspector. He was a meat cutter for 25 years and also worked at a grocery store. He served on a number of boards in Canyon City, including the school board, hospital board and the City Council.
Negus' uncle, George M. Ray, was Sheriff of Wheeler County from 1904 to 1908. David Thomas Haynes followed Negus when he was elected in 1981. He later was recalled from office on Sept. 4, 1984. Haynes was born in Oregon City on Nov. 11, 1949. He worked at the Molalla and Salem police departments before moving to Grant County. Haynes lost the primary election by 175 votes in 1980 and was elected Sheriff of the county in a write-in campaign. In 1991, he was Chief of Police in Sisters.
When Haynes was recalled with less than a year left on his term, Randy Woodruff was appointed to fill out the term. Woodruff ran for Sheriff in 1984 but was defeated by William Robert "Robb" Walker.
Walker, who was born in Prairie City, Oregon, also did not finish his four-year term. He resigned on Jan. 21, 1988 for personal reasons. Before being elected, Walker had served as Police Chief for the Canyon City Police Department and was a senior patrolman for the John Day Police Department.
Grant County Undersheriff Fred Lee Reusser was appointed to finish out Walker's term and then was elected in the fall of 1988 to a four-year term.
Early Law Enforcement
Justice was swift in the days before Grant County officially was carved out of Wasco and Umatilla counties in the fall of 1864. Deputy Sheriff Frank McDaniels was in charge of law enforcement in the sparsely-populated county in 1863 and was on hand for the first hanging in what was to become Grant County a year later.