Tag Archives: Thomas Elmer Goodwin

Was Lillie Cox Ladd the Roane County Sheriff?

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

It has been claimed that Lillie Cox Ladd, the grandmother of the late Senator Howard H. Baker, Jr., was the first woman sheriff in Roane County and Tennessee. This has been told in many different forms and versions. (Senator Howard Baker, Jr.) Pictured to the right. However, most of this information has been proven wrong by using primary documents. Criss J. Ladd (1876-1927) had been elected Roane County sheriff in September 1926.

However, he was sick most of his term. In April 1927, Criss J. Ladd and his wife, Lillie, went to a hospital in Effingham, Illinois for treatment. After leaving Criss there, Lillie returned to Roane County. On her way back, she received word that 12 prisoners had escaped from the Roane County jail. In the newspaper article, John Hendricks was listed as the acting sheriff. When she returned, she went unarmed with a prisoner, Herman Edwards, in search of the prisoners. She found two of them and convinced Leonard and Willis Edwards, who were related to Herman Edwards, to surrender and return to jail. Criss J. Ladd died June 24, 1927, in Roane County.

In Tennessee, when a sheriff died or resigned, the coroner automatically becomes acting sheriff. In this case, it was Thomas Elmer Goodwin who became sheriff. It was the second time that Mr. Goodwin had to assume the acting position as sheriff. At the July 4th, 1927 meeting of the Roane County Court, Criss’s brother, Frank L. Ladd was selected as sheriff to finish out his brother’s term. Lillie may have been “acting as sheriff,” but she never held the position of official sheriff as had been told.

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, June 2018.