1904 Souvenir Book
This is taken from Souvenir Book, St. Paul Police Benevolent Association, 1904, a 1904 publication.
History of the Police Department
There was one citizen in St. Paul in 1838. The only police department was his conscience, and from all that is known of Pierre Parrant, whose name, after other men came, was changed to "Pig's Eye," because of an optic deformity, the department must have been of very inferior quality.
Parrant gained a living by trading whisky for furs with the Indians. He changed good minded savages into demons, and much of the work that the soldiers of Fort Snelling were called upon to do was caused by Mr. "Pig's Eye" Parrant. The soldiers finally turned their attention from the Indians to the whisky seller. They drove him from the fort, and he moved to a point which he supposed to be outside the reservation, where the soldiers had no direct jurisdiction. He built himself a log cabin on the white bluffs near the foot of what is now Ramsey street, and this cabin was the first saloon in St. Paul, and out of this saloon grew the majestic city which, like Rome of old, stands on seven hills, and which is to the Catholicism of the West what Rome is to the Catholicism of the world.
The Indians patronized "Pig's Eye" heartily. They were not his sole patrons, however. As the white men fought their way up the Mississippi the beautiful white stone bluffs near "Pig's Eye's" cabin attracted their attention. The cabin itself was a suggestion of rest and shelter. A landing was soon worn by boat bottoms and spike-nailed shoes on the river bank in front of Pierre's saloon, and his place became one of the centers of what, if it might not be called civilization, was certainly the forerunner of that condition. And so Pierre Parrant gathered a group of some sixty men and women about his cabin.
St. Paul, which was then known as Pig's Eye, began to grow. Six miles up the river, high up on the bank, stood the town of Mendota. It was a heavy bidder against Pig's Eye for municipal precedence. But the extra six-mile pull for tired boatmen was a handicap which could not be overcome. St. Paul shortly distanced its rival, and today the peaceful little village of Mendota still stands high up on the western bank of the Mississippi, six miles from the great city of St. Paul.
These were wild days, full of curious, bloody events—times when a policeman would have been too busy to keep his buttons and star polished and his trousers pressed.
Justice was dispensed by Henry Sibley, a justice of the peace of Crawford county, Wisconsin, in which the town that was to be named St. Paul was located. Mendota, which was known as St. Peter, was a village in which he held court. Murders, brawls, land disputes and family troubles came under his jurisdiction. But his chief duty was to regulate the traffic of liquor to Indians. The governor appointed an Indian agent, who made many arrests of liquor traders. They called often upon Justice Sibley to assist them in the campaign which the government was waging against the liquor traffic, and Justice Sibley never failed them. His sentences were rigorous.
Of the gruff, roughly dressed, tanned and unshaven men who came up from the landing to Pig's Eye's settlement in the year 1839, there were some honest, sturdy fellows. They found themselves in bad company, and there was enough tribulation to discourage any good man. The settlement founded by the man with the bad eye had become a veritable Gomorrah in miniature. The wrath of the government, slow to anger, was finally aroused. A regiment of Uncle Sam's soldiers marched out from Fort Snelling one May morning in the year 1840 and swept down on "Pig's Eye's" cabin, and the cabins that surrounded it, like a visitation of divine anger. The citizens were driven out, their cabins were burned and the word of the government was given that the place should be no more inhabited by civilians.
Several magnificent residences stand on this spot today.
It may have been with visions of the great city which was to stand on the grass-covered hills which surrounded them that a handful of men built each his own cabin half a mile further down the river. Pierre Parrant, however, did not give up his questionable desire for establishing a settlement which might be named after himself. He moved six miles down the river, near the place which is now called Red Rock. Franklin Ford owned a mile or more of land along the river bank, and it was on his property that Pig's Eye started his new log cabin saloon. Ford was an honest, God-fearing man, and he soon gave "Pig's Eye" orders to move, which order that gentleman immediately acted upon.
The little settlement further up the river flourished to such an extent that in 1841 a church was built. The building was of logs, and the church yard was surrounded by a log fence. A little wooden cross was nailed at the peak of the roof. St. Paul was the name of the church, and from this Father Lucien Gaultier, of the diocese of Dubuque, built up a strong parish.
The name of the city was taken from the church. The men of the town were a law unto themselves. Then struggles for order and decency during the next dozen years would make such a story—and a long one—as might be told of any of the early settlements.
In 1848 the territory of Wisconsin, in which St. Paul was located, was divided. The eastern portion was admitted to statehood, and the western portion was created a territory and named Minnesota.
St. Paul contained eighteen homes, whose members, together with the wanderers and adventurers who came to the town, made up a census of 840 persons.
Alexander Ramsey was Minnesota's first territorial governor. And true government was not known in the locality where St. Paul was situated until the day President Taylor announced Ramsey's appointment. The territorial legislature of 1849 divided Minnesota into nine counties. One of these was Ramsey, and St. Paul's first honors were bestowed when it was declared the county seat.
November 1st of that same year a bill was approved incorporating the town of St. Paul
The president of the common council was Dr. Thomas R. Potts. The other officers were: Recorder, Edmund Rice; trustees, W. H. Forbes, Henry Jackson, A. L. Larpenteur, B. F. Hoyt and William H. Randall.
The town having become thus established, we will turn our attention to the police department of St. Paul, which is the theme of this brochure. There is one link between the police department which is the pride of St. Paul, and which has kept clear the name of our city in these days of municipal reform, and the early days when St. Paul was a struggling town and its police department consisted of a man in overalls, who wore a big glittering star on his homespun coat. It reaches back to a glorious autumn day in the early fifties, when St. Paul was a town of about a thousand persons. In one of the homes lived a chubby little fellow who was the leader of all the boys of his age. The air was hazy and the glory of an Indian summer afternoon enveloped the little village. It was a day ill-suited for adventure, but this chubby little fellow had been born for excitement. He suggested to his mates a visit to the jail. His suggestion, in fact, was a dare, and so, little John leading, the boys walked down Robert street and turned off to the west, and in the outskirts of the town, near the corner of Washington and Fifth streets, came to the little wooden shed that was known as the jail. Straight up to one of the four barred windows John walked. The other boys wondered at his bravery, and came behind with reluctant steps. John was no coward. When he did things he did them thoroughly. He seized a window bar in each of his chubby hands, and with eyes wide open, tried to pierce the mysterious gloom of the wooden dungeon. Truth to tell, his heart was fluttering, but he liked heart flutters and cold chills. That was what made him different from the other boys. But all of a sudden his heart gave a jump that nearly threw him over. Out of the gloom emerged a tousled head; a bleared face was thrust almost into his. Heart flutters are all right, but when a fellow's heart begins to pump like an engine it is too much for human flesh and blood to stand. And so John turned and ran. His followers were seized with consternation, and the whole brave venture wound up with a rout.
But John's thoughts still turned to the jail and it was probably for that reason that when he was old enough he became a member of the St. Paul police department. The only time he ever ran away was on that autumn day, in the early fifties. His name is John Clark, and he is captain of the St. Paul police department today.
A short time before the little wooden jail was built a sheriff had guarded the citizens of St. Paul. His name was Lull, and his hands were always full, because his territory was large and the Indians found little difficulty in getting liquor. Murders were common and Sheriff Lull sent several Indians to the happy hunting grounds by the slipknot route.
The military prison at Fort Snelling was his headquarters. The citizens of St. Paul had elected a man whose name was Alexander Marshal as guardian of the peace, but Mr. Marshal had other duties in a carpenter shop on Pearl street, now known as Grove street. He was so busy that he had little time for police work. And so what glory there was fell upon Sheriff Lull. But the day of the sheriff was to pass. He was to become a secondary figure in maintaining the peace of the city. The lives and property of the people of St. Paul were to be cared for by blue-coated policemen. Shortly after this the town council elected Warren Chapman and Warren Woodbury as constables. The history of St. Paul contains nothing of importance regarding them, nor is there anything set down about Michael Cummings and John McKastner, who were their successors.
