Although he had it for 40 years he always believed that eventually it should be returned to Johnson County, said Raymond Allen, great grandson of former Johnson County Sheriff Andrew “Andy” Moreland. Recently an opportunity to do just that presented itself.
“My brother Bart, who lives in Corpus Christi, was going to Cleburne to oversee a roofing job so I told him he should take the badge and go visit the sheriff,” Allen said. “I didn’t know if they’d be interested and thought they might just blow us off but Bart talked to the secretary at the sheriff’s office and she got the sheriff right away.”
Sheriff Adam King said he was thrilled by the donation and that Moreland’s now framed badge will forever more hold a place of honor at JCSO.
“Just like Sheriff Moreland I started out at the Cleburne Police Department,” King said. “Because of that connection I am especially proud to display his Cleburne badge. If his family locates his sheriff’s badge we would love to display that, too.”
Allen lives in Illinois. His great grandfather, whom he never met, served as sheriff of Johnson County from 1922-27. Previous to that Moreland served as a Cleburne police officer. Although the exact dates of Moreland’s tenure with CPD remain unclear he is pictured in a 1907 framed photograph hung in the department’s hallway.
“He was listed as a watchman in 1907,” CPD Lt. Gary Moseley said. “Those were the officers who worked overnight and kept an eye on things. I’m not sure how long he was in that position but then in 1917 he’s listed as a deputy sheriff and then of course served as sheriff later. After that he’s listed as having returned to CPD from 1928 to 1930.”
Allen said he wanted to donate Moreland’s badge to JCSO on behalf of his mother, Sylvia “Bunny” Moreland, who is Moreland’s granddaughter.
“Mom got the badge when [Moreland] died from one of his brothers or sisters,” Allen said. “She gave it to me but it was always her wish that it would be returned to Johnson County someday.
“Andrew Moreland was born in Missouri as I understand but later lived and died in Cleburne and is buried there. My mom moved to San Diego, back in the ‘50s I think, married my dad and they had eight kids. I’m the youngest. Guess there wasn’t much good on TV back in those days.”
Bunny Moreland still lives in San Diego but grew up in Cleburne raised much of that time by her maternal grandmother.
“I got the badge and some other things from [Moreland’s] time as an officer and sheriff,” Bunny Moreland said. “The rest has been lost but I gave the badge to Raymond to play with when he was a little boy. Never dreamed he would’ve kept it all these years.”
The badge dates from Moreland’s days at CPD, not JCSO.
“[JCSO Deputy Aaron Pitts] asked my brother if we were sure we didn’t want to give it to the police department instead,” Allen said. “But we figured since he was the sheriff it should go to the county instead.”
Bunny Moreland attended Adams Elementary School and Cleburne High School.
“I was born in Cleburne in 1935 at home and there was no birth certificate because I guess people didn’t always bother to give those out back then,” Moreland said. “We lived in a house across the tracks near Buffalo Creek. It burned down and I remember a preacher named George Pemberton got my grandmother a $5 a week job at Union Gospel Mission where she sorted through clothes and donations and helped hand them out. Ralph Moreland was my dad. He was sweet but I didn’t know him all that well. This was during the Depression and times were hard. I never did meet his brothers that I can remember.
“I remember that Mr. Layland had a long glass display shelf in his shop of things he’d collected on his travels and I think all that was later donated to start a museum. I know the Times-Review interviewed my grandmother, Gertrude McGraw, because she had been on a train that Jessie James robbed. I have the article, but it doesn’t have the date on it. I also remember the one road to Fort Worth being so busy on Friday nights and people saying, ‘Oh, they’re going to buy beer,’ because Cleburne was dry back then. I think there were maybe four stop lights in town when I lived there.”
Bunny Moreland also remembers Moreland, who was her paternal grandfather.
“Granddaddy lived in the Liberty Hotel and was always in the police force as far as I can remember,” Moreland said. “I used to go by to visit him and he’d take me to the movies. He’d show his badge and they’d let us in for free.”
Bunny Moreland said her mother later married a Navy man and sent for her and her brother. Bunny Moreland said she and her brother moved to Hawaii in 1948 to be with their mother but returned to Cleburne two years later before the family eventually moved to San Diego. Bunny Moreland joked that her lack of a birth certificate almost kept her in Cleburne.
“I needed a birth certificate to be able to go to Hawaii,” Moreland said. “So we had to find three people who could remember that I was born, which wasn’t easy. Finally we got it done and Oran Smith and two other men, can’t remember their names now, signed the birth certificate.
Smith, Moseley said, served as Johnson County’s sheriff in the ‘40s and later Cleburne’s chief of police.
“Big guy,” Moseley said. “Always smoked a lot of cigars.”
Moreland said she attempted to visit her grandfather after she returned from Hawaii to Cleburne.
“I was about 15, 16 then,” Moreland said. “I went to the hotel to see him and the man at the desk said he was sick and didn’t feel like coming down.”
Andrew Moreland passed away on July 15, 1951, according to Moseley’s research.
“Well, he was known throughout town,” Moreland said. “I remember walking around Cleburne one day and hearing people say to each other, ‘Hey, did you hear Andy died?’ That’s how I found out.”
Allen said he holds fond memories of visiting Cleburne as a child and hopes to return someday.
“People talk slow in Texas and that took a little getting used to,” Allen joked. “But in Cleburne I remember a close encounter with a snake, water moccasin I think. I remember Buffalo Creek, the train at the park, snow cones, frogs and fireflies and seeing bats flying in and out of one of the buildings downtown.”
Bunny Moreland likewise remembers Cleburne with fondness and her grandfather, the former sheriff.
“Everybody in town seemed to know him, that sticks in my mind,” Moreland said. “He was such a good person.”