Bravest of the Brave
Served: 20 years
January 20, 1897 to April 16, 1917
William C. Boers, Jr. was born on June 15, 1872, to German immigrants William and Pauline Boers. His brothers, Charles and Herman, and he were strapping young men and they formed the Boers Brother Circus Act of strongmen and trapeze artists. When the act was not engaged, Bill and Charlie would also paint carriages with their father, Bill Sr. Additionally, Bill worked as a railroad detective.
It was in this latter capacity, during June 1896, that he single-handedly stopped and overpowered three armed bank robbers at the 8th Street rail yards as they ran with the loot from the bank on the northwest corner of 8th and Freeman. Mayor John Caldwell, a Republican, offered Boers, also a Republican, a job with the Police Department. He was appointed July 28, 1896, and issued Badge Number 394.
He was assigned to the 9th District and working in the West End at 8:30 p.m. on July 6, 1900 when a streetcar struck a mule-draw cart on 8th Street. The cart driver was knocked from the cart and the excited mule bounded headlong toward Evans Street with three small boys inside the cart holding on for their lives. Patrolman Boers placed himself in the mule’s path and wrestled the runaway mule to a stop; saving the boys from serious injury and/or death. For this, he was enrolled upon the Department’s Honor Roll and given a large lithograph to commemorate the honor (which hangs at the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum).
On May 9, 1903 there was a fire at the Millcreek Distilling Company at 1509 W. 6th Street. Patrolman Boers responded and found an employee, Leon Mathis, trapped on the third floor. He carried a ladder to the building and, with the fire raging below him, climbed the ladder, rescued Mathis, and carried him down the ladder.
Less than two months later, on July 3, 1903, while off duty but in uniform, a team of runaway horses came barreling down the sidewalk on Central Avenue toward a crowd of defenseless shoppers at 6th Street. Boers jumped in front of the team, grabbed the reins, and pulled the horses to the ground; getting trampled and dragged more than 50 feet and having his uniform torn to shreds. He was taken to City Hospital where it was thought he would die. But, ten days later, though still physically impaired, he was back on his beat. For his heroism, and having already been enrolled on the Roll of Honor, he was given a gold badge. He would have to take off three more times in October, November, and December for recurrent problems caused by the trampling.
Regardless, nine days after returning to work, on July 21, 1903, at 10 p.m., a woman and her five children were standing at the end of the Sedamsville streetcar line. One of the girls stepped into the path of the streetcar, which the motorman was helpless to stop. Patrolman Boers jumped into the path of the streetcar, grabbed the girl, and carried her off. He was so close to being hit that the girl’s dress ripped on the bumper of the streetcar.
On the evening of July 11, 1904, Patrolman Boers was sitting in the front seat of the Crosstown car which was westbound on Gest Street when he and the motorman saw 3-year-old Viola Hitchens run into the path of the car and stop. The motorman grabbed the brake, but far too late to save the child. While the car slowed to a stop Boers leaped from the car under the safety rail and, while holding onto the car with his left hand, he ran with it. As the girl disappeared beneath the front of the car, Boers bent over, reached with his right hand, caught hold of the girl’s dress and lifted her to temporary safety, holding her inches above the street, while stooped and running for 60 more feet. Unable to continue, he dived under the car, grabbing the girl in his arms and protecting her while he rolled and rolled until the car came to a stop. Fortunately, neither was badly injured. For that he was awarded an Alms Medal of Valor (one of only four issued).
Three weeks later, on August 5, 1904, Patrolman Boers tried to break up a fight between Mabel Johnson, who had a knife, and John Garret. Boers was cut across the hand, but prevented injuries to the other two.
On June 14, 1909, a fire started in the basement of a tenement house at 827 W. 6th Street and quickly burned through the vacant first floor trapping several individuals on the 2nd and 3rd floors. The Fire Department responded with sufficient ladders but too few personnel. Patrolman Boers took one of the ladders, climbed to the 2nd floor, while the fire blazed below him, and carried Mrs. Lizzie Bowen down the ladder and to safety.
Five weeks later, on July 22, 1909, Patrolman Boers responded to a report of a domestic violence with a gun involved. When he arrived, he heard a woman scream as she was hurled out of the front door. Henry Dodson, holding a revolver, told Boers that he would shoot him if he tried to enter. Boers ran into the home and arrested overpowered Dodson without a shot being fired.
On the night of April 16, 1917, Mrs. Margaret Jones, also known as Hi-Ball Meg, appealed to Police Sergeant Lemminck for protection from her husband, Frank C. Jones, who was armed with a gun. Sergeant Lemminck dispatched Patrolman George W. Kaderli. Though going off duty, Patrolman Boers told Kaderli that he would go with him because he had knew Jones and could calm him down.
When they got to 834 West Fourth Street, Patrolman Boers, said, “I’ll go in and see if I can quiet Frank.” Mrs. Jones walked in with him. Jones was standing at the kitchen doorway and as Patrolman Boers approached, raised a revolver and shot him in the abdomen. Patrolman Boers pushed Mrs. Jones to safety, yelling, “Look out, Margaret. He’s after you! He got me, but don’t let him shoot you.”
Kaderli pursued Jones, firing at him, and Jones leaped from a second-floor window to Webb Alley, breaking his ankle.Kaderli arrested him there.
Both Patrolman Boers and Jones were transported to General Hospital. When told that he would not survive a wound to the abdomen, Patrolman Boers quietly prepared for the end with his wife, Elizabeth, and daughters Zola (18) and Evelyn (15). His son William (17) was with friends and could not be found in time.
He told his wife, “I want William to have my medal for bravery.” Then he told her, “Ma, I tried it once too often. This time they got me.” Before he died, he gave a statement that he had been shot by Frank Jones. He died at 10:20 p.m.
Funeral services were held on April 19, 1917, at his late residence and presided over by Reverend Henry J. Sonneborn. Pallbearers were Patrolmen Elmer Lotshaw, Frank Mueller, Frank Kruse, and George W. Kaderli. He was buried in the German Protestant Cemetery, Walnut Hills with military honors. Company E and the color guard served as the escort of honor along with Smittie’s Band. Police personnel were directed to wear the mourning badge for four days, April 16 through 19.
Jones was charged with Murder, convicted, and sentenced to twenty years in the penitentiary.
If you have information, artifacts, archives, or images regarding this officer or incident, please contact the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum at Director@police-museum.org.
This narrative was revised June 10, 2014 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society President. All right are reserved to him and the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society.