The Nevada County Sheriff’s Office honors the brave men and women in law enforcement who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to serve and protect their communities. Peace Officer Memorial Day is held annually in the United States on May 15 in honor of federal, state, and local officers killed or disabled in the line of duty. It is observed in conjunction with Police Week.
In Nevada County, we honor these brave men who paid the ultimate sacrifice to serve our community.
Sheriff W.W. Wright- End of Watch (EOW) Monday, November 3, 1856
Sheriff Wright’s name is engraved at the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington DC, on the East side, Panel 58, Row 1.
Sheriff W.W. Wright and City Marshal David Johnson were both killed by gunfire in a crossfire while attempting to apprehend jail escapees in Nevada City, CA.
Sheriff Wright otherwise known as “Boss Wright” came to the US from England and became our Sheriff in 1854 after participating in several mining ventures. In July 1856, a fire swept through Nevada City, and it became apparent the courthouse, which housed the jail at the time, was likely to burn. Sheriff Wright showed his character when he put himself in danger to release several inmates who were trapped inside the jail. Sheriff Wright released several inmates but collapsed from smoke inhalation. One of the inmates, George Lewis, who was being held for murder, thankfully pulled our Sheriff to safety.
Later that year, on November 2, 1856, outlaw Jim Webster escaped from the Nevada County Jail with several other inmates from the Tom Bell gang. Sheriff Wright formed a posse with City Marshal David Johnson to locate the inmates. Unbeknownst to them, a second posse had secreted in the remote area at Gold Ravine, near Gold Flat. Sheriff Wright and Marshal Johnson also went to the area and became suspicious when they found horses tied to a tree. As members of the second posse approached their horses they were confronted by Sheriff Wright and his posse. The two posses exchanged gunfire in a case of mistaken identity and both Sheriff Wright and Marshal Johnson were killed by friendly fire. Sheriff Wright passed away from his injuries of Nov. 3 and Marshal Johnson on the following day, Nov. 4.
Sheriff William H. Pascoe-End of Watch (EOW) Friday, June 30, 1893
Sheriff Pascoe’s name is engraved at the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington DC, on the East side, Panel 20, Row 8.
Sheriff Pasco, age 52, originally from Cornwall, England was murdered by gunfire in Grass Valley, CA. Sheriff William Pascoe was shot and killed by an escaped convict in downtown Grass Valley at approximately 10:00 pm.
Sheriff Pascoe and Grass Valley Constable Richards attempted to contact a tramp wanted for shooting and killing a train brakeman from Gold Run. Sheriff Pascoe located the suspect in the yard of Lakenan’s Foundry, where Sheriff Pascoe was shot at point-blank range in the chest and died at the scene. The suspect was last seen running up Bank Alley to Auburn Street. He was later arrested, convicted, and hanged in San Quentin Prison for a murder he committed in San Francisco.
Sheriff Pascoe had served with the Nevada County Sheriff's Office for seven months and had previously served as the marshal of Grass Valley for four years. He was survived by his wife and eight children.
Sheriff David Fulton Douglass- End of Watch (EOW) Sunday, July 26, 1896
Sheriff Douglass’ name is engraved at the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington DC, on the West side, Panel 22, Row 16.
Sheriff Douglass, age 38, was murdered by gunfire in Nevada City, CA.
Sheriff David Douglass went into the wilds of Cement Hill, accompanied only by a tracking dog, in search of a bandit suspected in a string of robberies. The next morning, however, noticing that the dog returned to town alone, a search party was organized. They found the Sheriff’s body, and not too far from him, the body of the bandit he was looking for. Both men were dead, each shot multiple times, but after careful examination, the Sheriff had been shot from behind, presumably by the bandit’s partner.
Forty years later, a monument was erected on the spot which says, among other things, “It is believed that Sheriff Douglass was pitted against two and that one escaped”.
Sheriff Douglass had served with the Nevada County Sheriff's Office for six years and was survived by his wife, child, mother, father, and siblings.