Charleston Daily Mail, February 27, 1938:
ERA OF CAMERA-EQUIPPED OFFICERS FORECAST BY FAYETTE'S SHERIFF, WHO MAKES HOBBY PAY;
County and He Benefit With Production at His Studio: When he became sheriff of Fayette County J.R. Aliff, as an amateur photographer, saw the need of photography in identifying criminals. Forthwith he equipped a studio at the courthouse here and he uses the hobby for the benefit both to the county and himself. Many times, he says, officers rub elbows with criminals whom they are looking for and are unable to identify them. Any person, he believes, can make a passable snapshot with a camera, and the time is almost here when all offices of the law, to be efficient, just employ cameras. He is now taking fingerprints of all persons committed to or detained at the county jail, and he expects to photograph all of them as well. He has photographed many persons who hold public and civic positions. Mr Aliff was born on November 4, 1892, the son of Elmer Aliff, a farmer near St. Albans. His mother died in 1934. He received his early education at St. Albans and was graduated form Marshall college, Huntington, in 1912. He taught School in Kanawha and Mingo counties for three years after his graduation. The schools were for six months and for the other six months he worked as a miner, a trainman, a hoist engineer or a tipple boss. He became a trainman for the Pennsylvania railroad at Pittsburgh, in 1915, and remained there for two years. Then he enlisted in the United States Army, in 1917, and went to France, and saw two years service as a private and corporal in company B, 16th United States engineers. On his return form France he came to Fayette county for the first time and settled at Long Branch. He worked there intermittently as a mine foreman, a bookkeeper and a bank clerk until 1928, when he was elected assessor of Fayette County by a majority of 1,507 votes. He was reelected assessor in 1932 by a majority of 5,308. Mr Aliff became sheriff of Fayette county in 1936 by a majority of 11,752. He is married and lives at Fayetteville, and has one small son.
Charleston Daily Mail, February 5, 1939:
Sheriff J. R. Aliff of Fayetteville has established an unusual device in the Fayette County courthouse so that he can contact any part of the jail, the basement, or other rooms without leaving his office. The device is known as an "operadio". Buttons on the combination transmitter-receivers allow one to call any part of the jail, by simply pressing the buttons and talking. The sheriff installed the system as an added precaution against jail breaks and to make contact with each cell convenient without leaving the desk in the office. Besides the system offers another feature the officers waiting in the office can "tune in" on the regular barn dance and hillbilly musical programs given by prisoners. "There's never a shortage of talent among the prisoners", the sheriff laughingly said.
Charleston Daily Mail, January 14, 1941:
New Clerk of House Requires Loud Speaker, Because J. R. Aliff, new clerk of the house of delegates, happens to lack the stentorian voice of John Hall, his predecessor, it was necessary to install a loud speaking system in the house chambers. The system was installed and tried out early Tuesday, insuring that the members will be able to hear clearly the readings of the various measures.
Fact from living son of J.R. Aliff: He was born Jeter Aliff with no middle name but changed his name to include the middle name of Richard and then was called J.R. for he did not like the name of Jeter. Said no one should call there children by silly names. 10/10/2006
Hallie Irene Maynor Aliff
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