Sheriff John Wesley Roberson

Sheriff John Wesley Roberson

Pierce County Sheriff's Office, Georgia

End of Watch Tuesday, August 23, 1921

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John Wesley Roberson

Sheriff J.W. Roberson was shot and killed while tracking a suspected horse thief. The suspect's wife had tipped Sheriff Roberson and his posse off that the suspect was hiding in the swamps near Patterson. The posse was tracking the suspect when Sheriff Roberson noticed a column of smoke rising from a wooded area. Thinking that the smoke might be coming from the thief's camp, Sheriff Roberson left the posse to investigate.

When Sheriff Roberson reached the source of the smoke, he discovered that its source was not a camp but a large moonshine still manned by several men. Two of the moonshiners, who were aware of Sheriff Roberson's reputation for cracking down on illegal stills, immediately opened fire on him. Several members of the posse heard the shots and rushed to his assistance, but Sheriff Roberson succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds within minutes of the incident.

Eighteen people were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy in the murder of Sheriff Roberson, including the horse thief that he had originally been tracking. The horse thief was cleared of the charges, but at least one of the suspects was tried and convicted of murdering the sheriff. That suspect was sentenced to death but later received a new trial and was sentenced to life. He was pardoned by Governor Richard Russell on January 10, 1933.

J.W. Roberson had served as the sheriff of Pierce County for over 14 years. He was survived by his wife and 10 children, including a son, Olin, who was appointed to fill the position of sheriff after his father's death.

He is buried in Blackshear.


  • Age 55
  • Tour 14 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Pardoned in 1933

alcohol violation, larceny

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If anyone is family to this man please contact me, because I'm his family also and I'm interested in reaching out and learning more about my family history. [email protected]

Rebecca Durrence
Great great great granddaughter

November 27, 2023

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