This page dedicated to the memory of Deputy James J. Drahota, killed in a vehicle pursuit on October 13, 1962.

Madison County Sheriffs:

Name Dates in office Name Dates in office
John O’Banion 1869-1871 John Flynn 1908-1909
W.F. Krumm 1871-1873 C.S. Smith 1909-1933
David Whittlo 1875-1877 Aaron Henry 1933-1951
Joseph Marten 1877-1883 John T. McCarthy 1951-1959
George Davis 1883-1887 Burt Ray, Jr. 1959-1970
John Flynn 1887-1889 Marvin “Doc” Adams 1971-1980
George Losey 1897-1901 Marlin Landanger 1980-1983
James Heloney 1901-1903 Vern J. Hjorth 1983-present
Joseph J. Clement 1903-1908    



On January 21, 1868, County voters cast 35 ballots in the first election. The first sheriff was John O’Banion.

In November of 1869 a vigilante committee of 12 people went to a foreclosed farm and ordered the constable to bring back goods he had sold from the disputed property. They threatened him with hanging. The constable refused and was tortured with a noose.

When O’Banion arrived, he arrested the vigilantes. He locked them in an old house in Norfolk. The rest of the vigilante committee knocked the door in and released them. O’Banion went to the vigilante captain’s house. he came out of the house and walked away. O’Banion ordered him to stop but the captain refused. O’Banion fired on him. The captain returned fire and shot off the tip of O’Banion’s ear.

No arrests were made by the Sheriff’s Posse; it was evident that they had more sympathy for the vigilantes than to those filing the claims on the farm.
In 1875 a close election moved the county seat from Norfolk to Madison; the Supreme Court was required to rule the election valid.
From 1875 to 1877 the Madison County Sheriff’s Office was located in the Huylar Hotel in Madison. It was then moved to the first courthouse in 1877. This building was 22 x 40 feet and cost $1335 to build.
In 1924, overcrowding hit the Madison County Jail. The convictions of five men for bootlegging liquor to Indians brought the jail population to 13 inmates.

In 1976 the current Madison County Courthouse was built. The Sheriff’s Office and Jail were incorporated into that building. The jail held a maximum of 33 prisoners and by the late 1980’s overcrowding again became a major issue. The cramped quarters of the Sheriff’s Office and the cost of out of county housing for prisoners necessitated the construction of a new facility.

In 1996 the Sheriff’s Office moved into a new 225,000+ square foot facility. The current jail holds 122 inmates and is used to house local, out-of-county, state, and federal prisoners.

As of July 1999 the new jail facility has booked and housed over 5,600 prisoners. The Jail has also added to the fight against crime, the A.F.I.S. System (Automated Fingerprint Identification System), where a statewide computer system is used to record the fingerprints of prisoners. The V.I.N.E. System (Victim Identification Notification Everyday). This system is used to notify victims of the release of prisoners that pose a threat to the victim and their families. The current Sheriff’s Office staff includes 25 sworn deputies, 22 civilian employees, and several part-time employees.

In 1999 the Sheriff’s Office moved forward into the computerized world, as an internet web-site was established ( The site has received awards in the Law Enforcement category for its setup and contents. Contained in the site is an area where this county’s warrant list is available to the public. There is also an area where a criminal complaint may be made through e-mail.

The Sheriff’s Department utilizes state-of-the-art digital in-car video systems for the protection of the deputies and the public. Each patrol unit in equipped with internet-enabled data terminals and various pieces of electronics to expedite the issuance of citations and warning tickets.