In 1854 the Utah Territorial legislature passed an act establishing the office of county sheriff with a two-year elected term. In 1857 Judge Peter Maughan appointed William Henry Garr as the first sheriff of Cache County. The first legislature of the state of Utah officially incorporated the office in 1896, and cited preservation of the peace and the making of lawful arrests among its major duties. Over the years the Cache County sheriff's office grew and expanded with the population, changing jail locations several times. In 1887 Logan and Cache County joined forces to build a stone jail near the county courthouse, which remained in use until the 1960s.
Miles Peterson was elected to the office of sheriff in 1920, at the conclusion of J.H. Barker's term. He served as sheriff until 1922, when the law changed the term of office from two years to four. He was re-elected and stayed in office until 1926. Peterson, a World War I veteran, was well-known and respected by the people of Cache Valley. He was not re-elected in 1926 when his second term ended, but remained prominent in the community. He served as a deputy under the new sheriff, Will Shaw, until 1930 when he retired from public service and turned to full-time farming. His January 5, 1938 death was front page news in the local paper The Herald Journal.
The sheriff's correspondence indicates he had a wide variety of responsibilities. He spent a great deal of his time locating witnesses, serving summonses, acting as bill collector, and tracking down suspects from other jurisdictions (at the behest of officials from neighboring counties). Not all of the sheriff's duties were quite so mundane, however. The problems and issues of the 1920s found their way into Cache Valley, just as they did into many other small locales across America. A scribbled map detailing the location of an alleged illegal whiskey operation, proves that Prohibition concerns were alive and well in Cache County (Box 1, Folder 7). Domestic disputes also were the province of the sheriff's office. A series of notes from a young woman asking the sheriff to "come down" and "take care of" a young man who had apparently mistreated her, demonstrate the involvement of Cache County law enforcement in personal and family matters (Box 3, Folder 1).
The Cache County Sheriff's Office Correspondence collection is composed of incoming and outgoing correspondence from 1920 to 1925. The letters reflect the two terms of Sheriff Miles L. Peterson, who held office from 1921 to 1926. There are also several letters to and from Sheriff J.H. Barker, who ended his service in 1920. In addition to correspondence, the collection includes bank notes, checks, invoices, receipts, and bills of sale, reflecting the routine business and financial affairs of the sheriff's office. The order of the collection is chronological by year and alphabetical by name of person, business, or agency. Letters from government officials are alphabetized by the appropriate city, county, or state name. (Correspondence from Salt Lake City's police chief would be filed with the S's, for example.)
Many of the letters are from area attorneys requesting the sheriff to locate witnesses, serve summonses and perform other law enforcement duties related to local cases. Among the more unique correspondence are handwritten letters and notes illuminating the personal stories of Cache County citizens affected by various crimes. One such letter is from a mother asking the sheriff's help in locating her missing son (Box 1, Folder 11). Another series of letters are of an unknown origin, but appear to be from a woman to her incarcerated husband (Box 3, Folder 13).
Also of note are some of the local business letterheads included in the collection. Many are highly stylized and reflect the spirit of the 1920s. The Merchants Protective Association's colorful stationary proclaims that "Red Streaks of Honesty Exist in Everybody" (Box 2, Folder 8), whereas the Peerless Handcuff Company's brochure boasts their product "positively cannot become locked in the pocket" (Box 4, Folder 11).
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Permission to publish material from the Cache County Sheriff's Office correspondence must be obtained from the Special Collections Manuscript Curator and/or the Special Collections Department Head.Preferred Citation :
Cache County Sheriff's Office correspondence, 1920-1925. (COLL MSS 262). Utah State University. Special Collections and Archives Department.
Chronological and alphabetical.
Detailed Description of the Collection