Early History    Sheriff Keller    Sheriff Bechtel    Current Office & Personnel    Perkins County Sheriff's

Early History

    The County of Perkins located in Southwest Nebraska was established in November of 1887.  The County was named in honor of Charles E. Perkins, President of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad at the time of the County's organization and the County seat , Grant, was named after the President of the United States in office, Ulysses S. Grant.  Previously the Southern half of Keith County and also known as "South Keith", the township of Grant was established as the County seat in March 1886 through popular election.

    On February 3, 1888 the County Commissioners met and appointed the upstairs two rooms of the Lindenholm Bank to serve as the official Courthouse of Perkins County.  The west room was designated as the Clerk's office and the east room used for County Court and Sheriff's purposes.  In 1901 the Courthouse offices were moved into the First National Bank Building where they stayed until construction of the current Courthouse was completed in October of 1927.

    The first County Sheriff, L.A. Winchell, was appointed in 1888, and the first election for public offices took place on November 5, with E.H. Sexson becoming the first elected Sheriff to serve Perkins County.  Since its first appointed Sheriff 127 years ago there have been 21 men who filled the position.

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Sheriff Keller

    One of the more memorable individuals to serve as Sheriff was Myles S. Keller.  Myles was one of 19 children born to Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Keller.  He was elected County Treasurer for two consecutive terms and in November of 1922 was appointed to fill the vacancy of County Sheriff left by E.C. Klinck.  In 1924 he was elected to retain his office for another term.

    However, Halloween night 1924 Keller was called to the town of Elsie because residents believed that there could be some trouble after a dance that was being held there that evening.  With the company of Deputy Charles Lance, Sheriff Keller went to Elsie and upon arrival found a Mr. Albert Motsinger shooting into the streets from the local poolhall.

    Keller told Motsinger to put his hands up, but Motsinger hesitated.  On the second request by Sheriff Keller, Motsinger fired a .25 caliber automatic pistol through his coat pocket wounding Keller.  The soft-nosed bullet pierced Keller through the stomach and bowels tearing the flesh.  Keller returned fire, with the bullet striking Motsinger in the shoulder and being deflected downward entering a lung.

    Keller proceeded to handcuff and search Motsinger before he collapsed.  Both injured men were taken to the North Platte Hospital.  Motsinger died on November 5, 1924 and Keller died from complications due to his wounds on November 9, 1924.  Keller's funeral took place in Grant and was noted to be the largest in attendance to that date in Perkins County.

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    Sheriff Bechtel

    Howard Bechtel was another noteworthy individual who served as Sheriff. 

    Bechtel came to Perkins County with his parents in 1890.  He was married in December 1907 to Zata Smith of Fairmont, Nebraska.  The couple settled on a farm south of Madrid, and later traded this farm for a blacksmith shop in town because he was a highly skilled blacksmith.

    In the fall of 1935 he was elected Sheriff.  During World War II he served as a Federal Investigator in Pearl Harbor from 1943 to 1945.  Upon his return from Pearl Harbor he resumed his job as Sheriff and continued to serve Perkins County and its residents until his 80th birthday. 

    Sheriff Bechtel was once quoted as saying that "his favorite sports were boxing and wrestling (he was well known for his above average strength and ability) and that his hobby was his work as a peace officer."

    Howard Bechtel died at the age of 92 on August 5, 1978.

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Current Office & Personnel

    Currently the Perkins County Sheriff's Office is located on the third floor of the Perkins County Courthouse in Grant, Nebraska.  The current Courthouse does not have jail facilities so all prisoners are transported and held at the Keith County Jail in Ogallala, Nebraska.

    There are currently six people on staff at the Perkins County Sheriff's Office on a full-time basis.  This staff includes: Sheriff James D. Brueggeman, Sergeant Casey D. Griffin, Deputy Jeffrey S. Miller, Deputy Andrew B. Chamness, Community Service Officer Angel M. Anderson, and Administrative Assistant Karon Harris.

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Perkins County Sheriffs

L.A. Winchell (Appointed) 1888-1890
E.H. Sexson 1890-1892
Thomas W. Hull 1892-1896
George Cockel 1896-1900
W.K. Selby 1900-1904
W.J. Watkins 1904-1910
F.L. Keller 1910-1915
O.A. Oliphant 1915-1919
Luther McCormick 1919-1921
E.C. Klinck (Appointed to McCormick Vacancy) 1921-1923
E.C. Klinck (Resigned Same Year As Elected) 1923
Myles Keller (Shot In Line of Duty & Died) 1923-1924
Charles Lance (Filled Out Keller Term) 1924-1927
Harry F. Miller 1927-1935
Howard Bechtel 1935-1944
Thurston Bechtel (Served while his brother Howard Bechtel was in government service in Hawiian Islands during World War II, later served as County Judge) 1944-1946
Howard Bechtel 1945-1962
Anton Nowak 1962-1978
David Deaver 1978-1982
Jim Crown 1982-1986
Wendell Shalla 1986-1992
David Deaver (Appointed to Shalla Vacancy) 1992-1994
David Deaver 1994-1998
Mark W. Bottom 1998-2006
James D. Brueggeman (Served while Mark Bottom was deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom, later appointed County Sheriff) 2004-2006
James D. Brueggeman 2007-Present

Most of the information for this page was obtained through the records of the Perkins County Historical Society and the Perkins County Clerk.

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