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The Sheriffs of Hamilton County
Portrait of Frank Newell
1963 - 1968/1974 - 1976

Gilbert Frank Newell was appointed sheriff of Hamilton County on April 29, 1963, by the quarterly county court He was appointed to finish James “Bookie” Turner’s last term which ended early when he was elected Fire and Police Commissioner of Chattanooga.

At the time of Newell’s appointment, the Chattanooga News- Free Press referred to him as a “friendly, pleasant gentleman. It will be necessary for the public to wait and see, before an evaluation can be made of the kind of office Mr. Newell will run as sheriff.”

After five successive years, and later another two year term, Hamilton County found out what kind of sheriff they had. In 1963, Newell appointed deputies to a horse patrol. In June of the same year, he petitioned criminal court for the authority to pay informants for information leading to the arrest of criminals. A request before its time, this idea was turned down. Also under Newell’s direction, a car-theft ring was uncovered and the kingpin of the operation, Sam Johnson, was arrested in July of 1963.

In August of 1964 Newell was re-elected by the people to a full two-year term as sheriff of Hamilton County. During his re-election campaign, Newell openly opposed bringing metro government into the area.

Observing illegal moonshine stash. After his re-election, the sheriff went on a moonshine still rampage. Known as the “still raiders”, he and his deputies destroyed numerous stills operating on Flat Top Mountain, Tiftonia, and in Birchwood. Besides destroying thousands of gallons of moonshine whiskey, the sheriff also organized several raids of gaming houses.

Adding to Newell’s successful record, he directed the tracking and six hour chase of two men who had burglarized and looted 30 to 40 East Brainerd Homes which resulted in the capture and arrest of the burglars.

Sheriff Newell poses for article involving a fugitive's arrest.
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