Cincinnati Patrolman Martin Gorman | Cincinnati Police Department
Served: 1¾ years
January 12, 1883 to October 18, 1884
Martin was born August 15, 1849 in Ohio to Irish immigrants. Otherwise, we know nothing of his parents or his life during the three decades leading up to 1880. By then, he was at living a 598 West Eighth Street with his wife, Catherine E. Gorman (born about 1851 in Ireland), and their daughter, Claudia Gorman (born about 1864 in Ohio), and working as a laborer.
Martin joined the Cincinnati Police Department January 12, 1883. By October 1884, he was assigned to the Fourth District (Third and Mill Streets).
Cincinnati Patrolman Henry Samuel Scherloh, Jr. | Cincinnati Police Department
Served: 1 year
1883 to October 30, 1884
Henry was born December 10, 1856 in Cincinnati to Henry (32), a Grocer born in Brunswick, and Margaret (24), born in Bavaria. During 1860, Henry and his siblings, Otto (6) and Mary (1), were living with their parents in the Ninth Ward. During 1878, Henry was living at 326 West Liberty and working as a tailor. A year later he was living at Race and Elder. Then, a year later, he was living at 19 Green Street and working as a presser.
About 1883, Henry joined the Cincinnati Police Department and by 1884 was living at 120 Pleasant Street.
Racial and political tensions were still high in October 1884 during the fifth general election since the end of the Civil War. These were tumultuous times with riots breaking out during almost every election and the great Courthouse Riot during March 1884 resulting in hundreds of casualties, including the deaths of Ohio National Guard Captain John Desmond and Cincinnati Patrol Wagon Driver Joseph Sturm.
Democrats ran Cincinnati at the time and Republicans nationwide thought that Democrats controlled the voting – including by voting multiple times and preventing others who would likely vote Republican from voting at all. During March 1883, Lot Wright was appointed as United States Marshal of the Southern District of Ohio and he set out to stop these abuses.
Leading up to the 1884 election, Wright requested military response to Cincinnati, deputized 1360 men as U. S. Deputy Marshals, and armed six hundred of them with .44 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 it was impossible for Wright to check their backgrounds. Many of these men had criminal records for theft, counterfeiting, bribery, fraud, shooting to kill, cutting to kill, carrying concealed weapons, and murder. Many more had an extensive list of misdemeanor convictions and frequently were locked up in the Workhouse. Wright later admitted under oath that he could not know the character in his deputies and many of them became involved in Election Day drunken binges, fracases, stabbings, shootings, and general mayhem.
On October 14, 1884, Hamilton County special deputy sheriffs and Cincinnati patrolmen were assigned to keep the peace at polling places.
The violence during this election had already begun. At 11:30 a.m., at West Fifth Street and Central Avenue, Hamilton County Special Deputy Albert Russell had been shot and killed while protecting a polling booth.
October 14, 1884
Patrolmen Pat Cunningham of Hammond Street Station (Second District) and Gorman, Manlon, and Carpenter of the Third Street Station (Fourth District) were assigned to the 20th Ward (Precinct B) polls in “Little Bucktown” on Sixth Street, two doors east of Freeman Avenue.
The officers had been taunted all day by armed and variously intoxicated U. S. 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 James Sears arrived in time to break the incident up, but 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 from Patrolman Donnelly, threatening him with clubs and revolvers. Between sessions of taunting, the deputy marshals would hang out at a dive at 700 West Sixth Street.
About 10 p.m., while the poll workers counted votes, Patrolman Gorman went 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 as did Patrolman Cunningham from the southwest corner. Suddenly, a swarm of deputy marshals ran up from the east and fired a volley of shots. Deputy Marshal Offord ran up screaming, “look out N——s!” and shot between two of the deputy marshals into Patrolman Gorman’s back, just above the pelvis. Patrolman Gorman tried to take his prisoner to the center of the street, but the group overwhelmed him and beat him with his 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 was stopped by his heavy woolen coat and a pencil in his pocket and it failed to enter his chest, but made a large, black bruise. The other entered his leg which he retrieved with his pen knife and continued working. Those who shot Patrolman Cunningham were never identified.
