William Gresham
Harrison County Sheriff's Department
Thursday, January 23, 1834

Age: 31
Served: 1 year, 1 month
Badge #:
Not Included
Not Included

Incident Details

Cause of Death:
Date/Time of Incident:
Thursday, January 23, 1834

Incident to Death Duration:
Same day
Incident Location:
Hill Road NW and Totten Ford Road NW
Incident County:
Incident Township:
Blue River
Weapon Used:
Edged weapon
Suspect Disposition:
Pardoned in 1840
Burial Place:
Lanesville Protestant Cemetery, Lanesville

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   Sheriff William Gresham was stabbed to death while attempting to serve an arrest warrant upon a subject.

   The subject had become enraged and disorderly after learning a whipping had been administered to his younger brother by a local school teacher in Blue River Township.

   When a local constable was unable to serve an arrest warrant that had been issued, Sheriff Gresham was summoned.

   While attempting to take the young man into custody, Sheriff Gresham was first shot and then stabbed several times with a knife before he died instantly.

   The suspect was arrested in Fredonia and convicted of manslaughter. In April 1835, he was sentenced to 21 years in prison and fined $1,000. Governor David Wallace pardoned him in 1840 and remitted the fine.

   Sheriff Gresham, a Whig from Lanesville, was in the second year of his two-year term in office as the ninth sheriff of Harrison County. He was survived by his wife, three sons, two daughters and mother.

   His uncle, Dennis Pennington (1776–1854), was appointed sheriff to serve the remainder of his nephew's term before being elected to serve a full two-year term himself.

   He was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1816, served in the Indiana General Assembly between 1816 and 1846 with 13 years in the Senate and five years in the House of Representatives and the first Speaker of the Indiana Senate (1816–1818).

   His middle son, Walter Quintin (1832–1895), was appointed to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Indiana (1869–1883) by President Ulysses S. Grant.

   Under President Chester A. Arthur, he served as the 31st Postmaster General (1883–1884) and 35th Secretary of the Treasury (1884–1884) before his appointment to a seat on the U.S. Circuit Courts for the Seventh Circuit (1884–1893) with concurrent service on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (1891–1893).

   He served until his death as the 33rd Secretary of State (1893–1895) under President Grover Cleveland.

Military Service

Indiana State Militia
Colonel (COL)

Historical Note

• Sheriff Gresham is the second known law enforcement line of duty death in Indiana.
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This officer, discovered in 2007, has not been submitted for consideration as an eligible line of duty death to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund by the Harrison County Sheriff's Department.

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