Our Police Protectors
History of New York Police
Chapter 17, Part 1

By Holice and Debbie



Inspector Dilks -- Enjoying a Rare Privilege, Namely, Reading His own Obituary -- An officer Who has Distinguished Himself by His Bravery and Vigilance -- A Veteran with a highly Honourable Record -- Second Precinct; Captain Conlin -- Twelfth Precinct; Captain Hooker -- Nineteenth Precinct; Captain Mount -- Nineteenth Sub-Precinct; Captain Schultz -- Twenty-second Precinct; Captain Killilea -- Twenty-Third Precinct; Captain Sanders -- Twenty-eighth Precinct; Captain Gunner -- Thirtieth Precinct; Captain Siebert -- Thirty-first Precinct; Captain Leary -- Thirty-second Precinct; Captain Cortright -- Thirty-third Precinct; Captain Bennett -- Thirty-fourth Precinct; Captain Robbins -- Thirty-fifth Precinct; Captain Yule.

These Districts cover about four times as much territory as the First and Second Inspection Districts, but they are, as a rule, sparsely settled. The commands are reached by wagon or rail, the emergencies are few and of minor importance, all things being considered, and the communication by telegraph is unsurpassed. The districts include the Nineteenth, Twenty-eighth, Twenty-third, Twelfth, Thirty-third, Thirty-fourth, Thirty-fifth, Second, Thirty-second, Thirtieth, Thirty-first, and Twenty-second Precincts, and the Yorkville, Harlem, and Morrisania Police Courts, which are known as the Fourth, fifth and sixth Distract Courts respectively. The districts, which were consolidated, are under the command of Inspector George W. Dilks, the senior Inspector of the force.

INSPECTOR GEORGE WASHINGTON DILKS, of the Third inspection District, was born on the twenty-sixth of December, 1816, at new Brunswick, N. J. In 1829 his parents moved to New York, and settled there for good. In 1848, Mr. Dilks was appointed on the force as Assistant Captain. In 1853 he was made Captain of the Fifteenth Ward, where he soon distinguished himself by his bravery and vigilance. While engaged in this Ward, the City hall riot occurred, and, while he was leading a force of men against Wood's partisans, a Sergeant name Sebring was killed by a blow from a locust which had been thrown at him. There was an extraordinary likeness between Sebring and Dilks, and the rumor spread as quick as lightning that the intrepid Dilks had been killed. Dilks had the rare privilege that night, while he was at supper, of reading his own obituary notice in the Evening Post. Ned Davenport, an actor, and an old-time friend of Captain Dilks, who was then playing at Boston, hearing the news of the latter's alleged death the next night, delivered speeches all over Boston on the "death" of his friend.

In 1860 Captain Dilks was made Inspector, he being the first Inspector in the Department. He ad the whole city, Brooklyn, and a part of Westchester for a field of operation. The Inspector, in his rounds, was not long in discovering that there were many evils that could be remedied and abuses that could be corrected; but his territory was too extensive and scattered for one men to attend to all. Then the district was split in two, and Captain Leonard was appointed to the Second District. After the organization of the present Municipal force, confined to New York City along, the two districts continued, but in 1874, the late Superintendent and Commissioner, George W. Matsell, and commissioner John R. Voorhees, laid out the city into the present four districts.

There is no doubt Matsell, who had lost his old-time snap and vigor, would have made a terrible mess of things while he was superintendent, only Inspector Dilks was in the office with him acting as deputy superintendent, which position he held for about five years.

Inspector Dilks has been a conspicuous figure in all the great riots that occurred in New York since 1848.

One morning during the longshoremen's strike, when these men sallied forth with everything in the shape of a weapon that they could pay their hands on, Inspector Dilks succeeded, after three days' hard struggle, in restoring peace and quiet.

During one of the days of the draft riots, while the mob was howling for the arms which were stored in the armory, a bullet whizzed past the Inspector's head.

"Mr. Dilks," said one of the Police commissioners, on a well-known occasion, "you have the position of Superintendent if you desire it."

"I have never looked for the place of any man," replied Mr. Dilks, " and never will, Were the office vacant, I might consider the offer, but as there is another there I don't want it."