Once the shooting had ceased, Mike Banfield approached Patrolman Gorman who was staggering down Freeman Avenue just below Sixth Street. Patrolman Gorman said to him, “I’m shot, take my keys.” Banfield assisted him to Mrs. King’s grocery at Sixth Street and Freeman Avenue. Patrolman Gorman came into her store, sat down, and said to Mrs. King, “I’m shot in the back,” and asked for someone to go for a doctor.
The shots drew the attention and response of other officers and Patrol Wagons 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6. The deputy marshals backed down Sixth Street, still firing, and entered the dive at 700 West Sixth Street. As the officers approached, shots rang out from all sides and levels of the various buildings and windows. In all, about 100 shots were fired.
Third District (Bremen Street) Patrolman Scherloh, who had responded on Patrol 5, yelled, “I’m shot!” He was shot in the back over the left side of the pelvis. Patrol 5 transported Patrolman Scherloh.
Patrol 6 rushed Patrolman Gorman to City Hospital on Twelfth Street at the canal, where Patrolman Jim Brown took control of Patrolman Gorman’s unfired sidearm. His wounds were adjudged so grievous that a priest was summoned to administer the sacrament of Extreme Unction (also known as “Last Rites”).
Though in serious pain, when placed next to Patrolman Gorman, Patrolman Scherloh 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.”
Patrolman Carpenter escaped injury when two bullets struck his night stick and one passed through his legs, tearing his pants.
A couple of civilians standing inside commercial establishments were also struck by bullets; one in the jaw and the other in the neck.
Patrol 1 was directed to a man who had been shot in the abdomen just left of the navel. He was identified as Deputy Marshal Henry Brown, aged 25, of 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 1 transported him to City Hospital where he died the next day.
October 15, 1884
On the night of the 15th, shots were again fired between area residents and hangers-on against policemen. A shanty in Taylor Alley was set afire and while dodging small arms fire, police extinguished the blaze. Patrolman Keller 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. But, 45-year-old Deputy Marshal Gabriel Bolden was found taking shelter in a residence in Taylor Alley. He had been shot in the bowels on October 14th. 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 thirty-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.
October 17, 1884
By the 17th, there were 24 reported casualties from the violence on the 14th. Two, including Special Deputy Sheriff Russell, had died. Five, including Patrolman Gorman, were considered to be dying. Two, including Patrolman Scherloh, were seriously wounded. And, fifteen were wounded, including Patrolmen Keller, Cunningham, and Carpenter.
Patrolman Gorman died at 3:10 a.m. on October 18, 1884. He was survived by his wife, Catherine Gorman; daughter, Claudia Gorman (20); and at least one sibling, Mary Rhinner (37). Upon hearing of his death at 6:30 a.m. at her home on John Street near Betts Street, Mrs. Rhinner fell to the floor and died. She was survived by four children.
Patrolman Gorman’s high requiem funeral Mass was celebrated by Dr. Rev. Henry Moeller at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral 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 originally not thought to be fatal, but it had traversed upward and into the liver. After twelve days of excruciating pain, he died at 12:30 p.m. on October 30, 1884. He was survived by several siblings. His funeral Mass was celebrated on November 1, 1884 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 permitted, 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.
By October 29, 1884, Offord was in custody for the murder of Patrolman Gorman. On October 31, 1884, he appeared in Police Court charged with Murder. Officers indicated that they had two eyewitnesses. The case was continued to November 5th.
On November 3, 1884, 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 Patrolman Gorman. 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. He arraigned in Common Pleas Court on December 9, 1884.
Offord’s trial began on February 17, 1885. On February 21, 1885, a jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty.
Lot Wright was investigated by the United States Congress during January 1885 and discussed while they were in session during April 1885. He was relieved of duty on June 9, 1885.
Catherine Gorman continued living on West Eighth Street and later around the corner on Carr Street. She died April 16, 1932 and is buried next to her husband.
If you know of any information, artifacts, archives, or images regarding these officers or incident, please contact the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum at Memorial@Police-Museum.org.
© This narrative was further researched and revised May 24, 2020 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society President, with some research provided by genealogist Sally Lowery Branham. All rights are reserved to them and the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum.