By Dennis Brown
Visitors to the Lewis County Courthouse will
notice a new memorial area for members of the Lewis County Sheriff’s
Department who have died in the line of duty.
Sheriff Bill Lewis said Crystal Dyer has spend
numerous hours researching and compiling information and working with the
families of the fallen officers to have their names included on the National Law
Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington D.C. and the Kentucky Law
Enforcement Memorial in Richmond.
Lewis said he thought it was fitting to also
have the local memorial to honor those officers who gave their lives while
serving the citizens of Lewis County. The memorial is located just outside the
Sheriff’s Office on the first floor of the Lewis County Courthouse.
“It’s the first thing people see when they
come in the front door,” Lewis said. “It is a tribute to those officers and
a reminder that each time a law officer puts on his uniform that he will be
putting himself in a position that he could be harmed while doing his job.”
Lewis said the efforts to compile the
information and complete the required applications to have the local deputies’
names included on the state and national memorials have been ongoing for several
years and the local memorial has just recently been completed.
He praised Dyer for her efforts in gathering
complete and accurate information and working with the families of the officers
in an attempt to include some personal information about the officers in the
Four officers are honored and the stories behind
each are as diverse as the officers themselves and the citizens with whom they
were in contact each day.
John Randolph Ruggles was in his late 20s when
he died in 1878 while assisting with the apprehension of a notorious gang at
According to the official description of the
circumstances, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department and a posse were
attempting to arrest the Jesse Underwood Gang at Concord on January 7, 1878.
At about 7:00 p.m. on that date, Deputy Sheriff
Ruggles was shot with a handgun by Jesse Underwood and died instantly. Members
of the Underwood Gang were known horse thieves and were wanted in several
jurisdictions, according to the paperwork.
Although no death certificate was available, a
paper written by Dr. William Talley was attached to the officer data form
submitted to the national organization. An article from the Cincinnati Inquirer
detailing the event was sent along with the paperwork.
Ruggles was single at the time of his death and
had been in law enforcement for about three years.
Creed John Johnson, 51, died as the result of
injuries sustained on October 31, 1952, when he was shot with a shotgun by a
mentally ill subject while attempting to apprehend him and take him into
According to paperwork filed with the officer
data form, Sheriff Ray E. Cooper and Johnson were attempting to take the
subject into custody when Johnson approached the house to throw a teargas
bomb through the window. Johnson was shot and Sheriff Cooper was injured in
the incident. The incident happened about 6:00 p.m. on Salt Lick Road west
Johnson was married and had been in law
enforcement for nearly three years when the incident occurred.
Oza Bentle Moore, 28, was traveling on his
motorcycle from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department to serve a legal
process when his motorcycle collided with a bus near Ironton, Ohio. The
accident happened about 10:00 a.m. on August 15, 1931, according to
paperwork. Moore was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced
Moore was divorced and had two children at the
time of his death. He had been in law enforcement for about 21 months when
the accident occurred.
James Owens, 46, died on election day, November
6, 1928, following an incident at Raccoon School, the polling location for
According to information submitted with the
officer data form, Owens was on duty at the school when a fight broke out
between two boys in their late teens.
The information indicates Owens broke up the
fight and was escorting one of the boys off the premises when the boy’s
father came from behind and struck Owens in the back of the head with a
wagon iron. Before Owens fell, he turned and fired his pistol at the man,
the bullet striking him in the mouth. Another man then allegedly picked up
the pistol and shot Owens in the back.
Owens was married and had seven children at the
time of his death. He had been in law enforcement for nearly three years
when the incident happened.
Lewis said he is proud to help bring recognition
to the fallen officers and invites residents to stop by to see the memorial.
“This is the history of the department. It is
important to remember those who have served the citizens of Lewis County and
it’s important that we honor them for the sacrifice they made,” Lewis