The crowning honors for Sheriff Lull came in 1854, when he arrested Yu-Ha-See, an Indian, who had murdered Mrs. Keener, a white woman. Mayor Olmsted, St. Paul's first head, had besought his constables to capture the Indian, but Sheriff Lull beat them and stored the pagan away in the army prison at the fort.
The mayor concluded it was time to have a police force, and he made a suggestion to the common council to that effect. The council met and elected the first town marshal, William R. Miller. The day of the sheriff was waning, but Mr. Lull saw Yu-Ha-See through to the end—of a rope.
William Miller took up his responsibilities as marshal with considerable vim. The council had elected four policemen: William Spitzer, Smith Macauley Joseph Fadden and John Nagler. Within three weeks after the organization of the force an ugly murder occurred in the town. William W. Hickock, a druggist, murdered a drayman, using a wagon pin. Hickock's drug store was located near what is now the intersection of Robert and Sixth street. The drayman, whose name was Peltier, had been late in delivering goods from the wharf at the foot of Robert street.
Hickock called him to account, a quarrel ensued, and the druggist dealt Peltier a blow over the head with a wagon pin which was lying near him. Hickock hid himself in his house, but was found by the police. A lengthy trial followed and Hickock was acquitted.
The second mayor of St. Paul was Alexander Ramsey, who was elected in 1855. The previous year his term as territorial governor had expired.
Police matters were quiet for some time in the early part of the year. But in the summer the escape of five prisoners from the city Jail created considerable excitement. The town marshal was called to account and was censured for the carelessness of his underlings. His salary of $400 per year could hardly have been sufficient remuneration for the responsibilities which were laid upon him.
But Mr. Miller's salary was munificent compared with the salary received by Orlando Simons, the city justice, which was $250 per year.
One of the duties of Marshal Miller was to attend all council meetings. The council met in a room above the jewelry store of Nathan Spice on Third street, between Cedar and Minnesota.
At one time an effort was made to reduce Miller's salary to $300 per year, but he pointed out that the extra duty of sergeant at arms for the council was alone worth the $100 which they were seeking to take from him.
Judge Simons presided at police court on the second story of the market building at Seventh and Wabasha streets. In September of this year the force was added to and in 1856 another addition was made, so that on May 30th, in the term of George L. Becker, St. Paul's third mayor, the force consisted of these men, who were distributed over three districts: Chief, W. R. Miller; Sol Waters, captain of first district; Wm. H. Spitzer, Smith Macauley, Joseph Fadden; Burt Miller, captain of second district; Wm. Tonika, Andrew Sandberg, Aspinwall Cornwall; James Gooding, captain of the third district; M. C. Hardwig, Henry Galvin, Edward Mayher. Of this entire roster not a man is alive today. Henry Galvin, the last survivor, died in April of 1903.
Of the various attempts which have been made to achieve the worthy object of a police pension fund, Mr. Galvin was probably, the only man of the St. Paul police department who derived any particular benefits.
For a time he received a pension of $20 per month, but the pension law was rescinded and he was deprived in his declining years of a remuneration that was justly his.
July 9th of this year, two puzzling murders occurred and were not discovered until it was too late for the police to do any practical work. George R. McKenzie, proprietor of a popular hotel known as the Mansion House, disappeared, and four days later his body was found in the river. Shortly after this the body of a man named Robert Johnson, a laborer, was also found body mutilated in the water at the wharf.
The little wooden jail was supplanted in 1856 by the city hall, which was built at the corner of Fifth and Washington street.
The building cost $6,500, and the lockup, which consisted of six cells, was located on the first floor. The police of these days had trying times. The town was overgrown; its citizenship was made up of mixed classes, and arrests for drunkenness, rioting and theft were frequent. There were no patrol wagons, and when an officer made an arrest he would press into service the first vehicle that came to hand if the prisoner was inclined to be boisterous or resistant. Many a prisoner was taken to the station in a buggy or a spring wagon, and by the night patrolmen often hauled to the lockup in a grocery wagon which a public spirited citizen left standing for the purpose in an alley in the rear of his grocery store, near Seventh and Wabasha street.
John Ball Brisbin was elected the fourth mayor of St. Paul in 1857. His term in a criminal way was one of excitement. The police force was more than adequate when it came to matters of consuming the sums set aside for police service, but far from adequate in a matter of preserving the peace and even the safety of citizens. St. Paul was passing through the stage of a river town. A land boom was on.
Money was free and speculators and gamblers thronged to the town, which had now become the most prominent of all the municipalities of the state. Mayor Brisbin was the head of the fastest town on the Mississippi river. With the police it was a case of the utmost alertness. They rose to the emergency, and though they were subjected to a severe criticism, they made a record which could not be justly criticised.
There were two unsolved murders during the year. In January Henry Schroeder, a German tailor, was murdered in his shop. The murderer was never discovered. During the latter part of the year, Peter W. Trotter was killed. The crime was fixed on Mike Smith, but he was never apprehended. During the next year the land boom broke and crime became rampant; many of the merchants failed and the population, according to the census of September, had decreased by one-half. The mayor called for a vigilance committee to serve with the twelve policemen who numbered the police force.
The next year, 1858, Norman W. Kittson was elected mayor. He was an intimate friend of Henry H. Sibley, and it was through this connection that he came into prominence as a man of business. It was during his term that the territory of Minnesota was admitted as a state. The change from territorialism to statehood meant much for St. Paul. The city was reincorporated; the official titles which obtain today were first decided upon and St. Paul, which had been a town, became a city. The population was about 7,000, and the settlement which was first known as Pig's Eye, Crawford county, Wisconsin, was fully established as St. Paul, Ramsey county, Minnesota.
Bill Miller, the chief of police, was superseded by J. W. Crosby. To Mr. Crosby was given the title of chief of police. His salary was sufficient to dignify his position, amounting to $1,000 per year.
He received more money than the mayor, and yet according to the irregular laws which are wont to prevail over municipal conditions, his duties were not half so onerous or responsible. The race question came up at this time, as it has arisen many times since. A commute of the council complained that the German element in politics were being ignored. The report of the committee was that the force consisted of three Americans, six Irishmen and two Frenchmen. Not a German could be found.
The council shiftily placed the responsibility for this deplorable condition on the mayor, and disclaimed any blame for the situation. There were no results of this campaign in favor of the Teutonic element.
May 3rd, 1859, Col. D. A. Robertson was elected the sixth mayor of St. Paul. He was a newspaper man, and beside the office of mayor, held several other offices, including the shrievalty, during his career in St. Paul. His term saw an improvement in the unstable and mobile conditions which had prevailed during the years of the previous mayors.
The police department was augmented by the appointment of two extra officers. Crime was at a low ebb during this term. The entire populace seemed bent on taking advantage of the tendency for a solidification of the foundations upon which the ever growing city of St. Paul was based. During the year there was one murder. Annie Belanski was hung for the murder of Andrew Belanski, her husband. They lived on a claim in the northeastern portion of the city. On March 11th he was found dead in his bed. The diligence of the police resulted in the arrest of the woman on a charge of murdering her husband. An examination showed that arsenic had been used, and in the court house yard, March 28th, 1860, the first and only woman who has met execution for a crime in the state of Minnesota was hung, without a hitch in the proceedings, for the crime of murder.
The next mayor of St. Paul was Col. John Stoghtenbergh Prince, who had been a member of Gen. Sibley's staff, and had had wide experience with the American Fur Company, and with lumber interests, which gave him a close insight into pioneering affairs. The city of which he was head numbered 10,279 citizens. His term was marked by the gloom which the coming Civil war threw over the entire country—an ominous cloud which darkened the day of prosperity and sent forbodings of terror through the minds of all thoughtful persons who had watched the futile attempts of many wise and careful statesmen to settle the question of slavery in the South.
Business depression was a result of this situation, and in the same degree that the land boom of 1856 caused an inflation of values, so the despondency of this year caused a depreciation in values which had a deplorable effect in business circles—an effect which was felt in all the cities of the country during the course of the civil war.
