Elko County Sesquicentennial 1869-2019

Joshua Benjamin Fitch was the first Sheriff of Elko County, elected June 21, 1869. He was a pioneer settler, coming to the area in 1868 or 1869.29 One of our most famous deputies, Sheriff Joe Harris, was an Elko native who was elected in 1910 and served 26 years. He oversaw the Jarbidge mail stage robbery and the infamous “cow shoes” cattle thief incident. His son, Jess Harris, was known around the nation as the “Flying Sheriff ” and served 25 years. He was a licensed pilot and used his special talent to conduct his duties when he was called to traverse the large expanse of Elko County.

Minnie Guldager Cotant was Elko County’s first lady deputy sheriff, appointed to her position February 24, 1920, under Sheriff Joe Harris. Her first duty was to mind the two female jurors in court case the State v. Miles in which John Miles, along with several other men, were found guilty of stealing more than 1,000 pounds of ham and bacon from the Swift and Co. warehouse in Elko on September 6, 1919.30

The Elko County Sheriff ‘s office is the largest law enforcement agency in the area. Sheriff Aitor Narvaiza currently heads the office, replacing Sheriff Jim Pitts, who was in the position for 8 years prior to the recent election. Since Elko’s founding, 9 officers in the Sheriff ‘s Department have lost their lives in service to Elko County.

  • Guldager Home, Pole Canyon, Ruby Valley. Minnie Cotant with Guldager Family (front row, second from left)
    Archive photo courtesy of Northeastern Nevada Museum.
  • Sheriff Joseph C. Harris with rustler’s cow shoes. Archive photo donated by Leora Bernadot