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Vermont city to commemorate first known black sheriff

August 28, 2021 GMT

VERGENNES, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont city is planning to erect a monument to Vermont’s first known black sheriff and chief of police.

The city of Vergennes is planning to unveil and dedicate the monument to former Sheriff Stephen Bates on Oct. 3.

Bates was first elected sheriff and chief of police in Vergennes in 1879.

Bates had been formerly enslaved in Virginia. He gained his freedom and served Union soldiers during the Civil War. He first came to Vergennes in 1866 with Vermont U.S. Rep. Frederick E. Woodbridge.

Bates served as sheriff of Vergennes for 25 years. He raised a family in Vergennes before his death in 1907, and some of his descendants will be attending the event.

A local team of historians and others spent the past year researching Bates’ life and rediscovering his story in Vergennes.