In 1849 there occurred the great Astor Place riot. Macready, the actor, was playing at the Astor Place Opera House. It seems that he became obnoxious to the friend of Mr. Forest, who was playing at the old Broadway Theatre, between Pearl and Worth Streets. One night Forest's friends drove Macready off the stage. After this outrage a body of citizen's waited on Macready and requested him to continue playing, at the same time promising him protection from the mob. Macready acceded to their request, and, on the night of his re-appearance, the riot began inside and outside the theatre. Assistant Captain Dilks was in charge of a posse of Police, and, with the help of the military, succeeded in at once restoring comparative quiet. Several persons were arrested and confined in one of the lower rooms of the theater, to which they attempted to set fire, but the activity of the Police saved the place from destruction. Nine persons were killed in this riot, and hundreds were severely wounded, the military having fire on the crowd.

During the longshoremen's riots, in 1857, Captain Dilks was in the Fifteenth Precinct. He, in conjunction with the officers drawn from the various Precincts, had a terrible fight, which lasted for four days, with the mob, who used hay-sticks, cart-rungs, clubs, etc.

During the Orange riots Inspector Dilks was one of the officers, who had to protect the procession down as far as Bleecker Street and the Bowery, and from there to Astor Place.

Inspector Dilks is a thoroughly honorable, efficient, and painstaking officer.

This clean-shaven, clerical-looking gentleman lives at No. 34 West Ninth Street. he leaves home between seven and eight o'clock in the morning, and goes through the routine of the other Inspectors at his office in Parepa Hall. The extent of this command does not permit of his making regular visits to Police Headquarters. He goes there when his presence is required. He visits the precinct by rail, car, or wagon, and it is almost a day's journey to go to some of the outlying districts. Generally, the Inspector lunches in his office, and starts on his visits at one P. M., to return at half past five o'clock, when he settles what business awaits him and goes home to dinner. His movements in the evening are regulated by events. If a large fire occurs beyond the river he has a long journey before him. Every fourth night he is booked for duty at Police Headquarters.

THE SECOND PRECINCT.--The boundaries of the Second Precinct are Cromwell's Creek, Jerome or Central Avenue, the Kingsbridge Road to Farmer's Bridge, and the Harlem River. The station house is at Highbridgeville. It was formerly known as Mike O'Brien's Undercliff Hotel, and it was altered for the W. B. Ogden estate into a station house by the Hon. Andrew H. Green. This is known as a Mounted Police Precinct, and there are accommodation for thirty-six mounted and foot officers, and stables for horses. There are five day posts and eight night posts. Two of the day posts and four of the night posts are covered by horsemen. Signals can be sent to the station house from nearly every part of the precinct from signal boxes. The officers of the command are: Captain, Peter Conlin; and Sergeants: W. A,. Revell, Edward Lucas and John McNamara. Revell was appointed eighteen years ago, became Roundsman 1872, and Sergeant in 1876. He for some time commanded the First Mounted Squad. Lucas was appointed in 1874, became Roundsman in 1877, and attained his rank in 1880. McNamara was appointed in 1876, was for a long time Special Detective at Police Headquarters, and was promoted late in 1883, and in May, 1884. John McGowan and Francis smith are the Precinct Detectives. John Breen, Martin Bruns, Thomas B. Holland, William J. Huston, William A. Nevin, and William Nelson are the centaurs who do day duty on horseback, and perform feats of intrepidity almost daily on the avenues below Harlem Bridge. Their horses are trained to stop runaways, and are the pick of the stables.

PETER CONLIN is a native of this city, and was born in 1841. He is a brother of William J. Florence, the actor. He graduated from Grammar School No. 34, and enlisted as a private in the Twelfth New York Regiment during the war. Afterwards he joined the Irish Brigade, as Lieutenant, and eventually was made Captain. His dates are: Joined the force July 29, 1869; Roundsman, December 6, 1872; Sergeant, July 19, 1876; and Captain, February 8, 1884. In his long years of service no charge of misconduct or breach of discipline was ever made against him.

From early spring to late in 'autumn the Police of the Second Precinct are nearly at all times during the day busy with the thousands who, on foot or in vehicles, come from the city to get a breath of fresh air by boats or on the railroads, and Central, High and Farmers' bridges. For the wealthy and sporting classes are the hostelries of Judge Smith, Gus Sibberns and Gabe Case, and they are patronized all the season round. The terminus of the aqueduct has to be guarded here, and the venues to Jerome Park and Fleetwood Park are principally through this precinct for those who go to them by vehicle. Highbridgeville, like all the desirable suburbs, is cropping out with the fine villa residences, among which are the Mali estate, the residences of the Devoes, Baileys, Fitzparticks and Fairchilds, the Ogden estate, the Lee estate, the H. B. Morris estate, the Eastman estate, and the homes of Hugh N. Camp, Col. E. T. Wood, Franklin Edson, and L. G. Morris. Some day it will be an aristocratic quarter, because of its elevation. The precinct furnishes few events beyond a runaway horse, a boating accident, or a stray suicide occasionally.

