During the colonization of America, the Sheriff became an integral part of our government. American sheriffs undertook the English responsibilities of law enforcement and tax collection, as well as new responsibilities such as chief executive officer of the county and overseeing jails. The duties of serving criminal and civil process, summoning juries, executing judgments and conducting judicial sales soon evolved. The term "high sheriff" was used to distinguish the sheriff from deputies, assistants or undersheriffs.
The Office of Sheriff is one of the oldest offices known to our system of jurisprudence. Sheriffs are elected to office and serve for a four-year term. The sizes of Texas Sheriffs’ offices are as diverse as the population of their counties.
The Office of Sheriff in Texas was created by the Texas Constitution. History indicates in 1827, Stephen F. Austin requested and received authorization for establishment of Constitutional Government in his colony. The first Sheriff in Texas was appointed in 1828. There are 254 Counties in Texas and each county has a Sheriff. By statutes, the Sheriff is a Texas peace officer, a conservator of the peace, enforces the criminal laws of the State, and is responsible for the county jail, bail bonds, civil process, and security of the courts. In some small counties, the Sheriff is also the tax collector.
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office has been providing law enforcement services to the citizens of Lee County since 1874, beginning with the first county Sheriff, James McKeown. In February 1876, the infamous James Madison Brown was elected Sheriff. Browns most notable act was the legal hanging of noted outlaw William P. Longley. Since 1874, there has been 14 Sheriffs to serve Lee County. During this time, a father (Vernon A. Goodson) and son (Joe G. Goodson) held the office of Sheriff for over 56 years. Below are the 14 men that took Office of the Lee County Sheriff.
James. H. McKeown (June 2, 1874- Feb 15, 1876)
James M. Brown (Feb 15, 1876- Nov 4, 1884)
William. M. Brown (Nov 4, 1884- Nov 6, 1888)
O.A. Bexley (Nov 6, 1888-Nov 4, 1890)
James S. Scarborough (1891-1896)
I. W. Sparks (1897-1902)
James S. Scarborough (1903-1910)
W.D. Scarborough (1911-1918)
John T. Carlisle (1919-1928)
John J. Burttschell (1929-1934)
Ernest Allen (1935-1938)
John J. Burttschell (1939-1950)
Vernon A. Goodson (1951-1974)
Charles “Lucky” Thompson (Nov 2, 1976- Dec 19, 1978)
Joe G. Goodson (Dec 20, 1978- Apr 7, 2007)
Rodney W. Meyer (Apr 9, 2007 – Present)