Hardee County Sheriff's Office

900 East Summit St.
Wauchula, FL 33873
Phone (863) 773-0304
Fax     (863) 773-4593

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The Early Years


( The following article was taken from the Florida Sheriff's Association archives from an article written around 1953.)

Created in 1921, named for Governor Cary A. Hardee. Sheriffs who have served since 1921 are as follows: 5-20-21 John Poucher; 1922-1938 Chester S. Dishong; 1938 Lee G. Sanders;1939- 1944 W. Blocker Whidden; 1944-1953 E.O. Roberts; 1953-1965 E.O. Carlton; 1965-1981 N.H. Murdock; 1981-1993 Doyle W. Bryan; 1993-1997 Ricky Dick; 1997-2009 Loran Cogburn and 2009- present - Arnold Lanier.

Hardee County, Florida's best balanced agricultural county, was created in 1921 when the state legislature made four new counties out of DeSoto, those formed were Charlotte, Glades, Hardee and Highlands. this county derived its name from Cary A. Hardee, governor of the state at the time of the division and when he affixed his signature Hardee County was born.

It is situated in the heart of the Peace River Valley section, with Wauchula as the county seat in which is located one of the finest State Farmers Markets in Florida. In 1953 Hardee County had a population of approximately 10,000 people, while Wauchula had an all year round population of 2,800, there are two other incorporated towns in the county, Bowling Green and Zolfo Springs, both thriving communities.

Hardee county set up housekeeping shortly after the legislature passed the act and the governor signed the bill, and its first official family named by the governor, were J.M. Hardee, clerk of the court; S. A. Carlton, tax collector; H. G. Murphy, tax assessor; Lee M. Hammell, county judge; John Poucher, sheriff; W.R. Gramling, superintendent of public instruction, the county commission were named as follows: Dr. Y. E. Wright, of Wauchula; Wm. Cliett, of Bowling Green; J.E. Raulerson, of Lily; D.L. Hall, of Zolfo Springs and S.F. Durrance of Lemon Grove. All officers were appointed for a two-year term or until the next regular election.

The Sheriff, John Poucher, served for two years; he was succeeded by Chester S. Dishon who served until his appointment as United States Marshal for the Southern District of Florida. Mr. Dishong resigned to accept the position. Lee G. Sanders was appointed to fill out the unexpired term but was defeated in the next primary by Blocker W. Whidden who served nearly a full term and resigned in August and the Democratic nominee, E. O. Roberts, was appointed to fill out the five months and then assumed his full term of four years the following January.

Sheriff Roberts was an ardent booster of Hardee County and South Florida. For several years he was engaged in general farming and citrus growing and still maintains a personal interest in these two industries. Hardee County is strictly an agricultural county and most of its rural citizens are successful farmers, and citrus growers. The livestock industry in this county in late years has shown wonderful development and today some of the largest and best herds of pure bred Brahman cattle are to be found in this county and the industry is still growing.

The Hardee County range Cattle Experiment station at Ona is doing wonderful work and the uptrend in the cattle industry in this county can be attributed largely to the modern methods in use at this state-owned experiment station. The industry is in its infancy in this county and with the importations of more pure bred sires Hardee County is destined to take its place in the front row of the cattle producing counties of Florida. It now ranks third.

Quail, dove, squirrel and rabbit are plentiful in the county and unposted hunting grounds are available. Fresh water bass, perch, and bream are caught in the many streams in the county, all of which abound in fresh water fish of all kinds.

With many thousands of acres of fine pasture lands, 294,254 acres were used for this purpose in 1948-49 and Hardee County has developed into a cattle center of importance. Thousands heads of fine pure bred cattle, including Brahman, Angus, Hereford, as well as better grade Florida range cattle, are raised on Hardee County ranges. Pure bred hogs, poultry and dairy cattle are also raised here.