The jail was built as all county jails of its era, with the front portion appearing as a residence. The front portion was the jail matron’s quarters and the inmate housing was to the rear, with the kitchen being in the middle.
History of the Pickaway County Court House and Jail: The original jail was in the basement of the Second Court House, Circleville, Ohio. The first Court House was erected in the center of the circle, at the present crossing of Court and Main streets. The building was octagonal in shape, constructed of brick with a tower in the center. It was first occupied for court purposes early in April, 1814, and was torn down about 184o and from that time for a period of six years the courts were held in temporary quarters, part of the time in the old Lutheran Church on West Franklin street and for a while in the United Brethren Church on East Main street.The building of the Court House at the corner of Court and Franklin streets was commenced in the fall of 1845.
The contract for the brick work was let on the 16th of September, 1845, by the commissioners to Jacob Strickler, at $5.40 per thousand “to be counted in the walls and no deductions for openings,” and the same day a contract was made with Joseph Kinnear for the delivery of the lumber at 8o cents per thousand feet, inch measure. The building was 45 feet in width by 105 feet in length, with large columns in front, surmounted by a tower ; the basement was constructed for the county jail.
The entire building was completed in 1847. The total cost was $45,000. N. B. Kelly, of Columbus, was the architect and superintendent of construction.The offices in the building not being large enough for the increasing business, and the jail in the basement having been repeatedly condemned by the grand jury, the commissioners, in 1887: by authority of an act of the General Assembly, passed May 4, 1885, decided to remodel the Court House and build a jail and jailer’s residence. On the 2nd of February, 1888, the contract for the improvements was awarded to Doerzbach & Decker, of Sandusky, Ohio, their bid of $104,420 for the entire work being the lowest.
The contractors began the work early in the spring. The corner-stone of the improved Court House was laid June 21, 1888, with Masonic ceremonies. The Court House was enlarged by the addition of two wings, and was made a commodious, substantial structure with abundant light and excellent ventilation, convenient in every way for the business of the people. Both buildings were completed in the latter part of 1889, and accepted by the commissioners January 4, 1890.(History of Court House and jail excerpt from; History of Pickaway County, Ohio and Representative Citizens, edited and compiled by Hon. Aaron R. VanCleaf)
PAST SHERIFF’S OF PICKAWAY COUNTY
|1.) (1810-1814) – James Renick 2.) (1815-1816) – Samuel Lybrand 3.) (1817-1820) – Charles Botkin 4.) (1821-1824) – Francis Kinnear 5.) (1824-1827) – Joseph Hedges 6.) (1828-1831) – John Shoup 7.) (1832-1833) – Johnathan Ellis 8.) (1834-1835) – Augustus L. Perrill 9.) (1836-1839) – Michael H. Alkire 10.) (1840-1843) – Jerome Wolfley 11.) (1844-1846) – Michael H. Alkire 12.) (1846-1847) – Davis Ensworth 13.) (1848-1850) – Henry H. Howard 14.) (1850-1853) – John Boyer 15.) (1854-1857) – Jacob H. Carpenter 16.) (1858-1859) – Andrew Poulson 17.) (1860-1863) – Patrick H. Delaplane 18.) (1864-1867) – William E. Bohn 19.) (1868-1871) – Caleb Hall||
20.) (1872-1875) – Issac M. Griest
21.) (1876-1879) – Charles F. Hartmeyer
22.) (1880-1883) – John P. Bolin
23.) (1884-1887) – William Schleyer
24.) (1888-1891) – James T. Wallace
25.) (1892-1895) – Henton M. Dunnick
26.) (1896-1899) – John Henry
27.) (1900-1903) – Lewis C. Hoover
28.) (1904-1908) – Henry W. Schleich
29.) (1909-1912) – Thomas R. Bell
30.) (1913-1916) – Harry S. Sheets
31.) (1917-1918) – W. H. Warner
32.) (1919-1922) – Joe West
33.) (1923-1926) – Robert Young
34.) (1927-1930) – Frank Davis
35.) (1931-1960) – Charles H. Radcliff
36.) (1961-1964) – Walton Spangler
37.) (1965 – 2013) – Dwight E. Radcliff
38.) (2013 – Present) -Robert B. Radcliff
By Kristy Eckert – The Columbus Dispatch:
|CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio – Oh, the stories he can tell. Like the one about the habitual prisoner who became a close friend to Sheriff Dwight Radcliff and the rest of his family, including wife Betty. Good thing too. Back in 1968, when the Radcliffs lived in the Pickaway County jail, a band of unruly prisoners took over the second floor.Instinctively, inmate Charles DeWitt Jr. grabbed a skillet and declared: “Nobody’s going to get my Betty.”||
Such tales tend to pile up for the longest-serving sheriff in the country. (The National Sheriffs’ Association recently informed Radcliff of his status.)
