In its almost 100 year history, the City of Enid has lost three of its law officers in the line of duty. Considering that this area where many early-day outlaws gathered, we have been very fortunate.
However, since the loss of even one police officer diminishes us a city and as a department, the stories of the murders of these three officers need to be told. They served their city with the ultimate they had to give, and they should never be forgotten.
- Marshall E.C. Williams - Died in the Line of Duty June 26, 1895.
- Marshall Thomas Radford - Died in the Line of Duty January 10, 1906
- Officer Cal Palmer - Died in the line of duty July 8, 1936
These were three police officers who lost their lives defending their city. The most chilling thing about these deaths, at least for police officers, is that all three deaths happened in the same location. The corner of Grand and Broadway has become a place that officers view with an almost superstitious fear, feeling that if it could happen there three times, it could easily happen again.
Around dusk on the evening of June 26, 1895, events that would forever change the lives of two families were set into motion. When the dust cleared, two men were dead, and a third, the caused of all the trouble, barely escaped. All three of these men were prominent Enid citizens. Tragically, the two who died were close friends.
One was R. W. Patterson, Registrar of the United States Land Office. Patterson was
appointed to his position through the influences of his cousin, Hoke Smith of Georgia, Secretary of the Interior at that time.
The second, E. C. Williams, was City Marshal of Enid. A native of San Francisco, Williams had been raised in Boston, attending the best schools they had to offer. He moved west to Denver, where he was a newspaper reporter for a while, then came to Enid with the opening of the Cherokee Strip.
The third man, whose vitriolic pen and quick temper caused the showdown, was J. L. Isenberg, owner of the Enid Daily Wave. Isenberg was known to have definite likes and dislikes and didn't hesitate to make his feelings known in his newspaper.
The Wave was a strongly Democratic newspaper, and since Patterson was also a Democrat, Isenberg fully expected that he would receive the patronage of the land office - a source of considerable revenue since all legal advertisements had to be published in the newspaper. Instead, Patterson gave his patronage to another newspaper, the Tribune-Democrat.
Outraged by this slight, Isenberg began publishing a series of vituperative articles and editorials concerning Patterson. These uncomplimentary articles became more and more abusive, and the last straw came on June 26, when an article appeared in the Wave that defended Capt. J. S. Hassler, a receiver at the land office, after he had been criticized by the Tribune-Democrat. The article accused Patterson of infidelity, among other things, and Patterson had finally had enough.
Up until this time, Patterson had contained himself and refrained from confronting Isenberg. When he read the latest article, he was furious. He armed himself, then went in search of Isenberg. The two met at Broadway and Grand. A quarrel ensured, and the enraged Patterson struck Isenberg in the face with his fist.
About that time, Marshal Williams arrived on the scene and attempted to break up the fight. In the scuffle, Patterson fired his gun at Isenberg, but the shot went wild. Isenberg ran into Jenkins Brothers Notions store with Patterson in pursuit. Williams quickly followed, shouting to Patterson, "For God's sake, don't shoot anymore", and commanding him to stop. Patterson ran on, and Williams caught up to him, striking him in the head with his revolver in an attempt to make him stop. Patterson turned and fired at Williams, striking him over the heart, then continued his pursuit of Isenberg through the back door of the store.
Williams, although fatally wounded, ran after Patterson who was about 30 feet outside the door, just about to turn the corner in pursuit of Isenberg. Clutching at his chest, Williams walked to the door and bracing himself with his right hand, fired at Patterson with his left, striking him in the temple and killing him instantly.
Williams walked back through the store and to the sidewalk out side, where he fell, saying "I am smothering to death". He was carried into the nearby corner drugstore, where he died shortly after. Isenberg ran to the west side of the square where he hired a hack to take him to North Enid. He boarded a train for Kingfisher, where he remained until the smoke had cleared in Enid, then returned to write more of his vitriolic editorials. He later sold out and moved to California.
A coroner's jury came to the conclusion that "R. W. Patterson came to his death at the hands of E. C. Williams while resisting arrest. E. C. Williams came to his death at the hands of R. W. Patterson while performing his official duty".*
*Enid Daily Wave, June 27, 1895.
