The Office of the Sheriff, founded in 992, has its origins in Anglo Saxon times. The title ‘Sheriff’ is derived from the word’s ‘Shire Reeve’ because the Sheriff was the administrative officer for each Shire or County in Medieval England. Indeed the office is the oldest known to English law.

The Sheriff was the most powerful person in the Shire and over the years had a variety of responsibilities. Early Sheriff’s collected revenue on behalf of the King and were responsible for the apprehension of criminals.

After the Norman Conquest of 1066 the Sheriff assumed responsibility for all departments of administration in the counties.  This period also saw the first juries and the commencement of the Sheriff’s responsibility for the administration of juries which still remains today.

The power of the Sheriff declined after the thirteenth century and the signing of Magna Carta in 1215. The power of the King was also reduced during this time, however the Magna Carta still made significant reference to the office of Sheriff.  In the U.S. the Sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer of the county.

St. Francois County Sheriffs

1822-1823       Michael Hart

1824-1825       James Matkin – Was later elected as county Assessor in 1839 and died while in office in 1840, and was succeeded by Elisha Matkin.

1825-1826       Charles Hart – Was also elected Presiding Judge of County Court 1855 and served until 1857.  Charles was later appointed as County Assessor in 1865 and served until 1866.

1827-1828       Corbin Alexander – Was elected as a member of State Legislature in 1830 and served until 1836.  Alexander was re-elected again in 1854 and again served until 1856.  Alexander ran for the office Circuit Clerk and Recorder, and won this race serving 1879 until 1899.

1829-1830       Thomas Madison – Also served as County Assessor 1826 thru 1827.

1831-1832       John Cornell

1832-1833       John Kennedy – Kennedy, was also elected to County Court in 1846 and served until 1850.

1833-1834       Isaac Mitchell Jr. – Isaac, was appointed in 1834 to succeed George W. Robinson, who had been Presiding Judge of the County Court,  Isaac was elected in 1835 and served in the County Court until 1836.  In 1837 Isaac was re-elected this time Presiding Judge of the County Court and served until 1838.  Isaac was again elected in 1839 as Presiding Judge of the County Court.  Isaac Mitchell was also County Treasurer from 1836 until 1837.

1835-1836       Henry Hunt

1836-1838       Andrew K. Harris – Harris was also a County Court Judge in 1840 until 1841.

1839-1840       Ebenezer H. Hibbits

1841-1842       Milton P. Cayce – Cayce had been County Treasurer in 1837 and held this office until 1840.  Cayce then ran for Sheriff and Collector and was elected in 1841 and held this office until 1842.  Cayce then ran for County Treasurer again and was elected, and served again from 1843 until 1860.

1843-1846       Charles Meyer – Also served St. Francois County as a County Judge from 1846 until 1850.

1847-1848       Edwin C. Sebastian – Also served as member of the State Legislature 1869.  In 1841 Sebastian had been elected to the office of County Court.  In 1842, again in 1842, 1843, 1844 and 1845 the citizens of St. Francois County elected Sebastian each year to the office of County Court.  Sebastian was also later a District Assessor in District #1 in 1858.

1849-1850       Samuel S. Boyce

1851-1854       Elisha Arnold

1855-1858       Elisha Matkin – Elisha was appointed to complete the term of James Matkin upon James death in 1840.  Elisha was re-elected to this office again in 1847 and served in this capacity until 1850.

1859-1860       F.B. Matkin

1861-1864       Thomas S. McMullin – Served as Sheriff from 1861 until 1864 and was later elected again in 1877 and died in office in 1880.

During the campaign of 1860, Missouri Governor Claiborne Jackson had promised to allow the citizens of the state to determine the direction in the growing secession movement. During his inaugural address in January of 1861, Jackson announced plans for the formation of a Convention to address the crisis.

The Missouri Legislature approved Governor Jackson’s plan and enacted a process for electing delegates to a State Convention. With the measure approved, on January 21, 1861, Gov. Jackson ordered the sheriffs of all Missouri counties to hold an election on Monday, the 18th day of February, to elect three delegates from their Senatorial District to the Convention.

The Missouri Convention convened a couple weeks later and on March 4, 1861, the delegates voted to remain with the Union.

(Dunklin County during the Civil War: Approaching April 1861,  Lyle Randolph, © Copyright 2011 Daily Dunklin Democrat. All rights reserved).

1865-1865       J.L. Resinger (Resigned)

1865-1866       Rufus Alexander

1867-1871       Franklin Murphy – Franklin was born October 16, 1819 on a farm near what is now the city of Farmington.  Franklin married Mary Ann Alley on November 21, 1841.  Mary Ann Alley was born in 1823.  Franklin Murphy lived in the area of Big River Mills.  Franklin like many others from this area left and went to California for about 3 years and later returned to St. Francois County.