“I think I could put a good best seller together,” the 72-year-old mused.
The year Radcliff was first elected, Lyndon Johnson held the presidency, postage stamps cost a nickel and The sound of Music won the Oscar for best picture. During his tenure, the first man walked on the moon, seven more presidents have served and John Paul II reigned as Pope for more than a quarter-century.
Radcliff has never lost an election. A no-nonsense lawman, he has lived his job – and still does. Here is a good-natured look at the 40-year career of a tough – they don’t call the county “Putaway Pickaway” for nothing – but caring sheriff.
FAMILY LEGACY DEFINES OFFICE
Below: Dwight Radcliff left as a deputy for his father, Sheriff Charles Radcliff
A Radcliff has held the position of Pickaway County Sheriff for 66 of the past 70 years – and what has stayed in the family might remain there. Charles Radcliff served from 1931 to 1961. Four years later, his son, Dwight, beat the man who defeated his father – and has won every election since. And Dwight’s son, Lt. Robert Radcliff, expects to run for sheriff someday.He was once picked up at school after authorities discovered a plan to abduct him or a sibling to hold for ransom. He started working for the sheriff in 1980, as a deputy in the crime lab.
“I probably will,” he said recently. Robert Radcliff knows the lifestyle well: He grew up in jail, where for decades the sheriff’s family lived.
SOME SCENSE REMAIN VIVID
Although staffing and budgetary issues often dominate his job these days, Dwight Radcliff has had some trying – and, thus, memorable – moments in law enforcement in rural Pickaway County.
In 1965, during the sheriff’s first year in office, a man being held for robbing a store led a riot at the jail when the sheriff’s staff was gone. Inmates moved benches and doused mattresses to barricade themselves on the second floor. One prisoner, a family friend, protected the sheriff’s wife (his family lived at the jail) with a skillet. Law officers in neighboring areas were called to help; they eventually forced a surrender by firing tear gas through a second-floor window. The only injury: a deputy hit in the mouth with a shot of tear gas that ricocheted off the building. Four inmates were charged with rendering the jail less secure, Radcliff said, and the county commissioners quickly allocated money to upgrade security features.
|In 1980, Radcliff cracked a murder-for-hire case after a mother of two opened her door one night, was shot squarely in the chest; and, with her last words, yelled, “He killed me.” His investigation took him to the husband, with whom she was enduring a divorce. Four men were involved in the scheme:Two helped authorities and struck plea bargains; two, including the husband, were convicted. “We made that thing strictly on circumstantial evidence.”
