On Aug. 17, 2023, family, friends, and dignitaries attended a sign dedication at Roberts Family Diner near Baker’s Crossroads, on Old Kentucky Road. The section of Old Kentucky Road, officially called State Highway 136, from Burgess Falls Road to Highway 111, will now be known as Sheriff William Hickey/Sheriff Annell Oliver Hickey Memorial Highway.
Descendants of the sheriffs approached Representative Paul Sherrell seeking a way to memorialize William and Annell’s service and contribution to the county. Rep. Paul Sherrell, of White County, enlisted Senator Paul Bailey, also of White County, in the project. They secured the approval of legislation renaming the section of the highway and erecting signs commemorating the designation.
According to Betty Hickey Weaver, daughter of the sheriffs, “Annell and William Hickey dedicated their lives to law enforcement and farming at their property on Old Kentucky Road. In the 1950s, William was the chief of police, in Sparta. In the 1960s, William was the sheriff of White County. In the early 1970s, William could not run for sheriff any more due to term limits. The voters asked Annell to run for sheriff. She ran and beat nine men in a landslide. She became the first female elected sheriff in the state of Tennessee. At that time, the sheriff’s family lived at the jail located on South Church Street near the city cemetery.
“During the years at the jail, Annell served as the jailer, cook, bookkeeper, and dispatcher. While Annell was the sheriff, William served as chief deputy. The couple retired and moved to their farm, on Old Kentucky Road. In the 1980s, the voters asked William to run again. He won the election. The Hickeys were two of the most respected people in the county.
“It is an honor to have this section of the Old Kentucky Road named in their memory. The family would like to thank the State of Tennessee for their efforts in memorializing Mr. and Mrs. Hickey.”
An article about William Hickey after his death called him “the people’s sheriff.” Representative Sherrell and Senator Bailey spoke at the dedication and recalled memories of Sheriff Hickey. Putnam County Sheriff Eddie Farris and a White County Sheriff’s Department representative attended. Pastor Maston Jackson, of the Hampton Crossroads Baptist Church, offered a prayer. Refreshments of ice-cold soda pop and Moon pies were provided for those in attendance.
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