Special Deputy Sheriff Albert Russell | Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office
Patrolman Martin Gorman | Cincinnati Police Department
Patrolman Henry S. Scherloh | Cincinnati Police Department
Racial and political tensions were still high in October 1884 during the fifth general election following the Civil War. These were tumultuous times with riots breaking out during almost every election and the Courthouse Riot being only a six-month-old memory. Democrats ran Cincinnati at the time and in large part ran the elections; including by voting multiple times and preventing others, generally blacks and immigrants, from voting at all.
During March 1883 a black Republican, Lot Wright, was appointed United States Marshal of the Southern District of Ohio. Wright set about to stop these abuses. Leading up to the election, he requested military response to Cincinnati and he deputized 1,360 men, mostly blacks, and armed 600 of them with large caliber British Bulldog revolvers provided by the National Republican Committee.
Many of these short-termed deputy marshals were not from Ohio – a violation of law – and there was no way for Wright to check the backgrounds of so many. An abbreviated list published by the Enquirer on November 1, 1884 showed that many of these men had criminal records for Theft, Counterfeiting, Bribery, Faud, Shooting to Kill, Cutting to Kill, Carrying Concealed Wapons, and Murder. Many more had long lists of misdemeanor convictions and frequent visits to the Workhouse.
Wright later admitted under oath that he could not know the character of his deputies. On Election Day, October 14, 1884, with a badge on their jacket, a day’s wages in their pocket, and armed with revolvers and/or knives, many of them became involved in drunken binges, fracases, stabbings, shootings, and general mayhem.
Also on Election Day 1884, Hamilton County Deputies and Special Deputies and Cincinnat Patrolmen were assigned to keep the peace at polling places, especially in the most likely areas of disenfranchisement. Ostensibly, local law enforcement and federal law enforcement were both working toward the same end – an honest vote.
Hamilton County Special Deputy Albert Russell
Special Deputy Russell, normally an express driver, was assigned at the 18th Ward (Precinct B) polls, on the east side of Central Avenue just south of 5th Street. About 9 a.m., 28-year-old United States Deputy Marshal John Payne, normally a laborer living at 74 Longworth Street, approached Deputy Russell at the entrance to the polls and tried to get Deputy Russell to leave his post by telling him someone wanted to see him. Deputy Russell stood his post and told Payne to “go to hell” and to mind his own business. Payne left.
About 11:30 a.m., Payne brought another man, named Copeland, and stood near the polling place. Deputy Russell approached and Payne engaged him in conversation about the earlier incident. Later, Copeland would say that Deputy Russell pulled his revolver first and without provocation. Other witnesses would say that Copeland said to Payne, “if you don’t attend to this coon, I’ll take your badge from you.” The only thing that is certain is that Payne shot Deputy Russell in the chest with a .42 caliber British Bulldog revolver; one issued to him the night before by Marshal Wright.
Deputy Russell was carried to Winkleman’s Drug Store and Cincinnati Police Patrol Wagon No. 1 was called. The .42 caliber ball had entered Deputy Russell’s left side and went through his heart. He died before the patrol wagon arrived. Patrolman Honeyman took charge of his revolver and his body was carried to Habig’s Funeral Home.
Payne quickly walked down Central Avenue to 4th Street and then to the United States Marshal’s Office where he was concealed by Marshal Wright. When Cincinnati officers arrived to arrest him, Marshal Wright refused to surrender him. At 5:30 p.m., Cincinnati Police Chief M.F. Reilly dispatched Sergeant Phillip Rittweger to the Marshal’s Office. Payne was arrested and charged with Murder.
Cincinnati Patrolman Martin Gorman
Served 3 years
January 12, 1883, to October 18, 1884
Patrolmen Pat Cunningham, Hammond Street Station, and Martin Gorman, Manlon, and Carpenter, 3rd Street Station, were assigned to the 20th Ward (Precinct B) polls in “Little Bucktown,” on 6th Street, two doors east of Freeman Avenue.
The officers had been taunted all day by black, armed, and variously intoxicated United States Deputy Marshals. The taunts at times included a threat by Deputy Marshal George Comely who, in the morning, had Patrolman Gorman up against a wall while holding a handgun leveled at his abdomen. Patrolman Gorman stood his ground and Patrolman James Sears arrived in time to prevent bloodshed. Deputy Marshal John Offord told Sears that before the day was done someone would “fix” Patrolman Gorman.
