After Modoc County was established in 1874, Joseph Marks was appointed to the combined office of sheriff and tax collector in May of that same year. That made him officially the first sheriff in Modoc County. Joseph Marks was a refugee from the Southern Confederacy. He first settled in Tri-Lake City, later called Lake City, the first organized community in Surprise Valley in 1864. Various recollections note that he was an agreeable and educated man. He married Fanny Gooch, and together, they had one child who died at a young age. In the early days of settlement within the county, Alturas became the county seat, and it was necessary for the newly appointed officials to live there. There was hardly appropriate housing, so Sheriff Marks built a large house to accommodate three families: his own and the families of G.F. Harris, the district attorney, and Mr. Fitzgerald, the county clerk. Court was held in the first community hall built in Alturas. It was a long building with a shed on the side that was divided into three rooms where the offices of county clerk, district attorney, and sheriff-tax collector were located. The hall was the first courthouse, as well as the first church, first theater, and first dance hall in Alturas. The jail was located at the present site of Veteran’s Memorial Park. It began operations in 1876, but it burned soon after. For $200, the county hired Alex Mitchell to build a new jail. It was a two-by-six, double spiked, planked building. The jail yard was enclosed by a tight 12-foot board fence. Following his office of sheriff, Joseph Marks was in the mercantile business, later on he clerked in E. Lauer and Sons store in Likely, then in George Bonner’s store in Davis Creek. Throughout his lifetime, he held many offices that mirrored the trust that the community had for him. He passed away at the age of 67 from a heart attack in July of, 1904 in the Alturas Hotel, while sitting at a table drinking a glass of lemonade . As far as anyone knew, his divorced wife was the only living relative he had.