1. Joseph Rayford Townsend was born on 1 Mar 1914. He died on 16 Jan 1995. He was buried in Eastlawn Memorial Park, Early, Brown Co, Texas.
Sheriff of Brown County
Joe R. TOWNSEND was elected on November 8, 1960, re-elected on November 3, 1964, November 5, 1968, and served until October 1971. There was no reason given for his leaving office. Contributed by Patsy Johnson in Brownwood at email@example.com
Joe R. Townsend is a native of Brown County and the son of Will J. Townsend and Eliza Stewart Townsend, a pioneer Brown County Family. Mr. Townsend has had thirty years of service in Law Enforcement.
His career began in 1948 as a patrol man for Brownwood, in 1951 a deputy sheriff, and became sheriff in Brown County in 1961, and held that position, until October 1, 1971, when he resigned following hip surgery. Later he was appointed Adult Probation Officer and served in that capacity until his retirement in 1978.
He served as sheriff eleven years, ten months and eleven days.
Joe is married to Modell Boyington and they reside at 2201 Ave E. Modell is the daughter of Ed Boynton and Rachel Tiner Boynton, a pioneer Comanche Family. Modell Boyington Townsend was born in Comanche County, but her early school days were spent in Blanket School, Brown County, Texas. She was office secretary for the Brown County Schools for twenty years.
The Townsends’ only daughter, JoDell Townsend, graduated from Brownwood High School and Howard Payne University, and taught school in Odessa, Texas for two years.
In 1966 she became a teacher in Brownwood Junior High School and taught Physical Education. On Sunday, March 20, 1977, JoDell was not up getting ready for church, and her mother checked to see what the trouble was and she found that her daughter had passed away in her sleep. High school and Junior High students were dismissed from classes to attend the memorial services at Melwood Baptist Church. Both buildings at the church were filled and people were standing in the Street to pay tribute to a beloved teacher and friend. (In the Life and Lives of Brown County People; Brown County Historical Society, Book 1, Second Edition, Indexed 1988, Complied by Lorene Bishop assisted by Melba Coursey; published Dec 1981; pg 21)
“Many things go through my mind that happened during my service to Brown County. My time began in 1951 when Ray Masters was sheriff. From that time on, I cannot recall but two times the jail being empty, and that was only for a few hours.
At times there have been from one to one hundred and thirty-five prisoners in jail at one time. This being when the Border Patrol was gathering illegal aliens plus people charged with all types of violations.
One night I got a call on three drunks, and when I arrived at the Jail with my prisoners, there was a Liquor Control Officer and two Texas Highway Officers with twelve from a gambling raid. After waking the jailer to let us in, he looked at the group and sat down. One of the officers asked if he were going to book them, and he said “No, let’s just take a head count and lock them up.”
As sheriff from 1961 through the next eleven years my family and I were at home in the Sheriffs Apartment in the Brown County Jail, and the jailer and his wife lived in the jailer’s apartment.
Speaking of the jailer, one of the memories of food service is that he and his wife cooked huge pots of beans, stew, corn and other foods and carried this up the stair way to be served to the prisoners.
One of the most noted prisoners was Rae Bourbon, who was a ‘Female Impersonator’. He was transferred from Big Spring on a change of venue on a murder charge. His last place to perform was the ‘Blue Cat Lounge’ in St. Louis, Missouri. While in jail he talked to Bob Hope and Mae West.
On one occasion a prisoner was choking and the jailer reported that something had to be done for the man. Dr. H.L. Lobstein, Brown County Health Officer, was called and he requested the prisoner be carried to the hospital. The man was in such bad shape that an x-ray was made immediately. Down, completely out of sight, in the man’s throat a teaspoon was lodged. Dr. Lobstein took an instrument and pulled the spoon and the prisoner was returned to the county jail. Written by Joe Townsend, November 1981. (In the Life and Lives of Brown County People; Brown County Historical Society Book 1 Second Edition Indexed 1988, complied by Lorene Bishop assisted by Melba Coursey; pg 21)
Locked Jailer In Cell and Escaped
According to the Brownwood Bulletin, May 3, 1965, two prisoners escaped from the Brown County Jail on a Sunday, May 2, 1965, about 10 a.m., when they locked the jailer, Doug Jarvis, and a trusty, Cecil Hamlett, in a cell and fled from the city in an automobile stolen at a nearby church. They were Jerry Gage, 28, of Houston and Eugene Wilson, 34, whose mother resided in Brownwood. The jailer and trusty had gone to the “bull pen” to get something stored in it when Wilson lunged at Jarvis and put a knife to his throat and said “You can take it easy or you can take it hard.” Jarvis told Wilson to go ahead, the jail was all his.
The escaped prisoners took a 1954 car owned by Mrs. Royce Newcomb parked at St. John’s Episcopal Church. The car was later found abandoned about 5 p.m. Sunday in Brady. It was 30 minutes before a woman went to the jail to see a prisoner and Jarvis yelled out the window to the woman to go to the police and call the sheriff. 1920 US census - Brown Co, Texas Pct 3
1930 US census - Brown Co Texas Pct 3
Joseph married Modell Boyington. Modell was born in 1920.
They had the following children:
2F i. JoDell Townsend was born on 18 Mar 1942. She died on 20 Mar 1977. She was buried in Eastlawn Memorial Park, Early, Brown Co, Texas.