It was 84 years today that the first known Bartow County Sheriff's deputy died in the line of duty.
According to a news release from the Bartow County Sheriff's Office, the incident that resulted in the death of Deputy William Jasper Vaughn on Sept. 20, 1928 began when two men entered Sodie Collum’s store located south of Emerson between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. to make a purchase. They tried to pay with a $20 bill, which Collum immediately recognized as counterfeit.
Just under an hour later, Gaddis and Vaughan arrived and a scuffle inside the store broke out as the two offenders disarmed Collum. Vaughan was reported to have entered the store first, and upon doing so, one of the offenders fired six shots, at least one hitting the deputy fatally. Gaddis returned fire and believed he hit one of the offenders as they fled in a vehicle. The sheriff called for doctors and, though two doctors responded, they couldn't save Vaughan.
A Sheriff’s Posse was organized and evidence was found including the get-away car about two miles north of the scene. Evidence was recovered that would later aid the sheriff in his investigation. The next day, two men were arrested in Dalton who matched the description of the two offenders. Gaddis and Collum traveled to Dalton and identified the men as the offenders. The men, brothers Harless and Hartsell Grant, were taken to Fulton County to be held.
However, Gaddis and Solicitor General J.M. Neel, Jr., continued their investigation and determined that the Grant brothers were not the offenders. The investigation revealed that Reese and Raymond Fisher were the two offenders, and witnesses were interviewed who had direct knowledge of the crimes. A lookout was issued in Atlanta in October 1928 by Gaddis describing the Fishers and offering a reward for their capture.
Vaughan was laid to rest after a funeral service held at White United Methodist Church, where it was reported that more than 2,000 people were in attendance. Vaughan had a large family, and many of his descendants still call this area home.
More research is being conducted to determine the fate of the Grant brothers and the Fisher brothers. Officials with the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office plan to honor Vaughan with a permanent memorial later this year.