Franklin was appointed Assessor of District Number 2 through the years 1857 and 1858.  Franklin was then elected as Sheriff and Collector about 1867.  He was re-elected to this office and later ran and was elected to the office of County, Circuit and Probate Courts which also included Recorder of Deeds and Murphy held these offices until 1874.  About 1880 Franklin Murphy moved his family to Delassus, Missouri this is where he resided until his death in 1904. Franklin Murphy was also elected in 1880 to serve as County Collector.  He served 1881 to 1883 then retired.  Franklin Murphy had also served as a “Justice of the Peace” for over 15 years.

Franklin Murphy and his wife Mary Ann (Alley Murphy had 9 children. (1) Amanda J. Murphy Yousee (2) Sarah Murphy Cole who was married to Zacharia Cole (3) Rhoda Murphy Janis who was married to Felix Janis (4) Augusta Murphy Stevenson who was married to William Stevenson (5) Callie Murphy Keith who was married to James Keith (6) Jessie Murphy (7) Genevieve Murphy (8) Katherine Murphy (9 ) Thomas H.B. Murphy who married Martha Bryant.

1874-1875       Laken D. Walker – was township assessor in St. Francois Township in 1822 and was elected as county Assessor in 1825.  Walker was also elected as Presiding County Court Judge in 1826 and re-elected in 1827.  Walker was appointed as County Assessor in 1860 after William M. Cruncleton resigned (note this was around the great Civil War Era in St. Francois County and feelings were mixed) and again was elected to this office 1861 and served until 1862.  Laken Walker also served in State Legislature in 1877.  Walker was also called upon and appointed as Sheriff after the death of Thomas S. McMullin in 1880.

1875-1877       John B. Highley – Elected as Collector in the election of 1876 this is when the offices of Sheriff and Collector were separated to two different offices.  Highley served as Collector from 1877 until 1879.  Highley had also served as County Assessor from 1871 until 1875.  Highley was also elected Treasurer in 1885 which he served until 1889.

Offices of Sheriff and Collector were separated in the election of 1876.

1877-1880       Thomas S. McMullin – See Thomas McMullin as Sheriff in years 1861-1864.  McMullin died in office in 1880.

1880-1880       Laken D. Walker – See Laken D. Walker 1871-1875  (Appointed)

1880-1880       John B. Benham – Died on December 18, 1880

1880-1885       Zachariah P. Cole – Son-in-law to former Sheriff Franklin Murphy.

1885-1889       Peter A. Benham

1889-1891       Mark L. Creegan

1891-1895       Joseph H. Perkins

1895-1899.      Willard B. Rariden – served as a postmaster in 1886.  Rariden ran and was elected in fall 1894 as Sheriff and took office in January 1895 and served as Sheriff until 1899.  Rariden also worked as a  Special Agent for the Missouri Pacific Railroad.  Rariden also served 24 years on the local school board.

1899-1903       Jefferson D. Highley

1903-1905       Henderson M. Murphy

1905-1909       James J. Croke – From Bonne Terre was better known than most all of the other candidates in August 1904.  James was married to Laura Porter and had five children.  Croke had also been an engineer on the Mississippi River and Bonne Terre Railroad and had been a member of the “Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers”.  Croke was also elected as Collector in 1911 and served until 1919.

1909-1913       William London – Ran after having been a Deputy under Sheriff James J. Croke.  London won his race in the fall of 1908.  Bill as he was called by most who knew him took office on January 1909 and served until 1913.  In 1925 he was again appointed Deputy Sheriff which he held until January 1, 1929.  London ran again in the fall of 1928 against Roy E. Presnell in this election London won overwhelmingly.  London was shot while in performance of his duty attempting to take into custody an insane man by the name of Kassabaum on September 22, 1929 and died September 24, 1929.

1913-1917       Joseph C. Williams – also held the office of Circuit Clerk and Recorder of Deeds from 1899 until 1907.

1917-1921       Charles H. Adams

1921-1925       John G. Hunt

1925-1929       H.B. Bud Watts – Born 1887 died 1940 Harry Benson (Bud) Watts who had been critically ill for many months passed away at the New State Hospital in Farmington.  “Bud” as he was affectionately known by most St. Francois County people was born in Madison County near Cornwall December 19, 1887, where he lived until young manhood.  When he moved to the Leadbelt and accepted employment with the Lead companies.  He was the son of Robert and Elizabeth Watts.  At the time of his death he was 51 years, 1 month and 20 days of age.

