History of the Sheriff's Office
Located in scenic NE Oklahoma, Mayes County was formed at statehood (1907) from parts of the Cherokee Nation and the Creek Nation in Indian Territory, covering 684 square miles. The county was named in honor of Samuel Houston Mayes, who served as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1895 to 1899. The 2010 census gave a population of 41,259. The towns and cities located within Mayes County are Pryor, Chouteau, Salina, Locust Grove, Disney, Adair, Langley and Spavinaw.
The abundance of labor, fresh water, power and a steam plant has attracted industry to The Mid America Industrial Park, which is the largest industrial park in Oklahoma. This park contains 9,000 acres, and at this time has 80 plants and companies; employing over 4,000 people. The park is located between Pryor and Chouteau, on the east side of Highway 69, which is the main route between St Louis, Missouri and Dallas, Texas.
The Mayes County Sheriff's Office must enforce the law in a fair and impartial manner, recognizing both the statutory and judicial limitations of Sheriff's authority and the constitutional rights of all persons. It is not the role of the office to legislate, render legal judgments, or punish.
The Mayes County Sheriff's Office was established in 1907 when Sheriff Lawrence Dallas (served from 1907 to 1911) was placed into office. During its 110-year history, the Mayes County Sheriff's Office employees strive to provide the county with Professional, Honest and Fair law enforcement, public service and community safety. MCSO is proud of the relationships forged with the communities and we are humbled by the support and encouragement we receive from the citizens of Mayes County.
MAYES COUNTY SHERIFFS SINCE STATEHOOD
1931-33 & 1941-43
1937-41 & 1947-51
Glen H. "Pete" Weaver
1969-71 & 1973-81
H.W. "Chief" Jordan
Wiley J. Backwater
Harold A. Berry
Sheriff Mike Reed
July 1928-The Summer of '28 was election season and Sheriff Charles M. Kelley wanted the voters to know that he had been doing his job of enforcing the state liquor laws. Posing on the lawn of the old Mayes County Courthouse are left to right, Deputy Willis Thompson, Undersheriff T. Wyman Thompson, Sheriff Kelley and Deputy Cleo Callison. Sheriff Kelley served in office from 1925-1931.
June 1951- Sheriff Ralph Willcutt points to the scene where County Attorney Jack Burris was gunned down at his Locust Grove Home. The shotgun slaying Jack Burris remains unsolved and is one of the most famous murder investigations in the history of the State of Oklahoma. Burris served as the elected County Attorney from 1947 until his death and is buried in Pryor's Fairview Cemetery.
March 1956-County law officers pose with confiscated liquor; from left to right are Deputy Sheriff Fred Grimes, County Judge Carl Longmire, County Attorney Bill Thomas and Sheriff Slim Weaver.
May 1965: Mayes County Sheriff Joe Faircloth and deputies posing with cars showing new Sheriff decal logo; Left to right: Lefty Poe, Harold Page, Leroy Hatfield, Joe Faircloth, Frank Nicodemus and Bob Rainwater. Faircloth was sheriff from 1965-1969.
June 1968: Retirement reception photo for Mayes County Undersheriff Fred Grimes included, Back Row from Left to right: T.J. "Chief" Summerlin, Harlan Lamar, Si Ethridge, Lefty Poe, Slim Weaver, Joe Faircloth, Wilma Smith, Thirl Smith, Maxine Randolph, Harold Page. Front Row: Charlie Newton, Fred Grimes and Mrs. Grimes. Fred was a long-time deputy sheriff as well as Chief of Pryor P.D. from 1960-1965. After retirement the Grimes' moved back to his native Texas where he died in May 1980 at age 82.
About 1976-The sheriff's office staff included, front-left to right, Charlie Davis, Sheriff Pete Weaver, Maxine Randolph. Back-left to right, Roy LeForce, Junior Pair, Bucky Dunn, Bob Tafoya, Rick Stephens, Al Boyer. Weaver was sheriff from 1969-1971 and 1973-1981.