During the years 1861 and 1862, when the war cloud hung over the country, John Prince served as mayor in a manner above reproach. There was no deed of his official life that is more worthy of mention than his action in suggesting to the council that the entire police force of the city of St. Paul be dismissed. He was moved to this action because the policemen were all inclined to exchange their revolvers and clubs for rifles, and their stars and helmets for blue suits and the jaunty caps which the Northern soldiers who fought in the civil war were so proud of.
As a matter of fact the force of fourteen men had been decreased to seven. This force was undeniably inadequate; patriotism was the cry of the day, and it was this call which Mayor Prince sent out when he asked that citizens of St. Paul form themselves into a vigilance committee which would take the place of the police department. His call aroused every worthy citizen, and during the entire winter of 1862 St. Paul for the first time and only time in its history was without a police department. H. H. Western had been the chief of police. He was succeeded by James Gooding. The vigilance committee, including sixty of the most promising young men of the town, guarded the city. This guard was later increased to some 200 men. There were four companies, known as the "First Ward," "Second Ward," "Third Ward" and "Lower Town" guards.
There are some men still among us who were members of this vigilance committee. Wm. B. Langley was captain of the "First Ward" company. Harvey Officer was first lieutenant of the "Third Ward" company, and Ferdinand Willius was captain of the "Lower Town" guard. These men have recollections of the most stirring events that the little city of St. Paul had known up to that time. At one time six of them were set upon by a mob of citizens when they were arresting another prominent citizen who was boisterously in his cups. They overcame the mob and arrested five of their assailants.
In 1865 John Esias Warren was elected mayor, and at an early council meeting it was decided to dispense with the vigilance guards and go back to the police department system. Michael Cummings was elected chief of police and George Morton was elected captain. The salary of the chief was $600 per year and of the captain $500. There were ten officers who each received $480. The recent death of Henry Galvin removed from our midst the last survivor of this police roll.
Chief Cummings was an able officer, and through Mayor Warren he addressed to the council many suggestions which were followed and which resulted in bringing his little force up to a remarkably high state of efficiency.
The police of these days were rough and ready fellows, who, whenever possible, dealt out physical punishment rather than arrest a man, if they saw that the ends of peace might be thus accomplished. Many stories are told of the old-time policemen and their scrimmages with unruly prisoners, in which it was a case of man to man and often club to revolver.
There were no patrol wagons, and very often a policeman had to fight his prisoner all the way to the lockup. The result was that an officer would be inclined to deal out a quieting blow to a man who promised to be unruly, and many a prisoner was carried unconscious to the police station in the nearest vehicle the policeman could obtain.
The intricacies of police work, as it is now known, were first fully appreciated by Mayor Warren and Chief Cummings, and it was with these two gentlemen that the idea of a detective department originated. Mayor Warren, however, was not able to carry out this idea during his incumbency, and it remained for Dr. J. H. Stewart, who was elected mayor in 1864, to have the honor of organizing the first detective department. He was given $200 for the employment of a detective. The names of the men who served in this department are not mentioned in the histories of St. Paul. Chief Cleveland took the place of Chief Cummings, but his incumbency covered only a few month, and George Turnbull, in the summer of 1864, was elected to his place and his salary was increased $400.
A mysterious murder occupied the attention of the police during the fall. The body of a murdered man with a rope attached to the neck was found in the river. The police gave up the case, and it was only by a peculiar fate that George L. Van Solen of St. Paul was two years later arrested as the murderer. Henry Harcourt of England was named as the victim. He was a physician who had been visiting Van Solen. His absence from his home in England was not seriously thought of until two years after, when his relatives began an enquiry. In 1865 Mayor John S. Prince was re-elected for his fourth term and the next year he was elected a fifth time.
Hon. George L. Otis was the successor of Mayor Prince in 1867. During the early part of his term J. P. McIlrath was appointed chief of police and for three Years, a long term in those days of quick political changes, he served with an efficiency and ability that has never been exceeded. He insisted upon an improvement in the detective service, and instead of a fund from which special detectives were paid he secured the appointment of a special detective to the regular service.
The administration of Dr. J. H. Stewart, who was re-elected mayor in the spring of 1868, marked several decided changes in the police administration. The salaries of policemen were decreased $5 per month, but the most important change was for the better. For several years prominent citizens had criticised the custom of sending a certain class of women to the workhouse. It had been the custom of the police judges to send women of all sorts to the city workhouse, and several prominent people of philanthropic casts of thought argued that many women who might have been brought into better lives were ruined by indiscriminate co-mingling with women of a vicious class. After considerable public expression of opinion the city council took a somewhat daring stand and voted that the House of the Good Shepherd should thereafter be regarded as the workhouse for female prisoners. As a matter of fact, there was no workhouse at all, as we now know it. The city jail served this purpose, and by means of the ball and chain much valuable labor was got out of the many jags, vagrants and disorderlies who were sentenced to terms at hard labor.
Another important question of police discipline came up during the administration of James T. Maxfield, a man whose record as mayor of St. Paul shows that a clean government was always uppermost in his mind. When the question of disorderly houses was brought to public attention by the efforts of a small body of prominent citizens. A petition signed, by over 1,000 citizens, requesting the mayor to abolish, in so far as possible, the Sunday operation of disorderly houses and saloons, was the result of the efforts of this little reform association. Mayor Maxfield took hold of the situation with a vim, and though he was somewhat handicapped by a lack of sufficiently strenuous ordinances, his record shows that he fully satisfied the demands which had been made. It was during the incumbency of Mayor Maxfield that the chief of police first became recognized as a man who was worth a living salary. The council voted him a salary of $1,200 per year. Some duties were added to those which were already upon his shoulders, among them being one which required his presence at every fire. The police department consisted of one detective, and fourteen members. In the winter of 1869 Luther H. Eddy, a man who had been chief of the fire department and for eight years a member of the city council, was elected chief. His election followed a change in the administration which meant the retirement of Mayor James G. Maxfield in favor of William Lee. Mayor Lee served two terms and at the end of the year 1871 the force numbered nineteen men.
Dr. J. Stewart, in 1871, was again elected mayor, and he served continuously until the spring of 1875. During his entire incumbency nothing of note occurred in police circles, except that the salary of the chief was raised to $1,500 and that the patrolman received $840 per year. The names of the patrolmen who served in 1874 are familiar to many present day citizens of St. Paul. This is the roster: Chief, J. H. McIlrath; Captain, James King; Sergeant, Charles Weber; Officers, Galvin, Mitchell, Kenaley, Voegili, Cayen, Ross, Wahlstrom, Rouleau, Nolan, O'Keefe, Morgan, Pretriss, Christoph, Oelkler, Lowell, Palmer, Bressette, Clark, Bremer, Murphy, Putzier, Ryan, Nugent, Nygard and Dowlan.
It was during this year that one of the most atrocious murders that has ever found its place in the annals of the St. Paul police department occurred. Mrs. Ulricka Lick, as a result of a quarrel which occurred with the family of Peter Rapp, was murdered on the evening of November 1st. It was Sunday, and she with her husband had just returned to their home.
As they entered the kitchen Mrs. Lick saw the face of a woman at the kitchen window. She and her husband went to the door and they met two men and a woman. One of the men seized Mrs. Lick and the other seized her husband. Raising a hatchet, the man who had laid hands on Mrs. Lick cleaved her head in two parts. The man who assaulted her husband drew a knife across his throat, but a handkerchief which he wore protected him from serious injury. The murderer and his accomplices ran away, leaving Lick unconscious and his wife dead. The police immediately suspected the Rapp family. Mr. and Mrs. Rapp were arrested, tog ether with Otto Loutenschlager. Lick was able to give damaging testimony and the Rapps and Loutenschlager were committed to the Stillwater penitentiary for life.
Another clever piece of work done by the police this year was the arrest and conviction of Michael Kelly who is now serving out a life sentence in Stillwater penitentiary for the murder of Barney Lamb. The murder occurred during a fight on Wabasha street near Rice street, and Lamb was stabbed so badly that he died instantly. Kelly was at large for several hours. The police found him in hiding, and by a careful collection of evidence clearly showed him to be the murderer.
