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Hans Hanson

Appointed September 1, 1887
End of Tour Friday, August 3, 1888

Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota
[Ramsey County Death Index]

Fatally injured by gunfire during an “on-tour” burglary investigation.


Photo of Hans Hanson

At 0115 hours (1:15 a.m.) on Friday, August 3, 1888, officers were sent to the area of Virginia and Summit Avenues in the City of Saint Paul to investigate the report of a gunshot. Some of the officers at Central Station actually heard the sound of the discharge. They checked the area, but could not locate anything. They did, however, discover that the officer assigned to that area, Patrolman Hans Hanson1, Badge No. 25, was missing, having failed to “pull his box” (callbox) at the assigned time. Three hours later, Patrolman Fred Hester2 discovered his body on Virginia Avenue, just north of Summit Avenue, in front of the A.K. Barnum residence. Officer Hanson had a .38-caliber bullet wound below his right eye and his own .32-caliber revolver was lying next to him. It is believed that he was shot and killed while investigating a burglary-in-progress, becoming the second Saint Paul police officer to be killed in the line of duty – just three blocks from where Patrolman Daniel O’Connell3 was shot on June 17, 1882.

Although William A. “Billy” Pinkerton4, the famous Chicago private detective was in the city and lent his experience in the efforts to “fathom the mystery surrounding the murder”, the suspect remained at-large until March of 1895 when it was discovered that he was an inmate at the state insane asylum in Kankakee, Illinois.

Although police personnel records do not give a date of birth, other records indicate that Hans Hanson was born on June 22, 1862. Raised in Drammen, Buskerud County, Norway, twenty-six year old Hanson had only worn his Police Department ‘star’ since September 1, 1887 (eleven months) when his life was taken. He was survived by his expectant wife, Barbara, and posthumously born son George August. Patrolman Hanson’s funeral took place on Sunday, August 5, 1888, at the Norwegian Methodist Church, and he is buried at the Oakland Cemetery, Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Generally accounted one of the most promising men in the department, Hanson was known to be sober, steady, and punctilious to an extreme. A liberal cash donation, largely subscribed by “hill residents” was enlisted on the spouse’s behalf. A pension fund for retired police officers and/or widows would not be enacted until 1891.

Please note that there were two patrolmen by the name of Hans Hanson that came on the Police Department in 1887, one on June 8th and the other on September 1st, and although the one was killed in the line of duty on August 3, 1888, the other worked until being removed from service on August 6, 1898. It is unknown if they were related.

1 Hans Hanson was appointed Patrolman September 1887; and was fatally injured by gunfire during an “on-tour” burglary investigation Friday, August 3, 1888.

2 Fred Hester was appointed Patrolman April 21, 1887; and resigned January 7, 1892.

3 Daniel O’Connell was appointed Patrolman September 1887; and was fatally injured by gunfire during a burglary investigation after going “off-duty” and enroute home Saturday, June 17, 1882. This was the first Saint Paul police officer killed in the line of duty.

4 William Allan “Billy” Pinkerton, Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency, Chicago, Illinois, usually shortened simply to “the Pinkertons”; later named Pinkerton Government Services, Inc. and still in existence today as Pinkerton Consulting and Investigations, a subsidiary of the Swedish security company Securitas AB.