The historic Town of Rutherfordton was established in the picturesque foothills of western North Carolina in 1787. James Adair sold the Town Commissioners fifty acres of land where downtown Rutherfordton is located today. Rutherfordton was two years old, when North Carolina ratified the federal Constitution making the state part of the United States of America on November 21st, 1789. The Town was officially incorporated by the General Assembly on January 12th, 1841. Over the numerous years, she has welcomed one and all. Even today, everyone who visits and calls her home; still feels her warmth and southern hospitality. The colorful history that was painted so many years ago is still being brushed on the Town's canvas today, which is exhibited proudly in its communities, churches, and citizens.
Main Street, 1900s
In the many hours of studying every line, of every page in the official Town Minutes, I could only go back as far as the year 1873. Before the year 1873, there are no Town Minutes available for reference. In checking with the North Carolina State Archives (Asheville Office), they only have as far back as 1873 on record/microfilm of the Town Minutes. So, I could not start with the year 1841, when the Town was incorporated. That being the case, I apologize in advance, if I have left anyone out of this collection of information. I can only state the names, years and facts that can be backed up with written documentation. Even so, the history and events that took place in the remarkable Town of Rutherfordton is incredible and lively. I only wish everyone could take the time to read through its documented history!
The Minutes from the start are bursting with daily life and challenges, which made up the "growing pains" of the young town. Events such as horses and hogs running down Main Street. Someone in town having to be responsible to light all the street lamps every evening. People washing their buggies with town water. People required to work so many hours on the maintenance of the town streets. To the Chief of Police being put in charge of the "defense and protection" of the town after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
Below is a listing of the names, years, some information and history on the men who have served the Town of Rutherfordton and were accountable for its Law Enforcement.
On July 2nd, 1887, according to those minutes; a man by the name of F.B. Logan is elected and then appointed by the Commissioners as the first "Town Marshal" to get a "badge, belt, billy and one set of hobbles" to be used in the performance of his office. His salary is $10.00 per month and he serves as Marshal for 2 ½ months before he resigns.
The Town Commissioners elected L.L. Allen as "Town Marshal" on October 15th, 1887. He is paid $15.00 per month and is required to live inside the city limits. He is ordered to "give his absolute and undivided attention to the execution of ordinances . and to the improvements of the streets . and to look after the good order of the Town." On May 14th, 1889, the Marshal's salary is increased to $20.00 per month and he is furnished with two uniforms per year.
W.C. Hardin files his bond for Town "Marshal and Constable" on May 13th 1890. This is the first reference to the combination of the two titles, which were blending with respect to the office (i.e., Marshal, Constable, Police, Police Chief). His salary is set at $22.50 per month and he is instructed each night to light the street lamps throughout Town. Marshal W.C. Hardin also "summoned" all street hands for daily work.
NOTE: On July 6th, 1890, the first recorded reference to "police" is mentioned, when a man by the name of Joseph Hodge is paid $2.00 for two days service as police for the Town. Later in October of the same year, a man by the name of A.W. Morrow is the second person named as paid for his service as police for the Town. These men worked under the supervision of the Town Marshal.
W.S. Griffin is elected Marshal on May 6th, 1891 and serves for two years. W.A. Hampton and J.L. Butler serve as Assistant Marshal under Marshal W.C. Griffin.
John C. Walker is elected Marshal on May 25th, 1893 and serves almost two months before he resigns on July 10th. Amongst his many duties, he is instructed to ". ring the Court House bell, everyday except Sunday at 6 am, 12 noon and 9 pm." Charles E. Hill was paid for services as Assistant Marshal under Marshal J.C. Walker.
NOTE: Here is an interesting bit of information from the July 10th, 1893 Town meeting, "The following resolution was accepted on motion of the Board. It shall be a misdemeanor for any of the Town Commissioners, Secretary & Treasurer or Marshal not to be on hand at an appointed meeting or when called by the Mayor and shall be fined one dollar and cost."
John H. Shotwell is elected Marshal by the Commissioners on July 12th, 1893. Interesting note here, Marshal John H. Shotwell is also appointed "Tax Collector." His salary is "fixed at $16.50 per month, and fees due him and collected by virtue of his office, and 5% commission on taxes collected." Vance Scoggin is paid for services as Assistant Marshal under Marshal J.H. Shotwell.
C.H. Deal is elected Marshal on August 7th, 1894. The following are paid for services as police, J.N. Young, L.R. Allen, A.C. Forney, T.S. Dalton, J.H. Ayers, and J.L. Butler. Joseph Hodge is paid as Assistant Marshal.
R.A. Callahan is elected Marshal on June 5th, 1895 and serves for several years. J.D. Justice is paid for special police service and J.R. Washburn is paid for services as Assistant Marshal.
J.D. Justice files a $100.00 bond as "Constable" on June 14th, 1898. This is the first time that "Constable" is used by itself; but he is referred to as "Town Marshal" when he is later elected Town "Tax Collector" on August 2nd, 1898. J.D. Justice resigns on February 7th, 1899.
W.A. Hampton is elected Marshal on May 15th, 1899. He serves only six months, until the Town holds an election again for Marshal.
J.D. Justice is elected for the second time as Marshal on May 9th, 1900. He turns out to be a most interesting Town Marshal and serves several times in some form of law enforcement. During the first year of his term, R.B Quinn is paid for services as Marshal and M.C Phillips for services as special police.
The very first person named in the Town minutes as "Chief of Police" is J.D. Justice on May 8th, 1901. It states, "It is agreed to hire J.D. Justice as Chief of Police for thirty days with the express understanding that if he fails to faithfully perform his duties he is to be discharged at any time and in any case he is to be reappointed or rejected at expiration of thirty days." The job as "Town Marshal and Chief of Police" had merged to a point where they were the same. The title Marshal would be fazed out from official records and not be used again in association with the police in less than forty years.
NOTE: On February 22nd, 1902 the Mayor and Commissioners held a meeting to "investigate conduct of Marshal J.D. Justice." The Commissioners and Mayor after the investigation of the "conduct" decided to give him another chance as Marshal. J.D. Justice had to sign an agreement or obligation to the Town. The following lines are from the agreement, "I hereby agree to the following condition if the Town Commissioners hire me for thirty days. First I agree on my honor that during this time I will not take a drink of whiskey or beer and if I do then the said Commissioners shall consider this my resignation to take effective immediately."
F.L. Hicks is elected Marshal on April 14th, 1902 and he is paid a salary of $25.00 per month. He serves approximately 10 ½ months as Town Marshal.
W.A. Rucker is unanimously elected as Marshal on February 23rd, 1903 and serves just over two months. The others in nomination for the job are Ed Tanner and R.A. Callahan.
J.D. Justice is again elected as Marshal on May 7th, 1903. The minutes read, "There being no other nomination, J.D. Justice was declared elected receiving the entire vote of the Board. Mr. Justice was sent for, sworn and entered upon his duties as the Marshal of the Town of Rutherfordton at 8:30 p.m."
NOTE: It is during this time period, that the Town starts to pay men titled as "Night Watchman." Before this, the Marshal and Assistant Marshal's worked days and nights. Their duties and other obligations required of them by the Town Commissioners started to suffer, so the Town decided to give them some relief by hiring a person to "free them up" so they could focus on their duties. The first man recorded in the Town Minutes, as working part-time paid "Night Watchman," is G.L. Wilson.
NOTE: On January 4th, 1907 the Town of Rutherfordton is divided into two "Wards" by the Board. Ward One included the Court House and Ward Two included the Southern Depot. It is also the first recorded time that a "Police Force" is mentioned. The Board as recorded in the minutes state, "Resolved third, that a Police Force be kept in each Ward. The one for Ward Two to be stationed at the Southern Depot."
NOTE: The term "Chief of Police" is mentioned again in the minutes on April 17th, 1907. "No person shall be permitted to talk to any of said convicts except by the permission of the officer in charge and in his presence. Any person violating these rules shall be fined five dollars or imprisoned and worked on the streets for ten days. And any convict violating any o said rules or refusing to work or perform any other duty required of him by the officer in charge shall be punished by whipping by the said officer with the assistance of the Chief of Police."
NOTE: Henry Edwards on January 13th, 1908, is the first man selected by the Board, to be offered employment with the Town, as full-time "Night Watchman." His salary is set at $30.00 per month, but he refuses the job offer. Now they have to employ someone else. J.W. Edwards is the first man to accept the full-time employment as "Night Watchman" on April 21st, 1908.
W.C. Hardin on October 6th, 1908 is elected "Town Marshal and Tax Collector." Thomas Horton is appointed "Night Watchman or Policeman." His salary is $30.00 per month ($27.00 being paid by the Merchants in town and $3.00 being paid by the Town). C.E. Tanner is paid as Assistant Marshal. Marshal W.C. Hardin is again, on May 11th, 1909, nominated and elected "Chief of Police or Constable." Lines from his oath, "I will arrest all such persons as in my sight, shall ride or go armed offensively or shall commit or make any riot, affray or other breach of peace. I will do my best endeavor, upon complaint to me made, to apprehend all felons and rioters, or persons riotously assembled and if any such offender shall make resistance force, I will make hue and cry, and will pursue them according to law, and will faithfully and without delay execute and return all lawful precepts to me directed."
J.R. Anderson is elected Marshal on May 3rd, 1911.
T.B. Morris takes the Oath of Office as Chief of Police on November 14th, 1914.
W.C. Hardin takes Oath of Office as Chief of Police/Town Marshall on January 31st, 1916.