About 1978-Undersheriff Al Boyer escorts "Father John" La'Aquarious back to jail from a court hearing. Father John, one of the most colorful characters in Mayes County Criminal history claimed to be the high priest of a religious cult using marijuana as part of their worship services. He once sued Sheriff Pete Weaver for not providing daily clean bed linens service to him while in the county jail.
Circa 1971: Asst. D.A. Sid Wise, Sheriff Hokie Foreman and D.A. Bob Vinzant in Marijuana patch.
***HISTORY OF MAYES COUNTY SHERIFFS***
Pictures and history courtesy of Terry Lamar
Lawrence Dallas, a Democrat was elected as the first Sheriff of Mayes County in 1907. He served until 1911. He was born in about 1870 in Missouri and settle at Chouteau. He and his family moved to the Taft, California area where he worked in the oil fields. He was a member of the Methodist Church and Oddfellows. He died in 1944 at San Luis Obispo, California and is buried at Taft.
"Uncle George" Mayes, a Democrat, served from 1911 to 1915. He was born in 1848 in Going Snake District, Cherokee Nation and was 5/8 Cherokee. He was the nephew of Chief Sam and Chief Joel
Mayes. Served 3 terms on the Cherokee National Council from 1885-87, 1895-97, 1901-03 He was a horse and cattle rancher southeast of Pryor. After retiring from the ranch in 1923, he moved to Oklahoma City where he died in 1940. Mayes is buried in Pryor's Fairview Cemetery. He was a member of First Baptist Church and Pryor Creek Masonic Lodge. In an interview with Oklahoma historian Harold Keith, Mayes said "If I had a warrant for an Indian, I just sent him word to come in but if I had a warrant for a white man, I had to go get him. He wouldn't come in unless I brought him in."
Joe M. Ross of Locust Grove was the first Republican sheriff, serving from 1915 to 1919. Born in the Cherokee Nation in 1880, he was the great nephew of Cherokee Chief John Ross. In later life he lived
in Claremore and died in 1971. He is buried in Pryor.
John Birchfield, Democrat from Pryor Creek served from 1919 to 1923. He was born near Locust Grove in 1883. For quite some he delivered mail in a horse & buggy on Pryor's rural route and also operated a service station. In 1937 he was elected as Chief of Police in Pryor and served until 1943. At that time his health began to fail and he died in 1946. He is buried in Fairview Cemetery at Pryor.
J.A. "Jess" Layton, a Democrat, served one term from 1923 to 1925. He was born in 1882 at Bushong, Kansas; his family moved to Indian Territory about 1893, settling near Locust Grove. He died in
1950 and was buried in the city cemetery at Sperry.
Charles M. Kelley was the second and last Republican sheriff, serving from 1925 to 1931. He was born in 1867 in Kansas. He came here in 1920 to be the farm superintendent at Whitaker State Orphanage. Upon leaving the sheriff's office he operated a dairy farm until his retirement in 1942. He then developed his dairy farm into a housing addition in north central Pryor. He was an elder and board member of the First Christian Church in Pryor. Prior to moving to Mayes County he was a deputy sheriff in Blaine and Kingfisher Counties. He died in 1951 and is buried in Fairview Cemetery at Pryor.
Don McElroy was the first person to serve non-consecutive terms as sheriff, from 1931 to 1933 and again from 1941-1943. He also elected to the office of County Assessor serving one term from
1929-1931. He came to Mayes County in about 1919 settling at Locust Grove but moved his family to Pryor after his election as assessor. He also was an insurance and car salesman. He was an active member of the Cole Free Will Baptist Church. At the time of his death in 1948 he was a supervisor for the Oklahoma Highway Department. He is buried in Pryor. During his first term in office, he received much praise and credit from the press for the quick response and thorough investigation in solving a high profile murder case
in December 1931. George Barcus had been found beaten to death near Adair on what it now Hwy 69. The sheriff had to travel to Muskogee and Siloam Springs in able to solve the crime. Mrs. Barcus and her alleged lover Blue Rigsby were arrested, charged and later convicted. During his second term, Sheriff McElroy was indicted by a grand jury that recommended his ouster and removal from office. Charges of overlooking illegal liquor activity, improper disposal of confiscated slot machines among others were brought to light by the panel. During his ouster trial in the early 1942, he was acquitted of all charges and allowed to main in office. However, the shadows of improper activity cost him the election that year, being
defeated by Bit Madison. He died in 1948 and is buried in Fairview Cemetery at Pryor.
