Yates County Jail, built in 1857, on the site of the current Courthouse.

1787  On February 19 the New York State Legislature rules that all sheriffs are to be appointed annually by the Council of Appointment, and that no person can hold the office for more than four successive years.  The sheriff also, may hold no other office and must be a freeholder in the county to which appointed.  In 1821 the legislature decides to make the position elective.  Sheriffs are now chosen for terms of three years, and are ineligible for the next succeeding term.

1823  Yates County was brought into existence by an act of the Legislature of the State of New York on February 5.  The area was formerly the southern part of Ontario County, and was formed for “the convenience of the majority of the people”.  The act appointed John Sutton of Tompkins County, George H. Feeter of Herkimer County, and Joseph B.Walton of Otsego County to be commissioners for the “purpose of examining and impartially determining the proper site or sites for a court-house and gaol”.  Until the “gaol be completed” it was stated in the act that prisoners should be confined in the jail of Ontario County.  Abraham Wagener donates two acres of land for the county buildings to be built on.  This, along with fact that it is the largest town in the new area, helps Penn Yan win the county seat.  A nine member Board of Supervisors was formed for the county to raise money for the courthouse and jail.  They established a goal of $2,500 dollars for each the first and second year.  James P. Robinson of Middlesex was elected as the first Sheriff on April 8 and was sworn into office on April 23.

1824  A combination courthouse and jail was completed.  The project kept within the 5000 dollar budget, and was equipped with county offices, Sheriff Robinson’s Office and six jail cells.  It was located on the site of the old Courthouse, which is now attached to the new County Office Building.

1834  The court house, office and jail was destroyed by fire.  Unknown how started.

1835  A new courthouse was built on the same site, and the jail and office for Sheriff Ketchum was separate from the county offices.  It was located nearer to Liberty Street. 1857  The Sheriff’s Office and county jail was once again destroyed by fire.  It was started by one of the inmates, Albert Hathaway of Barrington, who ironically was in jail for Arson at the time.  He was arrested for the crime, but later acquitted on the plea of insanity.  Sheriff Daniel Lanning was able to evacuate all prisoners.  A new jail was built the same year.  It was “constructed of stone, covered with a coating of plastic material”.  The cells were constructed with “solid cast-iron fronts”.  Reports of the cost vary from $8000 to $10,200 dollars.  This jail was located where the current flagpole for the County Complex stands today.

1904  After much local debate the office and jail was demolished, and a new one was built just north of it on the corner of Liberty and Court Street.  It had double bunked cells with both female and juvenile cells upstairs.  It could totally hold 28 inmates.  Sheriff Elias Pulver and his family resided in the front part with the Sheriff’s Office separating the residence from the jail cells.  The Sheriff and family (wife as jail matron and cook) continued in residence.  Sheriff George Spike and family were the last to reside here, leaving in 1977.  The jail was renovated for occupation by the County Public Health Dept., Civil Service and other agencies until its demolition on January 8, 2001 to make way for new county office building expansion.  The oak fire places with mirrors were saved with one installed in the new court house judges chamber.  The other to the Public Safety Building.

Yates County Jail, built in 1904, on the site of the current new County Office Building extension.


Current Yates County Public Safety Building and Jail, Opening in May 1977. 

1977  The Yates County Sheriff’s Office and county jail are relocated to the present day Yates County Public Safety Building.  The building also houses the Office of Emergency Mgt./Fire Coordinator and the Probation Department.  The P.S.B. jail held a maximum of 44 inmates, both male and female, including four cells dedicated to a lock-up which is mainly used by the Penn Yan Police.  It has a full service kitchen and laundry facility.  In 1988 a 16 bed dormitory was added.  With renovations the present day maximum is 62.  Beginning in 1994 Sheriff Ron Spike renovated several areas: a female employee locker room, 911 communications center, new jail control and visitation area, evidence room, jail training room, storage rooms, improved C.I.D. area, and administrative offices.

1999  Three additional beds were added to the jail basement dorm and/bunk beds added to the trusty dorm making the total jail bed space at 65.

2002  The probation Department left the Public Safety Building for space in the County Court House and the OEM Director/Fire Coordinator along with EMS Coordinator took over this area.  The former offices were renovated for the Chief 911 Dispatcher and the Youth Officer.  Other areas created were an office for the ATI Coordinator, storage for housekeeping, and an area for the Civil Sergeant.

First uniform patch worn by Yates County Sheriff's Deputies from early 1940's through 1959.  Prior to this, Deputies wore plain clothes.

Uniform patch worn by Yates County Sheriff's Deputies beginning in 1960.

Uniform patch from 1965 until 1970, Sheriff star across New York State seal. 

Uniform patch worn in the 1970s and 1980s.

In the 1990s the background changed to black.  In 2000 the patch was changed to its current form, for the first time using the County Seal instead of the NYS seal.  

Sheriffs of Yates County

James P. Robinson 1823 - 1825

Perry W. Danes      1889 - 1891
Ebenezer Brown  1826 - 1828

William T. Beaumont 1892 - 1894
Miles Benham  1829 - 1831

John W. Smith      1895- 1897
Alfred Brown  1832 - 1834

J. Robert Miller  1898 - 1900
Joseph Ketchum  1835 - 1837

Edmund Crosby    1901 - 1903
Uriah Hanford  1838 - 1840

Elias F. Pulver  1904 - 1906
Jeremiah B. Andrews 1841 - 1843

Delmar J. Knapp  1907 - 1909
Smith D. Mallory 1844 - 1846

John S. Thompson  1910 - 1912
Martin Holmes  1847 - 1849

L. R. Bates    1913 - 1915
George Wagener  1850 - 1852

Milon H. Ayers   1916 - 1918
Nathanial Squire 1853 - 1855

Case W. Blodgett 1919 - 1921
Daniel Lanning  1856 - 1858

Edward T. Watkins 1922 - 1924
William T. Remer 1859 - 1861

Milton L. Rapalee 1925 - 1927
John Underwood  1862 - 1864

Dewitt G. Rogers 1928
Joseph Crosby  1865 - 1867

James L. Robinson  1928
George Wagener  1868 - 1870

Milton L. Rapalee 1929 - 1931
John L. Dinturff 1871 - 1873

Jay W. Fitzwater 1932 - 1934
Theodore Bogart  1874 - 1876

Charles Kipp   1935 - 1937
Spencer Clark  1877 - 1879

Jay W. Fitzwater  1938 - 1958
Charles Bell  1880 - 1882

George F. Spike   1959 - 1981
Charles Speelman 1883 - 1885

Jan S. Scofield    1981 - 1991
Michael A. Pearce 1886 - 1888

Ronald G. Spike    1992 - present