Opinion

Editor's Column: Remember our Island County sheriffs as place names

Last week I lamented my inability to find all past Island County sheriffs on Google. Now I have the complete list, thanks to an old fashioned form of communication called a newspaper columm. Our present-day Sheriff Mark Brown sent it along, courtesy of former Sheriff Mike Hawley who now commands the North Precinct. Another list was provided by Larry Marley who found it the traditional way, by digging through his garage and workshop instead of resorting to Google.

So for those of you who were wondering, here are all the former sheriffs and the dates they served.

1853-1855, Hugh Crockett; 1855-1856, Jacob Smith; 1856-1856, Alfred M. Miller; 1856-1858, Jacob Smith; 1858-1859, Jacob S. Hinebaugh; 1859-1859, A.M. Miller; 1859-1860, S. McCurdy; 1860-1861, Alfred Miller; 1861-1861, Thomas Hastie; 1861-1864, Granville P. Knight; 1864-1872, Eli Hathaway; 1872-1874, John Alexander; 1874-1874, William Fowler; 1875-1878, James Watson; 1878-1878, Joseph G. Powers; 1878-1880, John A. J. Robertson; 1880-1890, Joseph C. Powers; 1890-1894, Thomas Nunan; 1894-1898, Moses Moen; 1898-1902, Luther Weedin; 1902-1908, A. J. Comstock; 1908-1910, Markus Wangsness; 1910-1914, Jack Rosenfield; 1914-1920, Fred Armstrong; 1920-1926, William F. Gookins; 1926-1934, Gill B. Kennedy; 1934-1942, Thomas W. Clark; 1942-1946, Gill B. Kennedy; 1946-1950, W.E. Roberts; 1950-1954, Thomas W. Clark; 1954-1962, Andy Vander Stoep; 1962-1973, Arnold R. Freund; 1973-1978, John O’Brien; 1978-1987, Richard Medina; 1987-1991, A. J. “Bud” Graves; 1991-1995, William G. Norton; 1995-1996, Owen C. Burt; 1996-2006, Michael A. Hawley; 2007-present, Mark Brown.

So, it appears we’ve had 35 sheriffs in Island County. If there are 37 names that’s because Miller and Clark served split terms.

The lesson we learn from this list is that it’s best to serve early in a jurisdiction’s history. That way you might get something named after you or your family, as in Crockett Lake, Smith Prairie, Hastie Lake and Kennedy’s Lagoon. After that all the places are already named. Perhaps the last to leave his mark on the island landscape was Arnold Freund, known for Oak Harbor’s Freund Marsh and associated trails.

Personally, I would like to see our more modern sheriffs live on as location markers. To do this, all we’d have to do is eliminate communities named by developers. Take Brown’s Point near Langley, for example. It’s been called Sandy Point ever since developers got a hold of it, but why not go back to the original name, honoring a different person? It could be (Sheriff) Brown’s Point. And Double Bluff could be named Hawley’s Double Bluff, in honor of the former sheriff who wrote a cop book called “Double Bluff.”

More qualified people might run for sheriff if they had a chance to leave their mark on the map for posterity. Some of the existing names I don’t particularly like are Teronda West, Sandy Hook, Shangri-La Shores and Scenic Heights. Now, wouldn’t they sound more historical as Weedin West, Vander Stoep Hook, Comstock Shores and Gookins Heights? I certainly think so.

My only regret in all this is that someone will probably put this list on Google, which will make it entirely too easy for others to find the sheriffs of Island County.

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