|BY THE NUMBERSHow much coffee has he drank, and how many doughnuts has he eaten? Those figures couldn’t be tallied – because the sheriff rarely drinks the former and simply doesn’t eat the latter. Otherwise:AGE WHEN FIRST ELECTED – 32AGE TODAY – 71YEARS OF MARRIAGE – 51CHILDREN – 3GRANDCHILDREN – 8GUNS CARRIED THROUGH THE YEARS – 5TIMES HE HAS FIRED A GUN AT SOMEONE – 0TIMES HE HAS WOUNDED SOMEONE – 0TIMES HE HAS KILLED SOMEONE – 0
BADGES LOST – 0
HATS LOST – 0
CRUISERS USED – 7
UNIFORMS WORN – 3
STAFF MEMBERS WHEN HE STARTED IN 1965 – 11
STAFF MEMBERS TODAY – 84
BEDS IN JAIL WHEN HE STARTED (plus cots and mattresses on floors) – 40
BEDS TODAY – 110
GENERAL ELECTIONS WON – 11
GENERAL ELECTIONS UNOPPOSED – 7
U.S. PRESIDENTS DURING HIS TENURE – 8
HAIRSTYLES – 2
Sources: the sheriff, Pickaway County Board of Elections
The Tale of His Tenure:
Some historical context for the sheriff’s four decades in office:
- 1964: Dwight Radcliff, a car salesman, is elected sheriff for the first time, defeating Walton Spangler – who had beaten his father four years earlier – in the primary and Dixie Watters in the general election.
- 1965: Radcliff takes office; the first big wave of U.S. troops reach Vietnam.
- 1966: Radcliff is named “Outstanding Young Man in the Community” by the Circleville Jaycees; Medicare is introduced.
- 1968: Radcliff beats Spangler again in the primary, going unopposed in the general election; the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is killed
- 1969: Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin become the first humans to walk on the moon.
- 1971: The U.S. voting age is lowered to 18.
- 1972: Radcliff wins a third term without facing an opponent in the primary or general election.
- 1974: Richard Nixon resigns the U.S. presidency.
- 1975: Radcliff celebrates 10 years as a county officeholder and is named “sheriff of the year” by the state Fraternal Order of Eagles; videocassette recorders for the home are developed in Japan.
- 1976: Radcliff wins a fourth term.
- 1978: John Paul II becomes Pope.
- 1980: Radcliff wins a fifth term, beating the last opponent he’ll face until 1996; Ted Turner launches CNN.
- 1982: In a newspaper column written by a federal judge, Radcliff is compared to Sherlock Holmes; Michael Jackson releases the album Thriller.
- 1983: Pickaway County forms a committee to consider constructing a jail to replace the nearly 100-year-old building – the home of Radcliff and his family.
- 1984: Radcliff wins a sixth term; the Cosby Show makes it debut.
- 1985: Radcliff marks 20 years as sheriff.
- 1986: The space shuttle Challenger explodes with seven astronauts aboard.
- 1987: Radcliff is sworn in as president of the National Sheriffs’ Association; the Supreme Court rules that women are allowed in Rotary clubs
- 1988: Radcliff wins a seventh term; compact discs outsell vinyl recordings for the first time.
- 1989: The Berlin Wall is torn down.
- 1990: Pickaway County breaks ground on the new jail; the Persian Gulf War takes place.
- 1992: Radcliff wins an eighth term and oversees the opening of the $13.5 million jail.
- 1993: Radcliff spends months wrangling with the county commissioners over his budget, at one point threatening to fire most employees and close the jail.
- 1994: Radcliff makes a deal with the commissioners, eliminating 10 positions – or about half of what they initially sought; O.J. Simpson is charged with murder.
- 1995: Radcliff passes 30 years as sheriff; a jury finds Simpson not guilty.
- 1996: Radcliff wins a ninth term, running opposed for the first time in 16 years.
- 1998: President Clinton is accused of having a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky.
- 2000: Unopposed, Radcliff wins a 10th term.
- 2001: Terrorists attack the United States.
- 2003: The nation joins Britain in war against Iraq.
- 2004: Unopposed, Radcliff wins an 11th term.
- 2005: Radcliff reaches 40 years as Sheriff.
- 2008: Radcliff wins a 12th term, running opposed by Phillip Brown.
Sources: the sheriff, Pickaway County Board of Elections, Dispatch archives, Internet research