On February 7, 1835 the Indiana legislature approved the formation of Jay County. In 1836 Governor Noble appointed Christopher Hanna as the Sheriff. Henderson Graves was the first elected Sheriff of Jay County. Sheriff Graves served from 1837 to 1838. In the beginning, Indiana Sheriff's could serve two, 2 year terms for a total of 4 years. Sometime in the 1940's the term limitations were changed to two consecutive 4 year terms for a total of eight years. The limitations set forth in this change are still followed today. For a complete list of past Sheriff's of Jay County click here.
The Jails of Jay County
The first Jay County jail was built by Josh Pennock in the late 1830's for $181.. However, county commissioners sued Mr. Pennock due to breech of contract. The first jail was a poorly built log house located on the lot where the courthouse is today.
At one point a Blackford County man was convicted of stealing a log chain and sentenced to three or four days imprisonment. Since they were having problems with the jail, Sheriff Hawkins took the man to his home with him where he rocked the Sheriff's baby cradle until his time was served.
In January of 1840, John Pingry was awarded the contract to build the county's second jail for a cost of $800. The jail is pictured (at right) with the courthouse. This view is from Main Street looking northwest.
The third jail was built in 1862 for a cost of $6,600. The jail was built by W.H. & M. W. Montgomery. No information can be found as to where exactly it was located.
During the construction of the third jail, the original one was sold for $32. It was demolished and later converted into the wagon repair shop of S.H. Williams.
The fourth jail was built in 1900. It was located at the northwest corner of the intersection of Water and Commerce Streets. This is where the parking lot for the current jail is located. The jail was built by Pauley Jail Building and Manufacturing Company. It cost approximately $30,000 to build.
Here is a picture of the jail in 1984. You notice that the dormers have been removed and the front porch has been changed. Also, if you look at the bottom left corner of the picture you can see the current jail as it is being constructed.
The current jail (pictured above) was built in 1984 for a cost of $1,355,306. It was designed to house 27 inmates. During Sheriff Robinette's administration there were problems with overcrowding in the jail. Sheriff Robinette double bunked most of the cells and brought the cell capacity to 47 with a maximum capacity with all isolation and receiving cells to 55 inmates.
In November of 2008 the voters of Jay County were asked their opinion on whether or not the Jay County Security Center should undergo an expansion due to overcrowding of the current facility. The issue was put on the ballot during the General Election and the citizens voted for an expansion.
In April of 2009, the former Ford dealership located on the southeast corner of Ship St. & Main St. was demolished in order to make room for the expansion. The contract for demolition was awarded to A. Landon Excavating of Portland for a cost just under $30,000.
In August of 2009 the contract for the expansion was awarded to Weigand Construction, a Ft. Wayne firm for a price of $7,320,000 and construction of the new part of the jail was completed in September of 2010. Remodeling of the old part was then started and was completed in January of 2011. Further changes came in July of 2011 when the existing parking lot was enlarged to make more parking.