There was still another murder committed in this "Bloody Fall," of 1874. John H. Rose, because he had been discharged as a workman, shot Patrick O'Connor, a contractor. After a long chase Officer Putzier captured the murderer near the corner of Seventh and Jackson streets. The murder had occurred at Sibley and Fourth streets. Rose was the third person convicted of murder in the fall of 1874. In 1897 he was released by the state board of pardons.
St. Paul had become known as the toughest town on the river, while at the same time the policemen gained the reputation of being the most efficient of all the departments in the river towns. There was one thing which the chief had always to contend with, and that was the lack of a sufficient number of patrolmen. The population of the city was nearly 30,000, and the patrolmen numbered only twenty-four, one-third of whom were on duty by day and two-thirds by night.
The average number of people served by each patrolman was more than 1,000, a ratio which was bound to mean nothing less than the existence of crime and vice.
The hands of the policemen were full, but in spite of this fact the city council added duties which were not only onerous but in some instances ridiculous. One of these was that the police should not permit traveling men to conduct business in the city until they had taken out licenses which cost $10 each. Needless to say, for the benefit of those who understand the agility and resources of the average traveling man, the police had plenty to do to fulfill this duty, without paying attention to the more important and reasonable demands which were made upon them. However, this regulation in regard to traveling men did not prevail long, as it sorely hampered the hotel and the commercial trade of the city. In December of 1874 James T. Maxfield was elected mayor for a second time. The time of the election was changed from April to December by adoption of a city charter in 1868.
The insistent demands for a larger police force were finally recognized by the city council, in the spring of 1875, and the force was increased from twenty-four to thirty men. During the session of the legislature, shortly before this, provision was made for decided improvement in the police management. The city was given the right to establish a police court which was intended to take the place of a justice court where prisoners had been tried theretofore. Mayor Maxfield, taking advantage of this act, suggested that a municipal court be immediately established. The council acted upon this suggestion, and within a short time S. M. Flint, who was serving as city justice, became the first judge of the St. Paul municipal court.
His salary was fixed at $2,500 per year.
Two additional judges, in the persons of James F. O'Brien and Thomas Robinson, were appointed to serve during the absence of Judge Flint from the city. They were known as special judges. Their remuneration was $3 per day.
Another change in police affairs was the establishment of the county jail as a workhouse. This took many of the demands for accommodations from the city jail, which was already sorely taxed for capacity.
Mayor Maxfield, during the latter part of his last term, became seriously ill and William Dawson, who was a member of the council, served as acting mayor. At the expiration of Mayor Maxfield's term Mr. Dawson was elected mayor of St. Paul. He served from 1878 to 1881.
He already bore several municipal honors, having been president of the council from 1865 to 1868, and again from 1875 to 1878. The first bailiff of the St. Paul police court was William Nolan, who had been patrolman and who was delegated by the chief to act as police court bailiff.
In 1879 James King, chief of police, was retired and Charles Weber, who in 1874 was a sergeant, was appointed chief in his stead. His salary was reduced, as were the salaries of all men connected with the police department. The pay of patrolmen was reduced from $840 to $780.
The precursor of the great tower-topped building at Como, which is known as the St. Paul Workhouse, was instituted in 1879. The first workhouse was a wooden structure built to supply the demand for a place in which to keep habitual vagrants. The site was Smith Park, and the building was surrounded by a pile of stone. In a large capacious toolbox within, were sledge hammers which were used to maintain the industry of the inmates of the workhouse. Men who had been fined and were unable to pay the money were sent here to work out, on the stone pile, their fines at the rate of $1 per day. November of this year, the tendency towards smaller salaries was felt by Judge Flint. The sum of $250 was cut from his annual wages, but though his salary was not restored a rising tendency in salaries of men connected with the police department became a reality in the spring of 188o, and the former wages of the chief and patrolmen were restored. The pay roll for the year was $29,186, as compared with a sum $10,000 smaller for the previous year.
The workhouse idea during its short existence proved to be a good one and in April of 1880, the present site of the workhouse was secured in a northeast forty acres of the land surrounding Lake Como, which had been purchased for park purposes. F. A. Renz was elected superintendent of the workhouse, and he was succeeded by James Fitzgerald in 1885. Mr. Fitzgerald has served in this capacity ever since.
In 1881 Judge Flint was succeeded, after a popular election, by Walter T. Burr, as municipal judge. At the same election Edmund Rice, a man whose name is much revered by the members of the police department, even to this day, was elected mayor of St. Paul.
One of the first things which Mayor Rice did was to investigate police affairs. With one exception he found little to criticise. In his annual message to the council, May 4, 1882, he called attention to the condition of the city hall lockup, of which he said: "Conditions are unsanitary and threaten a pestilence." He also spoke of the insecurity of the jail as, during the previous winter, four prisoners under sentence to terms at Stillwater, had escaped by ripping up the floor, dropping info the cellar, and passing out through the cellar door.
The first patrolman to meet death because of strict devotion to duty was Daniel O'Connell. It was in the early morning of June 17th that, single-handed, he attempted to arrest two desperate burglars, and met a bullet which resulted in his death.
His name is first on an honor roll in the St. Paul police department, which contains the names of three other men. They were all heroes.
O'Connell had been relieved from duty and was walking along Third street when a young man rushed up to him and told him that two burglars had just escaped from his house. O'Connell gave chase and the young man was left behind. No one witnessed the noble fight which this hero undoubtedly made, and no one heard the shot which stretched him out, cold in death, on the green grass of a lot near the corner of Summit avenue and Walnut street. But there he was found the next morning in his blue coat and helmet, as truly a hero as any soldier who ever fell fighting for his country on a field of battle. The mayor, the chief of police, and the entire police department with the fire department and the city officials attended the funeral services of the brave policeman in the Cathedral.
Late in the fall the unrelenting search of the police officers for the murderers of their brave comrade was rewarded. George Washington and Al Underhill, two colored men, were arrested, tried for .the murder of O'Connell, convicted, and sent to Stillwater for life.
During all these years, John Clark, the little boy who had been frightened from the old wooden jail by the leering face of a drunken man, had been serving faithfully as a member of the police department.
In 1882 he was elected chief of police. For ten years he served in this capacity. He immediately introduced several innovations, one of them being a patrol wagon. The first driver of the wagon was Patrick Casey. Officers of today who knew him said he was a wild and reckless driver who thought more of responding to a call with speed than he did of accidents. Chief Clark also secured the appointment of fifteen new patrolmen, and the police force of St. Paul was brought up to forty-five men.
In 1883 C. D. O'Brien became mayor of St. Paul. His administration was known as a closed administration. He suppressed vice wherever he found it, with the result that it was continually cropping out in unexpected places. The police had their hands full. The city was rapidly growing and began to take on many metropolitan aspects which it had not hitherto possessed. In the spring of the next year fifteen new patrolmen were added to the ranks, and within a short time more an additional fifteen men were put on beats. In 1885 the police force consisted of ninety men. The management of these was greatly facilitated by the creation of the office of lieutenant. Two lieutenants, at a salary of $1,200 per year, were named. They were I. D. Morgan and Thomas Walsh. Two sergeants were added to the list at salaries of $1,000 per year. Chief Clark received $2,200 per year, and John B. Bresette, who had been appointed captain, received $1,700 per year. There were two detectives, Thomas Kenaley and Daniel J. O'Connor. John J. O'Connor was chief of detectives at a salary of $1,500.
In 1885 Henry W. Corey became municipal judge. His salary was $2,500 per year. Mayor Rice, during a second term of his office, acting on a suggestion made by Chief Clark, recommended another innovation which was much needed, the organization of a mounted police patrol. The first mounted patrol consisted of six men. As a further means of enhancing the efficiency of the department, Chief Clark secured the installation of a telephone system, which extended from the central station to the various beats of the policemen. It is needless to say how much the work of the police department was facilitated by this improvement.
There were thirty-two alarm boxes and a telephone connection at each station. The first superintendent was E. B. Birge, and the operators were E. W. Hildebrand and Henry H. Flint.
