Established May 9, 1941
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office Mounted Posse was originally conceived by Doctors Melvin Jones and Lester Edblom back in 1941. Jones and Edblom met with then Sheriff C.A. “Tom” Swarts and discussed the idea of forming a Sheriff’s Mounted Posse. With support from Sheriff Swarts the Posse was then planned and structured, and an advertisement was placed in the Register Guard on May 5, 1941.
The first organizational meeting to form the Lane County Sheriff’s Posse was held at the Lane County Fairgrounds on May 9, 1941. With only five people attending the meeting, the Lane County Sheriff’s Posse was created. When the Posse was first formed, members did not have to own their own horse; they were allowed to borrow or ride someone else’s. However, this rule soon changed and each Posse member was required to have their own horse and a means of transportation. Many Posse members stabled their horses at the Lane County Fairgrounds until 2000, when the City passed an Ordinance restricting stabling of livestock at the Fairgrounds.
Since that time, Posse weekly ride nights have been held at Marker’s Area, just north of the Oregon Horse Center on Prairie Road.
In 1988, the Posse began managing the old horse arena at Mount Pisgah during the summer months. The area was dismantled in 2000 because it was believed to be too close to the Coast Fork of the Willamette River. The Posse provided the funds and did the work to construct a new outdoor arena on higher ground further away from the River, and use that area today for their ride nights, and practice area.
Shortly after the Lane County Sheriff’s Posse was formed, Sheriff C.A. “Tom” Swarts was called into military service to serve in World War II. Oral E. Crow was appointed as Lane County Sheriff pro tem by the Lane County Commissioners. Although Sheriff Crow had not previously been employed by Lane County, he had served as Lane County Commissioner for two terms; and the Commissioners felt he knew more about running a Sheriff’s Office than anyone else.
The Posse was originally created to serve as both a Community Service group, and to assist the Sheriff. Posse members were responsible for helping enforce the blackouts during the war years, and helped the Sheriff with law enforcement in Lane County. The Posse provided assistance whenever the Willamette and McKenzie Rivers flooded, which occurred frequently. Posse members helped evacuate residents, dealt with livestock, and made door-to-door searches for people needing assistance. Due to the trying times, the Lane County Sheriff’s Posse was a valuable asset to the Sheriff’s Office.
Since the first Posse meeting in 1941 the program has flourished and, although other Posse groups through the state have disbanded, the Lane County Sheriff’s Posse has remained strong. In the beginning, the Posse provided additional resources to an understaffed Sheriff’s Office. However, as time has passed, the Posse has become a valuable resource to the Search & Rescue team, assisting with locating and retrieving lost individuals. The Lane County Sheriff’s Posse has been and continues to be an intricate part of the Lane County Search & Rescue program.
Through the years, the Sheriff’s Posse has been involved in many fundraising program for the Sheriff’s Office. Money making projects have included selling tickets to U of O sporting events, parking cars at the Lane County Fair; and for many years, sponsoring and operating a boxing program for youth. The Lane County Logging Conference was added as another revenue building project. The Sheriff’s Posse has also been instrumental in donating money and time to worthwhile causes throughout Lane County; including youth groups and youth organizations.
The Lane County Sheriffs Posse has always been a family and community-orientated organization and hosts many get-togethers, meetings and family functions. For many years one of the larger family functions for the Posse was the Labor Day weekend outings at Scott Lakes. At one point, the Scott Lakes outing became so popular among the Posse members that there were 150 attendees.
One of the foremost functions of the Lane County Sheriff’s Posse has been as Ambassadors of Public Relations for the Sheriff’s Office. The Posse attends rodeos and parades throughout the Oregon. One of the first functions that the Posse attended was the Crawfordsville Rodeo and Parade. Over the course of the years, at one time or another, the Lane County Sheriff’s Posse has attended all parade and holiday functions in the State.
A Posse’s horsemanship can be judged by the way in which they perform their drills. The Lane County Sheriff’s Posse has been regarded, throughout the State, as one of the best in drills and horsemanship. The proof is in the number of First Place trophies that are currently on display at the Lane County Sheriff’s Office.
From 1956 to present, there has been no additional documented history of the Lane County Sheriff’s Posse. Although there have been periodic photographs of the Posse at the Lane County Fair and various parade functions through Lane County, no official record or archive has been maintained. Despite that fact, the Lane County Sheriff’s Posse has remained intact throughout the years when other Oregon County Posse’s have disbanded.
The Lane County Sheriff’s Posse continues to grow and serve with community service its number one goal.