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OCSO Honors Sheriff Killed In 1908 With Memorial Ceremony

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Present-day deputies along with the Oklahoma County Sheriff held a memorial ceremony and headstone dedication for the first sheriff killed in the line of duty in our state. Present-day deputies along with the Oklahoma County Sheriff held a memorial ceremony and headstone dedication for the first sheriff killed in the line of duty in our state.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

Present-day deputies along with the Oklahoma County Sheriff held a memorial ceremony and headstone dedication for the first sheriff killed in the line of duty in our state Thursday afternoon. Sheriff George Washington Garrison had been buried in an unmarked grave at the Fairlawn Cemetery for decades.

9/18/15 Related Story: Deputy Wants To Honor Oklahoma Sheriff Killed Over A Century Ago

The Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office honor guard played Taps and fired a 21-gun salute. Chaplain Don Duncan said Sheriff G.W. Garrison requested a specific reading in his honor, six weeks before his death in June 1908.

“If something happens to me, would you remember me with that eulogy?” Duncan read.

The eulogy was written by fellow deputy Robert H. Oury. “I’ve known a great many sheriffs in my life and among them all, I’ve never found one that possessed the moral qualities found in the life of George W. Garrison,” Duncan read.

More than a hundred years ago, the sheriff and his posse got on a train to Watonga to go arrest a Alf Hunter, who was wanted for murder. Garrison told reporters back then he believed he'd be killed in the gun battle.

Sheriff John Whetsel continued the story. “But instead went ahead with the mission. During the gunfight a surviving posse member said that he begged the sheriff to lie down. But the sheriff refused. Instead he kept standing and firing, drawing Hunter’s gunfire away from other posse members, thus saving their lives.”

It was a sacrifice respected by his fellow lawmen back then and now, and also by his great granddaughters at Thursday’s tribute.

“We are very pleased to be here,” said Garrison’s great granddaughter, Ethel Russell. Russell and her family members traveled to Oklahoma City from Stillwater for the memorial.

“It’s relevant today that we remember that when we see these stories on the news that these are people and they had children and parents and family and their sacrifice and their family’s sacrifice is real,” Kristen Josey said. Josey is Russell’s granddaughter, making her a distant relative to Garrison.

A new headstone was dedicated during a proper ceremony for a man who died protecting the public, and never to be forgotten.

“His memory is now etched in stone and will be forever etched in our heart,” Sheriff Whetsel said.

10/13/15 Related Story: First Oklahoma Sheriff Killed In 1908 Gets New Headstone

The man who made the new headstone possible was retired Oklahoma City police officer Herman Kirkwood. He died before the stone was placed at Garrison’s grave, but his wife attended Thursday’s event.

7/4/15 Related Story: OCSO Deputy Rediscovers History Of Law Enforcement

This is just one of the many stories of Oklahoma’s past being uncovered by OCSO historian Bradley Wynn. Deputy Wynn continues to preserve pages of old jail ledgers, journals and other documents from the 1900’s that were being stored in the jail basement.

To follow his findings, visit his Facebook page. (https://www.facebook.com/badgeandbrass)

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