The rapid growth of the city of St. Paul called for all of these improvements, and for some that were even more costly. The need of police sub-stations had for some time been apparent to Mayor Rice and Chief Clark, but it was some months before their plans were sufficiently formulated for the mayor to request action on them by the city council. In the fall of 1886 the council decided that the recommendation of the mayor for four police sub-stations was reasonable and at the next meeting advertised for contracts. It was decided have substations located on Margaret street, Winslow avenue, Prior avenue and Rondo street. The estimated cost of these buildings aggregated 512.400. When Mayor Rice in 1887 resigned from the mayoralty of St. Paul, he undoubtedly looked with satisfaction upon what had been accomplished for the betterment of the police department during his terms as mayor. The department was thoroughly metropolitan: was in the hands of a man who thoroughly understood business: was equipped as well, at least, as any department of its size in the West, and had behind it a record which very few western departments could show.
Mayor Rice sent in his resignation from Washington. On March 1st, Robert A. Smith, who was then president of the council, became chief executive, being elected by the council to fill the vacancy in the mayor's chair. Robert A. Smith is too well known in St. Paul to wake any biography necessary at this juncture. He is still mayor of St. Paul, though his terms have not all been consecutive, and the prospects are that he will serve for some time to come as the head of this magnificent city. His re-election in 1904 over F. P. Wright was an ovation from the public.
The year 1888 saw many changes in the department, one of these was the institution of high license, which raised liquor license from $100 to $1,000. The number of saloons in the city was materially decreased, but the revenue took a jump from $78,000 in 1887, to $355,000 in 1888. In May the four substations were opened, and the following officers were placed in charge: Rondo, Captain Lowell; Margaret, Captain Hanft; Ducas (which was first known as Winslow), Captain Walsh; Prior avenue, Lieutenant Budy. The police force was increased to 160 men, including the chief, the senior captain, the chief of detectives, three captains, five lieutenants, eight sergeants, and four detectives, 121 patrolmen, drivers, bailiffs and pound masters.
There were two murders in this year which hold a prominent place in the annals of the St. Paul department. One was that of John Murphy by Bertha Hegener, the wife of a Minneapolis barber. Murphy, it was shown at the trial, had intentionally slandered the Hegener woman for the purpose of alienating her husband's affections. Her husband, holding a revolver to her head, forced her to promise to kill Murphy. True to her word she armed herself and coming to St. Paul, she met Murphy and demanded that he retract his charges. He refused and tried to escape. She followed him to Third and Sibley streets, and when she came near him, she sent a bullet into his head. The trial was highly sensational, her husband being arraigned with her on a charge of complicity. They were both acquitted.
The murder of Jacob Kohn by Nicholas Kill on the fourteenth of September was a dastardly thing, which resulted in the police using their utmost diligence, with success, in the pursuit of the murderer. Kohn lived in a house on the Hazzard farm. He took to shelter Kill, who had just been released from the workhouse. The murder was evidently done for purposes of robbery. Kohn was found dying by a boy who, in passing, stopped in at his house:
He had three horrible wounds in the head and died before the police were able to secure a statement from him. Officer Kline was one of a scouring party who went out over the nearby country in search of the murderer. He found Kill, who had been seen with Kohn several times, husking corn. He arrested him and when the man was searched at the central station he was found to be wearing Kohn's boots and Kohn's watch.
He was adjudged insane, but in 1890, after two years in the Rochester asylum, he was committed to Stillwater for life, and is there at this time.
The second name on the police roll of honor is that of Hans Hansen, who was murdered in the night of August 3, 1888. His death is a mystery, which has never been solved.
Wearing the uniform of his office, for the honor of which he gave his life, Hansen was found lying face downward on the curb stone near the corner of Summit and Virginia avenues. A shot had been heard shortly before by another officer, and it was he who found Officer Hansen's lifeless body. At the same time a squad of men, under Sergeant Babe, was sent out from the Rondo station in reply to a telephone message from the home of a prominent family on Summit avenue, that a revolver shot had been heard. Officer Hansen had not "pulled" his box at the hour, and the policemen rightly believed that he was in trouble.
The squad arrived on the scene just as the dead body was discovered.
The only clue ever found as to the murder of Hansen was the fact that two young men, who had rented a livery rig on the evening of the murder from a Selby avenue stableman, did not reappear, and the next day the horse brought home a badly damaged vehicle.
The theory of the police was that Hansen had discovered burglars on the Barnum premises, and in attempting to arrest them, lost his life.
The murder of Charles Doherty, a clerk in the employ of the American Express company, on Fifth street, during the early evening of February 27th, created great excitement. The murder was committed by Clara Blatz, alias Lizzie Hart, a woman of the town. with whom he had lived. Meeting Doherty on the street, near Robert, she raised a revolver and sent two bullets into his head. A twenty year sentence was the result of her second trial, the first trial resulting in a disagreement.
It was in 1889 that the present plan of having two municipal judges was put into effect. Henry W. Corey was re-elected, and John Twohy became his co-worker. The salary was $4,000 a year. Another improvement in the municipal court arrangements was the removal of the court from the market building to the present location, in commodious quarters, in the basement of the city hall. The building, which had been four years in construction, was completed in 1889, at a cost of $1,014,592.
One of the most sensational murder trials in the history of St. Paul was held in the fall of this year. Walter F. Horton, employed in the Northern Pacific land office, was accused of the murder of his wife and daughter, Mabel, ten years old. The intricacies of the evidence and the fact that the famous Bill Erwin, "The Tall Pine," defended the accused, attracted general attention. Horton was acquitted, but the evidence remains today something of a sad commentary on the jury system of the county.
His wife, from whom he had been separated for four years, was induced by him shortly before the murder to come to him in St. Paul. She brought with her the girl Mabel, and Horton secured for them a home on Eaton avenue, in West St. Paul. On the evening of August 14th, Horton invited his wife and daughter to take a boat ride on the river.
The boat was upset and "Six Finger Jack," a West Side river-man, who had been attracted by the screams of a woman, rushed to the bank in time to see Horton climbing onto a sand bar. Horton told him his wife and daughter had been drowned. It was just as Horton was preparing to leave the city that, at the request of his landlady, who suspected foul play, he was arrested.
The present appropriation of the police department, aggregating yearly $185,000, was provided for in the Bell charter, which was adopted in the year 1891.
Of all the reasonable legislation which a law-making body of Minnesota ever passed, the police pension fund, which was provided for in the year 1891, was probably the most reasonable and necessary. It is to be regretted that in spite of the best efforts of the department leaders, of prominent citizens, and legal men of St. Paul, this pension fund is not still in existence. What influences have been brought to bear to prevent the maintenance of the old police pension fund no one knows. But the fact remains that the pension law of 1891 was repudiated and no law for the same purpose, which has the same beneficial ends as this, has been passed since the repudiation.
All police officers over fifty years of age, and all widows and minor children of men who have been in the service twenty years, were entitled to the benefits of the fund. The fund was maintained by an appropriation consisting of ten per cent of all the fines imposed in the police court, and the fines imposed by the mayor on officers.
The present police station at 87 West Third street, was occupied for the first time during this year. It was the property of K. P. Cullen, and the rental was $150 a month, an amount which was later decreased to $100.
Chief Clark, about this time, saw the necessity of dispensing with the heroic treatment which it had been the custom of police officers, from days of old, to use on unruly prisoners. He therefore issued orders that all officers who used clubs on prisoners would be called before him and asked to explain the circumstances and describe the degree of the provocation. Chief Clark, after a decade which covered the period when the St. Paul police department grew from a small force to an immense thoroughly equipped metropolitan department, was retired in 1892, by Mayor Frederick P. Wright. Albert Garvin of Stillwater, was named as his successor, and John J. O'Connor, who as chief of detectives, had gained a national reputation for his diligence, alertness and shrewdness, was retired in favor of John C. McGinn.
