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History of the Wright County Sheriff's Office
Presentation to the Annandale History Club
March 4, 2013
Sheriff Joe Hagerty

Sheriff Joe Hagerty introduced Gary Miller, former Wright County Sheriff, and Mike Erickson, who worked at the jail as a corrections officer for 19 years.

The office of sheriff has a history that spans more than 1,300 years starting in England sometime before the year 700 AD.  The concept of the sheriff was brought to this country by the early colonists.  The sheriff is elected to a four-year term and is the chief law enforcement officer in each of the 87 counties in Minnesota.  Wright County has the third largest law enforcement agency in Minnesota. 


Since 1855 Wright County has had 27 sheriffs in 158 years.  12 of the sheriffs were initially appointed by the county commissioners and 15 were elected.  The sheriff’s term changed from two years to four years in the early 1900s. 

March 3, 1849:  Minnesota became a Territory.

February 20, 1855:  Wright County was established.

1855:  Herbert W. McCrory was appointed the first Wright County sheriff at the first board of commissioners meeting at Monticello.  He served three months and resigned to be a county commissioner.    

1855:  Joseph C. Walker was appointed sheriff July 2, 1855.  He served six months.

1856:  George M. Bertram was elected and assumed office January 1, 1856.  He served four years.   In April 1959 a jury found Oscar Jackson not guilty in the murder of Henry Wallace.  While in Sheriff Bertram’s custody, Jackson was taken by an armed mob and killed.  Governor Sibley called law enforcement in Wright County powerless and sent military troops to restore order.  This incident is known as the Wright County War.

1858:  Minnesota became a state May 11, 1858.

1860:  W. Smith Brookins was elected sheriff and assumed office January 1, 1860.

1862:  Harvey S. Brookins was elected sheriff.  He assumed office January 1, 1862 and served eight months.

1862:  L.C. Pickins was appointed sheriff September 2, 1862.  He served five months.

1863:  D. S. Calkins was appointed sheriff February 12, 1863.   He served almost 11 months.  He had previously served as a Wright County commissioner from 1860 to 1863. 

1864:  Charles Judson was elected and assumed office January 1, 1864.  He served 14 months of his two-year term.

The early sheriffs operated out of businesses in downtown Monticello.  The Wright County commissioners met at Monticello Academy.

1865:  H.W. Brookins was appointed March 16, 1865.  He served over nine months. 

1866:  H.W. Fuller was elected and assumed office January 1, 1866.

1868:  Isaac S. Crooks was elected and assumed office January 1, 1868.  Crooks received 784 votes and his opponent, James Cochran received 594 votes.  He served over thirteen months.

March 23, 1868:  Wright County Commissioners met for the first time in the new county seat of Buffalo.  Buffalo provided a rent-free courthouse for five years.  At the end of the rent-free period, the county bought the two-story, 24 by 63 foot frame building.

1869:  William H. Lord was appointed February 16, 1869.  He served ten months.

1870:  John C. Nugent (1846-1905) was elected and assumed office January 1, 1870.  He served 27 years (not consecutively).  He was re-elected in 1891 and 1897.

January 1, 1878:  A new courthouse in Buffalo was occupied by the county officers. The two-story square brick courthouse with mansard roof and domed tower was built by Wright County in 1877. 

1889:  Mark M. Woolley was elected and took office January 1, 1889.  A robbery at the Wright County courthouse took place during his tenure. 

1891:  John C. Nugent was again elected and assumed office January 1, 1891.

1893:  George C. Carpenter (1855-?) was elected sheriff and assumed office January 1, 1893.  He served four years.  He served in the state senate 1907-1914.

1897:  John C. Nugent was again elected and assumed office January 1, 1897.

1903:  William G. Young (?-1918) was elected and assumed office January 1, 1903.  He served as sheriff two years.  He was sheriff during the South Haven Bandit Raid in October 1903.  He later served as deputy to Sheriff John C. Nugent, Jr.

1905:  Angus H. Grant (1860-1918) was elected in November 1904 and assumed office January 1, 1905.  He ran unopposed.  He served 13 years and resigned in 1918.    

