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Note* Historical information on this page has been gathered from many sources over the course of many years. Unfortunately, the sources of information prior to 1960 were not well documented and it is likely some of the un-credited historical information was obtained from local newspaper clippings. It is known that some of the early historical information (1800's) is derived of a paper authored by John J. Walsh - Trials and Tribulations, A Judicial History of Oneida County 1798-1900 (1973).   We acknowledge that un-credited pre-1960 information may not be original, and credit sources unknown

1788 Herkimer County is formed. The area includes what is now Oneida County.

1794 The first meeting of the court is held in January at the Presbyterian Church in what is now the Village of New Hartford. Colonel William Colbraith, presently of Herkimer County, attends this first session. The church is not finished when court is held and a story is related that the court convened on this very cold day and the bench announced that it would have to adjourn because of the cold. Colonel Colbraith is equal to the problem and produces a bottle of gin that revives the circulation of the men, and court continues. (Walsh)

1798, March 15 The County of Oneida is created by an act that sets provisions for holding courts and the erection of a courthouse and jail. The establishment of Oneida County includes in its boundaries, the present counties of Lewis, Oneida, St. Lawrence, Jefferson and Oswego.

1798 Colonel William Colbraith of Rome is appointed Sheriff of Oneida County. A genial Irishman, Colbraith is a veteran of the revolutionary war and was previously Sheriff of Herkimer County. Colbraith is appointed to a one-year term. (Walsh)

1800 Dominick Lynch donates a site for the Rome courthouse and jail, located one mile from the Fort Stanwix in the Village of Rome.

1801 Hugh White donates land in Whitesboro (on what is presently Park Ave.) for the building of a courthouse.

1802, January The Countys first jail, with walls three feet thick, is built in Whitestown, near what is now the Village Park.  Prior to this, prisoners were housed in Herkimer County. The Rome jail follows shortly afterward.

1806-7  - Courthouses are built near the jails in Whitestown and in Rome.  (The Whitestown Court building is still used today as the Town Hall and Court.)  It is said that it will cost $4,000.00 in taxes to do both courthouses.

1808 The Rome Courthouse opens. The courts are now to be held alternately in Rome and Whitesboro.

1813 It is proposed to build the first Utica Courthouse on Chancellor Square near John Street.

1817 Prisoners of the Rome Jail attempt to escape by setting fire to the jail. As related, It was long before the doors opened, and they came near dying.  One was killed in attempt to get out or suffocated. Five of the prisoners are indicted for arson, tried, convicted, and sentenced to be hanged. The day of execution is mid-winter and it is related that men, women and children came in sleighs from Boonville and other directions, riding all night to be present at the spectacle.  Hours before the execution time, a reprieve arrives from the governor, commuting the sentences to imprisonment in the state prison. Being deprived of the real hanging, a number of the spectators erect a gallows in the woods and hang the prisoners in effigy.(Walsh)

1818 Proposed in 1813, the first Utica school, Courthouse and Town Hall are built on Academy Street at Chancellor Park.  Utica was annexed as a separate town from Whitesboro.

1821 John Hinman becomes the first elected Sheriff.  He is elected to a term of three years. The Sheriff keeps the jails, serves court papers and transports prisoners. These roles continue to be the primary functions of the department until the 1940s.

1846 The County Court system is enacted by state constitution.

1847 A new Rome Courthouse is opened on the east side of James Street.

1848, March 17 The Rome Courthouse and Jail in this village were entirely destroyed by fire on the afternoon and evening of March 15, 1848. The prisoners, three men and one woman, are removed safely.  The fire started in the jail and spread to the courthouse forty feet away and connected by a one-story building. (The Courthouse appearance is similar to the building currently in use in Whitestown.) (The likely source of this information is the Rome Citizen)

1848 Utica becomes a half shire town, but the courts continue to meet in Whitestown until 1852.

1851 A replacement for the Rome jail and courthouse destroyed by fire is built at a cost of $12,000.  The construction uses columns from the burned courthouse. (The courthouse is in use to this date.  It was enlarged in 1897, and again in 1903.)