THE TWELFTH PRECINCT.--the Twelfth precinct comprises the territory bounded by One hundred and Tenth Street, Seventh Avenue, One Hundred and Forty-fifth Street, and the Harlem River. The station house is on the site of a very ancient one, formerly a watch-house and lock-up, Nos. 146 and 148 East One Hundred and Twenty-sixth Street. Although constructed fourteen years ago, it is equal in many respects to more modern ones, and has a separate prison.

The officers are: Captain, Henry D. Hooker; and Sergeants: De Los Reynolds, William W. Sullivan, C. C. Buddington, and Matthew Tuck. Reynolds' record is: Patrolman 1867; Roundsman 1870; and Sergeant 1872. Sullivan became a Policeman in 1871, was Roundsman in 1872, and got rank next year. Buddington, the senior Sergeant, joined the force in 1864, was Roundsman four years later, and was promoted in 1871. Tuck's dates are: Patrolman 1865, Roundsman 1867, and Sergeant 1870.

HENRY D. HOOKER is a native of the Untied States, and was born in 1830. He was formerly a seafaring man, he joined the force in Janaruy, 1861; was promoted to be Roundsman in 1864, became a Sergeant in 1879, and when the Twenty-eighth precinct was divided in two, he was made Captain of the Nineteenth Sub-precinct, with the station house in the Grand Central Railroad Depot.

This precinct has fourteen day and twenty-eight night posts, all too long; some of them cannot be faithfully covered. Of the seventy-eight men on the roll, about fifteen are detailed or incapacitated by sickness. John Irving and Bernard C. Tompson are the Precinct Detectives. The detailed men are: Theophilus Holmes, Inspector Dilks' office; Henry C. Van Orden, Harlem Bridge; J. N. Morey, Ordinances; W. H. Lake and C. D. Allaire, Corporation Counsel's office; Charles R. Bliss, Randall's Island.

The Twelfth precinct grows daily. More third and fourth-rate houses have been put-up here within the past five years than in any other command. It has the most important part of the New York City proper, Harlem River front, and the monopoly almost of boating recreation. Little of its population is other then reputable and law-abiding, and at present many families occupy their own houses, and there are pretentious and well-appointed mansions along the river front and on some of the avenues. Within its limits are Mount Morris Park, with its cordon of aristocratic villa residences, and the Harlem Police court, the Mount Morris theatre, the termini of the Second and Third Avenue elevated Railroads, and the approaches to the Vanderbilt Railroad Bridge, and the Harlem River swing Bridge. The precinct takes in Randall's Island and Ward's islands, and the memorable events of late years are the burning of the steamer Seawanhaka, off sunken Meadow, June 28, 1880, when more than fifty persons perished; and more recently the partial destruction of the Insane Asylum on Ward's Island.

THE NINETEENTH PRECINCT.--The Nineteenth Precinct lies between Forty-second Street, Lexington Avenue, Forty-ninth Street, Fourth Avenue, Fifty-eighth Street, and the East River. The station house is at No. 163 East fifty-First Street. It is a narrow, but deep and very comfortable building, with a separate prison. The officers are: Captain: John J. Mount; and Sergeants, Henry K. Woodruff, Michael M. Rooney, Walter Norris, and John Delaney. Woodruff was a Policeman in 1867, a Roundsman next year, and he has been a Sergent more than thirteen years. Rooney was appointed in 1867, became a Roundsman in 1870, and next year was promoted. Morris' dates are: Patrolman 1870, Roundsman 1875, and Sergeant 1878. Delaney did his first tour of duty in 1878, was made Roundsman in 1877, and has been a Sergent since February, 1884.