On October 19, 1908 he was married to Nettie C. Laird and to this marriage was born one son Forrest who lived in St. Louis at the time of Bud’s death.  In addition to the wife and son he is survived by one sister Mrs. Dora Knowes of Cornwall:  three brothers U.S. Watts of Detroit; John Watts, Flat River; and Ed Watts of St. Louis.  He was preceded in death by his parents, two brothers Arthur and Hiram D. and one sister, Rosa.

In 1924 he was the nominee of the Republican party in this county for sheriff and won by an overwhelming vote.  He served the county during his term efficiently and with credit to himself.  During the past 8 years he had been an employee at the State Hospital.  This is where he was working when his health gave way.

The funeral services were conducted at the Murphy-Long Memorial Church of which he was a member, on Sunday afternoon, Pastor Rev. A.C. Johnson having charge of the service.  Interment was in the Parkview Cemetery with Cozean Funeral Service in charge.

1929-1929       William London – See notes William London 1909-1913 (killed in office)

1929-1929       John T. Smith – Smith had served as William London’s Chief Deputy and upon London’s being shot and killed by Charles Kassabaum was appointed as Sheriff until a special election could be held.  Smith was the nominee of the Republican party.  Smith lost this election in a race with Roy E. Presnell in October 1929. John T. Smith – Smith had served as William London’s Chief Deputy and upon London’s being shot and killed by Charles Kassabaum was appointed as Sheriff until a special election could be held.  Smith was the nominee of  the Republican party.  Smith lost this election in a race with Roy E. Presnell in October 1929.

1929-1932       Roy E. Presnell – Ran for Sheriff in 1928 against William London and lost

1932-1936       In a special election Presnell the nominee of the Democrats won in a race against John T. Smith.  Presnell ran for County Court Judge in the fall 1952 and won his race.

1936-1940       A.A. Bayles – Had served as Chief Deputy under Sheriff Roy E. Presnell and ran for Sheriff in the fall 1935 and took office in January 1936.

1940-1944       Arthur “BING” Miller

1944-1948       Herman Heck – had served as a Deputy under Sheriff Miller

1948-1952       Dewey Smallen – Also served as Juvenile Office of the 24 Circuit

1952-1956       Clay H. Mullins – Sheriff Clay H. Mullins was first elected in 1952

1956-1960       re-elected in 1956, re-elected 1960 and served St. Francois County

1960-1964       as Sheriff until October 1963 when his health had given way.  His term was served out by two different men:  Lloyd Pinkston from October 1963 until November 1963:  Leslie “Buck” Jones then was put into office and served until the term ended December 31, 1964.  Clay H. Mullins was a well liked man by both political parties which was proven by the number of years he was elected.

1963-1963       Lloyd Pinkston

1963-1964       Leslie “Buck” Jones – Also Chief of Police Farmington, also Farmington City Marshall, and for the Missouri Highway Patrol as a drivers examiner.  Jones ran against Kenneth Buckley which was a close race and a recount was held on the votes and Kenneth Buckley was declared winner.

1964-1976       Kenneth Buckley – won his election in a race with Leslie Jones.  Kenneth                became Sheriff in 1964 and was re-elected in 1968 and served until he was re-elected in 1972 and served St. Francois County until February 1976.  Sheriff Buckley was removed from office by a charge of “nepotism” being brought by the Prosecuting Attorney.  James Hickman then was appointed to serve out the unexpired term of Sheriff Kenneth Buckley.  Buckley then ran again seeking the office of Sheriff against Howard Eugene Archer . In this race Kenneth Buckley won by about 300 votes. Buckley served St. Francois County as Sheriff longer than anyone in county history.  He was elected in this race in 1979 and took office in 1980 and served until 1984 and was re-elected in the fall 1984 when he ran against Republican Ray Parker.

1976-1976       James D. Hickman – (appointed to serve out Sheriff Buckley’s term)

1976-1980       James D. Hickman – Ran for Sheriff in the fall 1976 and was elected.  Hickman was born at Bonne Terre where he attended school.  He later was employed as a Deputy City Marshall.  Jim was appointed as Chief of Police Bonne Terre, and left his job.  Hickman was later Chief at Desloge, Missouri.  He left this job and the state later returning to St. Francois County.  Hickman was again appointed as Bonne Terre Chief of Police by the police board.  In February 1976 with the recommendation of the Democratic party he was appointed to serve out Buckley’s unexpired term, February 1976 until December 1976.

Hickman then won the race in 1976 and was elected as Sheriff for his own term.  He served as Sheriff until December 31, 1979.  Sheriff Buckley re-assumed the office on January 1, 1980.

Sheriff Hickman had 2 Chief Deputies:  Howard E. Archer and Clinton Coplin with about 65 to 70 unpaid Deputies during his 4 year 11 month term of office, he had more deputies than any sheriff in the history of St. Francois County.

