Source: Biographicah & Historical Record of Kosciusko Co., IN.; Lewis Publishing Co., 1887
Dated: August 28, 2000
Isaac Kirkendall "Our First Sheriff"
The following sketch by Metcalfe Beck portrays a remarkable character, widely know for his eccentricities, whose blunt manner often concealed the genial nature within.
"Isaac Kirkendall was born in Culpeper County, Va., January 15, 1787, and, strange as it may seem, never boasted of the grand old State which gave him birth, neither claimed honor from the place of his nativity. He served as Sheriff from 1836 to 1840; at the time of his election he was about 49 years old, stood six feet high, had one crooked eye, and was entirely bald except a thin fringe of gray hair around the lower and back part of his head. His voice, when exerted, was a loud-sounding, asthmatic treble, and when he called he was generally heard, for he was always in earnest. His home was on the farm with his brother Jacob, on the east side of Little Turkey Creek Prairie, and from thence, passing through Leesburg, on a large dapple gray horse, might often be seen our first Sheriff on his way to Warsaw, the county seat.
Once upon a time Ike made a speech at Leesburg, prior to his first election, which ran thus:
"GENTLEMEN: I am a candidate for Sheriff, and if you elect me, and any of you need hanging while I am in office, I will hang you dead as h--l." He was elected, and, although some of his voters may have deserved it, yet none of them were ever hanged during his term of office.
The first Sheriff was not of a literary cast of mind; had a great dislike for letter-writing, and when he did write was very laconic; he used to relate the following: Some time after his settlement in this county, his folks in Ohio used to write to him often, "and tease him like h--l" to write them a letter; he delayed a long time; at length, finding Jake's folks abroad one Sunday, and the noisy children out of the way, he was alone; he drew out the kitchen table, got paper, ink and quill pen, and seated himself to begin. He wrote the name of the county and State, and the year and the month and the day, and then began his letter.
"Dear Brother, I am well." Here he came to a stop, and scratched his head to think what next, and recollecting that he lived at Jake's, he put down, "Jake's folks are well." Here he came to another stop, and a longer stop than before; still no words came to his relief, and he ended his letter by saying, "and if you are well, then, by G-d, all's well.
The brevity of Grant and the profanity of Greeley are both apparent in the Sheriff's letter. In politics, he was an Old-Line Whig, and afterward a Republican, but never quarreled with men for difference of opinion. He was an efficient officer, faithful friend and kind neighbor; he died of lung disease March 17, 1863, aged 76.
Source: "Combination Atlas Map of Kosciusko County Indiana" by Kingman Brothers, 1879.
Submitted by: Cheryl Hawley