‘First’ female deputy isn’t

Stephanie Taylor Ferriell, Print Editor

Sooo, as it turns out, Abby Powers isn’t Washington County’s first female deputy after all. I guess that’s good and bad news … bad that my story was incorrect, but good that girl power was alive and well many years ago.

Not long after my story on Abby ran I received a phone call from John Hughes, author of a county historical book entitled “Reflections” and a wellspring of information about the county’s history. Then I received an email from County Historian Jeremy Elliott: “I just saw the front page of the paper and thought you might be interested to know about the attached article :)”

Said article was about one Gladys Barnett, a local resident born in 1899. On May 10, 1917, Miss Barnett was deputized by her father, Harry Barnett, who was then sheriff. The information at the Stevens Museum says: “Miss Barnett is the only woman in the state holding the position of deputy sheriff. For one so young the appointment is one of honor and distinction. She is a High School girl just at the end of her teens. Rides, shoots, drives a car and likes athletic sports. She is very capable, strong and fearless, qualities that will make her an efficient assistant.”

So, it seems Abby did indeed miss the mark of being Washington County’s first female deputy … by 101 years!

Read Stephanie's full column about the county's first female dupty in The Salem Leader, on newsstands this evening.


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