Jim Griner ~ Lawman

Deputy Jim Griner,  Berrien County Lawman

James Benjamin “Jim” Griner , who was Ray City, GA Police Chief in the 1940s, also served as Deputy Sheriff of Berrien County from 1905 to 1915.  (In 1915,  Griner was elected Police Chief of Nashville, GA.)  Below are a few clippings from newspapers around the region  about his time as Deputy Sheriff .

Deputy Sheriff James B. "Jim" Griner, 1906, Nashville, GA

Deputy Sheriff James B. “Jim” Griner, 1906, Nashville, GA

Griner’s ten years of deputy work were filled with escorting prisoners, working the bloodhounds, trailing chain gang escapees,  tracking arsonists, raiding gambling dens and blind tigers, gunfights with desperadoes, and more. He began his law enforcement career as a deputy for Sheriff Marion J. Kinard.

Jim Griner worked as a deputy for Sheriff Kinard, 1905.

Jim Griner worked as a deputy for Sheriff Kinard, 1905.

Tifton Gazette
March 24, 1905

Mr. I. C. Avera, for a long time deputy sheriff, is now city marshal of Nashville, and makes a model officer.  Messrs. J. A. Lindsey and J. B. Griner are Sheriff Kinard’s deputies, and are making good officers.

 

Sheriff Jim Griner and Charlie Israel, 1907

Sheriff Jim Griner and Charlie Israel, 1907

 

Tifton Gazette
April 26, 1907

Deputy Sheriff Griner went to Homerville Sunday and brought Charlie Israel back to jail. He is the young white man who dug a hole in the brick wall of the county jail and made his escape a few weeks ago. Sheriff Screven Sweat of Clinch captured him. – Nashville Herald. Israel is the young man that burglarized the store of J. B. Gunn, at Enigma, several weeks ago.

1908-jim-griner-and-ed-sutton

Tifton Gazette
September 18, 1908

 

Ed Sutton, who was tried and adjudged insane here last week, got away from Deputy Sheriff Griner at Cordele, while enroute to the asylum. The county authorities offer a reward of $25 for him. – Nashville Herald.

Sheriff Jim Griner calls out the bloodhounds, 1909.

Sheriff Jim Griner calls out the bloodhounds, 1909.

 

Waycross Journal
July 2, 1909

Nashville, Ga., July 2. – John A. Gaskins, living in the upper Tents [Tenth] district, six or eight miles east of Nashville, came here and got Deputy Sheriff Jim Griner and his blood hounds to go to his place for the purpose of tracking incendiaries who set fire to his gin house Monday night. The dogs failed to track the offender, however, and Mr. Griner returned to Nashville without a prisoner. Mr. Gaskins thinks he has a clue, as threats have been made against him because he refused to let certain parties fish in his mill pond. The ginnery, which had just been completed was a total loss.

 

Deputy Sheriff Jim Griner captures John Bradford, 1909

Deputy Sheriff Jim Griner captures John Bradford, 1909

Tifton Gazette
December 17, 1909

Deputy Sheriff Jim Griner and John Bradford went down in Clinch county Monday night and captured Dick Studstill, a desperate negro who is wanted in this county for assault with intent to murder. He resisted arrest several months ago, near Sparks, and shot at Sheriff Avera and posse who were raiding a gambling and tiger den. – Herald.

Sheriff Jim Griner in shootout with Beaty Gaskins, 1911

Sheriff Jim Griner in shootout with Beaty Gaskins, 1911

Vienna News
April 14, 1911

Sets Bullets Flying Wildly in Nashville

Adel, Ga., April 11. – News has reached this city of an affray at Nashville Saturday evening in which Beaty Gaskins, a well known and prominent young man, undertook to shoot up the town. He began by shooting at a young man named Knight, and continued to shoot until he had fired nine times. He came near hitting a clerk in Wein’s store and sent a bullet into the county school commissioner’s office in which were a number of teachers, it being the time of the monthly meeting of the teacher’s institute. He also sent a bullet into the office of J. P. Knight, ex-senator from this district. After shooting half a dozen times Gaskin directed his shots into the office of Judge W. D. Buie of the city court, hitting that official and Deputy Sheriff Jim Griner, who was there.
Mr. Griner returned the fire and slightly wounded Gaskins, was then arrested. Later he was released under bond of $10,500. He is a son of John A. Gaskins, one of the wealthiest men in Berrien county.

1913-jim-griner-and-oscar-jones

Tifton Gazette
November 7, 1913

Nashville Herald: Deputy Sheriff Jim Griner left Friday for Belleville, Illinois, in response to a telegrram from the Prison Commission advising him to go after Oscar Jones, who escaped from the Berrien county chaingang two years ago.  He is a lifetime man sent here from Fulton county in 1911.

