The History of Taylor County Chapter Three Hundred Eight

Sheriff Sayre retires

 Benjamin F. Sayre, who served as the 17th sheriff of Taylor County from 1900 to 1904 was of that sturdy yeomanry stock which formed the great masses of folks who made the American nation the greatest in all the world. 

He shouldered the duty of supporting his widowed mother and her family while still a lad in his teens. To provide a better living than the farm afforded for his mother’s family he came to Grafton in 1888 and entered the service of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad in the mechanical department. Rugged and possessed of a magnificent physique he attracted the attention of Mayor George W. Chambers who offered him a position on the town police force which he accepted. His strict sobriety and attention to duty earned him the position of chief of police and in his office, he served the town with distinction.

His ability as a peace officer attracted the attention of the Republican County Committee who nominated him for the office of sheriff of Taylor County and elected him to office in the campaign of 1900. To his credit it must be said he gave that important office the very best administration of most of his predecessors in the discharge of his duties and in so doing left the office with few enemies. In his final settlement with the county commissioners, revealed his collections were closer and the affairs of this important office in better and cleaner condition due to his administration. The late John H.S. Barlow perhaps his bitterest political enemy, in an editorial in the columns of Grafton Leader said:


“In a few days Sheriff Sayre will surrender his office and his official roe to his successor Sheriff Means. During his term, the sheriff and his able deputies have conducted the affairs of the office in a legitimate and business-like manner. Always obliging and accommodating, everyone connected with the office, has not only retained old friends, but gained many new ones. In all settlements with the state and county, Sheriff Sayre has been prompt and accurate. In meeting obligations with the city and rural teachers and others holding county orders, he was always ready and willing to pay, which of course, was always highly appreciated. With the retirement of Sheriff Sayre to private life, the best wishes of Tylor County’s citizens will follow him in whatever business he may be engaged. The many people he came on contact with while in office will be glad to hear of his success.”

In 1893, he was made a member of Friendship Lodge No. 8 Knights of Pythias of Grafton and his ability raised him to the position of chancellor of this society and at state meeting of the Grand lodge at Parkersburg in 1896 he was honored with the position of Grand Chancellor and became a member of the Grand Lodge of the Order of the Knights of Pythias and serves as supreme representative to the Grand Lodges at Boston and New Orleans.

The theatrical season opened with the Verna May company in repertoire for three nights beginning Monday, January 2, 1905, to very good business and proved a most satisfactory engagement to the company for the half week performance. 

The Denver Express to tell from the title of the play was one of those thrilling dramas that dealt with the railroads of the far west and provided the audience with plenty of thrills on the night of January 7, 1905. This phase of conditions on the carries that was of so much interest to the people of Grafton naturally throughout a very good audience to witness the play.

Taylor E. Cole and Theodore Bush purchased property at the northeast corner of Main and Luzzader streets and obtained permission for the erection of a three-story brick business and office building on the lot. The little frame building that stood on the lot was originally occupied by George W. McAleese, a contractor who furnished wood for the locomotives used on the Wheeling and Parkersburg divisions before the use of coal was used as fuel on these parts of the railroads. Later he sold the property to John B. Shaffer who was in charge of the United States commissary the Government erected at Webster during the beginning of the Civil War and who was killed in the collision between two freight trains that met in the little cut midway between Grafton and Webster on July 25, 1862, and as far as known was the first man to meet death in a railroad accident on the Parkersburg branch. The cut in which this first accident occurred is still known as “Shaffer’s Cut” but now widened to accommodate two instead of the single track laid when the cut was made.

(To be continued..)


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