On February 22, 2018, the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office honored Sheriff Joseph Lee Somerville Sr., who was the first African-American to be elected Sheriff in the state of Maryland. The event was held at the Elks Lodge, in California, Maryland, and presentations were made by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Fraternal Order of Police (FOP #7), and the St. Mary’s County Historical Society, and a special presentation was made by Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Gordon Johnson, from the Federal Bureau of Investigation-Baltimore Division. The event was co-hosted by the United Committee for Afro-American Contributions (UCAC), the NAACP, and Sheriff Tim Cameron; keynote speaker for the event was Charles County Sheriff Troy Berry.
Sheriff Somerville began his career as a Deputy Sheriff with the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office in 1966. By 1976, Sheriff Somerville had earned the rank of Lieutenant. In March of 1977, Sheriff Somerville was appointed Sheriff to finish out the term of Sheriff George Sanger, who died during his term. At the time of his appointment, there were five African-Americans holding the position of Sheriff in the United States. Sheriff Somerville finished out the remainder of the term, and in 1978 launched a vigorous election campaign; much of his campaign platform focused on leadership, experience, and integrity. Sheriff Somerville was successful in his campaign and was elected Sheriff of St. Mary’s County.
Sheriff Somerville continues to serve his community; he is currently a bailiff for Judge Karen H. Abrams of the St. Mary’s County Circuit Court. Sheriff Somerville is proud to be serving the citizens of St. Mary’s County, and having two of his sons follow in his footsteps; son Kevin retired from the Sheriff’s Office after serving for twenty-five years, and son Joseph is proudly carrying on his father’s legacy with over twenty-two years of service thus far with the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office.
For more exciting history of the oldest, continuously operating Sheriff’s Office in the nation, the “America’s First” history book, is available for purchase. The price of the hardback copy is $95, and the softbound copy is $35; both styles of the book can be purchased at the Sheriff’s Office located at 23150 Leonard Hall Drive, in Leonardtown, Maryland.
Images provided courtesy of the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office PIO
The Southern Maryland Chronicle is a local, small business entrusted to provide factual, unbiased reporting to the Southern Maryland Community. While we look to local businesses for advertising, we hope to keep that cost as low as possible in order to attract even the smallest of local businesses and help them get out to the public. We must also be able to pay employees(part-time and full-time), along with equipment, and website related things. We never want to make the Chronicle a “pay-wall” style news site.
To that end, we are looking to the community to offer donations. Whether it’s a one-time donation or you set up a reoccurring monthly donation. It is all appreciated. All donations at this time will be going to furthering the Chronicle through hiring individuals that have the same goals of providing fair, and unbiased news to the community. For now, donations will be going to a business PayPal account I have set-up for the Southern Maryland Chronicle, KDC Designs. All business transactions currently occur within this PayPal account. If you have any questions regarding this you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for all of your support and I hope to continue bringing Southern Maryland the best news possible for a very long time. — David M. Higgins II