The daylight hold-tip of Renaldo Lares, messenger, of the Merchants National Bank, at Fifth and Jackson streets, was the police event of the year 1893. The hold-up was committed by five men: James J. Meigs, Thomas Fluery, James Howard, Ben Miller and Henry Morris. They were Englishmen, and if any better or more accomplished crooks ever struck the city of St. Paul, they "got by" without the knowledge of the St. Paul police. The hold-up occurred during the forenoon of August 14th. Lares was standing in the corridor of the First National Bank with $20,000 in a bag beside him. Jim Howard reached out from behind a pillar and grabbed the bag, handing it to Miller, who, in turn, darted to the sidewalk and passed it to Morris. Morris hid the bag beneath his coat and coolly walked up Fifth street. Fluery and Meiggs, who were acting as "stalls," stood near the door, preparing to interfere with the pursuit. They successfully got away with the money, although Jim Howard, one of the gang, was arrested on the day of the occurrence. The day before the robbery the five men had been arrested in Minneapolis for vagrancy, and they were photographed by Inspector Hoy, before they were turned loose. It was on these five men that the police placed the guilt. Fluery and Meiggs were arrested by the Pinkertons in Chicago, and Inspector Byrnes got Miller and Morris in New York City. The trials resulted as follows: Fluery, ten years; James Meiggs, eight years; Jim Howard, six years: Ben Miller, four and one-half years. Morris was not arraigned on account of the inability of the police to properly show his connection with the criminals.
The Ermisch and Wonigkeit murder was the sensation of Mayor Wright's administration. In cold blood, they shot William Lindhoff, who was tending bar in a saloon at the corner of College avenue and Wabasha street. The hour was nine o'clock in the evening. The two men entered the saloon from different doors, and ordered Lindhoff to throw up his hands. Mrs. Kohlman, who was sitting at a table nearby cried to him to get his revolver. One of the men turned on her and the other began firing at Lindhoff. Seven shots were fired and the robbers ran off.
Lindhoff was removed to the city hospital and died within a short time. Chief of Detectives McGinn detailed Detectives McGuiggan, Weirrick and Gruber on the case. Suspicion was directed toward Ermisch and Wonigkeit, because the two had committed a somewhat similar burglary, minus the murder, in a West Seventh street saloon. Gruber caught Wonigkeit loitering on the levee and pursuaded him to confess.
The two murderers had been hiding in a summer cottage at Red Rock for some days. The story of the young men was that they had spent the night after the murder in a Merriam Park barn. At five o'clock the next morning, they made their way to the railroad tracks and walked to Red Rock.
After Wonigkeit had confessed the detectives started out to get Ermisch. He was found at the home of his mother on Blair street, where he was sick with pneumonia. The young men were tried and convicted of murder in the first degree, and, Friday, October 19th, 1894, they were hung by Sheriff Chapel. Ermisch had to be carried to the gallows.
Throughout his imprisonment this young man displayed an unusual criminal tendency. With a revolver, which his mother had smuggled to him he tried, six weeks before the hanging, to escape from the jail by shooting Deputy Edward Horst.
One of the principal murder mysteries in the history of the St. Paul department was that of Martin Erickson. He was brutally shot in his meat shop at 540 Decatur street, on the night of February 1, 1894.
Every attempt was made by the police to apprehend his slayer. Suspicion was directed toward his brother Edward. He was arrested, and after an investigation, was released. In 1898, upon the statements of one Wold, Edward Erickson was again arrested and charged with the murder. He was tried and Wold, in his testimony, proved himself to be something of a crazy man. The entire basis of his statement that Edward Erickson had committed the murder was a dream which came to him in the night, and which so vividly impressed him that he felt himself called of God to prefer charges against Edward Erickson. Erickson was acquitted.
In June of 1894, Robert A. Smith became mayor of St. Paul for a second time. The city had a population of 140,500 people.
The principal police event of Mayor Smith's term was the J. C. Hull trial. Hull was a minister with a pulpit in a prominent West Side church.
Mrs. Hull was ill with an incurable disease and she discovered that her husband, who was her constant and apparently kind attendant, had been giving her repeated doses of arsenic. The relations between her husband and a young girl in the Hull household, caused her to ask for her husband's arrest. The trial was highly sensational, and by means of letters which had been written by him to the girl, Hull was convicted of attempted murder. His sentence was six years.
Frank B. Doran was elected mayor in 1886. He made a clean sweep of the police department, removing the chief of police and appointing M. N. Goss who, however, proved an efficient head considering that he was without experience. His removals extended down to the most unimportant officer.
Charles Zschau, teller of the National German American bank, was arrested in May, 1897, for the theft of $13,600 from the bank. Stock gambling was the cause of his downfall, and just about the time that he should have received a diploma from the state law school, he was given, instead, a sentence of eight years in the penitentiary.
The police pension law was revoked by the legislature during the second year of Mayor Doran's administration. The administration of Mayor Andrew R. Kiefer began June 7th, 1898. The same election placed Judge Hine on the municipal bench with Judge Orr as senior judge.
The Middleton murder mystery was the chief event of 1898. Arthur Middleton was a proprietor of a tea store at 269 West Seventh street. He was alone in his apartments in the rear of the store when he was shot. He was awakened by noises in his room. When he opened his eyes he saw two men standing at the foot of his bed. They saw he was awakened and both of them fired at him and then ran away. Crawling to the sidewalk in front of the store Middleton began to call for help. Officers Filingen and McCormick who had heard the shots and the cries hurried to the place, and Middleton was removed to the hospital in the ambulance. Shortly after telling his story of what had occurred he died. The police made every attempt to arrest his murderers but were never able to fix the guilt.
It was always believed by the police that Middleton knew his slayer but that he was loyal to a certain woman who would have been gravely embarrassed had he told all he knew. The woman in the case was detained at police headquarters for a week but was released after her innocence of the murder had been established.
There were three other murders during this year. John Steenerson, a young Scandinavian, shot a street walker by the name of Eva Woodward in her rooms at 137 E. Ninth street. Steenerson's story of his shooting was that he had given the woman $5 with which to buy some beer. The woman refused to buy the beer and refused to return the money.
He shot her through the heart. On December first he was sent to the reformatory.
An awful tragedy occurred at 537 Broadway in the fall in 1898, when Kittie Marrian was shot by Dan Coughlin, a railroad engineer. There was a sad and touching pathos in the story of the murder. The woman had fallen heir to a home and Coughlin's wife was left out of the will.
Miss Marrian agreed to provide a home for Mrs. Coughlin, but she wished Coughlin sent to a state institute because he was going blind.
The young woman called at the Coughlin home one afternoon and Coughlin shot her as she entered the house. He then turned the gun on himself and when Mrs. Coughlin returned home short time thereafter she found the two dead bodies lying on the parlor floor.
November 15th August Hesse, a mere boy, after an argument with John Shanley in a Jackson street saloon, dealt Shanley a blow with his fist that killed him. Hesse escaped, told the story of the affair to his sweetheart and she related it to a friend, who communicated the secret to the police. The grand jury found him guilty of assault under a strong provocation.
The drastic manners of Mayor Kiefer resulted in unpleasant relations between him and Chief Goss. These two officials were continually at variance with each other and the spirit of strife between them finally resulted in the resignation of Chief Goss and of Chief of Detectives Phillip Schweitzer. Mayor Kiefer appointed Parker L. Getchell chief of police, and Martin L. McIntyre chief of detectives. Chief Getchell had been lieutenant of the Ducas street police station, and McIntyre had been city license inspector.
The administration of Chief Getchell was short, and the spring elections of 1900 resulted in a democratic victory which placed Robert A. Smith in the mayor's chair for his third term.
Within an hour after his inauguration Mayor Smith deposed the entire police regime which Andrew Kiefer had put in power, and appointed John J. O'Connor chief of police. Mr. O'Connor with his knowledge of police administration, was the man who was needed for the place, and an epidemic of burglaries, robberies, hold-ups and thefts came to an abrupt end.
A law which had been passed during the previous session of the legislature provided for the appointment of a police commission. Mayor Smith named on this commission R. T. O'Connor, K. L. May, William Foelsen, Daniel W. Lawler and Charles L. Haas.