CAPTAIN JOHN J. MOUNT, of the Nineteenth Precinct, joined the Municipal Police in 1850, in the Eighth Ward. He was made a Roundsman in March, 1851, was detailed as Dock master 1853, and remained in that capacity until 1857, when the Metropolitan Police was organized. He was appointed Sergeant in 1858, and Captain in April, 1861, and assigned to the Third Precinct. Captain Mount was afterwards successively transferred to the Eleventh, Seventeenth, Fourteenth, Seventh, and finally to the Nineteenth Precinct, of which he is now the respected Captain. Captain Mount, like al the old-timers, took an active part in quelling the dead rabbit, draft, and Orange riots.

This precinct has fourteen day and twenty-eight night posts. Its full force is seventy-eight, reduced to about sixty on an average. Michael Shelly and John T. Cuff are the Precinct Detectives. The detailed officers are: Henry O. Corbitt, Central Office; John McDermott, Fifth-ninth Street hacks; Harrison Wilson, Ordinances; Daniel O'Conner, Orphan Asylum.

This precinct deals with the extremes of society. The palaces are on the west side and north of it, and the hovel and nuisances on the east side. Beginning at Fifth Avenue and Forty-second Street, and going north, there are in succession the Temple Emanuel, the Church of the Divine Paternity, the Church of the Heavenly Rest, the Fifth Avenue Baptist Church, the Windsor Hotel, Dr. Vermilye's Church, the Buckingham Hotel, St. Patrick's Cathedral, the Vanderbilt mansions, St. Thomas' Church, St. Luke's Hospital, the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, and scores of millionaires' dwellings. There are also in the precinct the Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum, Columbia College, the women's Hospital, the Nursery and Child's Hospital, the First Reformed church. The mansions of Madison Avenue, and the little less pretentious dwellings on Lexington Avenue and the cross streets. On the river front are collected the nuisances in the shape of slaughter-houses and rendering establishments, which, with an east wind and Hunter's Point chiming in, are a curse to the greater part of Murray Hill. The Police are not responsible for the existence of these malodorous industries.

THE NINETEENTH SUB-PRECINCT.--The Nineteenth Sib-Precinct, or Grand Central Depot command, has for its boundary Forty-second Street, Lexington Avenue, Forty-ninth Street, and Madison Avenue. The station house is in the basement on the west side of the depot, and the cells are underground. The officers are: Captain, William Schultz; and acting Sergeants, George R. Bevans and Enoch A. Goodall. There are six day posts and eight night posts, covered by an effective force of about twenty-two men, out of the quota of twenty-four men. Zabriskie H. Mullin is he Precinct Detective.

CAPTAIN WILLIAM SCHULTZ, ex-Commander of the Police Boat "Patrol," for years did active service on the North and East Rivers. For a long time the depredations committed by river thieves and other criminals were a great source of annoyance to merchants and owners of vessels, but when Captain Schultz took command of the Police Boat "Patrol," things were entirely changed. He is quite familiar with the ways of those river pirates who lie in wait for unsuspecting sailors, and rob them and their vessels. Captain Schultz was born in this county, of German parents. He joined the Police force on the twenty-fourth of July, 1867, and on September 1, 1870, was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. He was appointed Captain September 13, 1878.

THE TWENTY-SECOND PRECINCT.--The Twenty-second Precinct is included between Forty-second Street, Sixth Avenue, Fifth-ninth Street, Eighth Avenue, Sixty-third Street and the North River. The station house is at Nos. 345 and 347 West forty-seventh Street. It is a superior, airy structure, although built nearly a quarter of a century. The officers are: Captain, Thomas Killilea; and Sergeants, Charles U. Combs, Patrick H. Pickett, John Dunn and John T. Stephenson. Combs' dates are: Patrolman 1867, Roundsman seven months later, and Sergeant 1870. Pickett was Patrolman in 1865, Roundsman in 1868, Sergeant in 1870. Dunn joined the force in 1872, and became Roundsman in 1881, and Sergeant in 1883. Stephenson was appointed in 1877, was Roundsman in four years, and got rank last January.

THOMAS KILLILEA was born in 1838, and was appointed a patrolman in 1866, was promoted Roundsman the following year, a Sergeant in 1868, and Captain in 1870. After serving in the Central Office, the Steamboat Squad, and in other precincts, he was placed in command of the Twenty-second Precinct, where he has done good service.

