By: Robert Schrage
Originally published: November 2, 2006 in the Boone County Recorder
Following the sudden death of her Father, Sheriff JT Williams, in 1944, Glenrose Williams was appointed to be the first female Sheriff in Boone County history. Her father JT Williams had just pulled down the curtain of his office in the old Boone County Courthouse when he suffered a fatal heart attack. A year earlier Sheriff JT Williams had been the lead investigator of the Kiger murders, which led to the most infamous trial in Boone County history.
Glenrose Williams served as a deputy sheriff for her father, doing bookkeeping work. After his death, many people felt a woman could not do the job of Sheriff. However, Boone County Judge Carroll Cropper stood up and recommended her for appointment, which was made by Kentucky Governor Simeon S. Willis. The news of this appointment spread through newspapers as far away as Hawaii.
During her tenure, the gambling interests were prevalent in Campbell and Kenton Counties. These interests wanted to expand to Boone County and a confrontation was set between the female sheriff and a representative of the Chicago mob. The big test came when the mob expanded gambling to just over the Boone County line on Dixie Highway. With her deputy, they went in the building and the member of the mob approached her smiling. In the front room were slot machines and in the back other forms of gambling. She arrested him for the slot machines and told him to be in court in the morning. During his arrest, the mobster went to the back room to warn the people to get out. Later he told Sheriff Williams he heard she didn't have the power to do this as a woman sheriff. He was never seen in Boone County again and gambling didn't spread to Boone County. Later the confiscated slot machines were destroyed with a sledge hammer with Sheriff Williams striking the first blow. The all iron machines were destroyed on the sidewalk in front of the old courthouse, in public, as demanded by state law.
Sheriff Williams didn't seek another term because a woman most likely couldn't have won. Several years ago, while leaving the old Flick's grocery, a young woman asked if she could help the elderly Williams with her bags. The young woman was a Boone County Deputy Sheriff and when Glenrose told her she was once Sheriff, the deputy left, not believing the crazy story. So many of our true heroes go unnoticed as is the case of Glenrose Williams, who helped make things so much better for us all. Today Williams lives near Burlington, surviving her husband Byron Kinman who died earlier this year.