1851 The Whitestown jail is closed and a new one is created on Mohawk Street, Utica.  This jail will be used until 1883.  The Whitestown Courthouse and jail revert back to the heirs of Hugh White, as accorded by the original deed.  The property and buildings are then sold to the town for use as a Town Hall, which is still used today. The jail is converted to a dwelling.

1851 A new Utica Courthouse on John Street is completed. This building is built immediately to the rear of the old one, built in 1818. The County Board of Supervisors meets alternately in Utica and Rome.

1882 A new jail is built in Rome on North James Street in back of the courthouse.   It is actually on the corner of Stanwix and Church Streets.

1909 A new Utica Courthouse opens on the corner of Elizabeth and Charlotte Streets. The Board of Supervisors opposed this new construction.  A planning commission appointed by the state legislature took the County Board to court to get the necessary funding totaling 1 million dollars for the project.

1908-9 New York State creates the probation commission and probation services are now provided to courts in Oneida County.

1911 A new county jail is built at 731 Bleecker Street, Utica.  It is fronted by a Victorian house that serves as the Sheriffs residence. (A present day Utica Observer Dispatch article reports that this house was built in early 1880 and torn down in 1967.)  Sheriffs receive no salary and are allowed to keep fees from serving legal papers and transporting prisoners.

1911, July An escape from Rome Jail results in a search in Rome that proves negative. There are escapee sightings near Delta Dam and the Black River locks in the canal.

1911, August 23 A resolution is proposed and passed before the County Commissioners. This may have been the first Oneida County Work Offender Program.

Whereas, Many non-residents of the county of Oneida are being sentenced to the county jails at Utica and Rome for trivial offenses and,

Whereas, All prisoners retained in said jails are supported in idleness at an expense and without profit to said county,

Resolved, That the Sheriff of Oneida County be hereby empowered and instructed to procure and keep on hand a constant supply of stones purchased in the open market at the lowest cost to said county, together with a sufficient number of stone hammers for use by all able bodied prisoners retained in said jail and be it further,

Resolved, That said Sheriff hereby is instructed to keep all able bodied prisoners confined to said jail on sentences employed breaking stones for at least 8 hours per day on all days excepting Sundays and that he sell said stones, when broken, for the best price obtainable, therefore the proceeds thereof to belong to the county of Oneida New York and to be expended toward the maintenance of said jails and prisoners, and be it further

Resolved, That the forgoing be put into operation forthwith.

1912 The experience of stone breaking does not appear to accomplish what it is designed to do.  It is not expected to be financially profitable, but to justify itself by keeping the population down.  Stone breaking is discontinued.

1913 A State prison commission reports that the Utica jail is housing 106 prisoners with 30 cells.  It further notes that none of the jails, lockups and police stations in Oneida County are modern except the city jail in Rome.

Vernon lockup OK. Camden lockup condemned. New Hartford in basement fairly good with little use. Present quarters in Boonville are objectionable. Clinton lockup not satisfactory. No facilities for sanitation in Oriskany Falls. Recommend that Waterville provide a sanitary lockup without further delay.

The report shows admission for the Utica jail from January to July is 1,634 and in Rome jail "but 223"; showing a need for a larger jail in the county.  It is also noted with regret that the County Commissioners had removed 2 guards and thus the breaking of stones by the prisoners had ceased, causing a loss to the county besides not giving the prisoners proper exercise.  The report recommends building a newer, larger jail.

1913, July The prison commissioner visits the Rome jail. Population ten male sentenced, twenty male held for Grand Jury, two female sentenced prisoners. Recommended new boiler and new mattresses.

1913, August Headline in Rome Daily Sentinel A Jail Breaking Plan Frustrated. Saws to be used in escape were secreted in a shoebox and found during a search. Jailer John A. Collins became suspicious of the package that was addressed to a prisoner in the jail in Roma, NY.  "The use of the word Roma indicated that the sender was Italian and all such packages are given the closest inspection."

