Eatonville’s Town Marshals (1909-1969)

Sheriff Jim Smith's patrol car with two-way radio (ca. 1951)
Sheriff Jim Smith's patrol car with two-way radio (ca. 1951)

With all the news about Eatonville’s police department lately, I thought it might be a good time to look back at the town’s law enforcement.

Moving through Marshals
Eatonville has had its ups and down with law enforcement since 1907, when the first town marshall was appointed — L. E. Martin. Martin’s job wasn’t glamorous. “He was not only the marshall but was instructed by the clerk or the mayor to do such things as ‘remove a bench from in front of  the liquor store, as it was a nuisance,’ and to ‘push over the out house at the Columbia Cafe, and fill in the excavation’ on a certain date if the owner didn’t make improvements.”

Marshals came and went. In the early years, they didn’t seem to stay more than a year.

“On September 7, 1925, Dollar LaPlante was marshal. He was sent to check on a shooting spree by a drunk. He came unarmed, the man pulled a gun and LaPlante was killed. The man was convicted and sent to prison.”

“In October 1939, the marshal asked that a lavatory be built in the town hall so it wouldn’t be necessary to take the prisoners out and also that a steel door be built on the jail.” Back then officers were also trying to get money for car expenses because they were using their own vehicles. They were denied.

“In 1947, a suit for false arrest was brought against the marshal. Citizens urged his dismissal. As a result the mayor resigned. The new mayor appointed a new marshal. In 1948, the marshal’s salary was set at $265 a month, and his was granted a car allowance of $40. He got of $15 raise in 1950.”

In November, 1951 a group of “interested citizens” met at the Dispatch office with the Pierce County Sheriff because they wanted a deputy sheriff and radio patrol car to be permanently located in southeastern Pierce County. There had been a number of instances of cattle rustling and other crimes in the area. After some months Deputy Sheriff Jim Simth was assigned to the new position created by the Board of County Commissioners. The town patrol car was equipped iwth a two-way radio as was the deputy’s car, for copperation of the two agencies.”

In 1967 Tony DelVicchio took the job until April 1970 when he died and Dick Carney too over as acting town marshal. By 1969 people wanted a second police officer, but he council decided it wasn’t feasible at that time.

Information taken from Timber Town and Later.

Images courtesy of the Smith family.

Click on image to enlarge.

16 responses to “Eatonville’s Town Marshals (1909-1969)”

  1. First off, I didn’t know Tony DelVicchio died in 1970. I didn’t think he was that old. One town cop is really all Eatonville needs, I mean It’s not even as big as Mayberry !!(LOL)


  2. My brother, who lives in Tacoma, just mailed me an article from the Tacoma News Tribune about the Eatonville Police dept. appearently the have gone way overboard on ticketing people for minor and frivilous reasons, and the people and merchants of Eatonville are very upset.
    I wonder why a town with a population of 2800 would have to have 4 full time plus 2 reserve cops. I think they are trying to justify their jobs by over zealously ticketing so much. I could understand 2 cops, but 4 is a little overkill, plus 2 reserve is ridiculus. I have never heard of anywhere having 1 cop for every 700 people.
    OK, I’m done ranting…
    Something that does make me think of how things have changed, is my brother “snail” mailed me a “real paper” newspaper. Instead of emailing me a link to read it on line !! He is a bit “old school” that way !!


  3. Congrats and great job on your website. I am emailing you a pic of my grandfather Clair Daly’s 1941 Ford Coupe he used when he was marshal in 1942.


  4. The picture of the patrol car that you have shown belonged to my Dad, Bill Smith. It is sitting in front of our house on Mashell Ave. My Dad was the town marshal from 1946-1966. He was the only cop in town and on his one day off a week, Helmer Norberg would take his place. Dad’s jobs were many besides patrolling the town. He drove the ambulance, checked the water tank, painted the sidewalks, to name a few. All the calls came through our home phone as there was no dispatch center.
    I think you were right on the salary.


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