compiled by Columbian staff in 1989

Around the turn of the century, the Vancouver Independent newspaper observed, "All crooks look alike to Ira Cresap."

It was an astute observation, for Cresap, then a young Vancouver police officer, went on to carve an illustrious career in law enforcement, including stints as both county sheriff and Vancouver chief of police.

Cresap, born June 30, 1878, in Battle Ground, was the son of real pioneers. His father, Robert Cresap, had been a gold miner who walked across the continent looking for the precious metal.

In 1866, the elder Cresap, a veteran of the Indian wars, took out a homestead at the original site of Battle Ground. Ira's mother was Phoebe Caroline Van Atta, whose parents had helped found Brush Prairie.

Cresap went into law enforcement as a young man, after having served in the Spanish-American War, and immediately gained a reputation for diligence and honesty. He was a Vancouver patrolman until 1911, when he was elected sheriff, serving two terms.

In 1900, Cresap married Viola Gassaway, a daughter of pioneers who grew up on a farm in the Battle Ground area.

Cresap became Vancouver police chief in 1927 and held that post until 1935, when he retired. He died at the age of 80 on Oct. 31, 1958.

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