- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 21, 2006

STAUNTON, Va. (AP) — The U.S. Marshals Service, best known for dogging fugitives in the Old West, is on a different kind of quest these days: to find a place to store its antique badges and arrest warrants for the ruthless and the wanted.

As part of that search, a committee recently toured the Shenandoah Valley and its major attractions for several days. Also in the running is Fort Smith, Ark.

Staunton received a vote of confidence during the tour: Three former agency directors — Stanley Morris, John Marshall and Henry Hudson — endorsed the city over Fort Smith.

Agency Director John F. Clark is expected to select the museum site by the end of the year.

“It’s a great way for the American people to know about the background of law enforcement,” said Robin Boylan, former FBI lawyer and member of a local committee to attract the museum.

The Marshals Service got its start with 13 appointments from President George Washington in 1789. One of those appointments fell to Edward Carrington, picked to watch over Virginia from his headquarters in Staunton.

“There’s a lot of historical ties to the U.S. Marshals Service here,” Mayor Lacy King said. “Staunton and this area was the beginning of the Western movement.”

During the Civil War the marshals were assigned the job of hunting down Confederate spies.

The agency’s traveling bicentennial celebration exhibit was in Laramie, Wyo., from 1991 to 2003. Some of its artifacts date back more than 200 years.

Soon after the exhibition closed in 2003, a committee was created to find a permanent home. A warehouse of the agency’s history is the idea of former U.S. Marshals Director Stanley Morris, now a member of the Staunton committee charged with bringing the museum to Virginia.

“Being known as a place where you can learn about history has a really good ring to it,” Staunton spokesman Doug Cochran said.

Staunton is the home of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and has the Frontier Culture Museum, which interprets early settlements in the Shenandoah Valley.

While Staunton has strong ties to the Marshals Service, its competitor also has bragging rights.

Fort Smith was a frontier town with a federal judge and U.S. marshals who enforced the law in the Indian territory. It also was home base for the whisky-sipping Marshal Rooster Cogburn in the novel “True Grit,” played by John Wayne in the movie. And many people living in Fort Smith are descendants of U.S. marshals.

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