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Oklahoma County sheriff seeks historic photos, artifacts for online museum and display

A video museum is being created with Oklahoma County Sheriff’s office memorabilia. The sheriff’s department has a colorful history that dates back to territorial days
by Robert Medley Published: April 21, 2014

They patrolled on motorcycles in the Roaring ’20s.

They arrested outlaws in a booming Wild West town after the 1889 Land Run. There were years of deputies chasing bootleggers. There are stories of notorious killers and dramatic rescues.

Oklahoma County sheriff’s deputies have been a colorful part of state history since well before statehood.

In an effort to preserve the history of the sheriff’s department, old photographs and memorabilia are being sought from the public.

There are no known photographs of two deputies killed in the line of duty, said Sheriff John Whetsel. Boxes of records and photographs have been found in the basement, but there has never been an organized attempt at creating a museum or an exhibit, he said. Whetsel said one box found in the basement had records pertaining to serial killer Roger Dale Stafford, the man arrested in the 1978 Oklahoma City Sirloin Stockade massacre of six employees. Stafford was executed in 1995.

“I think it’s important as an agency that we document some of our history,” Whetsel said. “Citizens need to know where we came from.”

The sheriff’s department opened in the 1890s before Oklahoma became a state in 1907.

The current office is in the Oklahoma County jail that opened in 1991. Before that the office and jail was in the Oklahoma County Courthouse on the ninth, 10th, and 11th floors.

The project also will map out other locations of jails dating back to Oklahoma Territory days.

One little known fact about the sheriff’s department is that there was a motorcycle unit in the 1920s.

On March 18, 1926, deputy Howard Brewer, crashed his motorcycle into a car and died on Newcastle Highway, now SW 29, in southwest Oklahoma County.

The headline on page 3 of The Daily Oklahoman the next day read, “Crash!” One Dead,” and showed a photograph of the motorcycle and the touring car with an inserted profile of Howard O. “Pete” Brewer.

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by Robert Medley
Breaking News Reporter
Robert Medley has been a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1989, covering various news beats in the Oklahoma City metro area and in the Norman news bureau. He has been part of the breaking news team since 2008. A 1987 University of Oklahoma...
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