Served: 3 years
1918 to May 28, 1921
Albert was born June 6, 1891 to John Jacob “J. Jacob”, Sr. and Lena (Dalker) Schmitt. Jacob’s father and both of Lena’s parents immigrated from Bavaria. By 1900, Jacob was working for a street railway in Cincinnati and the family was living at 2171 McLean Avenue.
Albert married Edith M. Applegate of Indianapolis on January 2, 1909 in Covington, Kentucky. By April 1910 they were living in Cheviot on Washington Avenue and he was working as a machinist at an iron works. He was still working as a machinist, at the Acme Machine Tool Company, during June 1917. Their fifth and last child, Freeman, was born during May 1918.
During 1918, Albert and his brother, John Jacob, Jr., went into law enforcement. Albert was appointed as an Assistant Marshal and the first motorcycle policeman for the Village of Cheviot. John, on November 21, 1918, joined the Cincinnati Police Department as a Patrolman.
During early 1919, Albert and Edith’s fourth child, 2½-year-old Albert Jr., became ill with influenza. He developed bronchitis, then pneumonia, and on February 17, 1919 he died.
Later that same year, on September 19, 1919, while responding to Bridgetown Road for a burning railroad trestle with a train approaching, Assistant Marshal’s motorcycle ran off the road and into a culvert. He survived the accident, but with a broken leg.
By 1920, his father was working as the Cheviot Village Clerk and living with them on Woodbine near Trevor.
On the night of May 27, 1921 Assistant Marshal Schmitt attempted to stop two speeding motorcycles with sidecars; one operated by Gilbert Ahlenstorf (23) of 512 Oak Street in Elmwood Place, carrying Miss Alvena Brennan (19) of 811 Mound Street in the sidecar, and the other operated by Foster Lloyd (19), carrying Mary Rison (19), also of Mound Street.
Marshal Schmitt pursued the motorcycles out of the village and south on Boudinot Avenue into the City of Cincinnati. When Brennan noticed the pursuing motorcycle, she thought it was Lloyd’s. But Ahlenstorf looked back and said, “that’s Schmitt after me,” and sped up. Ahlenstorf had been arrested once before by Marshal Schmitt and made a threat against him “if he ever tried it again.” He yelled to Lloyd, “Here’s Smittie. Watch me get him!” Lloyd apparently turned off Boudinot at Ramona Avenue. Just before Werk Road, Assistant Marshal Schmitt began to pull ahead of Ahlenstorf and Ahlenstorf ran into his motorcycle forcing it to hit the curb, which caused Marshal Schmitt to be ejected and propelled headfirst into a tree.
Ahlenstorf’s motorcycle also went down spilling him and his passenger. Lloyd must have been close enough to hear the crash because he returned, stopped at the crash scene, and told Miss Rison to get out. Ahlenstorf ripped the license off his wrecked bike.
Miss Brennan begged for help for an injured foot. Marshal Schmitt lay broken and bleeding beneath the tree. But Ahlenstorf got onto Lloyd’s bike and both rode off. A witness came upon the scene and tried to stop Ahlenstorf, but Ahlenstorf punched him and got away.
Marshal Schmitt’s injuries included a fractured skull and he was rushed to General Hospital in Cincinnati.
Later, when Assistant Marshal Schmitt’s motorcycle was picked up, the speedometer was locked in at 55 MPH.
Hours after the crash, early the next morning at 3 a.m. on May 28, 1921, Marshal Schmitt died of “shock and multiple injuries.”
Assistant Marshal Schmitt was survived by his wife, Edith (Applegate) Schmitt (29); children, Alice Schmitt (12), Oliver Schmitt (10), Ruth Schmitt (8), and Freeman R. Schmitt (2); parents, J. Jacob, Sr. and Lena Schmitt; siblings, Edward H. (Amelia) Schmitt, Louis (Emma) Schmitt, Cincinnati Patrolman John J. (Lillian) Schmitt, Jr., and Clarence (Dorothy) Schmitt; and parents-in-law, Ollie and Dorothy Applegate.
