Former Sheriff Bon Hughes McElreath memorialized through highway dedication

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, November 15, 2023

In October, the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors voted to dedicate portions of highways to two men who committed their lives to serving Lafayette County, former Sheriff Bon Hughes McElreath and former Mississippi State Sen. Johnny Morgan.

McElreath will be memorialized on College Hill Road from College Hill Presbyterian Church to the Coontown boat ramp. 

“It was wonderfully kind of the Board of Supervisors to honor my father with this,” said Dr. David Hughes McElreath. “Too often, people disappear with nothing to recognize their service and sacrifice.”

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A World War II veteran who served in the United States Navy, McElreath became sheriff in 1968 after a career in the FBI. “He was known for treating everybody equally and fairly,” said his son. “He appears to have been, if not the first one, one of the first sheriffs to break the color barrier with deputies without a restriction.”

In 1971, McElreath was diagnosed with lung cancer. After his death, Dr. McElreath’s mom was appointed sheriff until the county held an election.  “I may be the only kid in town whose both mother and father served as sheriff,” said their son. 

“He was my hero and will be for as long as I live,” added Dr. McElreath. “I just so appreciate the Board of Supervisors being so gracious in doing this. It honors the entire family, recognizing the legacy of our father and grandfather.”

The McElreath family drive down what is now their father’s memorial highway each day to get home. “It seems fairly appropriate to have this part of the road named that so when all the family drive out this way, they see their daddy or grandfather’s name on something that he helped to protect,” Dr. McElreath said.

For residents driving down the Sheriff Bon Hughes McElreath Memorial Highway, Dr. McElreath hopes they understand that the road is dedicated to a true public servant, “who brought his family and his dedication back to his home to try to make it a better place for everybody in a very difficult time in our history, to have a better place to live, work and raise their families, to have a community that was as safe as it could possibly be.”