Former Sheriffs

Jay Scott

Scott, Jay

Appointed: 1893 – 1899

Jay Scott was born on January 13, 1850 in Will County, Illinois to J.H. and Anna Chamberlain Scott. In 1852, the Scott family crossed the plains in an ox-drawn wagon and settled in the Sacramento Valley where the family farmed.

Scott left the family farm as a young man and went to work for the railroad until he grew tired of it. Scott and his family arrived in Fresno in 1888 and he engaged in business and the acquisition of land.

In the early 1890s, Scott moved to his land in the Lone Star precinct. He placed the land under cultivation, successfully planting vineyards and orchards. Scott married Lillian Burch of Tulare County and had four children. Scott was a staunch Republican; active in county political affairs. He was a charter member of the Elks and a member of the I.O.O.F. Jay Scott died on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 1921 in Fresno and was cremated.

Jay Scott was elected Sheriff on Nov. 8, 1892, and assumed office on Jan. 2, 1893. Scott served two and four year terms of office. The 1890's were a decade of social and economic upheaval; crime in Fresno County was a manifestation of that upheaval. Sheriff Scott and his Deputies had the enviable record of a one hundred percent arrest and prosecution rate for those accused of murder during his term of office.

Sheriff Scott carried out the only lawful execution in the history of Fresno County. On December 18, 1890, Frank O. Vincent tried to persuade his estranged wife Annie to withdraw her suit for divorce. Mrs. Vincent declined and Mr. Vincent offered her a vial of poison, which she refused. Vincent arose drawing a revolver, told Annie, "Take this then," pointed the revolver at her and fired. Vincent fired four shots in all with three taking effect, Annie died almost immediately. Vincent was arrested at the scene, tried, convicted, and sentenced to hang. The scaffold, which had been used five times, was provided by Sheriff Broughton of Santa Barbara County and erected behind the jail. Vincent was executed on Oct. 27, 1893 with the signal from Sheriff Scott to Undersheriff Berry to drop the trapdoor at 11:59 a.m. Sheriff Scott and his Deputies ended the stock stealing, and burglarizing careers of the infamous James-Dilwood Boys with 11 out of 13 members arrested, convicted, and sent to the state prison.

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