Bravest of the Brave
Served: 20 years
January 20, 1897 to April 16, 1917
Bill was born June 15, 1872 in Cincinnati to German immigrants William Christian and Pauline (Stecher) Boers, Sr. His parents likely immigrated to the United States prior to the Civil War and maybe as early as soon after the 1848 Rebellion in the Germanic region of Europe. By 1863, William Sr. was a brewer and remained so most of his life. Bill and his brothers, Charles and Herman, were strapping young men renowned for their strength and athletic ability. Charles became a pugilist and Herman an acrobat. For a time, the three combined as a circus trio known as the Boers Brothers. Bill quit traveling, but when the circus was in town, all three performed – Bill as a strongman who could hold up both brothers on outstretched arms. Otherwise, Bill and Charlie painted carriages and Charlie, before boxing, was a butcher.
There is evidence that Bill was also a member of the National Guard. On February 18, 1894, about 100 unemployed ‘workingmen’, calling themselves the Willing Workers Society, met at the Fisher and Grimm’s Hall on Vine to commiserate about their idle status. From the rear of those congregated, Frank Temmen (29) called for an assault on the armory with intention to seize guns and ammunition, hold a mass meeting of unemployed men, and march on the Mayor’s Office on February 19, 1894. He organized 27 men to conduct the raid and determined that if they were not satisfied with the mayor’s reply, they would blow up City Hall and burn the city. Superintendent Phillip Deistch was advised of this and personally, with Detectives Witte and Crawford, tracked him down at his home, arrested him, and charged him with Inciting a Riot. The Superintendent doubled the on-duty personnel in the districts and arranged for a special detail to guard the armory. One of those in the special detail, a volunteer, was 21-year-old Bill Boers. About 20 men from the 1st Regiment (Cincinnati) of the Ohio Militia continued to guard the armory until February 23, at which time a number of the Police Calvary took over. By March 1st, threats were received at City Hall regarding the release of their leader or else a riot and destruction would commence. None were released and no destruction was done.
Later, Bill joined the railroad police. During June 1896, 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.
Bandits scored four times and were routed once by bullets of an officer Friday night. William Boers, detective for the Big Four Railroad, stepped from a washroom in a filling station at 6th and Carr Streets in time to see two suspects pointing pistols at Louise Schaeffer, caretaker, 1362 Hopple Street. Joseph Ferris (25) of 430 John, was arrested at the tracks crossing Harriet Street by Baltimore and Ohio Railroad detective Samuel Frazier.
A year later, June 23, 1897, Patrolman Boers married Elizabeth “Lizzie” C. Kruger and moved from his father’s home on Central Avenue to 1779 Denham Street in North Fairmount.
By November 1897, Patrolman Boers was working out of the Bremen Street (now Republic Street) station. Between then and May 1898 he was transferred to District 9 (State and Dutton Streets).
He was working in the West End at 8:30 p.m. on July 6, 1900 when the Warsaw Avenue streetcar struck a mule-draw cart driven by Morris Brown on the 8th Street Viaduct. Brown was knocked from his cart and landed on his head. The 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 the strongman wrestled the runaway mule to a stop; saving the boys from severe 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 now hangs at the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum).
On May 9, 1903 there was an explosion and 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 to the ground.
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. Patrolman 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 assumed he would die. But, ten days later, though still physically impaired, he was back on his beat. For his heroism, he was given a gold badge. He took off sick three more times in October, November, and December due to recurrent problems caused by the trampling.
Regardless, before then, only 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 electric streetcar, which the motorman was helpless to immediately 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. Patrolman Boers was too modest to report the incident, but witnesses reported it to neighbors until it was widely known throughout Sedamsville.
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. 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 while running, 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. Neither the officer nor the girl was badly injured. Once again, he failed to report the incident, but a contingent of citizens called at Police Headquarters and informed the Chief. On September 29, 1904, Patrolman Boers was awarded an Alms Medal of Valor (one of only four issued) for saving the girl. A photograph of the medal hangs at the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum and a relief of the incident is impressed into the solid gold center.
Three weeks after saving the girl, on August 5, 1904, Patrolman Boers came across Mable Johnson armed with a knife and fighting with John Garret at 6th and Delhi Streets. When he tried to break up the fight, he was cut by the knife across the hand.
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 to effect enough rescues. 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 overpowered Dodson without a shot being fired.
By 1917, he and his family were living at 1746 Pulte Street.
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 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, damaging the descending aorta. 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.
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 10:30 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. Cincinnati Police 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. On June 24, 1917, the Hamilton County Grand Jury released indictments, including one for Jones for 2nd Degree Murder. During October 1917, Jones was released on a $2000 Bond. He failed to show for his trial on December 3, 1917. His bond was forfeited, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
He was back in custody by February 1918 when his attorney, William Thorndyke, attacked the indictment asserting that there was no state law affixing the number of people in a grand jury. Judge Wade Cushing dismissed the motion and ordered the trial continued. Jones then, on February 7th, claimed “mental irresponsibility.” That ploy did not work either. He was defended by William Thorndyke and Robert A. Kramer and prosecuted by Prosecuting Attorney L. H. Capelle and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney C. H. Elston. Jones was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment on February 12, 1918. His attorney appealed and the conviction and sentence were affirmed by the appeal court on January 20, 1919.
On July 14, 1932, the Ohio Parole Board announced that they were paroling 35 prisoners, including Jones, on July 24, 1932 with the condition that he leave the state. We have no information regarding him beyond 1932.
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 October 28, 2018 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society Vice President. All right are reserved to him and the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum.