0

JACK SIMPSON: Legacy album tells rich history of Sheriff's Office

Have you seen a copy of the new yearbook recently put out by the Newton County Sheriffs Office? I think it is a pretty neat 100-page hardback published by Peachtree Portraits.

Sheriff Ezell Brown describes the book as an “office legacy album” and he praises the committee that worked so hard to produce it. It is an impressive first attempt at dealing with the history of the department.

Since the book came out, the sheriff and his staff have been enjoying it as a rich source of memories which succeeds in promoting a sense of pride in the department.

Dedicated employees assigned to the jail, court services, patrol duty, investigation and other duties are portrayed in the album. Readers of the book cannot only view staff members but can also learn about the Sheriffs’ Office code of ethics, the oath of office and the mission and history of the department. Old-time county residents may remember some early history of the department. The rest of us can read about it in the legacy book.

For instance, Newton County’s first sheriff, back in 1822, was Lemuel Wynne. Before he could take his oath, he had to swear he had not engaged in a duel.

Back in 1985, Capt. Morris Jones was in charge of the patrol division. Today Major Morris Jones is still busy working as an administrator in the Command Staff in the Sheriffs’ Office. He remains an early riser and a hard worker. He can tell you about some of the department retirees like Sheriffs Gerald Malcom, Junior Odum, Joe Nichols and about loyal employees like Capt. Charles Smith, Capt. Dell Reed, Sgt. Sonny Goodson, Lt. Steve Gunnells to name but a few.

This legacy album is filled with pictures that bring the history of Newton County Sheriffs’ office to life. Sheriff Brown might have been surprised to see old pictures of himself as a uniformed sergeant. working with Investigator Charles Roper to dismantle an illegal liquor still on Old Atlanta Highway.

Have you heard about the Brick Store? The legacy book will tell its story. Newton County was carved out of Henry, Jasper and Walton counties in 1821. It received its name from Revolutionary War hero Sgt. John Newton. The Brick Store, built in 1821, served as the first county seat. Later it was used as a post office, school, stage coach stop, courtroom and jail.

See, I told you this new book is “neat” and filled with interesting history. Want to see what early sheriffs looked like? The book has photos of sheriffs back to 1899. There are also pictures of staff, the county commission, deceased members and others. Special events are featured. There are pictures of awards ceremonies, the certification ceremony, employee appreciation events, the Toy Run, Champ activities and the department’s contribution to safety at the Democratic National Convention.

Sheriff Brown, staff members, members of the Historical Society and Newton County Library and all other contributors to contents of this first legacy book of memories are proud of their effort and are to be commended. They, and we, look forward to future legacy books dealing with Newton County Sheriff’s Office memories and history. Read and enjoy.

Jack Simpson is a former educator, a veteran, an author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.