In January of 1864, the first session of the Idaho Legislature met at Lewiston, Idaho. One of the first acts was the creation of Oneida County, with its county seat at Soda Springs.
In 1866 the Legislature moved the county seat from Soda Springs to Malad City. Most of the County officials had already moved to Malad without prior authority. The Morrisites, a schismatic branch of the Mormon Church in control of Soda Springs, were at first reluctant to turn over the County records to the Mormons in Malad. However they were forced to yield and the lost books were carried to the new County seat by Henry Peck in mid-winter of 1866-1867.
In 1866, Oneida County included the following (now constituted) counties: Bannock, Bear Lake, Caribou, Madison, Teton, the east portions of Fremont and Bingham, a large part of Power and almost all of Bonneville; an area of about 9000 square miles. The establishment of the county seat at Malad brought business visitors from Eagle Rock (now Idaho Falls) on the north; Soda Springs, Paris, Montpelier and Preston on the east; and Franklin on the southeast.
From 1869 on, County officers were elected. From 1866 to 1870, Malad grew rapidly. For ten years after the designation of Malad as the County seat, Oneida County remained intact. In 1875 it was divided to form Bear Lake County. In 1885 it was again divided to form Bingham County.
On January 16, 1889, Oneida County was declared a county of the 3rd class (whatever that was). At that time, salaries for County officers were fixed. The Sheriff was paid $1700 per year.
- H. O. Rogers – January 1864 to April 1, 1866.
- George Ward – May 21, 1866 to February 18, 1868.
- Morgan Morgan – Appointed to finish Sheriff Ward’s term. Elected sheriff on August 10, 1868.
- J. W. Keeney – January 1875 to January 1877. Paid $278.30 for services rendered.
- Morgan Morgan – Again elected Sheriff and took office in January 1877. He posted a $1000 bond at that time.
- John S. Walton – elected Sheriff in November 1878 and took office in January 1879.
- William H. Homer – Elected Sheriff in the November 1880 election and took office in January 1881. On January 4, 1882, he was paid for the capture of Mooney & Barnes. Mooney & Barnes, the murderers of Joel Hinckley, were convicted and sentenced during the November term of District Court which was held in Malad City, Idaho. On December 5, 1882, the Sheriff’s Book was examined and found to be incorrect. Sheriff Homer’s term ended December 30, 1884. He was ordered to return all County property in his possession; particularly one certain desk remaining in his possession. He was paid for his services as Sheriff and excused from further sercives.
- W. H. Jones – who had been elected in November 1884, took office in January 1885.
- H. G. Beason – elected Sheriff in November 1886 and took office January 1887. He was the first Sheriff to be paid a fixed salary, $425.00, for 3 months. Several deputies were required as Oneida County was then so large and covered so much territory. These Deputies were Henry G. Jenkins, Daniel Clark, William Richards, C. B. Fifield, Fred Peck and William L. Johns.
- David J. Morgan – Was elected Sheriff at the 1880 elections which were held on October 1st. He took office January 15, 1891.
- John L. Thomas – elected November 29, 1892
- Joseph Coburn – elected November 29, 1894
- Daniel L. Hoopes – elected November 12, 1896
- Calvin Bingham – elected November 15, 1898
On April 11, 1899 the Sheriff’s salary was changed to $900 a year.
- John Maughan, Jr. – elected November 14, 1900
- Thomas Jolley – elected November 15, 1902
- George T. Marshall – elected November 14, 1904
- George Crockett – elected November 15, 1906
- Alfred W. Stevens – elected November 14, 1908
- David Davis – elected November 1910
- Samuel T. Merrill – elected November 1912. In 1913, Sheriff Samuel T. Merrill was no longer a resident of Oneida County, as Power and Franklin Counties were created.
- Daniel M. Stevens – appointed Sheriff on March 3, 1913. His salary was set at $800 per annum. Jake T. Richards remained as deputy.
- H. H. Ezell – elected in the November 1914 election, with David Lusk appointed as Deputy. In was in 1914 that the sheriff first started operating in an automobile. Alma Josephsen was hired at 12 cents a mile to transport the Sheriff and other County officers wherever they needed to go, both winter and summer, until 1922. The County also paid for feed for the team of horses if it was necessary to be away from Malad overnight (it is assumed they still used horses for travel as well).
- Alma Josephsen – elected November 1918.
- Thomas J. Evans – elected November 1920.
- Morgan W. Tovey – elected in November 1922 and remained Sheriff until 1926.
- Ed Owens – elected in November 1926.
- William E. Thomas – elected in November 1928. Sheriff Thomas later served as Chief of Police in Malad City for approximately 30 years.
