These are the people that have held the office of Sheriff of Orangeburg County. Biographical information is available for those past Sheriffs whose names are hyperlinked in the chart below.
William R. Thomson
John L. Rumph
George D. Keith
John D. Williams
E.J. Cain (Carn)
John H. Dukes
R. Fulton Dukes
Edward J. Salley
George L. Reed
R.F. Dukes, Jr.
Vance L. Boone
C.R. "Smitty" Smith
remainder of 1819
Compiled from data received from the South Carolina Archives and History, Chris Whitmire at the South Carolina State Election Commission, Nikki Davis at the South Carolina Sheriffs' Association, and Daniel Marchant Culler's book Orangeburgh District, 1768-1868: History and Records.
Biographies of Past Sheriffs
The first Sheriff of Orangeburg County was William Thomson, who was appointed in 1772. He was born in the then Orangeburgh District on January 16, 1737. On August 14, 1755, he married Eugenia Russell, daughter of Capt. Charles Russell of the Amelia Township, presently known as St. Matthews.
For many years, Thomson served as justice of the peace and an Indian trader with the Cherokees. He also served as Major of the Rangers, a military and militia group in the Orangeburgh District.
In 1772, Thomson served on the commission appointed to adjust the boundary line between North and South Carolina, along with James Cook and attorneys William Moultrie and Benjamin Farrar. Also in 1772, Sheriff Thomson was appointed by then Governor Montague as the first Sheriff of the newly created Orangeburgh District and served until 1775. After his duty in law enforcement, he served as a Colonel in the Third South Carolina Infantry and a state senator. He died in Sweet Springs, Virginia. He was 69.
Edward Cain was born around 1840 in the Fort Mott area of Orangeburg County. Born a slave, Cain was owned by Captain A.J. Frederick. He was able to read and write and served as a carpenter and wheelwright. During the Civil War, he escaped to serve in the Union Army. After the war, he became a delegate for Orangeburg County at the Constitutional Convention in 1868. That same year, he was elected to the South Carolina State House of Representatives until 1870. In November 1872, Cain was elected to his first term as Sheriff of Orangeburg County. In 1874, Sheriff Cain was sent to Columbia to arrest Governor Franklin J. Moses who was indicted for misappropriation of state funds. Cain and his wife, Minty, had one son, James L. Sheriff Cain died on January 13, 1892 in Charleston. He was 52. He is buried in the Fort Motte area of Calhoun County.
Sheriff Dukes was born in Branchville on September 30, 1872. He was the son of A.F.H. Dukes and Susan McAlhaney Dukes of Branchville. Dukes attended the Sheridan School in Orangeburg and graduated from the Citadel in 1894. Shortly thereafter, he served as a 2nd Lt. Co. G. South Carolina Volunteers, an Orangeburg Unit during the Spanish American War. He was a member of the Methodist church, a Mason and an Elk.
He served as Branchville's Mayor and was a member of the local legislative delegation for two terms. He was elected Sheriff in 1916. Fulton Dukes married the former Edna McKewn. They were the parents of four daughters and one son.
Sheriff Fulton Dukes died in November 1935 while still in office. After his death, Coroner A.D. Ruple assumed the duties of Sheriff until Governor Olin Dewitt Talmadge Johnston appointed Edward Jones Salley to carry out the remainder of Dukes term.
Sheriff Dukes, Jr. is the son of Sheriff Robert F. Dukes and Edna McKewn Dukes. It is believed that they are the only father and son to serve in the same capacity in county history.
Bob Dukes began a farming and dairy business after serving in the Army in World War II. He founded Edisto Dairy in 1946 to process and sell retail dairy products. Dukes was a member of St. Paul's United Methodist Church, a Mason and Shriner. He was also a former agent of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
Sheriff Boone, a Rowesville native, married the former Terry Gibson of Maryland. He is the father of two sons, Marvin B. and Andy. The family attended the New Hope United Methodist Church in Rowesville.
Sheriff Boone was a former Sheriff's deputy under Sheriff Robert F. "Bob" Dukes, Jr. In 1972, he was elected Sheriff by a landslide vote. In 1980, he was named president of the South Carolina Sheriffs' Association. In 1981, he was named Sheriff of the Year by the South Carolina Sheriffs' Association. In 1984, he was named Orangeburg County's "Democrat of the Year."
Sheriff Boone resigned in 1986 to accept a position with the State Law Enforcement Division.
Sheriff Smith was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Sheriff Boone from 1986-1988. He was elected in 1988 and served two 4-year terms.
Sheriff Smith was born in Jasper County to Sheila and CR Smith, Sr. and later moved to Orangeburg County. Sheriff Smith worked with the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety before being hired at the Sheriff's Office by Sheriff Boone.
In 1990, Sheriff Smith was selected as the Sheriff of the Year by the South Carolina Sheriffs' Association. He was President of the South Carolina Sheriffs' Association in 1994-95. He served on the Board of the National Sheriffs' Association from 1988 to 1996.
He and his wife, Betty, still reside in Orangeburg.
Sheriff Johnson was a Lieutenant with the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety prior to his election as Sheriff of Orangeburg County. Upon his election, Sheriff Johnson became the first black to hold the office since 1876.
Born in Bamberg County, Sheriff Williams completed his secondary education in the public schools of Branchville. His post secondary-education began at South Carolina State University. He later graduated Magna-Cum-Laude from Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in Sociology.
Sheriff Larry Williams was elected to the office of Sheriff of Orangeburg County, in his first run for political office in 2000. In his first term in office, Sheriff Williams promised a statistical reduction in crime. He accomplished that goal and now Orangeburg County has one of the lowest crime rates in the state, according to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Crime Book.
He was named Sheriff of the Year in 2003 during his first term in office by the South Carolina Sheriffs' Association. In 2007, Sheriff Williams was awarded the prestigious Strom Thurmond Awards for Excellence in Law Enforcement. He served on the National Sheriffs' Association Crime Victims Services Committee.
On March 3, 2010, Sheriff Larry Williams and members of the Sheriff's Office staff raised the first Sheriff's Office flag.
Sheriff Larry Williams passed away on Tuesday, September 21, 2010, in the second year of his third term in office. He became only the second Sheriff to pass away while in office.
Barbara Walters was promoted to Acting Sheriff by Governor Mark Sanford after the death of Sheriff Larry Williams.
With Sheriff Walters's appointment, she became the first female to ever hold the office of Sheriff in Orangeburg County and the third female to hold an interim Sheriff position in the state of South Carolina.
Sheriff Walters began her career in law enforcement in 1985 as a uniform deputy of the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office. During her extensive career, she has worked in investigations on homicide, narcotics, sexual assault, and child abuse cases. Walters was the first female in South Carolina to be certified as a Crisis Negotiator by the Federal Bureau of Investigations. She also earned the designation of an Expert Witness and was promoted to Sergeant of the Investigative Division.
She rose through the ranks and was promoted Chief Deputy in 2001.
Sheriff Leroy Ravenell beat out a field of 4 primary challengers for the Democratic nomination and a Republican candidate to win the January 25, 2011, special election to become the 52nd Sheriff of Orangeburg County. Ravenell took the oath of office on February 4 at noon and closed a nightclub known for violence that same evening.