|Sheriff Crenshaw was born in Oconee
County at Courtney, near the textile community of Newry, in 1917.
He began his law enforcement career in 1948, under
then Sheriff E. D. Weathers. Crenshaw was one of only three deputies and
began serving the Seneca area in 1949.
At that time, Waddy Grant was the
Chief Deputy and C. L. Smith was the other deputy, who served the
Westminster area. In an interview, Sheriff Crenshaw remarked that law
enforcement today is much different than when he started. "We didn't have
radios and very few telephones. When I went to work as the Seneca area
deputy, I would ride with L. T. McLane, who was Oconee County's only highway
patrolman at the time, in his patrol car." "They had a light on the end of a
pole at the police station. We would patrol and if we saw the light on, we
knew we had a call and we'd stop." Oconee County was also served by a Rural
Police force, which had a chief and eight officers. Crenshaw served with the
Sheriff's Office until November 1951, when he was appointed Chief of the
Walhalla Police Department, a post he held until February 1958.
One of the major problems facing Crenshaw during his administration was bootleg liquor. Sheriff Crenshaw was committed to the enforcing the liquor laws, especially confiscating illegal whiskey. A news article from his scrapbook describes how he and his wife were driving in the mountains, following a political meeting in 1960, when they came upon a vehicle with a flat tire. The driver was nowhere to be found, but when Sheriff Crenshaw looked inside, he noticed the back seat was full of cases of moonshine. With his wife towing the bootlegger's vehicle with the family car, Sheriff Crenshaw steered it to the Sheriff's Office, where it along with the moonshine was confiscated. Sheriff Crenshaw was elected to serve a full term as Oconee County Sheriff in 1960, defeating E. W. Richardson and Charles Hamby.
On January 28, 1963, at 1:30 in the afternoon, an event occurred that captured the attention of the nation and further spurred the legacy of Sheriff Crenshaw. With a court order in hand, Sheriff Crenshaw escorted Harvey Gantt, the first black student, onto the campus of Clemson College as he enrolled at Tillman Hall. Gantt had sued for admission to Clemson's school of architecture and on January 22, 1963, District Judge Wyche ruled he must be admitted. The integration was carried out peacefully, possibly because of the protection afforded by Sheriff Crenshaw, but threats of violence were plentiful. Many at the time argued that blacks were not equal to whites, and therefore not deserving of a college education. Sheriff Crenshaw and his office provided around-the-clock protection, for Gantt, for sometime thereafter ensuring that he was not the target of any violence.
In 1964, Sheriff Crenshaw lost his bid for reelection to Floyd Owens, who had been serving as the county coroner.
Sheriff Crenshaw then returned to work with the Town of Walhalla, as the first paid fireman. Crenshaw held this position until then Chief of Police James Addis resigned. Crenshaw was once again appointed Chief of Police, a post he was dedicated to and held for another 17 years.
Chief Crenshaw retired from the City of Walhalla in April 1981, ending a law enforcement career that span almost 32 years.
The above information and excerpts were
taken from the:
We would like to thank the Crenshaw Family for their contribution.