I know that Lawrence resident Gladys Johns, who died at age 102, was the first and only female sheriff in Douglas County. I've also heard she was the first female sheriff in the state. Is that true?
According to the Kansas State Historical Society, the state's first female sheriff was Mabel Chase, who was elected sheriff of Kiowa County in November 1926. Chase was the first woman in the United States to be elected sheriff, according to the historical society.
Johns served a brief stint as sheriff in Douglas County when, in 1950, her husband, Sheriff William "Dunie" N. Johns Jr., died before completing his term.
Thanks to Lawrence resident Larry Welch for pointing the way to this answer.