Radical changes throughout the department were made by this commission. The appointment of John O'Connor, as chief of police, was confirmed; the office of chief of detectives was abolished, and Chief O'Connor was given full charge of detective work; the office of captain in the department was also done away with, and John Clark was appointed senior captain of the police force. The sub-stations were each put in charge of a lieutenant, and various details being as follows: Central, Lieut. Meyerding and Lieut. Hanft; Rondo, Lieut. Boerner; Ducas, Lieut. Sexton; Margaret, Lieut. Gebhardt; Prior avenue, Lieut. Budy. Lieut. Frank Horn was placed in the police court as a representative of the department.
The changes immediately resulted in an improvement in the police administration, and having thus placed the department on a firm basis Chief O'Connor began to devise means for enhancing its appearance.
In 1901 he formed the "Handsome Squad," which has since been his greatest pride. There is no city of the United States that has a squad of patrolmen larger, better looking, better dressed and better behaved. In addition to all these qualities they are brave men and the very honor of belonging to the distinguished branch of the department seem to spur them on to high deeds. They are acquainted with all the thieves and crooks, and many of them possess all the qualities of a detective. Runaways which dash through the streets of the city and threaten to cause the deaths of citizens are their especial delight. A "Handsome Squad" man who lets a runaway get by him must explain at headquarters. One of these brave fellows has laid down his life in fulfillment of his duties. He is Patrick Roche, and one summer evening when the streets were full of people he threw himself at the head of a runaway horse, at Fifth and Wabasha streets, grasped the bridle, and even though lie was dragged and terribly kicked by the wild animal, he held his grip until it came to a stop. He was unconscious when the crowd rushed up to him and they had to pry his fingers from their hold. After a long stay in the hospital he returned again to duty but his head had been permanently injured and he retired from the department, dying shortly afterwards.
There is another feature in addition to its "Handsome Squad," that is the pride of the citizens of St. Paul. It is the police ambulance, a richly upholstered vehicle, lighted with electric lamps, and ready at a moment's notice, to respond to a call in any part of the city. Chief O'Connor, in addition to the ambulance, which was purchased with a fund secured by the police department base ball club, had two police surgeons appointed. They were Doctors Paul B. Cook and William R. Moore. These young men were efficient surgeons, and were on duty day and night, ready to soothe the sick and injured during short quick, easy rides to the hospital. The ambulance was a vast improvement over the lumbering, cruel patrol wagon, which is yet used in most of the cities of the West in cases of accident and sudden sickness.
All of these vast improvements in the police department, which brought it up to a state of efficiency that has never before been equalled in St. Paul—or, in fact, in but few of the cities of the West, were accomplished by Chief O'Connor with no little effort. He had no more money at hand than had his predecessors, the annual appropriation being fixed by charter at $185,000 a year.
The Midway fire, which occurred at midnight, October 21, 1900, was in the early part of John O'Connor's administration.
The fire which broke out in the McCormick's Harvester Company's wareroom, got beyond the control of the firemen, and falling walls caused the death of six brave firemen. They were Assistant Chief William H. Irvine, Pipeman Burt P. Irish, Pipeman Lewis Wagner, Lieutenant Frank M. Edey and Pipeman Andrew Johnson.
The chief detailed a squad of patrolmen to attend the funeral of the brave fire laddies and, decked in white gloves with crape on their arms, the "Handsome Squad" presented a magnificent sight as they participated in the ceremonies over their dead brothers.
Chief O'Connor, it might be mentioned, in connection with a narrative of this fire, unearthed a plot which had been concocted by one Segrid Olson and two companions to destroy the McCormick plant by burning it. Olson was arrested, but the details of the affair were so meagre, that if Olson did commit arson there was no chance in the world to place the guilt on him before a court because of a lack of legal evidence.
The first murder under this administration occurred in the afternoon of September 19, 1900. Joseph Mrozinski, a fisherman on the Mississippi river, was shot by a deputy game warden while he was rowing on the river near Dayton's Bluff. The game wardens, in a launch, had gone further down the river and taken Mrozinski's nets. He came out in his boat from the shore to meet them and an exchange of shots resulted in his death. The limp body of the fisherman toppled over into the water and was found at Newport two days later. E. P. Corbett, a deputy game warden, was charged with the shooting, and was acquitted after a sensational trial.
The arrest of two murderers who are now serving terms in the Waupun penitentiary, was one of the events of the fall of 1900.
They were Arthur Cutts, and Olof Gustavson. After shooting Lulu Day, a keeper of a brothel at Neilsville, Wis., they came to St. Paul, and had been in the city only a few hours before the detective department knew of their presence here. Detective Frank Fraser arrested them at Fifth and Wabasha streets. They were taken to Wisconsin, tried and convicted.
The most shocking and brutal murder in the history of St. Paul occurred in the spring of 1901. Wiliam R. Rosenfield, employed in a livery stable on Fourth street, had quarreled with his wife and she left him, going to her mother, in Minneapolis. On the evening of April 30th Rosenfield hired a buggy, got the one child which had been left with him in St. Paul, drove to Minneapolis, and secured the other three children. The mother's goodbye as they rode away for what she thought was a summer's evening drive was her last one.
The next day a mounted patrolman found a horse hitched to a buggy wandering about in the woods at the east end of the Marshal avenue bridge. Owing to the failure of the livery man to report the missing animal to the police, it was fully two days before the police were able to solve the mystery. It was found that Rosenfield and his four children were missing. The police watched the river and on May 2nd, the badly battered body of little Joe Rosenfield, six years old, was found near the St. Paul boom. Day after day the river gave up the dead until all, including Rosenfield himself, were accounted for with the exception of the baby. Its body was never recovered.
The police had another mystery in the Spreigler murder, and this time also it was the water that gave up the secret. Sunday evening, May 19th, Henry Mingers, after a quarrel with his brother-in-law, Frank Spreigler, shot him to death in the Spreigler home at 645 Smith avenue. The police hunted for Mingers two days and his body was found in a small lake near Mendota, by Lieutenant Meyerding. The murderer had tied a wire around his waist and had fastened the other end to a heavy stone. He had then put a bullet through his brain. On the shore was left a note which the police secured, in which Mingers confessed to the shooting.
An unfortunate killing occurred on the night of July 12th when Edward Healey shot and killed Edward Rooney, and seriously injured Louis Kantrovitz. The young men had been on a steamboat excursion, and Rooney and Kantrovitz had become angered at Healey over something which occurred on the boat. They chased him up Sibley street, and Healey, suddenly turning, pulled a revolver and fired. A policeman arrested him immediately and after a trial he was acquitted.
The most striking suicide that ever occurred in the city happened three days after Christmas in the year 1901. William A. Lindeke walked into the undertaking establishment of William Dampier on Wabasha street and shot himself in the head, falling dead on the carpet of the office. The evident desire of the man to have his body kept from the gaze of the morbid public, was carried out. His remains were removed to a marble slab in the basement, and only the nearest relatives of the man looked on his face.
The alertness of the police in capturing criminals was not confined alone to searching for those who had committed local crime.
During the year 1901 Charles Harris, a colored man, who had murdered a Chinaman in West Superior, was caught in St. Paul, and was returned to the scene of his crime.
Henry Somers, another colored man, was arrested for a murder which had occurred at Bolivar, Tennessee. He too was returned for trial, and the good reputation of the St. Paul police department began to spread beyond the confines of the city which they so efficiently guarded.
The honor roll of gallant patrolmen who laid down their lives while doing their duty bears the name of Charles Mayer, who was killed by burglars on the night of February 1, 1902. And the saddest part of it all is that the intricacies of the law have thus far protected the slayers of Charles Mayer instead of punishing them.
With relentless perseverance Chief O'Connor and the brothers of the dead policeman ferreted out the men who took part in the killing of the policeman. But a lack of that scrutinizing and detailed evidence, which it is almost impossible to secure in some cases, has thus far protected Arthur Inman and his pals in the eyes of the law. And until the police are able, which they will certainly some day be, to detail every movement of this man on the fatal night of February 1st, 1902, he will be at large.