Later in the day, Cincinnati Patrolman Michael Donnelly arrested a man on a warrant for voting twice in a previous election. Several Deputy Marshals took the prisoner by force, threatening Patrolman Donnelly with clubs and revolvers.
Between sessions of taunting, the marshals would hang out at a dive at 700 W. 6th Street.
At about 10 p.m., while the poll workers counted votes, Patrolman Gorman, of 598 W. 8th Street (at Carr Street), came out of the tent to calm a disturbance between Deputy Marshal Fred Guy and James Russell. Patrolman Gorman ordered them to quiet down and Deputy Marshal Guy grabbed Russell. As Patrolman Gorman interceded, Patrolmen Manlon and Carpenter responded from the southeast corner and Patrolman Cunningham from the southwest corner.
Suddenly, a swarm of deputy marshals ran up from the east and fired a volley of shots. Offord ran up screaming, “look out N——s!” and shot between two of the deputies marshals into Patrolman Gorman’s back, just above the pelvis. Patrolman Gorman still tried to take his prisoner to the center of the street, but the group overwhelmed him and beat him with his own baton. The prisoner escaped.
Patrolman Cunningham heard a male, presumably a deputy marshal, yell, “There’s No. 79 now. Let’s give it to the son of a bitch.” Several shots were fired and two struck Patrolman Cunningham. One passed through his coat, failing to enter his chest, but making a large, black bruise. The other entered his leg which he retrieved with his pen knife and continued working. Those who fired at Cunningham were never identified.
Once the shooting was done, Mike Banfield approached Patrolman Gorman as he staggered down Freeman Avenue just below 6th Street. Gorman said to him, “I’m shot, take my keys.” Banfield assisted him to Mrs. King’s grocery at 6th Street and Freeman Avenue. Mrs. King later testified that Patrolman Gorman came into her store, sat down, and said, “I’m shot in the back” and asked for someone to go for a doctor.
About 10:15 p.m.
Cincinnati Patrolman Henry Scherloh
Served 1 year
1883 or 1884 to October 30, 1884
Patrol Wagons Nos. 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6 responded to the melee at 6th and Freeman and the deputy marshals backed down Sixth Street, still firing, and entered the dive at 700 W. 6th Street. As the officers approached, shots rang out from all sides and levels of the various buildings and windows. Third District Patrolman Scherloh, of 160 Bremen Street, who had responded on Patrol Wagon No. 5, said, “I’m shot!” Like Patrolman Gorman, he too was hit in the back over the left side of the pelvis.
In all, about 100 shots were fired.
Patrolman Carpenter escaped injury when two bullets struck his night stick and one passed through his pant legs.
A couple of civilians standing inside commercial establishments were also struck by bullets; one in the jaw and the other in the neck.
Patrol Wagon No. 1 was directed to a black man who had been shot in the abdomen just left of the navel. He was identified as Deputy Marshal Henry Brown, aged 25, living with his wife at No. 79 Taylor Alley. He was armed with a fully loaded revolver and it was thought that he had had another empty revolver that he discarded. Patrol Wagon No. 1 transported him to City Hospital where he died October 15, 1884.
45-year-old Deputy Marshal Gabriel Bolden was shot in the bowels. He was found October 16, 1884 hiding in a residence in Taylor Alley. There was little hope for his recovery. Bolden advised that two other deputy marshals were wounded, one in the arm and one in the leg, but did not identify them or their locations.
Across from that residence they found Edward Gaines, a 30-year-old black male, shot through the shoulder and out the chest.
James Wallace was found with a bullet wound to the arm at Taylor Alley and Budd Street.
Sarah Fletcher, an innocent bystander, was also found shot in the leg.
Patrol Wagon No. 6 took Patrolman Gorman to City Hospital were Patrolman Jim Brown took control of his revolver noting that it had not been fired. His wounds were adjudged so grievous that a priest was summoned to administer the sacrament of Last Rights.
Patrol Wagon No. 5 transported Patrolman Scherloh. Though in serious pain, when placed next to Patrolman Gorman, he said, “I don’t care so much for myself. But poor Gorman! It’s too bad. I knew they would give it to him. They said all day they were going to do it.”
