Joseph S. Smith

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This article is about the Jefferson County Sheriff. For other uses, see Joseph Smith.

Joseph S. Smith

Joseph S. Smith was the twenty-fifth Jefferson County Sheriff, taking office on September 1, 1888, succeeding Samuel Truss. He served through September 1, 1892.

Hawes murders and riot

In December 1888, the Sheriff's Office investigated the Hawes murders. The prime suspect, Richard Hawes, was found on a train and brought back to Jefferson County. While in the county jail, a mob rose up to lynch Hawes who was suspected to have killed his wife and two daughters. Sheriff Smith armed his men with shotguns to protect the jail and Hawes. Smith ordered the crowd to disburse and when they did not, he ordered his men to fire into the crowd. Ten people died that night, including Postmaster Maurice Throckmorton. Smith was arrested the next day for murder but was eventually acquitted, and served out his term.

Preceded by:
Samuel Truss
Jefferson County Sheriff
Succeeded by:
George Morrow


  • Works Progress Administration. "A Register of County Officials, Jefferson County, Alabama, 1819-1900". Birmingham Public Library. Copy transcribed by Carl O. Thomas in December, 2003 and reproduced in his "The Anderson Sheriffs of Jefferson County, Alabama" of 2004.
  • Past Sheriffs at, accessed August 27, 2007.