Mayer was connected with the Rondo sub-station, and his beat was on University avenue. On the night of the murder he heard a noise in the rear of Jessrang's saloon, at the corner of University and Farrington avenues. Going into the rear of the building he met three men. One of them raised a revolver and fired at him. The shot attracted several persons but the burglars had escaped. Officer Mayer died three hours after the shooting at St. Joseph's hospital. The police are certain that the murder was committed by one of these three men: Frank Alexander of Kohls, Neb.; Hugh Jackson of North Platte, Neb., Arthur Inman of Minneapolis.
The funeral was one of the most elaborate that has ever been held in St. Paul. It was held from the Mayer residence on Sherburne avenue. Details of police and firemen from both St. Paul and Minneapolis attended.
The brave policeman as he lay in the casket in the little parlor of what had been his home, was viewed by hundreds of citizens. He was dressed in his police uniform; the buckle of his belt was polished as if he were on dress parade; on his breast glittered the star for the honor of which he gave his life. Stretched in his casket, clad in his uniform, he looked every inch the brave man lie was, and the thought that occurred to every one who saw him may be expressed by that proud boast which every army man hopes to have made for him after he is gone:
"He like a soldier fell."
There is no mystery in the history of the St. Paul police department which is greater than that surrounding the beautiful girl, whose lifeless body was found on the railroad tracks on the night of March 13th, 1902. Her fair face had been crushed by the car wheels and her golden hair was matted with blood. Many citizens joined in the search with the police for relatives of the dead girl. Every effort was futile. Hundreds of clues were run down by the police and the reporters, and scores of girls who had been missing were incidentally discovered.
Whether the girl's death was accomplished by herself, whether she was murdered, or whether she met her end by accident, will never be known. Interest in the mystery was widespread. Flowers were sent to the morgue where she lay, a magnificent casket was purchased and the unknown dead was interred in Oakland cemetery at the expense of hundreds of friends who had never known her in life, but whose hearts were touched by the pathos of the thought that somewhere in the wide, wide world a father and mother, perhaps, were waiting for the return of a loving daughter.
If more summary punishment was ever dealt out to crooks, Mr. Ed. O'Malley, Mr. Charles Trimble and Mr. John Wilson, three gentlemen of the thieving cult, whose address is Stillwater penitentiary, would like to know the man who "got it" quicker than they did.
These three young men came to St. Paul, and like the expert crooks they were, took every pains to hide their identity and to keep concealed. They had served terms in the Ohio penitentiary and were so careful that they did not even make the acquaintance of the few other men of their kind in the city. After they had been here about a month they decided to "put in" just one night of it, and so starting out with revolvers they prepared to commit a few hold-ups. They began in the west end of town, and had turned two tricks before their victims complained to the police. Over the wires of the police alarm system the word was sent out to various officers that several highwaymen were at work in the city. Meanwhile, all unknowing, the three men held up a pedestrian in lower town and fifteen minutes afterward Officer Blonek came across them at Thirteenth and Grove streets. They were desperate fellows, and Trimble and O'Malley got away, but Blonek clinched with Wilson and placed him under arrest. He was taken to the central police station, and Chief O'Connor had a few moments' chat with him in his private office. When Mr. Wilson left the office Chief O'Connor knew all that Mr. Wilson knew. Wilson's quarters in Walnut street were visited by the police, and $2,000 worth of plunder, most of which was stolen in Minneapolis during an epidemic of housebreaking there, was found in his rooms and returned to its owners.
After the arrest of Wilson, O'Malley and Trimble went down on the upper flats, and spent their time with the Italians, thinking in this way to elude the police. Detectives Daly and Fraser found them. The two men started to run away and the detectives gave chase. The men ran half a mile to a flight of stairs leading up the bluff. At the top of the stairs O'Malley deliberately stretched himself on the landing, pulled a revolver and coolly emptied it at Detective Fraser, who was bounding up the stairway. He missed his aim. Detective Fraser reached him, there was a clinch and a short struggle and Mr. O'Malley, number two of the highwaymen, was led off to the station.
Charles Trimble escaped and went to Barnesville, Minn., where he hired himself out to a farmer. Within a week Chief O'Connor knew where he was and within a few days more Detectives Daly and Sweeney clapped their hands on Mr. Trimble's shoulders in the post-office at Barnesville, Minn. The trials were short and decisive. The sentences were: O'Malley ten years, Trimble eight years, Wilson five years.
The suicide of Jim Younger, the famous bandit, was one of the sensational and sad events of the year 1902. In the afternoon of Sun‑ day, October 19th, in his room in the Reardon Block, he sent a bullet into his brain. At the time of the suicide, his brother, Cole Younger, an intimate friend of Chief O'Connor, was lying ill in his room on Fourth street. He took the blow like a Stoic. The remains of the famous bandit were taken back to his former home at Lee Summit, Mo.
A pitched battle between half a dozen West Side residents and a gang of Italian laborers Sunday afternoon, October 26th, resulted in the death of Dell Robarge, and gave the police twenty-four hours of hard work. The fight started over some remarks which had passed between the West Siders and the Italians, who had been drinking. Both parties pulled their guns and began to fire, and three of the West Siders were wounded, Robarge most seriously. The Italians then scattered, and the detectives and policemen who were called out and sent after them rounded up thirty-one of them hiding in various places in the West Side district. The police investigation which followed justified Chief O'Connor in releasing all but five. The matter was then given to the grand jury, and this body, after hearing the evidence, ordered the Italians released.
Another fracas in which a band of Italians were involved nearly cost Officer Joseph Pugleasa his life. On the evening Hof, March 16th, 1903, a fang of Italian laborers who lived in a hotel on Sibley street, between Fifth and Sixth, engaged in a quarrel with their landlord. Officer Pugleasa tried to stop the trouble and the Italians turned on him.
One of them pulled a revolver and fired, the bullet entering Pugleasa's thigh. The Italians started to run and Pugleasa, though badly injured, pulled out his revolver and gave chase. The Italians turned on him again and he was shot twice more, once in the abdomen and once in the shoulder. He fell in a heap on the sidewalk, was taken to St. Joseph's hospital, where he recovered after five weeks' treatment.
The police rounded up the gang, and five of them were indicted. June 4th, James Manarino was taken to Stillwater to serve the term of four years.
The faith of St. Paul's citizens in the police department headed by John J. O'Connor was shown in the election of May, 1904, when Robert A. Smith was re-elected mayor by a majority of over 4,000. At no time during a long and bitter campaign was the opposition able to point out any blamable weaknesses of the police department. The promise of the chief that the efficiency of the department would be maintained was responsible in a large measure for the success of Mayor Smith.
The question of a police pension fund is still agitating the department members. Rulings of the city legal department that the present laws do not permit of the establishment of such a fund have greatly handicapped the movement, The plan, however, for a pension fund is a worthy one, and will undoubtedly be carried to fruition within a short time. The legislature will be called upon to remedy defects in the existing laws.
Of all the interesting history of the city of St. Paul, the story of the growth of its police department is the most enthralling.
It involves a story of the crime and sin and sorrow of a great city, from the time of its early days to the time of its greatest growth.
In the old days when St. Paul was a wild western river town there were murders and robberies and burglaries in ten times greater profusion than now. Human life and human property were one-tenth as safe. Does this show that the human mind is becoming better and that human passions are more tightly curbed in this magnificent city with its paved streets and its thousands of sparkling lights and its magnificent mansions than they were in the little town of St. Paul half a century ago? A thoughtful man will not say this. The human heart is not changed by the passage of half a hundred years and the brilliant lights of the great city throw their rays on the owners of hearts as evil as those of some of the early settlers of St. Paul, who prowled around the muddy streets of the illy lighted river town, seeking for plunder and booty. The difference between now and then is accounted for by the police department, and if the improvement in the department during the next ten years is as marked as the improvement during the past three, there will be no city in the country where the lives and property of its men, and the honor and virtue of its women will be so assured as in this beautiful and magnificent city of St. Paul, which sets upon the white bluffs where Pierre Parrant first built his log cabin saloon.