During Midnight Raid on Freight Car in 1900, Clayton Police Officer Slain

The Delawarean, August 11, 1900

Clayton Constable Herbert Haynes was killed while assisting railroad police who were attempting to detain a gang of tramps on a freight train on a sweltering August night in 1900.   Just after midnight the 45-year old officer responded to a call to aid P. W. & B. detectives  Ralph Hutchins, J. D. Wright and George Reed as a south bound freight passing through Clayton at 12:20 a.m. was infested with tramps.  He and the three other lawmen surrounded a boxcar  where there were seven tramps who resisted arrest.  As Officer Haynes grappled with one, the large man snatched the policeman’s pistol from his belt, pushed it against his stomach and fired a bullet through  his liver.        

The mortally wounded policeman was carried to his home where Drs. Cobb and Ickes of Clayton and T.C. Moore of Smyrna rendered medical assistance.  After suffering terribly for 24-hours “Hub,” as we was popularly known,  passed away.  He had been an officer and night watchman in Clayton for some years and was survived by his wife and three small daughters.  The funeral for the murdered man was one of the largest seen in the area, “a testimonial to a brave man’s life of public service.”

As the police officer lay dying at his home, lawmen throughout the Delmarva Peninsula were on the hunt for  the murderer.   The railroad detectives did all they could to apprehend the man, not only because of the danger of allowing him to escape, but because the company had found in Police Officer Haynes “one of the most reliable and plucky officers in the state.”  Delaware State Detective McVey headed for Perryville, MD. on the next available train, in case he headed in that direction.      

At the next town council meeting, Louis C. Burris was appointed as the Clayton policeman and nightwatchman, succeeding the late Herbert Haynes.

Clayton’s Main Street about 1908.

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