Longtime Law Enforcement Officer
James Robert Mansfield who was born on May 9, 1880, was the son of Matthew and Luck Welch Mansfield. Jim, as he was known, spent the latter part of his life serving in law enforcement in Rhea County.
Jim married Evelyn McJunkin on October 8, 1904, the daughter of James and Florence McJunkin of Pikeville.
Jim worked in steel mills in Gadsden, Alabama for many years before moving to a farm south of Dayton.
Mansfield began his public service career in the early 1920’s, when he was sworn in as a Deputy Sheriff under then Rhea County Sheriff R.B. Harris. He held this position for three years, after which he was appointed City Marshall. He assumed this position in 1925, the year of the famous Scopes’ trial.
One time while scouting out moonshine stills on Walden’s Ridge, Jim was attempting to protect another deputy from the line of fire from a suspect and was hit in his right wrist. The other deputies made a stretcher and carried him for miles down the mountain to Dr. Gass in Graysville. Jim had to have several operations to keep from losing his arm.
Mansfield served under eight different City of Dayton commissions, being appointed under the terms of A.P. Haggard, J.S. Frazier, and Harry Thomas.
During his career he made many arrests that took him into federal, county and circuit courts. Because of his long service, Mansfield was acquainted with people from the adjoining counties and knew most of the people who regularly passed through Rhea County.
Among the highlights of his career were the Scopes’ Monkey Trial in 1925, the Graysville bank robbery in 1926 and the ambush slaying of Rhea County Sheriff’s Deputy Lee Ellison in 1923.
Jim and Evelyn had eight children, Glatha, Glen, Juanita, Ross, Dorothy, Thomas, Wayne, and Billy Mack.
Jim Mansfield retired as Police Chief in 1945, sadly he passed away on September 24, 1960 and is buried at Dayton City Cemetery.