The First Sheriff Of Escambia County, Florida

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From the book, “Escambia’s Finest,” coming soon to Amazon

By Mike Simmons

In the late 1770s, the country of Haiti was on the verge of a revolution, which officially began in 1791 and ended with the country’s independence in 1804. In the midst of the uprisings prior to the war, Henri Piere was born there, in Domingue, Artibonite in 1778[i].

Haiti Revolution (1791-1804)

As soon as he was old enough (maybe as young as 7), he joined the merchant marines. After the Revolutionary War ended, the United States became a popular place for new endeavors, and Mr. Peire was no exception. He emigrated to the country in the early 1800s and promptly joined the U. S. Army.

Quickly promoting to the rank of Major, Piere led the 2nd Battalion of the Louisiana Volunteers Infantry in the War of 1812[ii]. He fought alongside General Andrew Jackson in the Battle of Pensacola in 1814. While delivering a message under a white flag of truce from Gen. Jackson to Spanish Governor Mateo González Manrique, Major Pierre was fired upon. After a second attempt was made and fired upon, Jackson moved in and took the city.

Battle of Pensacola 1814

Pierre stayed with Jackson through the Battle of New Orleans in early 1815 and through his campaigns through Pensacola in 1818. Promoted to Colonel, Pierre was with General Jackson when he accepted West Florida for the United States on July 17, 1821[iii]. Four days later – on July 21, Jackson appointed Colonel Piere as the tax collector and sheriff of the County of Escambia.

Pensacola, Florida 1821

During this time, what is thought to be the first court case of the new Escambia County was recorded. One of Pensacola’s First families, the Bell family, owed $250 worth of groceries and farming equipment to W. H. Robinson out of Mobile, Alabama. Henry M. Brackenridge, the first judge in Escambia County, did not try this case. Rather he and future Florida Governor Richard Keith Call represented Robinson as attorneys and won the case[iv].

Sheriff Pierre served three months until he left for New Orleans and assumed the position of Port Superintendent. He died in New Orleans on December 4, 1848.

New Orleans, 1848

[i] Henri Duvivier Peire, accessed September 22, 2022[ii] War of 1812 Louisiana Militia Muster Rolls. Donald Keith Midkiff, April 25, 2019, p 8. Accessed April 2, 2022.[iii] The Territorial Papers of the United States, The Territory of Florida 1821-1824. Compiled and edited by Clarence Edwin Carter. Part Two: Temporary Organization of Pensacola by Governor Jackson. P. 131. Accessed April 2, 2022.[iv] Escambia County Clerk of Court. Accessed May 19, 2022


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