By Dixie Brunner

Kane County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Ted Barnard has been investigating a case involving multiple subjects of interest for the past eight years now. But the focus of all his research, interviews and detective work aren’t the bad guys – it’s the past county sheriffs!

Barnard said the original project was to collect 8 x 10 pictures of former sheriffs to hang down the wall at the Public Safety Building. “(Former) Sheriff Lamont Smith asked me to do the project, thinking it would be fun to have as many of the past sheriffs’ photos as I could gather on display.”

However, photo documentation and history of the former chief law enforcement officers were scattered at best, requiring much more research than Barnard had anticipated.

But something funny happened along the way – Barnard’s project morphed into something much larger than its original focus. As he researched the past Kane County Sheriffs, some interesting history emerged.

“I started going through page by page of the Kane County Commission minutes through the years-literally thousands of pages,” explained Barnard of the research. “It was transforming into a genealogy of the sheriffs. I decided to write a book that documented them, as well as interesting events that happened under the different Kane County Sheriffs’ tenures.”

Barnard has become passionate about the project and done exhaustive research, some even dating back to 1864 before Utah obtained statehood! He said he pored over newspaper articles, had direct interviews and conversations with family members, as well as researched the former sheriffs on Ancestry.com and Familysearch.org.

Interesting facts have emerged. For instance, current Tracy Glover is the 30th Kane County Sheriff. His predecessor Lamont Smith, held the post the longest at 20 years. There were a couple of sheriffs who only held the position for a year. From politics or events surrounding the law enforcement officers, to quirky and serious crimes they solved, Barnard’s documentation should prove to be informative and entertaining.

Alma Platte Spilsbury came out west with his family in a wagon. During the trek, he accidentally fell into the Platte (thus his name) River when he was only eight days old. He was rescued, grew up and eventually served as sheriff in 1878. “The crazy thing was that he later died in a wagon accident,” said Barnard.

Another former sheriff, Ashton Nebeker, who served from 1874-77, had to deal with an armed conflict where a jealous husband had gone over to confront his pregnant wife and her suspected boyfriend. The husband shot and killed the two, but ended up dead himself when Sheriff Nebeker and deputies went to arrest him.

Could law enforcement careers be ‘in the genes’? Barnard said he discovered through research that several long-past law enforcement officers shared lineage with some current ones. One former sheriff, Franklin Farnsworth, is related to current Sheriff Glover. Former law enforcement officer John F.Brown is in Deputy J.D. Wright’s family tree.

Once the book is compiled, which he anticipates to be in the next few months, he’s going to self publish the body of work. “Obviously a copy will be given to the former sheriffs, if they are still alive,” said Barnard. “And from there if there’s a demand for it, I’ll see about getting more published.”

If the public has any special stories, pictures or are related to any previous sheriffs, please call Sergeant Barnard at 435-622-4949.

Barnard said the county’s law enforcement history is fascinating. “It has been a lot of work, but really fun. It makes you have a greater appreciation for the position and the work the sheriffs have done through the years.”