On Oct. 1, 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed into law a bill designating May 15 as Peace Officer Memorial Day and the calendar week on which that memorial fell as Police Week.
The president proclaimed on May 4, 1963, that “law enforcement officers have played an important role in safeguarding the rights and freedoms which are guaranteed by the Constitution and in protecting the lives and property of our citizens.” Every day, an estimated 670,000 sworn law enforcement officers in the United States stand ready to confront the worst that humans can do to one another. Sometimes, they give their lives in this noble endeavor. Compared to other jurisdictions, Riley County has been relatively fortunate in that only five of its police officers have died in the line of duty, although the death of any one of them is a heavy price to pay for law and order. For Police Week, the Riley County Historical Museum honored those law officers who have made the supreme sacrifice in service to their neighbors.
Felix Augustine Boller (Died Dec. 21, 1866)
Ogden City Marshal Felix A. Boller was the first Kansas peace officer killed in the line of duty. He was born in Emmitsburg, Maryland, on July 10, 1836.
On Dec. 21, 1866, Sgt. William H. Dustin, Pvts. Peter Rickrod and William T. Furlong, and three other enlisted men, all from Company D, Seventh U.S. Cavalry, were detailed to apprehend deserters. Already intoxicated, four members of the detail visited an Ogden saloon, while Dustin and one of the privates called on Boller’s sister, Sarah Cassandra (Boller) Brooke, at her residence. They asked whether she was harboring any of the fugitives they sought. Sarah’s husband was not at home, but her four sons and one daughter were, and she answered in the negative. According to the Dec. 29, 1866, Junction City Weekly Union, the sergeant then said, “You are a fine looking lady, I would like to talk with you.” He ordered his soldier, who was not identified in newspaper accounts, to shoot the first man attempting to interfere. As Dustin entered the Brooke house, Sarah and the children began to scream for help.
Although he was not armed at the time, Marshal Boller, accompanied by two other citizens, rushed to his sister’s assistance, but was stopped by Dustin’s subordinate. The private warned Boller of his orders, while the sergeant shouted “Shoot him, Gd, dn, shoot him, if he tries to enter.” Boller ordered the soldier off his sister’s steps, then the marshal was suddenly felled by a rifle bullet through the heart and died instantly. After one of Boller’s companions wounded a private in the neck and another in the knee, the soldiers rode off, threatening death to all within earshot.
Marshal Boller was buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Ogden, and it should be noted the death date on his headstone is mismarked.
Selden Burke Lard (Died Oct. 20, 1897)
Selden B. Lard was born in Wheeling, West Virginia, on Oct. 12, 1844. After moving to Manhattan, he was elected clerk of the district court on Nov. 4, 1890, and served for two years. In early March 1897, Lard was appointed county sheriff by Gov. John Whitnah Leedy to fill a vacancy.
On Oct. 19, he and Deputy Martin Basham traveled to Leonardville to serve an arrest warrant on Isaac “Ike” Warren. The two lawmen took Warren into custody without incident. The next day, the sheriff left the prisoner with Basham at the stables and went to assist County Attorney Irish Frank Leslie before starting out for Manhattan. Returning, Lard found Warren standing on Main Street alone. “Where is Basham,” the sheriff asked. The prisoner replied, “I don’t know, but here is his pistol.” Warren abruptly shot Lard in the face near his nose, and the lawman pulled his sidearm and returned fire. He missed, and Warren wounded the sheriff once more. After Lard fell to the ground, Warren emptied his weapon into the law officer’s body. William Karrigan dashed to Lard’s assistance with his Winchester. Only slightly wounded in the exchange, Warren took refuge in an outhouse behind Benedict L. Bredburg’s store. Townspeople surrounded the privy, and Deputy Basham demanded Warren’s surrender. The sheriff’s killer surrendered, and Basham was hard-pressed to keep his prisoner from being lynched by a mob of irate citizens. Warren was safely placed in the county jail.
Sheriff Lard was buried in Peach Grove Cemetery, northeast of Randolph. He was survived by his wife, Adelia Ann (Booker) Lard, and seven children.