The next day, following services at the Presbyterian Church, 35 year old Marshal E. C. Williams was buried in the old cemetery southwest of Enid, which is now the approximate location of the Kisner Addition. He left a wife and a baby. Patterson's body was shipped back to Athens, Georgia, for burial, accompanied by his wife and five children. They never returned to Enid.
Thus the first police officer was killed in Enid. It was a senseless killing, as most are, with the one who caused the murders going unpunished. Unfortunately, Marshal Williams was not the last policeman to lose his life in a senseless murder.
Marshal Thomas Radford was a popular figure in Enid in 1906. He had been elected City Marshal on the democratic ticket in May, 1905, and in December, the Chairman of the Police Committee declared, in an open Council meeting, that Radford was the best Marshal Enid ever had. He had the support and confidence of the city administration and the people of Enid.
In his strict adherence to the laws and ordinances of the City of Enid, he had naturally mad some enemies. A local man, John Cannon, had been threatening Radford. Cannon had told several people, including that Mayor and the Police Judge, that he in tended to kill Marshal Radford.
The trouble with Cannon arose over the attempt of Marshal Radford to close a rooming house which Cannon was running on East Broadway. Cannon had previously been the county jailer and had fallen in love with and married a local prostitute who spent consider able time in the jail cells. He and his wife opened the rooming house, which had a reputation as a "house of ill fame", and was continually under police surveillance. Radford was determined to close it and had succeeded in forcing the occupants to move. Cannon then tried to rent the rooms above the Coney Island Saloon, almost directly across the street from his other establishment, and thought he had completed the deal until Marshal Radford warned the owner of the building not to rent the rooms to Cannon. Cannon was furious when he found out he wouldn't be able to complete the deal, and he set out to do what he had threatened.
In the late afternoon, Marshal Radford walked into the Tony Faust Saloon, located in the Anheuser Busch building at the corner of Broadway and Grand.
It was a cold day, and Marshal Radford, wearing a heavy overcoat and gloves, went in to warm himself at the radiator, where he stood talking with George Mullikin. Radford and Mullikin were discussing the weather and the recent snowfall, and the Marshall was oblivious to the others in the bar.
The back door opened, and John Cannon entered the bar. He walked the full length of the building without speaking to anyone and approached the Marshal. He said, "Bad day, isn't it?"* then pushed a .38 caliber revolver against Marshal Radford's left chest and fired. The bullet passed close to his heart, through both lungs, and lodged in the right side, near his back.
*Enid Daily Wave, January 11, 1906
The Marshal gasped for breath and turned to run. He had no chance to draw this gun, which was under his overcoat. As Radford turned, Cannon fired a second time, this time from be hind. The gun was almost against Radford's body again, and the bullet, which entered near the waist line, passed clear through his body. He continued to run through the front door, with Cannon close behind. As he reached the sidewalk on Grand, he staggered forward and while falling, was shot in the head midway between the left eye and ear. He fell to the ground, groaning and unconscious.
Cannon bent over the fallen Marshal with the intent of firing another shot. At that moment, Officer Loving, who had been in the barber shop two doors south of the saloon, appeared on the scene and drew his pistol, commanding Cannon not to shoot again. Loving attempted to arrest Cannon, but Cannon told him, "you can't arrest me."* and walked back into the saloon.
*Enid Daily Wave, January 11, 1906
Inside the saloon, Cannon himself called the Sheriff. While in the act of calling, with Loving standing beside him, Sheriff Sam Campbell and Charles Campbell, Deputy Sheriff, ran into the saloon and took Cannon prisoner. He was placed in the County jail, but fearing an outbreak of public indignation over the shooting, he was transferred to the Grant County jail in Pond Creek Marshal Radford, who was amazingly still alive, was taken to Dr. J. W. Baker's office. Several physicians examined his wounds and agreed that nothing could be done. The Marshal never regained consciousness after the last bullet hit him, and he died thirty minutes later.
