Hamilton County Sheriff's Office Masthead
Former Sheriffs

The Sheriffs of Hamilton County
Portrait of Sheriff Thomas Selman.

Thomas Oscar Selman was born on August 5, 1874, in Crystal Spring County, Georgia and was educated in Floyd County and in the Chattanooga Public School system. He came to Chattanooga to live with his brother, Dr. Joseph Selman after the death of their father. Selman had many successful business ventures. He operated Selman & Company, a livery business and was also an enthusiastic promoter of the Chattanooga Interstate Fair.

Supporters accurately predicted that Selman’s keen business savvy would lend itself well to the office of sheriff. “His first bills for jail costs were so enthusiastically received that his friends gave a party for him at the jail and presented him with a golden badge and a nickel-plated 38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver. The frugal report, according to aquaintances, showed that “deputies were not involved in fee-grabbing and that arrests were of a serious nature.”

Selman had defeated Horace Humphreys for the sheriff’s office in 1924. After serving in the office for two years he acquired an interest in the Chapman Funeral Home. Later, when the company merged with Wann funeral Home, he remained on as director. In 1934, he re-entered politics and held the office of court clerk for two terms.

Selman was known primarily for his independent career. Although he was a lifelong Democrat, friends and admirers claimed that he belonged to the “silk stocking” element. He communicated well with citizens from all social backgrounds and was well-respected. He was a member of several organizations including the Chattanooga Half Century Club, the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, the Free and Accepted Masons, and the Alhambra Shriners. Selman attended Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church.

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