This precinct has seventeen day and thirty-six night posts. It has a nominal force of ninety-four men, but the average effective force is seventy-seven. James H. Riley and Charles L. Bockhorn are the Precinct Detectives. The detailed men are: George W. Glass and Lotin B. Hildreth, Ordinances; James Thompson and Matthias Bruen, Forty-second Street Ferry; and Thomas M. Clifford, the Leake and Watts Orphan Asylum.

The character of this command has vastly improved of late, what with the march of building operations and the activity of the Police in stamping out what amounted to flat defiance on the part of the unruly and worthless inhabitants of the houses bordering on the Hudson River Railroad. Some of the most important carrying interests of this corporation lie in this district, such as the grain elevators and the shipping and cattle yards. There is also the Roosevelt Hospital, and several of the largest and best appointed apartment houses in the city; among them the Navarro Flats in fifty-ninths Street, the quaint, old, and massive new church of the Paulist Fathers, thriving stores on Eighth Avenue, and the stables of the eighth, Belt Line, and Seventh Avenue and Broadway Railroads, and several vast manufactories such as the Elm Flax Mills. The most remarkable event of late years was the attempted suicide of Miss Hattie J. Hull at the Fiftieth Street station of the Sixth Avenue Elevated Railroad, on the twenty-fourth of May, 1881. The young lady had been betrayed by a Custom House official, and, finding he was married, threw herself, while in his company, in front of an approaching train, and although frightfully injured, recovered, and lived to see her betrayer get his deserts.

THE TWENTY-THIRD PRECINCT.--The Twenty-third Precinct is between Seventy-ninth Street, Fifth Avenue, One Hundred and Tenth Street, and the East River. The station house is at Nos. 432 and 434 East Eighty-eighth Street. It is singularly well situated, and is a medium structure, having been built eleven years go with the quarters of the First Mounted Squad, which no longer exists, it having been incorporated with the Second Precinct. The officers are: Captain, John Sanders; and Sergeants, William R. Haughey, Imer D. Luerssen, Michael Sheehan, and Nelson Haraden. Haughey's record is: patrolman 1872, Roundsman 1881, and Sergeant 1883. Luerssen joined the Department in 1876, in three years he was Roundsman, and a month later he was promoted. Sheehan was Patrolman in 1868, Roundsman in 1873, and Sergeant in 1876. Haraden was appointed in 1864, was Roundsman in 1877, and got his rank in 1880.

CAPTAIN JOHN SANDERS, of the Twenty-third Precinct, who has such a creditable record as a life-saver, was born at Poughkeepsie, N. Y., in 1844. He served with distinction in the army for four years during the late war. He was appointed on the Police force in May, 1866, and was made a Roundsman in the same year. In 1868 he was promoted to a Sergeantcy, and in 1872 was made Captain. During the last year he saved no less than seven persons from drowning. The Board of Police, at a meeting held on the twenty-third of December, 1883, passed the following resolutions:

"Resolved, That highly honorable mention be made in the records of this department of the gallant and courageous conduct of Captain John sanders, of the Twenty-third Precinct, who, at the risk of his life on each occasion, fearlessly, plunged into the East River and succeeded in saving the lives of five persons, two of whom were little girls, aged respectively, fourteen and seven, a lady, and two your men."

The Board further resolved that Captain Sanders "be awarded the medal of Honor of this Department for his commendable action; and that this resolution be suitably engrossed, and with the medal, presented to Captain Sanders."

This is a precinct of long and dreary posts. There are fifteen day posts and thirty night posts. Of the quota of seventy-six men, an average of eight are sick or detailed. John J. Donavon and Samuel G. Sheldon are the Precinct Detectives. The detailed officers are: John Phelan, House of the Good Shepherd; and Edward O'Hara, Central Office.

This is a precinct that is being built up, and there is yet unbuilt territory on which to erect homes for thousands. Within five years one-quarter of what was bare ground has been covered with comfortable houses of superior construction. This district has an Italian Colony, of which it is not very proud, House of the good shepherd, a shanty district, the repair shops of the third Avenue Elevated Railroad, a neat little park opposite the Blackwell's Island Lighthouse, and some elegant villas near by, the Astoria Ferry, the boat ferry to Balckwell's Island, and some mansions of stately magnificence on Fifth Avenue, opposite the park. There are also the Harlem Flats, with the Harlem Gas Works, and the stables of the Second Avenue Railroad Company.



Our Police Protectors, History of the New York Police, Published for the benefit of the Police Pension Fund, by Augustine Costello, Published by Author, 1885.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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