W.J. "Bill" Walker of Chouteau served in office from 1933-1937. He was born in 1876 in the Cherokee Nation and was a member of a pioneer Cherokee Family. He also served on the Cherokee
National Council. He died in 1952 and is buried in the Chouteau City Cemetery.
Walter Panter was the second man to serve non-consecutive terms as sheriff. He served from 1937 to 1941 and again from 1947 to 1951. He was born in 1900 near Stillwell, I.T. He was a longtime Mayes County lawman, serving as sheriff, city policeman in Pryor, deputy sheriff and guard at the Oklahoma Ordinance Works. He was a very devoted democrat and was very active in county party activities. He died in 1955 and is buried in the Pryor Cemetery. While he was sheriff, the county purchased a sub-machine gun, also called a "tommy-gun", with funds donated by Pryor businessmen. This was considered a major crime-fighting tool in the 1930's by law enforcement agencies throughout the country. The machine gun
remained county property until it was declared surplus and sold in the mid 1980's.
D. L. "Bit" Madison, a democrat from Pryor Creek served from 1943 to 1947. He was born in 1902 at Big Cabin. He was a farmer and gas station operator. He was also very active in the 4-Way Rodeo
Club and served as club President at one time. In 1948 he moved to Colorado where he worked as a carpenter in the uranium mines. He died in 1983 and was buried in Fairview Cemetery in Pryor. It was
during his term of office in 1945 that two-way radios were first installed in the cars of deputies.
Warren "Kit" Robinson of Locust Grove served from January 1951 to December 6, 1951. He was born in 1922 at Locust Grove and served with the Navy Seabees during World War II. Kit was only 28
½ years old when he was elected sheriff in 1950, making him youngest person ever elected to that office in Mayes County. He lost to Fred Grimes in the primary but defeated Grime in the run-off by 677 votes. He then easily defeated the Republican candidate in the general election. He was responsible for tracking the infamous Davenport Brothers during their crime spree throughout the county. By the end of his first year Sheriff Kit Robinson was facing ouster from office charges of habitual drunkenness. He was given a choice
by the County Commissioners to face an ouster trial or resign; he chose the latter. He was the only sheriff in county history ever removed from office. After leaving the sheriff's office, he moved his family to the Moses Lake, Washington area. He died there in 1987.
Ralph Willcutt of Adair was serving as undersheriff for Kit Robinson when he was appointed by the county commissioners to fill the remainder of Robinson's term. He served from 1951 to 1953. Willcutt
was born in 1900 at Snowball, Arkansas. He came here in about 1944 and worked as a guard at the Oklahoma Ordinance Works. One of Mayes County's most famous unsolved murder case; the shotgun
slaying of County Attorney Jack Burris at Locust Grove in the summer of 1952 occurred during Willcutt's term. He worked day and night for the rest of the year following leads in the case. Sheriff Willcutt was
defeated by Slim Weaver in the 1952 election. He died in 1972 and was buried in the Ghormley Cemetery at Pensacola, Oklahoma.
Slim Weaver served as sheriff from 1953 to 1965. He had previously worked as a deputy for Kit Robinson and as Salina City Marshal. Weaver was born in Kansas in 1910. Slim was defeated in the 1964
election by political newcomer Joe Faircloth. After leaving office in January 1965, he was elected as Chief of Police in Pryor, serving from 1965 to 1973. He died 1983 and was buried in Graham Memorial
Cemetery in Pryor.
Joe Faircloth, a democrat from Pryor served two terms from 1965 to 1969. He came to Pryor about 1946 from Alcorn County, Mississippi. Prior to the sheriff election he worked as a milk distributor. While
serving in office he got a calling to the ministry. In the 1968 election he chose not to run and became a full time clergyman. He died in Pryor in 2000 and is buried in Fairview Cemetery.