1980-1984       Kenneth Buckley – See Sheriff Buckley 1964-1976

1984-1988       Kenneth Buckley

1988-1992       Jack Cade – Jack Cade was appointed deputy in November 1988 while Kenneth Buckley was still in office.  Buckley had lost in the primary election to democratic candidate Vernon Nelson.  Cade served as Sheriff for four years until 1992 when Daniel Bullock, Cades X-Chief Deputy won the office by over a thousand vote margin.

1992-2016       Dan Bullock was elected Sheriff in 1992, although several candidates ran for the office of Sheriff.  Former Sheriff Ken Buckley,  Flat River patrolman Rodney Adams, Investigator for the Prosecutor’s Office Phillip Horn, a local plumber Sherman Marler, all ran on the democrat ticket.  Incumbant Sheriff Jack Cade, Deputy Sheriff Alan Wells, Bonne Terre patrolman Stan Jaco, Steven Brewer a machinist and Black Jack  Bruce Nation a Goose Creek security guard ran on the Republican ticket.

Bullock and Adams were separated by less than 20 votes after the primary election and Adams filed for a recount, as it stood Bullock had won the democratic nomination.  After the recount Bullock lead rose to a 22 vote win for the nomination.  Jack Cade won the Republican nomination in a close race with now ex-deputy Alan Wells.  Black Jack had dropped out of the race, and Brewer and Jaco had dropped  out and thrown their support to Wells.  Bullock, a former Chief Deputy, Sergeant, and Deputy under former Sheriff Buckley and Cade, also a Chief of Police for the Cities of Bismarck and Esther rose to victory in this long controversial election.

There were five individuals vying for Sheriff in the 1996 race.  On the democratic side were Sheriff Daniel Bullock, Rodney Adams and Park Hills Police Chief William (Bill) Holloway.  Listed on the Republican ticket was former Sheriff Jack Cade and Robert Schwartz.  The Incumbent Sheriff, Bullock, carried the race and was re-elected to another four year term.

The race in 2000 was a reflection of the previous two races with Sheriff Dan Bullock again winning re-election.  In this race he was pursued by two other candidates one republican and the other democrat.  On the republican ticket was Jeffrey Weinhaus who had various disagreements with the department and wanted the Sheriff out of office.  The democratic opponent was Jim Powell, a former deputy, who had no liking for the Sheriff himself.

In 2004 Sheriff Dan Bullock ran unopposed in both the general & primary elections, securing his fourth bid for sheriff.

In 2008 Eric Bennett, an investigator for the St. Francois County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and deputy sheriff, announced plans to run for sheriff on the democratic ticket against incumbent and long-time Sheriff, Dan Bullock, who was making his fifth bid for the office.  Bullock walked away with 61% of the vote securing the democratic nomination.  Former deputy Jim Powell had filed as a republican but lost the race in November, Bullock winning by a 2 to 1 margin for his fifth term.

Dan Bullock, a lifelong resident of Bonne Terre ran unopposed in the primary and general election for his sixth term as Sheriff of St. Francois County in 2012 making him the longest running sheriff in the history of St. Francois County.

In November 2016, Dan Bullock was re-elected by the voters for his seventh term as Sheriff of St. Francois County.  Sheriff Bullock ran unopposed in both the primary and general election.

In November 2020, Dan Bullock was re-elected by the voters for his eighth term as Sheriff of St. Francois County. Sheriff Bullock won the general election with a vote of 60.94 % and ran unopposed in the primary election and retained his seat as Sheriff of St. Francois County. Sheriff Bullock ran under the Republican ticket and was opposed by Don Ebner and Ryan Miller. During the campaign Mr. Ebner passed away before the August primary election.

Sheriff Dentention CenterWe serve the residents of St. Francois County with a population over 66,000 people and covering 455 square miles.  St. Francois County is one of the fastest growing counties in Missouri.

The St. Francois County Sheriff’s Office is located in the St. Francois County Detention Facility located at 1550 Doubet Rd in Farmington.  The administrative area of our current facility, built in 1938 by the WPA as a dairy barn for State Hospital No 4, was remodeled in 1996.

Sheriff County JailThe old St. Francois County Jail, built for $11,000 in 1871, was in poor repair, unsanitary and had outdated security devices, locks, etc.

Prior to moving to this location, we were located at 11 N Franklin St.  The prior location included 44 bed facility that rapidly was outgrown.  When we moved to the Doubet Rd facility where this facility is a 188 bed facility.

The St. Francois County Sheriff’s Office employees 17 sworn road deputies, 3 process servers, 3 transport officers, 7 bailiffs, 17 jailers and 15 civilian employees.  We provide a full service correctional facility to the citizens of our county, complete all civil process requested by the courts, provide bailiffs to 3 court rooms, as well as normal daily law enforcement service operations to the community.