NewsLocal News


History of African American sheriffs elected to Leon County

Posted at 6:24 PM, Feb 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-10 09:54:17-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fl. (WTXL) — Throughout its history, three African Americans have been elected to Leon County Sheriff's Office.

"Phillip DeCoursey was the first African American sheriff elected in Leon County. He was elected in 1875, so just ten years after the Civil," said Dave Teems, a sergeant with the Leon County Sheriff's Office.

According to Teems, DeCoursey was only sheriff for nine months before succumbing to pneumonia. Then came John Stokes — the second African American to be elected Leon County Sheriff from 1875 to 1877.

"He was also as most people back in the day had two or three jobs he was also a blacksmith and a local minister as well. He was thought of so well by locals that's who they wanted to have their sheriff."

Teems said it was quite common for African Americans to be elected sheriffs during reconstruction.

"The demographics at that time when the slaves were freed were three to one African American to Caucasian and so you had a lot of elected officials that were black at that time."

It would be more than 100 years before the county saw its third African American Sheriff-- current Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil.