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James O. Sikes, Charlton County's Sheriff

Charlton County Herald

By R. Ward Harrison, Editor

May 12, 1950

James O. Sikes, Charlton County’s veteran sheriff, who is known to his friends as “Jim”, is a native of Emanuel County, Ga. where he was born in 1890. He has been a resident of Charlton County since early youth coming here with his parents in 1907. His early years here were spent in the Newell community where his father was engaged in the naval stores industry. He attended the public schools of the county in the days of the one-teacher country schools.

His parents, Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Sikes, both now deceased, came to Georgia from Kershaw County, South Carolina. His father carried on extensive naval stores operations at Newell for several years, being one of the leading men of the community. After retiring from this business he moved to Hoboken, Brantley County, where he resided at the time of his death.

A member of a family of two brothers and two sisters, J.O. Sikes now has one brother, W.T. Sikes who resides at Miami. A sister, Mrs. A.A. Allen, also lives in Florida.

Soon after his marriage to Miss Estelle Gowen, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. G.R. Gowen, Sr. of this city, Mr. and Mrs. Sikes went to Melbourne, Fla. to make their home where he had a position with the Sun Oil Co. In 1926, after living at Melbourne for only a short time, Mrs. Sikes was severely injured in an auto accident which caused them to move back to Folkston to live.

Shortly after their return here Mr. Sikes was appointed to the position of County policeman. That was in the hectic rum-running days of prohibition when liquor cars crowded the highways like a circus parade. At first Officer Sikes was mounted on a motorcycle which snorted up and down the roads from daylight to dark and he was often into the hours of night on the trail of the liquor haulers. Later he was provided with an automobile with which to carry on his duties as a traffic officer and general county policeman, making things so hot for the rum-runners that they began to detour around the county in the final days of prohibition.

Mr. Sikes continued on the job as county policeman until 1932 when he was elected as Sheriff of Charlton County. He has been re-elected to this important office without a break up to the present time, now being one of the county’s oldest officers in years of service to his credit. During Sheriff Sikes’ long tenure Charlton has become widely known as one of the state’s most crime-free county with its Superior Court hardly ever lasting longer than one day.

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