19th Century Sheriffs

History of the County Sheriffs

During 1821, when Florida was a territory, the first Sheriff, James R Hanham, was appointed in newly formed St. Johns County, and James Pendelton was appointed Sheriff in Escambia County. From these two law enforcement officers came the legacy of Florida ‘s law enforcement. They could not have known each other well, and may never have met. However, they shared a singular distinction: The First Sheriffs of Florida.

Like many other 19th century St. Johns County Sheriffs, no photographs are available of Sheriff Hanham, and only limited information is known about his life. (It is possible he was a captain in the War of 1812 serving in the 62nd Air Defense Artillery, Company K. It is also possible he was present at a meeting of the Florida Legislative Council on July 22, 1822.*)

He served as Sheriff for a little over two years and resigned because there were no funds available to operate his office, no jail to house his prisoners, and he was facing four lawsuits over failing to pay for feeding his prisoners. (No mention is found as to where he may have been keeping the prisoners.) Sheriff Hanham was appointed by Major General Andrew Jackson, who had inadvertently misspelled Hanham’s name as “Hannum” in the appointment letter.

After Sheriff Hanham left office, there were times when St. Johns County had no sheriff. Among those who succeeded Hanham were the following, about which little is known.

After Hanham left office Francis J. Alvice became sheriff. His actual dates of service were not recorded.

From 1825 – 1827, Squire Streeter was sheriff

From 1827 – until ? Waters Smith was sheriff. Sheriff Smith had served as a US Marshal assigned to St. Augustine for some years before his appointment as Sheriff. During that time, his headquarters and jail was the Castillo de San Marcos. In July 1825, he was ordered by Secretary of War James Barbour to allow Sheriff Streeter to hold prisoners there, Marshal Smith apparently ignored Barbour’s orders. There was “bad blood” between him and Sheriff Streeter who complained harshly about the Marshal’s refusal.

Sheriff Jose Simeon Sanchez

Jose Simeon Sanchez was sheriff from ? until 1847. Some years before Florida became a state, Sheriff JS Sanchez took office and became the first Sheriff of St. Johns County after statehood was achieved. He was a delegate to the 1838 Constitutional Convention from St. Johns County and signed the Florida Constitution, January 11, 1839. Sheriff Sanchez was from a family with deep roots in Florida history, and his mother, Maria del Carmen Hill Sanchez, once owned the historic Sanchez house at 105 St. George Street, St. Augustine. He was born January 4, 1797, and besides serving as Sheriff, he also served as one of the State’s first legislators.

James Marcus Gould served as sheriff from 1847 until 1848. The fiery editor-publisher of a 19th century St. Augustine newspaper was St. Johns County’s next Sheriff. James Marcus Gould was a man historians describe as brash and outspokenly belligerent toward his enemies. Like his father, who served as the Mayor of St. Augustine and as a county judge, the younger Gould had a busy life as public office holder. These positions included: Sheriff, County Commissioner, Justice of the Peace, State Legislator, and Registrar of Public Lands. Like many of St. Johns County’s young men, Gould rallied to the cause of the Confederacy and was mustered into the 3rd Florida Infantry, “St. Augustine Blues,” in August 1861. He later moved to Jacksonville, where he died February 4, 1878.

Michael Usina, Sheriff – 1848. Sheriff Usina’s roots are traced to the Minorcan settlers of Turnbull’s New Smyrna colony, who subsequently came to St. Augustine. It appears that he was a kindly man, as city records indicate he offered to pay for the schooling of four poor children of the city.

Raphael Bartolome Canova, Sheriff – 1848-1853. A number of St. Johns County Sheriffs descended from the Minorcans, and Sheriff Canova would not be the last. The 1850 census shows Raphael Canova, 29, as Sheriff and Tax Collector who owned real estate valued at $300. He was the father of four children and was elected Mayor of St. Augustine on November 17, 1860, serving until 1867.

Jacob Mickler, Sheriff – 1854 until 1855.

J A Mickler, Sheriff – 1855

Paul Sabate, Sheriff – 1855 until 1857.

A D Rogero, Sheriff – 1857 until 1861 and 1866 until 1867. Sheriff Rogero was one of only two Sheriffs in St. Johns County’s history to have served split terms, it appears that Sheriff Rogero’s first term was interrupted by the Civil War. During the Civil War, St. Augustine was occupied by Federal troops and marshal law was imposed. From 1861 until 1864, there are no records of a Sheriff serving in St. Johns County.

Sheriff William Felilx Mickler

William Felilx Mickler, Sheriff 1864-1865. One of the most dashing of St. Johns County’s earliest Sheriffs, William Felix Mickler, served next. He was a civil engineer by trade who fought in the Seminole Indian Wars and served in the State House of Representatives in 1860 and 1861. He was also a member of the secession convention, which voted to withdraw Florida from the Union. With the advent of the Civil War, he joined Captain William Cone’s Company in Scott’s Battalion and was later appointed Lieutenant in the artillery. He helped plant torpedoes in the St. Johns River and fought in the Battle of Olustee. He eventually rose to the rank of Colonel. Sheriff Mickler became the last survivor of the state’s secession convention when he died April 24, 1927, at the age of 90.

H Hernandez, Sheriff – 1874 until 1877.

A N Pacetti, Sheriff – 1877 until 1881. A. Pacetti was a second generation descendant of the Minorcan and Italian families that migrated to Saint Augustine after the failure of the British colony in New Smyrna. Born in 1829, he worked as a sea captain and served in the United States Navy during the Seminole Indian Wars. Pacetti was initially opposed to Southern secession from the Union, and when war broke out, he volunteered to transport Northern visitors to safe haven in US occupied Key West under a flag of truce. On one such journey, his flag was ignored by the Union Navy. Pacetti’s vessel was seized, and he was charged with treason. While being held for trial, he jumped overboard and escaped to the mainland with the help of many friends on the Keys. He enlisted in the Confederate Navy the next day and served as a Captain in Tampa, Florida and Mobile Bay, Alabama.

Pacetti returned to Saint Augustine after the War and married his second cousin, Amelia Monson–sister to A V Monson, who founded the Monson Hotel. Pacetti raised two daughters (that survived childhood), and four granddaughters in a house of 56 Marine St, which still stands. Along with his work as Sheriff, he was was proprietor of Capo’s Bathhouse on Bay Street and ran a confectionery on Charlotte Street that was famous for its “milk punch”. He was a well-known local storyteller and wrote brief memoirs of his military experiences in his old age. Captain Pacetti died in 1913 at the age of 83, leaving his wife (who lived 96 years) and his family, who remained on Marine Street until the late 1970s.

Raymond Hernandez, Sheriff – 1881 until 1888. Sheriff Hernandez held the distinction of having served longer than any of his predecessors. The politics and rigors of the job during the early years were doubtless contributors to their short terms in office.

H H Floyd, Sheriff – 1888 until 1889.

Sources:

1st Battalion, 62nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment

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