John E. Oliver

Pages 685-686
John E. Oliver, whose name though a terror to evil doers is one of the most popular among law abiding citizens of Perry County, is the well known sheriff of that county, and is a son of William Oliver and Mary Hilton of Tennessee. He is one of six children in the family and was born March 13, 1852, in Carter County, Tenn., and removed with his parents to Washington County, in the same State, when he was still young. He here attended school during the winter months and in the summer assisted on the farm, as well as learning the trade of brickmason. In 1876 he was married to Miss Harriet J. Young, of Tennessee, a daughter of William Young and Mary Hendricks, and the following year moved to Arkanss with his bride. Mr Oliver is a man of remarkable energy and determination, which traits are undoubtedly the secret of his successful career as sheriff; but as an illustration of this fact, it can be told that he came to Perryville in 1879 with only $30 cash in his pocket, with which he purchased a tract of wild land, and now he owns about 880 acres, and has placed 350 acres under cultivation, with a good frame dwelling, barns and all necessaries to a first class farm, well stocked with cattle and hogs and nine good tenant homes. In 1884 he was solicited by his many friends to run on the Independent ticket for sheriff, which he did, and was elected to the position which he is now filling with distinction for the third time. Mr Oliver hung the first man in Perry County, a murderer named J.M. Armstrong, who was sentenced for the killing of Dr T.S. Ferguson. There were born to Mr and Mrs Oliver five children, of whom four are yet living: Mary Lena, Claude (deceased), Pearletta, Ralph, Ross (deceased). Mr Oliver's first wife died in October 1886, and he was again married on June 8, 1887, his second wife being Miss Alice Rowles, by whom he had one child, Rowles, born April 8, 1888. Mr Oliver is a member of Lodge No. 238, A.F. & A.M. at Perryville and also belongs to Lodge No. 3207, Knights of Honor, at Perryville. While working at his trade of brickmason and brickmaker, Mr Oliver secured the contract for and built the present courthouse of Perry County, which is the only brick building in that county. In politics he is neutral, not favoring either party, and the same may be said of his religious faith, although he attends the Christian Church. He is a friend and supporter of all enterprises that tend to promote the public walfare and is held in great respect by the entire county.