Bicentennial Biographies is a not-for-profit radio project designed to raise awareness and increase interest in local history. It is brought to you as a public service by the Chautauqua County Historical Society throughout 2011 to celebrate the county’s 200th birthday. To learn more, visit www.McClurgMuseum.org or contact your local historical society.
The first Sheriff of Chautauqua County, David Eason, was born in Northumberland County, Pa. on April 3, 1771. His father came to the colonies from Ireland. In 1805, he married in Washington, Pa. and that same year moved to Canadaway, N.Y. [Fredonia]. Within a year he and his wife relocated to what is today Westfield, N.Y.. His first public office was as justice of the peace for the Town of Chautauqua, which was then still part of Genesee County.
In 1811, on the organization of the county, he was appointed Chautauqua County Sheriff, which office he held four years. The only property he was obliged to sell during this time was one horse; nor did he take a man to jail for debt. He suspected and arrested two horse thieves, and took them to Batavia jail, the owners residing east of Buffalo.
In 1813 and 1814, he took the assessment of the county for a United States direct tax and found most of the people to be generally poor.
In 1821, he was a candidate for the New York State Assembly. Eason was initially declared the winner. But his opponent had reportedly received some informal votes, which, if allowed to him, would give him the majority. Eason, believing the votes should count, surrendered the seat. In 1823 and 1824, he would served as a member of the New York State Senate. After the expiration of term, he retired to his farm in Westfield. Eason died at his home on April 8, 1853 at the age of 82.
– J. Sample