Pete Weaver, a democrat, was the third and last man to serve non-consecutive terms. He served from 1969 to 1971 and from 1973 to 1981. He was born about 1921 at Salina. It was during his term of
office that the Camp Scott Girl Scout Murders occurred near Locust Grove in 1977. The deaths of the three little girls and the subsequent manhunt and trial for their alleged killer was the most famous murder case in county history and gained national attention in the press. Also during Weaver's administration, a self-ordained holiness priest by the name of Father Jean L'Aquarious was arrested near Eucha on drug
charges. The jail inmate sued Sheriff Weaver claiming that the sheriff should provide regularly cleaned and pressed linen for his jail bunk. After his defeat in the 1980 election, Pete retired and looked after his cattle at his farm near Strang. He also ran unsuccessfully for county commissioner and sheriff. He died in 1991 and is buried in Fairview Cemetery at Pryor.
Doyle "Hokie" Foreman, a democrat served from 1971 to 1973. He was born in about 1917 near Locust Grove. He graduated from Locust Grove School in 1935. He later owned a drug store in Pryor. In
1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed him as the United States Marshal for the Northern District of Oklahoma. He served in that capacity until 1969. Foreman who was a staunch and loyal democrat later worked at the Pryor Tag Agency for several years until his death in June of 1991. He was buried in Fairview Cemetery at Pryor.
Paul Smith, a democrat from Locust Grove served from 1981 to 1985. Born in 1923 at Wagoner, he attended school at Locust Grove and in Colorado. He was a Veteran of world War II, serving in the European Theatre. He was a former Tulsa Police officer and left that work to enter the orthopedic equipment business. He returned to Locust Grove about 1975 and was a former Locust Grove police officer. after leaving office, he retired to the Bristow, Oklahoma area. He died on September 23, 2021 at age 98 and is buried in the Bristow Cemetery.
H.W. "Chief" Jordan served from 1985 to 1989. He was born in Pryor and was a 1959 graduate of Pryor High School where he was a star football player. He also served as Mayor of Pryor from 1975 to
1983 and 1999-2003. He has a college degree and is a former schoolteacher, citizen soldier, and insurance agent. After leaving the sheriff's office he worked for the Cherokee Nation as a tribal marshal. In the summer of 1997, he was appointed as the chief marshal by Cherokee Chief Joe Bird and served during remainder of Bird's term. He worked as Mayes County deputy sheriff for Berry and Cantey. He then served as Chief of Police for the Town of Adair, as well as Adair School resource officer.
Wiley J. Backwater served from 1989 to 1993. A full-blood Cherokee, he was raised in the Salina area and was a 1962 graduate of Salina High School. After a stint in the army, he went to work for the Pryor Police Department in about 1967. By 1973, he was Assistant Chief of Police and in 1975 was elected as Pryor's Chief of Police. He held that office until his retirement in 1987. After a short stint at Phillips Driscopipe, he was elected sheriff. He passed away in 2019.
Harold Berry of Locust Grove served from 1993-2001. A native of the Tahlequah area, and Marine Corps veteran, he came to Mayes County in 1970 where he was stationed with the Oklahoma
Highway Patrol. He retired from the patrol in 1990 and served a stint as under-sheriff for Wiley Backwater. He defeated his former boss in the 1992 election, ran unopposed in 1996, but lost his 2000 re-election bid. During his tenure in office, the new county jail was designed, constructed and funded by a county-wide
sales tax proposal. After leaving office was employed by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission as a Motor Carrier Enforcement Officer but is now retired and resides in rural Locust Grove.
Frank Cantey of Pryor served from 2001-2013. A California native, he came to Northeast Oklahoma in the late 1970's. He served as a police officer in Kansas, Oklahoma before coming to Pryor Police Department in 1980. He retired from Pryor P.D. in 2000 as a shift sergeant. He decided not to seek re-election in 2012. Frank passed away in 2021 at the age of 69.
Mike Reed of Locust Grove was elected in 2012 after defeating two other candidates in the primary election by a 57% margin. A 1987 graduate of Locust Grove, Reed was a former police officer in
Pryor and former county deputy. Reed was re-elected without opposition in 2016 and 2020.