In the early decades of the twentieth century three Somerset County lawmen gave their lives while protecting the citizens of Crisfield, MD. These tragic deaths caused a sensation at the time but once the men were lowered into their graves, the memory of the tragedies slowly faded into the mist of time. Except for hard to find old yellowing newspapers and a few scattered public records, information on these fallen officers was hard to find.
But that changed a few years ago after First Sgt. Stanley Harmon joined the Crisfield Police Department. Having recently retired from a law enforcement career in the Baltimore Metropolitan area, where he’d served in a variety of units, including homicide, the 50-something officer was interested in the history of his new department. While doing research to dig up the history of the agency, he came across the names of Night Chief Daugherty, Chief Kirwin, and Policeman Daugherty, the officers that had fallen in the line of duty while maintaining the peace in the Chesapeake Bay town. After making the discovery, he created a memorial at the Crisfield Police Station and got them listed on the Officer Down Memorial.
He also sat out to get them listed on the National Law Enforcement Memorial and that happened On May 13 during a candle light vigil ceremony. This year, the names of 387 fallen officers were added to the Memorial in Washington, DC. These 387 officers include 133 officers who died in the line of duty during 2008, plus another 254 officers who died in previous years but had been lost to history until now. I think Sgt. Harmon for making sure these fallen law enforcement officers from Crisfield were remembered.
Here’s a little more information on these murders:
- Night Chief John H. (Jack Hen) Daugherty — Sunday, July 28, 1907 — Officer Daugherty was shot and killed as he and another officer walked a prisoner to jail. The two officers had just arrested the man for selling whiskey. A friend of the man witnessed the arrest and obtained a .44-claiber revolver. The friend followed the officers and prisoner for about a half block and shot Chief Daugherty in the back of the head without warning, killing him instantly. The suspect fled the scene but was captured and returned to Crisfield where he was lynched. He was survived by his wife and five children.
- Chief of Police James Washington Kirwin – Sunday, April 20, 1924 – Chief Kirwin succumbed to wounds sustained six years earlier when he was struck on the head with a hatchet while attempting to make an arrest. Chief Kirwin had gone to a barn after being notified that a man inside had slashed another man with the hatchet. When the Chief arrived at the building, he was struck in the head. The suspect then struck the other officer in the arm. That officer emptied his revolved at the man, killing him Chief Kirwin was survived by his wife.
- Policeman Harry W. Daugherty – Sunday, April 29, 1934 — Officer Daugherty succumbed to wounds sustained three days earlier when he was attacked by a man with a chisel. He had gone to a resident to investigate reports of a disturbance. While inside he was attacked by the suspect and stabbed in the temple with a chisel. The suspect was apprehended the following morning after a manhunt involving over 1,000 citizens. He was taken to the Baltimore City Jail by the state police. Officer Daugh3erty was survived by his wife and seven children. Chief Ernest Joseph Leatherbury Sr., was already listed on the national mounument. He passed away on February 21, 2003. The chief collapsed at a meeting approximately one hour after helping subudue a suspect who was resisting his officers at the police station.