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Former sheriff’s belongings come home to Grant County

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A former Grant County sheriff’s belongings were returned home for an exhibit at Grant County Public Library. The small exhibit will be on display until Oct. 24.
Sheriff J. H. Leary served and protected Grant County from 1910 to 1913 as the 43rd sheriff of the county. Now, residents can see some equipment and historical items dating back to Grant County’s younger days.
In a case, a shotgun dated 1857, a bridle, photographs, a campaign poster and a book, “History of Grant County,” sit on display detailing some of the history of Leary’s term as sheriff.
“I’m big about saving the history of the office of the sheriff,” said Grant County Sheriff Chuck Dills.  
The saddle Leary used was appraised for $2,100 and dates back to the 20th century. Silver garnishes the horn and a name plate on the back of the saddle is silver, said Susan Nimersheim, library director. Leary’s name is also etched into the plate.
“This is just fascinating stuff; I mean, just look at that,” library patron Donna Dunn said while pointing at a saddle used by Leary to patrol Grant County.
Before making the library its temporary home, Nimersheim said most of the exhibit was donated by the Estate of J. J. Leary.
J. J. Leary was the son of the former Sheriff J. H. Leary. He was an attorney in Frankfort.
“The exhibit in the case has been in the family, but they felt like it needed to be in the county,” Nimersheim said.
The desk and some photos came from the sheriff’s office for the exhibit, according to Nimersheim. They will return to the sheriff’s office lobby when the exhibit ends, Dills said.
“I think the library is a perfect place to display items of local and historical interest,” Nimersheim said.
But for the rest of the exhibit, Nimersheim needs to find a new home for it in Grant County.
J. J. Leary donated once before — the desk on display was donated to the sheriff’s office in 1984.
In a letter penned to former Grant County Sheriff Charlie Hudson in 1988, Leary said his father worked hard to protect the county.
He said when Southern Railroad was “double tracked” in Grant County, laborers would drink and cause fights after work in the laborer’s camp.
Sheriff Leary had to put a stop to the brawls during his four-year term.
More displays should come to the library with the upcoming expansion, including three small study or meeting rooms and a giant meeting room for programs and larger meetings. Nimersheim said anyone who has antique or historical family items to display should contact her at the library.
Final approval for the expansion will be in November, Nimersheim said.

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