1913, August A news article reports 28 men, not one a resident of this county and most of them giving their place of residence as outside the state, have been taken from trains in the Town of Verona the past few days by railroad detectives. The hobos are usually taken as they are just on the point of leaving Oneida County.  They are then rushed to the justice of peace and sentenced to jail for five to twenty days. In that, additional burdens are heaped upon the taxpayers of the county who must board the prisoners.  To board a prisoner a week, including the cost of board, salaries of jailers, matrons etc., will exceed $3.00.  A prisoner committed for twenty days means that taxpayers have to pay from $11.00 to $15.00 additional for him.  Those who have to pay the bills say they would much prefer to have the train riders get out of the county than become burdens of Oneida County.  Sheriff Donnelly would also much prefer to have some other county bear the burden of all these arrests that are made about this time each year.  The population of the Rome jail is fifty-five men and three women; of that twenty-one are court prisoners.

1914 New York State recommends closing of the Rome jail.

1918   Due to a coal shortage during below zero weather in January, prison crews cut wood from the county farm on Bell Road to fuel the Rome jail in the winter.  Jail trusties act as firemen, keeping track of the boiler. In the spring, prisoners plant crops on the Bell Farm, demonstrating that the prisoners earn their keep and also save the county money. (Rome Sentinel)

1922, November 28 The County has its first woman supervisor appointed to the Board of Supervisors.

1934 New York State Law requires Sheriffs be paid a salary and that fees (previously kept by the Sheriff as his wages) revert to the county.  The first Oneida County Sheriff paid a salary is Sheriff J. Bradbury German, who is paid $6,000.

1948 The Sheriffs Department enters a new phase of public service when it establishes a two-car night highway patrol housed at the Airport terminal building. Development of the patrol leads to reports of controversy from the State Police.

1958, May 7 An Oneida County Grand Jury, apparently powerless to develop legal evidence upon which to act against crime and corruption in Utica, has left behind an indictment against the apathy of the citizenry.  In an unusual letter to Utica Clergy, the Grand Jury states, We have found. a lethargy on the part of a sizable group of citizens to follow through on things that need to be done to make this area a better place to live-in...  The lethargy of the citizens of Oneida County and past lack of action is perhaps the great strength of the organized criminal element alleged to be with us today.

1960 New York State passes a law requiring that all police officers must have completed at least 80 hours of training.

1960 A Water Patrol is established in the Sheriffs Department; the patrol is expanded in 1962 and 1966.

1961, September Oneida County is preparing preliminary plans for a new jail to be built in the Town of Whitestown.

1961 New York State Family Court System established.

1965, August Old Rome jail demolished.  It is 83 years old.  Some of the handsome gray granite blocks of the 83-year-old structure will be preserved and transported to Fort Bull in Rome.

1965 Public Defenders Office opened.

1965, May Sheriff Archie G. Eastman dedicates a new facility at Judd Road, Town of Whitestown.  It is named the Law Enforcement Building and it includes a jail and Sheriff's Department Headquarters.  The Highway Patrol is installed in this new facility and radio communications are moved from the airport.  The facility has 164 cells, 20 female cells and cost 1.7 million dollars.  The Utica and Rome jails are closed and later demolished.  This officially ends the old dual jail system; one in Utica and one in Rome.

1968 Former Utica Police Inspector Joseph Picolla is appointed Sheriff.  He increases staff and institutes the civil service system for appointment of new Deputies.

1969 Juvenile Aid Training, and Criminal Investigation Divisions are established.

1975 New York State requires that all counties provide a non-secure detention facility for children awaiting court. Oneida County opens its facility in 1975, in the former superintendents home at Broadacres.

1980 An Emergency Response Team is created in the Law Enforcement Division.

1984 The Sheriffs Department establishes patrol K-9 Teams.

1985, November Sheriff William A. "Wild Bill" Hasenauer opens a new forty-cell cellblock at the Oneida County Jail on Judd Road, Oriskany. Ground was broken in August 1984 for the $3.4 million improvement project.  Besides the new cellblock, an Administrative Building was built to house Sheriffs Administrative Offices, Law Enforcement and Communications. Moving the administrative offices away from the main building makes room for another fourteen cells, plus a contact visitation area.