R.B. Quinn takes Oath of Office as Chief of Police/Town Marshal on August 22nd, 1917.
R.B.Quinn - chief of police/town Marshall
Chief Robert B Quinn, 1917 - 1923
R.L Houser is elected Chief of Police and Ed Waldrop is elected Night Policeman for the Town on May 10th, 1923. He is again elected Chief of Police and S.E. Waldrop is elected Night Watchman on May 6th, 1925. Once again, he is elected Chief of Police and Ed Waldrop is elected Night Policeman on May 6th, 1927.
G. Curtis Hardin takes the Oath of Office as Chief of Police/Policeman on May 30th, 1929.
NOTE: On June 18th, 1929, the Town Board voted to "install a telephone for Police Force and to have a large bell attached to same on Main Street."
S.E. Waldrop is appointed Chief of Police and R.L. Houser is elected Policeman on May 14th, 1931. He is again re-elected as Chief of Police on August 5th, 1935.
C.B. Justice is elected Chief of Police on June 20th, 1938.
NOTE: C.M. Lynch, Street Superintendent for the Town, is appointed acting Chief of Police on October 23rd, 1939 until Chief C.B. Justice is able to resume his duties. According to the Town Minutes, a man by the name of Norman Wilkie (who is a member of the Rutherfordton Fire Department) is the driver of a car that hits Chief of Police C.B. Justice badly injuring him. On February 5th, 1940, Norman Wilkie is suspended from the Fire Department pending an investigation into the accident. C.M. Lynch is the last person sworn in as "Town Marshal."
NOTE: K.H. McEntire is appointed special "Plain Clothes" officer for the Town of Rutherfordton on August 19th, 1940. It is the first time the term "Plain Clothes" officer is used in the Town minutes.
C.B. Justice, Chief of Police, and H.C. Wright, Policeman are re-elected by the Board on June 2nd, 1941.
NOTE: On December 15th, 1941 (eight days after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii) the following is put into the minutes. "On motion of Councilman Dunagan seconded by Councilman Yelton, Chief of Police C.B. Justice was put in full charge of the defense and protection of the town for the duration of the war with the axis powers."
NOTE: On February 16th, 1942 the Town Board voted to purchase "one sub-machine gun for use by the Police Department."
C.B. Justice, Chief of Police and H.C. Wright, Night Policeman are re-appointed by the Commissioners on May 5th, 1943.
NOTE: C.B. Justice is Chief of Police when the Town Board ordered that "Southern Bell Telephone Company be requested to put a telephone in the entrance of the McRorie Building, for the use of the Police Department" on February 21st, 1944.
Chief Baylus Justice, 1943 - 1944
H.C. Wright is voted by the Commissioners, to act as Chief of Police on March 25th, 1944.
Hubert Hodge is paid by Town Board $15.00 per week, on April 3rd, 1944, for the time he acted as Police Chief.
J.W. Bridges is appointed Chief of Police and Deputy Tax Collector on August 7th, 1944.
Chief Wayne Bridges, 1944 - 1948
Bernie Snyder takes Oath of Office as Chief of Police/Policeman on April 12th, 1948.
Chief Bernie Snyder, 1948 - 1952
John B. Woodard takes the Oath of Office as Chief of Police on July 2nd, 1952. He is again re-elected Chief of Police by the Commissioners on May 18th, 1953.
J. Roy Logan is elected Chief of Police on September 19th, 1955.
Chief Roy Logan, 1955 - 1958
Wayne Edgerton is elected Chief of Police on December 1st, 1958. He is again re-elected as Chief of Police on May 18th, 1959.
Chief Wayne Edgerton, 1958 - 1966
Hague Kiser is appointed acting Chief of Police on February 7th, 1966. His salary is $82.00 per week.
Chief Hague Kiser, 1966 - 1975
Carl Bailey is sworn in as Chief of Police on January 1st, 1975.
Gordon Bland Waters is named the new Chief of Police on September 15th, 1975.
Chief Bland Waters, 1975 - 1978
NOTE: The first female officer, according to the minutes, is Edith S. Rathbone, who is hired as a Police Traffic Control Officer (Meter-Maid) to enforce parking in the Town on August 15th 1977.
B.L. Basden is hired as Chief of Police on November 1st, 1978 at a salary of $290.00 per week.
Chief B.L. Basden, 1978 - 1982
NOTE: On November 19th, 1979, the "ABC" Board Chairman appears before the Town Council to request that the town hire an ABC Officer. The Council votes unanimously to advertise for a combination Alcoholic Beverage Control Officer and Criminal Investigator. His duties will be mixed 75% alcohol enforcement and 25% criminal investigations.
Kenneth Clayton Hunsucker is appointed Chief of Police on February 1st, 1982.
Randall M. Greenway is appointed Chief of Police on July 4th, 1988.
R. Kevin Lovelace is appointed Chief of Police on April 12th, 2005.