The word "Sheriff" is of English derivation, a contraction of the words "shire" (county) and "reeve" (an agent of the king). Remember the "Sheriff of Nottingham"? He and his counterparts weren't very popular were they? They held office either because their father did, or they received what was termed "royal appointment" (based not on abilities, but instead by what particular favors they had done for the crown). Their remuneration depended upon how much taxes they collected - so you can readily understand what their principal duty was and why they resorted in some cases to "less than ethical" methods of collection.

Current Practices

Today's Sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer of his county by virtue of public acclaim, in the form of election every four years by the eligible voting populace of his county.

His chief deputy is appointed by the Sheriff to help him with his duties and act as chief coordinator.

In most offices the Sheriff's personnel are unique in that all functions of the office are performed by any deputy, whether the assignment be in the corrections field, the court system, or the law enforcement division. For example, he may act as a bailiff or a jailer, transport a prisoner, serve a civil process, or patrol a road, all in the same day. It is for this reason the Sheriff's Office operates in such a smooth manner and on such an economical scale, resulting in great benefit to the taxpayers.

Historical Information

For more historical information, please visit The Shelby County Historical Society’s page on the History of Shelby County Sheriffs.

Former Sheriffs

NameElected Term
James Hamilton1818 to 1820
William B. Arnold1820 to 1822
Ezekiel Henry1822 to 1827
James M. Nabors1827 to 1829
Jacob D. Shelly1829 to 1831
Martin H. McHenry1831 to 1834
Thomas Toomey1834 to 1837
Archibald Sloan1837 to 1840
Benjamin F. Randall1840 to 1843
Thomas H. Brasher1843 to 1846
Benjamin F. Randall1846 to 1849
James M. Finley1849 to 1852
Hudson W. Nelson1852 to 1855
John T. McCormick1855
William P. Reeves1855 to 1856
Todd R. Wyatt1856 to 1857
John Edmondson1857
Henry J. Sawyer1857 to 1860
Richard H. Brasher1860 to 1863
James Walton1863 to 1865
James H. Duran1865
Charles B. Elliott1865 to 1866
Columbus C. Cunningham1866
Thomas Harrison1866 to 1868
Lewis H. Duyck1868 to 1869
Thomas Harrison1869 to 1872
Francis A. Nelson1872 to 1877
Rufus M. DeShazo1877 to 1880
Francis A. Nelson1880 to 1884
Edwin F. Vest1884 to 1888
William R. Carter1888 to 1892
Hudson W. Nelson1892 to 1896
Edwin F. Vest1896 to 1899
Junius L. Walthall1899 to 1900
Robert F. Cox1900 to 1906
James H. Fulton1906 to 1909
Henry M. Norris1909 to 1910
John R. Allan1911 to 1915
James H. Fulton1915 to 1918
John A. “Andrew” Jackson1919 to 1922
James J. Falkner1923 to 1926
Curtis J. Falkner1927 to 1929
Knox E. Wooley1929 to 1934
Claude H. Fore1935 to 1938
Walter B. “Bun” White1939 to 1942
Luther T. Bozeman1943 to 1950
Alva E. “Bud” Norwood1950 to 1954
Hugh M. Sims1955 to 1958
Charles H. “Chuck” Harris1959
Charles P. “Red” Walker1959 to 1978
James F. “Buddy” Glasgow1979 to 1990
James L. Jones1991 to 2002
Chris D. Curry2003 to 2014
John Samaniego2015 to Present