- Alma Josephsen – elected again in November 1930, this time serving for 10 years.
- Clyde Bowen – elected November 1940.
- John A. Evans – elected November 1942. On August 1, 1951, Wanda W. Napier was hired as the first office Deputy, and served in that position until December 31, 1980 (29 years and 5 months). Sheriff Evans’ term of office lasted for 22 years, at which time he retired. His term was the longest in the history of Oneida County. His Deputy was Arthur T. Williams who retired at the same time as Sheriff Evans.
- Kenneth L. Wharton – elected November 1964 and took office in January 1965. At the time he was elected there were no two-way radios and the sheriff furnished his own vehicle and was paid mileage to operate it. Many changes transpired during Sheriff Wharton’s years in office – radio, teletype, computers, testing equipment for alcohol and drugs, 24-hour dispatch, closed circuit TV and audio monitoring of the jail. After the two-way radio was acquired the office was still closed at night and calls were taken at the Sheriff’s home at night. The Sheriff, his deputy and the city police were dispatched by members of the Sheriff’s family by a remote control unit hooked up to the office radio by a telephone line. In 1983, a 24-hour dispatch was obtained and the telephones, office equipment, radios and jail monitors were operated from the office on a round-the-clock basis, seven days a week. Dispatch was performed for police, fire department, ambulance, search & rescue & the Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Wharton retired in February,1986.
On July 1, 1971, a contract with Malad City did away with the City Police Department. The Sheriff’s force was increased and furnished police protection for Malad City.
- Lee Pfeiffer – then a Deputy was appointed to serve as Sheriff for the remainder of Sheriff Wharton’s term.
- William E. “Bill” Neal – took office in January 1993 and remained in office until his retirement on March 31, 1998. During his time, Sheriff Neal was able to move the Sheriff’s Office to the basement of the courthouse giving the department much more needed space. Bill built a one-room, six-bed jail cell in the basement, which was a great asset to the department. During Sheriff Neal’s administration the department implemented the first K9 program in Oneida County. Sheriff Neal increased the quality of the department’s equipment immensely during his term as Sheriff.
- Jeffery P. Semrad – appointed Sheriff on April 1, 1998 and was elected later that same year. Sheriff Semrad began his law enforcement career in 1982 when he worked as a reserve Deputy under Sheriff Wharton. Sheriff Semrad became a full time Deputy for Oneida County in December of 1983, and then went to work for the Idaho State Police in December of 1985. Sheriff Semrad was stationed in Rexburg for 6 years with the ISP. He then transferred back to Malad in 1992 where he continued working for the ISP until his appointment as Sheriff of Oneida County.
|Sheriffs of Oneida County|
|1||H. O. Rogers||1865 to 1866|
|2||George Ward||1866 to 1868|
|3||Morgan Morgan||1868 to 1875|
|4||J. W. Keeney||1875 to 1877|
|5||Morgan Morgan||1877 to 1879|
|6||John S. Walton||1979 to 1881|
|7||William H. Homer||1881 to 1885|
|8||W. H. Jones||1885 to 1887|
|9||H. G. Beason||1887 to 1891|
|10||David J. Morgan||1891 to 1893|
|11||John L. Thomas||1893 to 1895|
|12||Joseph Coburn||1895 to 1897|
|13||Daniel L. Hoopes||1897 to 1899|
|14||Calvin Bingham||1899 to 1901|
|15||John Maughan, Jr.||1901 to 1903|
|16||Thomas Jolley||1903 to 1905|
|17||George T. Marshall||1905 to 1907|
|18||George Crockett||1907 to 1909|
|19||Alfred W. Stevens||1909 to 1911|
|20||David Davis||1911 to 1913|
|21||Samuel T. Merrill||1913 to 1913|
|22||Daniel M. Stevens||1913 to 1915|
|23||H. H. Ezell||1915 to 1919|
|24||Alma Josephsen||1919 to 1921|
|25||Thomas J. Evans||1921 to 1923|
|26||Morgan W. Tovey||1923 to 1926|
|27||Ed Owens||1927 to 1929|
|28||William E. Thomas||1929 to 1931|
|29||Alma Josephsen||1931 to 1941|
|30||Clyde Bowen||1941 to 1943|
|31||John A. Evans||1943 to 1965|
|32||Kenneth L. Wharton||1965 to 1986|
|33||Lee Pfeiffer||1986 to 1993|
|34||William Neal||1993 to 1998|
|35||Jeffery P. Semrad||1998 to Present|
The above information was adapted from the book: “Lawmen, The History of Idaho Sheriffs 1863 – 2000” by The Idaho Sheriffs’ Association. Boise, ID. 2002.