He was laid out at his home on Woodbine and services were held at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, May 30, 1921 at the Cheviot United Methodist Church at Harrison and Lovell Avenues. More than 600 people participated. Edith was so distraught that she could not participate except in the graveside services; where she collapsed. She remained unconscious for several hours at home. Marshal Schmitt was buried at the Bridgetown Protestant Cemetery on May 31, 1921.
A pedestrian who witnessed the crash wrote down the license number and gave it to the first Cincinnati officer on the scene, District Nine Patrolman George W. Berheide. Miss Brennan and Miss Rison claimed to not know the names of the suspects; asserting that they met them downtown and accepted their offer for a ride. Miss Brennan claimed that she thought Gilbert’s name was “George.”
Cincinnati Detective Chief Emmett D. Kirgan, Detective Christian Wolf, and Detective Joseph E. Brink investigated. Within 24 hours of the crash, by the evening of May 28th, they identified Ahlenstorf and he had not returned to his home since.
Cheviot Police found Lloyd and they and the Cheviot mayor questioned him during the morning of May 29, 1921. Lloyd admitted to being the other biker but asserted that he turned off Boudinot before the crash and did not see it. His passenger corroborated this assertion on the night of the crash.
On June 17, 1921 police swore out a warrant against Ahlenstorf for Manslaughter who had fled the county to avoid prosecution. After wandering through several cities, Ahlenstorf finally left Toledo, came back to Cincinnati, and on June 21, 1921 turned himself in. He denied that he ran into the officer purposefully and was released on $5000 bond. He appeared at a preliminary hearing and a charge of Manslaughter was bound over to the Grand Jury.
Lloyd, meanwhile, fled to Florida.
On November 22, 1921, the Grand Jury announced that it had ignored the charge of Manslaughter. Cheviot residents were “considerably dissatisfied,” according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. We assume that he was found guilty of some traffic charges and fined. He may have even incurred a driving suspension.
Four years after the crash, Lloyd married a teenager and had a child. He returned to Cheviot by 1930 and his wife died one year later. He moved back to Florida and died in 1959. There is no indication that he was ever charged with any crime regarding Marshal Schmitt’s death and his assisting Ahlenstorf in leaving the scene.
About 1¼ years after killing Assistant Marshal Schmitt, on September 24, 1922, while carrying three other men on his motorcycle, Ahlenstorf ran into a car at Beekman and Arlington Streets. Three more were injured in that mishap and he was charged with Reckless Driving.
Edith Schmitt was diagnosed with uterine cancer within five years of the death of her husband. She died June 20, 1927, at the age of 36, and was buried next to him. The youngest three remaining children went to live with Edith’s parents, Ollie and Dorothy Applegate.
On September 27, 1937 Jacob Schmitt, still the village clerk, was killed in another vehicle mishap.
The next year, on May 11, 1938, Assistant Marshal Schmitt’s son, Oliver (28), was killed in an automobile crash near Mason, Ohio.
On July 20, 1972 another son, Freeman Schmitt, was killed in a farm accident involving a tractor near his home on Muddy Creek Road.
Marshal Schmitt’s death was brought to our attention by David Weeks, an Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP.org) researcher in North Carolina and forwarded to us by ODMP CEO Chris Cosgriff. The Greater Cincinnati Police Museum’s Memorial Committee further researched the incident, notified the Cheviot Police Department, and published the first account of it on January 25, 2013.
The Greater Cincinnati Police Museum applied to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington DC to have Assistant Marshal Schmitt listed on their memorial. The “Names Committee” met on December 3, 2014 and established his eligibility. His name was etched into the Memorial and he was officially inducted on May 15, 2015.
If you know of information, artifacts, archives or images regarding this officer or incident, please contact the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum at Memorial@Police-Museum.org.
This narrative was revised February 7, 2021 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society President, with research assistance from Cincinnati Homicide Detective Edward W. Zieverink III, Greater Cincinnati Police Museum Curator, and SORTA Operations Superintendent Philip Lind (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Museum Registrar. All rights are reserved to them and the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society.