October 15, 1884
Also on the night of October 15, shots were again fired between blacks and policemen and a shanty in Taylor Alley was set afire. Though dodging small arms fire, police extinguished the blaze. Patrolman Keller of Vine and Calhoun Streets was hit in the leg by one of the dozens of fired shots.
October 16, 1884
More shots were fired intermittently during the night of the 16th without any injuries.
By the morning of October 17, 1884, the Cincinnati Enquirer listed 24 casualties including two dead (including Deputy Sheriff Russell), five dying (including Patrolman Gorman), two seriously wounded (including Patrolman Scherloh), and fifteen wounded (including Patrolmen Keller, Cunningham, and Carpenter).
DEATHS OF OFFICERS
Patrolman Gorman died at 3:10 a.m. on October 18, 1884. He left a wife, Catharine Gorman, and a daughter, Claudia Gorman (20). Upon hearing of his death at 6:30 a.m., his sister, Mary Rhinner (37) of John Street near Betts, fell to the floor and died. She left four children. Patrolman Gorman’s high requiem funeral Mass was celebrated by Dr. Rev. (future Archbishop) Henry Moeller at the Cathedral at 9 a.m. on October 23, 1884. He was thereafter carried to his grave in St. Joseph’s (New) Cemetery by Patrolmen Peter Poland, T. Conroy, John Keegan, and Barney Rakel and members of the Lincoln Mutual Aid Association.
Patrolman Scherloh’s wound was thought to be non-fatal, but it was found to have traversed upward and into the liver causing his death after twelve pain-filled days at 12:30 p.m. on October 30, 1884. He was single and survived by several siblings. His funeral was held at 9 a.m. on November 1, 1884, celebrated by Fr. Engelbert at St. Francis Seraph Church at Liberty and Vine Streets. Because All Saints Day was recognized that day, no requiem Mass was allowed and his body was blessed in the sanctuary. He was interred the same day in St. Mary’s Cemetery on East Ross in St. Bernard. His pallbearers consisted of members of the Jefferson Club including Messrs. Doll, Baumann, Zimmerman, Haass, and Merk.
INVESTIGATIONS AND PROSECUTIONS
Payne appeared in Police Court on October 23, 1884 for Deputy Russell’s murder and the case was continued. On October 25, 1884, he was prosecuted by Thomas F. Shay and defended by Major Blackburn and Howard Ferris. Five witnesses testified that Payne drew his weapon first. Copeland and three other witnesses testified that Deputy Russell did. The judge bound him over to the Grand Jury on a charge of Murder of the 1st Degree.
On October 31, 1884, Offord appeared in Police Court charged with the murder of Patrolman Gorman. Officers indicated that they had two eye witnesses. The case was continued to November 5.
On November 3, 1884, the Coroner Muscroft ruled that Patrolman Gorman was murdered, having died from infection of a bullet wound inflicted by Offord.
On November 5, 1884, Offord appeared before Judge Fitzgerald represented by John P. Murphy. Several witnesses testified for the prosecution including two who saw Offord shoot him. The judge bound him over for Murder in the 1st Degree.
On November 8, 1884, the Coroner ruled that Patrolman Scherloh was murdered as a result of a gunshot fired by an unknown person.
On December 3, 1884, Offord was indicted by the Grand Jury for Murder of the 2nd Degree and Payne for Manslaughter. Both were arraigned in Common Pleas Court on December 9, 1884.
Payne was acquitted of Manslaughter by a jury on March 17, 1885. Six months later, on September 15, 1885, angry at another man, he went to his home and retrieved a British Bulldog revolver with intent to kill again. However, police intercepted him and on September 18, 1885, he was found guilty in Police Court of Disorderly Conduct and Carrying Concealed Weapons. He was sentenced to the Workhouse for eleven months and fined $250. He was ordered released by the Workhouse Board of Directors during their annual meeting on December 2, 1885, having served less than three months.
We do not know the results of Offord’s trial, but we also cannot find that he was charged with any crimes again until 1914.
Lot Wright was investigated by the United States Congress during January 1885 and his future debated while Congress was in session during April 1885. He was relieved of duty on June 9, 1885.
If you have information, artifacts, archives, or imagesregarding these officers or incidents, please contact the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum at Director@police-museum.org.
This narrative was researched and written October 27, 2012 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired) with some material provided by genealogist Sally Lowery Branham. All rights are reserved to them and the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society.