Monday, March 15, 2010

Sheriff Robert Sims “R. S.” Hurst

Here is my second entry on the History of Baxter County Sheriffs.

Robert Sims “R. S.” Hurst

Robert Sims “R. S.” Hurst was born April 11th, 1874, in Yellville, Marion County, Arkansas. In 1900, he moved to Henderson, Arkansas, and became a farmer and raised cattle. “R. S.” Hurst married Pauline Field, daughter of Captain J. M. Field & Onalda (Dyer) Field, in 1902. Additionally, along with his wife, he opened a small mercantile store in Henderson. The old store was located North of the Highway 62 Bridge, on the west side of Norfork Lake.

Robert and Pauline had two children:

• Robert Paul Hurst, born June 16th, 1903

• Mary Noll Hurst, born January 20th, 1915

In 1912, Robert was elected Sheriff of Baxter County and moved to Mountain Home September 12th of the same year in order to fulfill his duties. He served as Baxter County Sheriff from 1913-1921, which culminated in six successive terms. During this time, he oversaw the following incidents:

• January, 30th, 1913: The property dispute between Minnie (McFadden) Siler & the Siler family resulting in the murder of Mrs. Siler. Will Siler, brother-in-law, was convicted of the murder of his sister-in-law and pardoned January 13th, 1917.

• December 25th, 1915: The shooting of Howard Avry by Deputy Sheriff Alonzo Trimble. A grand jury was assembled and found Deputy Sheriff Alonzo Trimble shot in self-defense.

• January 13th, 1917: The shooting and subsequent killing of J. L. Spencer by Joe Frix. Their argument concerned trespassing & dragging logs over property lines. Joe Frix was acquitted.

• December 1st, 1917: The murder of mother & daughter, Ellen Cockrum & May Cockrum Smith, near Shipps Ferry. Ira Wilbur was indicted and was subsequently found not guilty and acquitted on an insanity plea.

• October 5th, 1919: The robbery & murder of Hughes Jackson by the hand of Sam Williams. After conviction, Governor Brough commuted the death sentence of the electric chair due to nervous disease & unstable mental condition. Sam Williams escaped a year later and was never captured, living the life of a transient.

• November 13, 1919: The shooting and murder of Victor Kleo Loba by the hand of T. T. Lee. While Mr. Loba was dining with his family at the dinner table, T. T. Lee shot the victim from an outside window. After a man hunt ensued, Mr. Lee was apprehended, brought to trail, convicted of murder, and sentenced for life. The Arkansas Supreme Court upheld the sentence. Governor Brough pardoned T. T. Lee.

• April 12th, 1920: The poisoning death of Howard Deason. Mary Kreeger was charged with the offence and found not guilty.

After this long tenure, Mr. Hurst decided to retire as Sheriff and accepted the position as a cashier at People’s Bank in Mountain Home, Arkansas. In 1923, Robert Hurst built a stone building on the east side of the Mountain Home square and opened a grocery store.

In 1925, Mr. Hurst ran for sheriff again; he was elected for his seventh term. During this time, he oversaw the following incidents:

• December 13th, 1925: Working in conjunction with Marion County of the Murder of Sarah Boyd, her granddaughter, and Charles Moore by the accused, Arnold Comer, 14 years of age. After confession and trial, Arnold Comer was sentenced to 21 years.

• May 22nd, 1927: A local farmer, N. W. Geffs, went temporally insane and shot C. M. Miller and Ed Harris. In the attempt to capture Geffs, Sheriff Hurst engaged in a shootout with the accused and wounds the suspect twice in attempting to capture him. C. M. Miller was taken to the hospital in Batesville and died a few weeks later due the infection in his wounds. N. W. Geffs was taken to the State Sanitarium and died a few months later.

• January 2nd, 1928: The arrest of T. C. Farlin, after he was accused of burning his house knowing his children were inside resulting in the death of 3 children. Mr. T. C. Farland was acquitted.

• February 20th, 1928: The investigation of the suspicious death of L. M. “Uncle Buck” Toney. After a preliminary hearing and investigation, a Marion County Justice reached a conclusion the death was due to natural causes.

Robert Hurst served honorably and passed away April 7th, 1928, in his eighth term. He is buried in the Mountain Home Cemetery.

The descendents of Robert Sims Hurst are still living in Baxter County, Arkansas.

Comments? Email me!

Works Cited:
Edge, Mary A. Was it Murder?: the Dark Side of Baxter County History. Mountain Home, AR: Baxter County Historical & Genealogical Society. 2005.
Messick, Mary A. History of Baxter County: Centennial Edition 1873-1973. Mountain Home, AR: Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce. International Graphics, Inc. Little Rock, AR, 1973.
Edge, Mary A. Of Grave Importance: The Cemeteries of Baxter County, Arkansas. Mountain Home, AR: Baxter County Historical & Genealogical Society. 1994.

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