The City Council held a meeting the night of Marshal Radford's death, and considered arrangements for the funeral ceremonies. A resolution was unanimously passed that all the expenses of burial would be borne by the city. Arrangements were made for floral decorations and carriages to carry the mourners to the cemetery. It was ordered that all city officers attend the ceremony.
Services for Marshal Radford were held in the Christian Church in Enid, which held approximately 1,000 people. It was the largest attended funeral ever held in this part of Oklahoma, if not in the entire territory. Many people came to attend the funeral, but stood outside or returned home when they could not be seated in the Church.
The city police rode mounted in the procession to the cemetery. One hundred and fifteen carriages followed the hearse to the Enid cemetery. The procession reached all the way from what is now Randolph Street to Chestnut - nearly a mile. By the time the last carriages reached the cemetery, the services were over.
Cannon was convicted of Marshal's murder and sentenced to serve 25 years in prison.
Forty-one years after the first Enid Policeman died, the last one to give his life in the line of duty was murdered.
Police Officer Cal Palmer was a big, jovial man with a ready smile. He had been an Enid Policeman for two years, coming from Fairview, where he was a Major County Deputy Sheriff.
It had been a hot July in 1936, and Officer Cal Palmer wasn't feeling very well. He had returned to duty at 4:00pm that day, following a short vacation, and Officer Bert Utsler offered to work for him. Palmer declined, saying he thought he would feel better after the sun went down. The heat had been bothering him.
Around 11:00pm, July 8th, Jim O'Neal, a former police officer who was operating the German Village beer parlor at the corner of Broadway and Grand, noticed a man come in and take a seat in a front booth. O'Neal had been tipped off earlier that his bar was going to be robbed, so he was keeping an eye on his customers. The man ordered a beer and a few moments later, motioned for two girls outside the bar to join him. O'Neal kept an eye on the man for a while and finally, feeling that he recognized the man from pictures he had seen, decided to call police to check him out. A few minutes later, Palmer and his partner, Officer Ralph Knarr, entered the bar. After talking to O'Neal for a minute, they approached the booth where the man was seated.
Palmer made contact with the man and stated, "Come, and go with us." The man asked Palmer if he could finish his beer, adding, "I think I know what you want me for." Palmer agreed. He finished the stein of beer while officers waited, then sat it down on the table, and with the same movement, brought up a gun which had been in the booth next to him, and started firing.
Palmer fell first, hit with three bullets, the fatal one going into his heart and killing him instantly. Knarr then fell, hit four times. Another subject was also hit in the leg by a stray bullet. The killer then ran out the side door of the bar to the north. He ran into the alley next to the Broadway Tower and raced up the alley towards Randolph Street, pursued by the Night Chief Lelon Coyle and Officers Ted Roberts, Phil Swyer, Earle Moore, and Carl Bundren.
Near the Max and Rex Cafe at the end of the alley, he came upon a parked car occupied by Fred Caldwell and Dr. L.D. Huff. He climbed into the rear seat of the car and told Caldwell, "You're driving me. Get going quick". Caldwell put the car in gear and began moving forward when he saw the officers coming towards him with guns pointing at the car. Easing down into the seat, he and Huff opened the doors of the car and dropped out, leaving the man in the car. Pointing towards the car, Caldwell directed officers to the man sitting in the back seat. Officers began firing at the car, the killer jumped out and hid behind it. Police Officers fired nine shots at the car, one of which hit the Killer in the head, apparently killing him instantly.
The killer was later identified as Lawrence DeVol, triggerman of the Karpis-Barker gang, who recently broken up when the Barkers were killed in a shoot-out with federal police. DeVol had supposedly killed three other policemen.
The day after the shooting, police headquarters was quiet. Palmer's funeral was held July 10th, in the chapel at Henninger-Allen funeral home. More than 500 people attended the funeral. He was buried with honors in Memorial Park Cemetery in Enid. Palmer, 38 years old, left a wife and two sons.
Officer Ralph Knarr recovered from his wounds and went on to become Chief of Police in Enid From 1943 until 1956.