1852: The Monticello Convention to petition for creation of Washington Territory is held at Harry Darby Huntington's home in Monticello at the mouth of the Cowlitz. Huntington's cousins cross the plains from Indiana. One of them, James S. Huntington Sr., settles across the river from Monticello.
1854: Cowlitz County is created, with Monticello as the first county seat. Commissioners Thomas Roe, Alexander Abernathy and Taylor Rue appoint James Huntington Sr. as the first sheriff.
1855: Ziba S. Miller is elected sheriff.
1856: Miller resigns in March; James Huntington is reappointed sheriff in July. His son, James Jr., is made justice of the peace
1859: Ambrose Patton is sheriff.
1860: Cowlitz County population: 406.
1864: Bernard Laffery is sheriff.
1865: County seat moves to Freeport, about a mile up the Cowlitz from Monticello.
1868: George P. Gray is sheriff.
1869: O.G. Washburn is sheriff. Former sheriff Ambrose Patton is arrested in Vancouver on suspicion of assault with intent to murder. Bail: $500. (The outcome of the case is unknown).
1870: Adam Catlin is sheriff for a few months. The office is briefly vacant until L.T. Vought is appointed. County population: 730.
1871: James H. Poland is sheriff.
1872: Poland resigns due to ill health; C.A. Clark is appointed temporary sheriff in May. In June, R.C. Smith becomes sheriff. James Huntington Sr., the original sheriff, is killed by a train.
1873: County seat moves to Kalama.
1874: James B. Stone is sheriff, 1874-82. His son, James E. Stone, later serves as Superior Court judge for the Cowlitz, Skamania and Klickitat district.
1880: County population: 2,062.
1882: Joseph Smith is sheriff, 1882-89. He was a major in the Union Army in the Civil War. Former sheriff Ambrose Patton is murdered. His son-in-law, Andrew Leonard, is convicted, but the case is overturned on appeal. Leonard is retried for manslaughter and convicted.
1889: Washington is granted statehood. Ben Holmes is sheriff from 1889-93 (or 1884-92).
1890: County population: 5,917.
1892: Holmes hangs Robert T. Day on June 3.
1893: A.L. Watson is sheriff, 1893-97. He hangs Charles Asimus, on Jan. 31, 1896.
1897: A.F. Kirby is sheriff,1897-01.
1900: County population: 7,877.
1901: Elmer Huntington, grandson of Harry Darby Huntington, is sheriff 1901-05. He is the last sheriff to hang a prisoner, Martin Sickles, in January 1901.
1905: Tom Carnine is sheriff, 1905-13.
1910: County population: 12,561.
1913: Ed Close is sheriff, 1913-15.
1915: Clark Studebaker is sheriff, 1915-19.
1920: County population: 11,791.
1919: John Hoggatt is sheriff, 1919-23.
1921: Posse hunts for train robber Roy Gardner.
1922: Deputies capture a 30-gallon moonshine still in Carrolls. Sam Wray is fined $3.50 and sentenced to 40 days in jail, or 10 days if he pays the fine. His accomplice, Harry Reither, is fined $1.50.
1923: Clark Studebaker is sheriff again, 1923-27, and buys a Ford for the first sheriff's patrol car. County seat moves to Kelso, and the courthouse (now the county administration building) is built.
1927: Charles B. Dill is sheriff, 1927-31.
1928: Deputies arrest a man and a woman accused of cattle rustling on a large scale.
1930: County population: 31,906. County jail has 470 total prisoners for the year, with an average daily occupancy of 21 inmates.
1931: G.H. "Teed" Gray is sheriff, 1931-35. He announces that only commissioned deputies are authorized to wear a badge.
1932: The county jail holds only nine prisoners at the end of August. That number grows by three within a week when the sheriff raids a large moonshine still on the Toutle.
1935: Harry O'Brien is sheriff, 1935-39.
1939: Carl Pritchard is sheriff, 1939-47.
1940: County population: 40,155.
1942: The federal government closes all "disorderly houses" in the county because "such places could be used by foreign agents as a place to meet soldiers and attempt to pry military information from them."
1947: C.W. "Bud" Reynolds is sheriff, 1947-55. Permanent sheriff's posse is formed. It will eventually become Cowlitz County Search & Rescue.
1950: County population: 53,369.
1955: Merle Bevins (1955-71) is the county's longest-serving sheriff.
1959: The all-night Diner Cafe in Castle Rock closes. Because people summoned police by turning on an outside signal light at the diner, Sheriff Bevins tells police that if the FCC lets them install a radio in the chief's car, he'll let them use the sheriff's frequency.
1960: County population: 57,801.
1962: Columbus Day storm, Oct. 12.
1970: County population: 68,616.
1971: Chuck Gill (1971-75) defeats Bevins in his bid for a fifth term as sheriff. Gill was named the Washington State Police Officer of the Year in 1956 while serving with Longview Police.
1973: D.B. Cooper bails out of a hijacked plane with several thousand dollars. He is never found. Total jail inmates for year: 1,857.
1975: Les Nelson is sheriff, 1975-86.
1976: Hall of Justice opens in September, including a new jail three times the size of the old. Total jail inmates: 2,292.
1977: Sheriff's records system is computerized.
1980: Mount St. Helens erupts May 18. Nelson joins with sheriffs of Skamania and Lewis counties to form the 21-deputy Red Zone Patrol, which lasts three years. County population: 79,584.
1985: Nelson forms sheriff's chaplaincy.
1987: Brian Pedersen is sheriff, 1987-98.
1988: Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Narcotics Task Force is formed.
1990: County population: 82,119.
1991: County commissioners break up sheriff's office and create separate departments of law enforcement, records, communications, emergency management and corrections.
1992: Average daily jail population: 162.
1999: Bill Mahoney is sheriff 1999-2009.
2000: County population: 92,948.
2005: Average daily jail population: 205.
2006: New jail opens on First Avenue across from Hall of Justice.
2009: Mark Nelson, son of former sheriff Les Nelson, is appointed sheriff.
Sources: "The Coast" by Honor L. Wilhelm; "History of Cowlitz County, Washington" by Ruth Ott and Dorothy York; Harlene Soper Brown, whose husband is a descendent of James Huntington Sr.; Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office; Deputy Darren Ullmann; Daily News archives