1987, Spring  - The department obtains its first personal computer, an IBM 8086.

1987, July 3 As of this morning, 202 male prisoners are housed in a jail that is designed to hold 195 male inmates.

1987, Fall - The department suffers its first hard disk crash and nine months of data is lost.  A lesson in backups is learned.

1989 Portable Dormitory Detention units, a guard station and connecting corridor have been installed at the rear of the jail to provide temporary housing due to overcrowding.

1991 Sheriff Gerald F. Washburn announces that the first Sheriffs Patrol Field Office will open in the Village of Waterville. This is the first time Law Enforcement deputies will be stationed at a location other than the Law Enforcement Building in Oriskany.

1992 The Sheriffs Department begins a D.A.R.E. program for elementary school students throughout Oneida County.

1993 Offender Work Program becomes operational; an alternative to incarceration that diverts jail bound offenders into supervised community labor.

1995 Sheriff Daniel G. Middaugh appoints Lieutenant Karen Szczesniak the first female Captain of Corrections Division.

1995, December 11 The countys 911 Emergency telephone system is activated, with four Public Safety Answering Points; one each in Utica, Rome, New Hartford and at the Sheriffs Law Enforcement Building.

1996, April 7 More than $23 million in contracts are awarded so work will begin this month on the long awaited project to expand the cramped and over-crowed county jail.

1996, May 13 The county jail is made tobacco free.  Inmates and employees will soon be prohibited from smoking or chewing tobacco.  (Once prohibited, tobacco products become a popular contraband item and result in many arrests for those attempting introduction of tobacco into the facility.)

1996, August - The Oneida County Sheriff's Department website goes online.  The site is hosted by Utica's borg.com Internet Services, at no cost.  The site is one of the first police agency sites to appear on the web.

1996, October 13 Already having spent nearly $30 million on a jail for 592 adult inmates, the county discusses construction of a lockup for some troubled juveniles. The county presently averages six to eight juveniles housed elsewhere daily, at a cost of about $1.8 million per year.

1996, October 24 Four temporary modular units called Arthur Buildings open.  These units are dorm style and will operate under the new Direct Supervision method (no physical barriers between staff and prisoners) that will be utilized in the forthcoming expanded jail. The opening of these units increases bed capacity to 401 from 359. Seven portable dormitory detention units installed in 1989 are removed to make room for the jail expansion project. These units originally added seventy beds to the 289 bed jail and were anticipated to be usable for only five years.

1997, February 8 A $1.4 million federal aid package for the county jail means the jail facility under construction will house up to 35 federal prisoners.

1997, July 26 The Village of Camden; as the village looks to make up shrinking revenues, considers dropping its police department and having deputies patrol the village.

1997, August 20 Camden Village residents turn out in force to oppose any move to eliminate their police department.

1998 The City of Rome consolidates its public safety communications at the Oneida County 911 center located at the Sheriffs Law Enforcement Building.

1998, June Sheriff Daniel G. Middaugh opens the newly constructed Correctional Facility which is designed to house 600 inmates.

1998, July 29 - The Sheriffs Department celebrates its 200th year anniversary.

1999, July 21-25  The former Griffiss Air Force Base hosts the Woodstock 99 Music Festival.  Law Enforcement Deputies work 12 hour shifts to provide security at the event and additional patrol coverage.  The "peaceful" festival ends on Sunday, July 25, with fires, looting and a riotous crowd.

1999 Oneida County Department of Emergency Services begins construction of a new 911 Center building to be located to the rear of the Sheriffs Public Safety Complex.

2002, October 11 - The department's new ID card system produces its first public id card.  The card is provided to the recipient free of charge.  The first employee card was produced September 20, 2002.

2004 Sheriff Daniel G. Middaugh designates the term Oneida County Sheriffs Office as the organizations official title. Previously, the terms Department, Agency and Office were used synonymously and arbitrarily.