1918:  John C. Nugent, Jr. (1875-1922) was appointed to replace Sheriff Grant.  On July 22, 1922, Sheriff Nugent, age 47, was killed at Dickinson Siding (now Dickinson Springs) five miles south of Buffalo at 1:30 a.m. while investigating what he thought was a burglary at the creamery.  Sheriff Nugent was shot by the creamery owner who thought the sheriff was a burglar.  Sheriff Nugent had been in law enforcement more than 20 years.  He had been deputy to his father for six of those years.   

1922:  Anthony Malone (?-1945) was appointed.  Two months later he lost an election.

1923:  Carl A. Anderson (1875-?) was elected and assumed office January 1, 1923.  He served two four-year terms.  He had been a deputy since 1919 and served under Sheriff John C. Nugent, Jr.  He was at Dickinson Siding with Sheriff Nugent the night he was shot.   Carl Anderson lost the election of 1930 and accepted the position of deputy sheriff.

1931:  Paul Kritzeck (1884-1951) was elected in November 1930 and assumed office January 1, 1931.  He was re-elected five times and was in his 21st year as Wright County sheriff when he died in the line of duty.  Sheriff Kritzeck died in a car crash one-quarter mile east of Howard Lake on August 16, 1951.  Many of Sheriff Kritzeck’s descendants (two sons, a grandson, and three great-grandsons) and other relatives have served in law enforcement.    

1951:  Willard Kritzeck (1918-2008), Sheriff Paul Kritzeck’s son, was a deputy sheriff when he was appointed sheriff in August 1951.  He served over 12 years.  He later served as Winsted police chief.

1959:  The first section of the current courthouse or government center was completed in June.  There were additions in 1971, 1974, and 1980.

1963:  James H. Kreitlow (1926-1963) was elected and assumed office January 1, 1963.  He had served nine years as deputy sheriff.  On August 8, 1963, after eight months in office, Sheriff Kreitlow, age 37, died in the line of duty.  He suffered a heart attack while serving civil papers.

1963:  Darrell Wolff (1932-1989) was appointed sheriff by the Wright County commissioners.  He served 26 consecutive years.  He started his law enforcement career working part-time with the Annandale Police Department.  Sheriff Wolff started the Wright County Reserve Unit in the 1960s.  The Sheriff’s Reserves  assist deputies at community events and also during searches.  Sheriff Wolff died in office July 26, 1989.

1969:  Cokato was the first of 13 of 16 cities in Wright County to contract with the Wright County Sheriff’s office.  Annandale, Buffalo, and Howard Lake have police departments.

1989:  Donald J. Hozempa was appointed sheriff on August 3, 1989, and won re-election bids three times.  After 27 years in the Sheriff’s Office including nearly 11 years as sheriff, Don Hozempa resigned May 26, 2000, with two years remaining on his current term.       

2000:  Gary L. Miller was appointed sheriff May 26, 2000, and served as sheriff over 10 ½ years.  He had been a Wright County peace officer for 36 years.  He started in ethe Sheriff’s Office in 1975. The new Wright County Law Enforcement Center was completed during Sheriff Miller’s tenure. 

2009:  The Wright County Law Enforcement Center, including the Sheriff’s Office and jail, was built on 89 acres in the City of Buffalo and opened in 2009.    

2011:  Joe Hagerty was elected sheriff and assumed office January 3, 2011.  Joe Hagerty was hired by  Sheriff Darrel Wolff in 1985 and served as Chief Deputy under Sheriff Gary Miller.  Link to:

The county is divided into quadrants and 24-hour coverage is provided in Wright County townships.  Wright County townships are Albion, Buffalo, Chatham, Clearwater, Cokato, Corinna, Franklin, French Lake, Maple Lake, Marysville, Middleville, Monticello, Rockford, Silver Creek, Southside, Stockholm, Victor and Woodland. 

The Sheriff’s Office serves the unincorporated portions of 18 townships and the 13 cities that contract with the Sheriff’s Office.  The cities are Albertville, Clearwater, Cokato, Delano, Maple Lake, Monticello, Montrose, Otsego, St. Michael, South Haven, Waverly, and the Wright County portions of Hanover and Rockford.  Annandale, Buffalo and Howard Lake have police departments.  Deputies are in five school districts nine months each year.       

Notes by Annandale History Club Secretary