compiled by Columbian staff in 1989

John Secrist

Law enforcement held a big attraction for a Lake Shore father and son in earlier years.

They were Seth N. Secrist and John Secrist.

S.N. Secrist, the father, was born in Indiana in 1845, moved with his family to Iowa, then began traveling in the 1860s. He spent some time in the mining areas of Colorado, and also went to Denver and joined the First Colorado Cavalry.

Later he returned to the Midwest. He married Elizabeth Odem in Iowa in 1868 and moved to Vancouver area in 1872.

Secrist raised prunes, the county's most popular crop, and in the late 1880s and early '90s he served two terms as Clark County sheriff. For a while he also was manager of a cooperative store in Vancouver, and was a lumber merchant.

In 1898 S.N. Secrist joined the stampede to the Alaska gold rush and went over Chilkoot Pass. He and his sons John and George constructed a small boat for traveling on the northern rivers to the mining regions.

John Secrist had taken care of animals for the W.A. Davis livery barn on Main street several years earlier. He also got some early experience as a deputy sheriff under his father in the '90s.

In 1908, Secrist was appointed Vancouver police chief. He filled the role during a time of expansion of the police force in the boom days following completion of the Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway.

Secrist continued in this job for about four years, then worked in Tacoma in the U.S. Marshal's office for 20 years. Secrist a bachelor, was a charter member of the Elks Lodge at Vancouver. He died in Tacoma in 1954 at age 84.

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