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Deputy Sheriff Jim arrests Bob Luke, 1914

Deputy Sheriff Jim arrests Bob Luke, 1914

Tifton Gazette
June 12, 1914

Bob Luke, who shot and killed Calvin Lingo about three weeks go, was placed under arrest last week by Deputy Sheriff Jim Griner, of Berrien.  Luke says he killed Lingo in self defense while Lingo was under the influence of whiskey.  He offered to surrender but the coroner’s jury returned a verdict of Justifiable homicide and he was turned loose.  Lingo’s brother had the warrant sworn out for Luke.  George Henderson, the only eye-witness to the tragedy, has also been placed under arrest.

Prisoners escape Deputy Jim Griner, 1914

Prisoners escape Deputy Jim Griner, 1914

Atlanta Constitution
December 31, 1914

Two Prisoners Escape Berrien County Jail

Nashville, Ga., December 30. – (Special.) – J. C. Carter, a white man held in the Berrien county jail here for stealing hogs, and Capers Beach, colored, held for securing goods under false pretense, escaped late last night by sawing a bar in two and climbing to the ground on tied blankets. Love Vickers, colored, reported it to Deputy Sheriff J. B. Griner, but they had already successfully effected their escape. When last seen they were headed for Sparks on the Georgia and Florida track.

James B. Griner Elected Nashville Police Chief, February 11, 1915

James B. Griner

In the 1940s James Benjamin “Jim” Griner served as the Chief of Police in Ray City, GA (see also A Christmas Wedding for Mary Catherine Hill).   But long before that he served as Deputy Sheriff of Berrien County, and in 1915 he was elected Chief of Police in Nashville, GA.   He was sworn in on February 11, 1915.

James B. Griner was elected Nashville, GA Chief of Police in 1915.

James B. Griner was elected Nashville, GA Chief of Police in 1915.

Since at least 1905, Jim Griner had been working as Deputy Sheriff of Berrien County, and in 1915 he ran for the office of Police Chief of Nashville.  The incumbent Police Chief was Richard McRae Rhoden.  The election was a close race, and Nashville Mayor F. M. Barker cast the deciding vote for Griner.

1915-jb-griner-sheriff

 

Tifton Gazette
February 19, 1915

GRINER NASHVILLE CHIEF

Mayor Cast Vote Which Defeated Rhoden

Nashville, Ga., Feb 11 – Inauguration of city officers at council chamber last night was attended by a big crowd. After much discussion, it was decided not to lower salaries of any officials.

The city electrician gets an increase in salary. Chief R. M. Rhoden and ex-Deputy Sheriff J. B. Griner were tied for chief of police, until Mayor F. M. Barker cast his vote for Griner.

John T. Griffin was elected over R. W. Tygart. Horace Sikes was elected water and light superintendent, and Austin Avera was named night policeman.

 

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James B. Griner Once Deputy Sheriff of Berrien County

James Benjamin “Jim” Griner, born June 22, 1874, was the husband of Mary Catherine Hill Griner (see A Christmas Wedding for Mary Catherine Hill).

As a young man Jim Griner tried his hand at farming, but by the early 1900’s he had turned to a career in law enforcement serving as Deputy Sheriff of Berrien County and as the Chief of Police in Nashville, GA. In the 1930s the Griners moved to Ray City, GA  where Jim returned to farming. But by the 1940s Jim Griner put his badge back on to serve as Ray City Police Chief. A fellow lawman of Ray City at that time was  State Patrolman Perry Lee Pittman.

J. B. Griner, Berrien County deputy sheriff with prisoner B. A. Bryant, who killed his father near Nashville, Georgia, 1906. From a newspaper clipping. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

J. B. Griner, Berrien County deputy sheriff with prisoner B. A. Bryant, who killed his father near Nashville, Georgia, 1906. From a newspaper clipping. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

In 1915, Deputy James B Griner and Sheriff I. C. Avera were embroiled in a lawsuit that went all the way to the Supreme Court of Georgia.

It all started when T. J. Luke got a judgement against Moses and Joseph Bembry for debts they owed him. Taking his execution order to the Sheriff, Luke identified certain property owned by the Brembrys  that could be sold to satisfy the debt.  The Brembry property was duly advertised for sale by the Sheriff’s office.

Deputy Sheriff James B. Griner had in mind to obtain the property for himself and sought to borrow the money to make the purchase.  But on the day of the sale the loan fell through.

Frustrated in receiving his money, T.J. Luke demanded satisfaction from the Sheriff’s Office. Luke took the case to court in Berrien County.  On  March 23, 1914 The court directed the Sheriff and his deputy to sell the property immediately with the proceeds payable to Luke. Should the Sheriff’s Office fail to execute the sale, they were directed to appear before the next term of the court.

But a year later, Luke was still waiting for his money.  He took the case to the Supreme Court of Georgia, asserting that the lower court erred in not calling for immediate satisfaction of the debt by the Sheriff’s office.   Fortunately for J.B. Griner and Sheriff I.C.  Avera, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled there was no error.

Read the syllabus of the court, LUKE  vs AVERA, et al.