Oliver James Meade

Meade, O J

Appointed: 1885 – 1889

Oliver James Meade was born in 1848 in the Northern Division of Brunswick County, Virginia, to Oliver H. and Mary E. Meade. The Meade family had been inhabitants of Brunswick County since the 18th century.

In January of 1864, at the age of sixteen, Meade enlisted and became a Private in I Company, 3rd Regiment, Wickham's Brigade, Virginia Calvary of the Army of Virginia, Confederate States of America. Meade served with distinction in many engagements Wickham's Brigade was involved in.

During the latter part of the war, he was twice wounded in combat. While the peace was begun at Appomattox Courthouse, Meade was in the field on a scouting mission and upon learning of the surrender turned himself in to the Union forces. After Meade was discharged, he returned to Brunswick County to help with the family farm. In December of 1868, Meade boarded a ship to California via the Isthmus of Panama. Meade arrived in San Francisco on February 1, 1869, and moved to Stanislaus County where he raised livestock. Meade returned to Virginia in 1871, then arrived back in Stanislaus County in 1872, and was in Fresno County by 1873. Meade was the ranch foreman on several large Fresno County ranches from 1873 through 1879.

In 1879, Meade was elected Constable for Township Four and in 1882 for Township Three where he served until 1884. Meade enjoyed a reputation for being a fearless, diligent Constable who tirelessly pursued law breakers. In 1884, Oliver James Meade was elected by the people of Fresno County to be their Sheriff and served until 1889. Meade went to work for the Southern Pacific Railroad after he left office, serving as a Detective and finishing his career as the Agent in Charge of the Tulare County Depot in Goshen. Meade died in Goshen on July 17, 1932 and was buried at the Mountain View Cemetery in Fresno.

Upon becoming Sheriff, Meade expanded upon the good work he did as Constable. Meade worked in close cooperation with the Constables throughout the county to bring those wanted by law into custody. Meade enjoyed unprecedented success with the Board of Supervisors in receiving authorization to hire additional Deputy Sheriffs. Sheriff Meade received his new jail on April 7, 1888, ending years of inadequate jail facilities.