About the DeKalb County
Sheriff’s OfficeAccording to the DeKalb County
Sheriff’s Office, “On December 23, 1822, the Georgia legislature established the boundaries of DeKalb County,
which included the location of land which would eventually be incorporated as the city of Marthasville. John S. Welch was
commissioned as the first Sheriff of DeKalb County. It was not until a year later however, that Decatur was officially designated
as the County Seat. County officials were not elected by the citizens of DeKalb until January 15, 1824. George Harris was
the first elected Sheriff of DeKalb County. The first death penalty to be handed down by a DeKalb County judge was in 1829,
when a man named Crowder was sentenced to hang for murdering his wife and 3 children.
While DeKalb had steadily become more civilized, things were far from perfect.
One of the recommendations by the Grand Jury in 1840, was to keep the courthouse locked at night, to prevent its further use
as a dancing room and a place for disorderly collections. In 1843, the town of Marthasville was established as the terminus
of the Western and Alabama Railroad. During the years that followed, the town of Marthasville, along with the rest of DeKalb
County, experienced an increase in population of the rougher elements of society. There were growing complaints that the DeKalb
Sheriff and the town Marshal of Marthasville, were not doing enough to control this rougher element.
Selected book by a DeKalb County Sheriff's
In 1848, a railroad official
designated the railroad terminal as Atlanta, even though the surrounding town maintained its name of Marthasville. After a
few years of freight being shipped with Atlanta listed as the destination, the city eventually changed its name to match that
of the terminal. By 1851, two sections of Atlanta, known as Murrel's Row and Snake Nation, inhabited by the criminal element,
had grown in size and reputation. The first Atlanta jail was not very suitable. Prisoners would either dig their way out,
or wait until enough people had been incarcerated, at which time they would simply turn the structure over, and crawl out.
It was in this year that law abiding citizens started their own war against crime, and completely destroyed Murrel's Row and
Snake Nation, scattering their inhabitants. In 1852, Moses Formwalt, Atlanta's first mayor, became the first DeKalb County
Deputy-Sheriff to lose his life in the line of duty. He was stabbed to death while escorting a prisoner from Council Chambers.”