Watchman John Brasher | City of Cincinnati

Officer Brasher was born in Marietta, OH, married and came to Cincinnati. He had been on the Police Force for a few years and had a good reputation as one who could carry out a detail requiring intelligence and secrecy. His wife, too, was considered a most exemplary woman.

Jesse Jones, a burglar even in his youth, had been convicted of Burglary and served less than half the seven years to which he was sentenced. Upon returning to Cincinnati he fell in again with his former companions and noted thieves and became successful in burglarizing homes. On May 5, 1849 Officer Brasher found a group breaking into the Good Samaritan Drug Store at Western Row (Central Avenue) and Court Street, but Jones escaped.

On the next day, Officer Brasher swore out a warrant against Jones and tracked him on May 6, 1849, to Madam Davis’ house at 15th and Elm Streets where Jones kept a mistress. Police surrounded the house and demanded Jones’ surrender.

Jones ran out the rear door. Brasher ran after him and Jones warned him to stop chasing him or he would be a dead man. Brasher advanced and Jones, just as he arrived at a fence, suddenly turned and shot Officer Brasher killing him on the spot.

Jones disappeared for more than a year, but showed up in a saloon in the southwest corner of Sixth and Elm Streets during the summer of 1850. Some in the saloon were discussing the Brasher killing and Jones bragged that he was the one who killed him. Two watchmen were in the room and they thought he was taunting them. Just then, Marshall Ruffin walked in and recognized Jones and arrested him without incident.

Jones was tried and convicted for Murder of the First Degree. He was sentenced to life in prison, leaving some to ponder why he was not hung. Those on the jury said they were lenient because Jones said he did not know that a warrant had been sworn. As of 1867, he was working in the prison foundry and a half-demented wretch. But, by 1874, he was pardoned and was last known to be in New Orleans, LA.

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This narrative was revised April 17, 2011 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society President. All rights are reserved to him and the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society.