Marion F. Ross (Died March 10, 1918)
Marion Ross was born on May 6, 1872, in Wayne County, Kentucky. He joined the Manhattan Police Department in 1909, and, at the time of his death, was assigned to patrol Aggieville as the night officer.
On March 10, 1918, Officer Ross attempted to arrest Sam Gifford, assistant laundry superintendent at Camp Funston, for public intoxication in City Park. Suddenly, Milton S. Moorehead, laundry foreman, attacked the policeman and knocked him to the ground. The assailant then stomped on Ross’s face several times, crushing his head into the earth. Ross was pronounced dead of his injuries upon arrival at Charlotte Swift Memorial Hospital. Gifford, his wife and Moorehead were later arrested at the Glenwood Hotel.
Ross was buried in Sunset Cemetery. He was survived by his wife, Emma D. (Willey) Ross, two sons and one daughter.
Cleo Clyde Chrest (Died Jan. 27, 1951)
Cleo C. Chrest was born on June 14, 1914, in Louisville, Pottawatomie County. He joined the Manhattan Police Department on Oct. 15, 1948.
On Jan. 24, 1951, Patrolman Chrest was seriously injured in an automobile accident two miles east of town on U.S. 24-40. While Chrest, his partner, Officer Gordon Armstrong, and Pfc. Lincoln W. Cornelius, a military policeman at Fort Riley, were responding to a call, another vehicle crossed the centerline and struck the patrol car, ejecting Chrest through the front windshield.
Never regaining consciousness, Chrest died on Jan. 27. Leaving behind his widow, LaJunta Mae (Sayre) Chrest, and one son, he was buried with full honors in the Louisville Cemetery three days later.
Donald Ray Harbour (Died Aug. 9, 1982)
Donald R. Harbour was born on March 12, 1933, in Sedgwick, Harvey County. He served in the U.S. Army from 1953 to 1956. In 1960, he joined the Manhattan Police Department, which consolidated with the sheriff’s office in 1974 to become the Riley County Police Department.
On Aug. 9, 1982, Sergeant Harbour responded to a call from Pat’s Pawn and Gun Shop in Ogden that a man was attempting to sell a stolen rifle. When Harbour arrived at the store, he observed two individuals sitting in an automobile directly outside the building. The officer directed the pair to exit the vehicle, but the passenger, James M. Hullet, produced a handgun while Mark Alan Sterkel, the driver, put the car into reverse. Harbour and Hullett exchanged gunfire, and the policeman hit the vehicle’s front tire and body several times. Harbour was struck in the abdomen by a bullet that severed his aortic artery. Spc. Four William R. Corey, an army medic who happened to be nearby, rushed to the fallen officer’s assistance, but was unable to staunch the bleeding, and Harbour died within minutes.
The two men in the automobile fled the scene, but their vehicle quickly became inoperable. They carjacked a female motorist at a nearby gas station and led Riley County and Highway Patrol units on a high-speed pursuit. When they crashed the car at the intersection of First Street and Poyntz Avenue, Sterkel fled on foot and was subsequently apprehended. Hullett stole a station wagon and raced up K-177 to escape the dragnet. Finally, approaching a roadblock on U.S. 77 south of Waterville, Hullet shot himself in the head before the stolen vehicle careened into a tree. Donald Abbott, the man who had been abandoned in the pawn shop, was held at gunpoint by owner Pat Livingston until the arrival of responding officers.
Survived by his wife, Mary Jo (Kidder) Harbour, two daughters and one grandchild, Harbour was buried in the Pleasant View Cemetery in Oskaloosa, Jefferson County.
Nationwide, more than 21,000 peace officers have died protecting the citizens and residents of the United States through the enforcement of our laws. In his 1963 proclamation, President Kennedy observed “it is fitting and proper that we express our gratitude for the dedicated service and courageous deeds of law enforcement officers and for the contributions they have made to the security and well-being of all our people.”
Darren L. Ivey is a museum assistant at the Riley County Historical Museum, the author of three non-fiction books on the Texas Rangers and the father of a serving Kansas peace officer. This article is one in an occasional series written by Riley County Historical Society members and others interested in local history.