Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Adopting Marion Marshall

This is National Police Week, proclaimed such by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. Monday was the dedication of the Nebraska Law Enforcement Memorial, a beautiful tribute to the 130 Nebraska law officers who have died in the line of duty. It was a splendid day. Several chiefs, sheriffs, and other officials were called forward to take turns reading the roll of our fallen officers. I was asked to read the names of the five Lincoln police officers killed in the line of duty, and one more: Marion Marshall.

I had never heard of Marion Marshall. I did not know that his name was inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Memorial, and now on the Nebraska Law Enforcement Memorial. The few tantalizing details from the Nebraska Memorial’s biography sent me on a Tuesday quest to find Marion Marshall.

Special Duty Patrolman Marshall’s employment was something of a mystery. I had never seen that job title in all the records of the Lincoln Police Department. Marion Marshall does not appear in any of our rosters. A lunchtime trip to Bennett Martin Public Library solved this mystery of history.

According to the Lincoln Evening Journal accounts, Special Duty Patrolman Marshall was shot in his army uniform. I think they got that part wrong. I don’t think Marion F. Marshall would ever be seen in an “army uniform.” He was a Marine, a veteran of the Great War. After being laid off from his job at the Lincoln Telephone & Telegraph Company in 1931, he had been employed in a quasi-public law enforcement job. He was one of 20 special duty patrolmen sponsored by The Charles A. Farley post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The post organized neighborhood patrols by veterans beginning in 1919. These men patrolled beats in their military uniforms. They were paid by the proceeds of residents who subscribed to the service. His family of five was scraping by on the $80 to $90 a month this work brought in.

Shortly after midnight on September 7, 1932 Special Duty Patrolman Marshall observed a suspicious person on a bicycle in the alley west of S. 16th Street between G and H Streets. He drove around the block to investigate, encountering the subject at the alley exit on 15th Street. During the contact, the subject pulled a gun and shot Marion Marshall. The mortally wounded patrolman managed to crawl to the Governor's Mansion, rang the bell, then collapsed on the top step of the porch. He was found there by Governor Charles Bryan, who had pulled on his clothes and gone to the door. The Governor summoned authorities and Special Duty Patrolman Marshall was taken to the hospital, where he passed away two days later, at the age of 35. He was survived by his wife and three children.

Marion Marshall is caught in limbo. He is a patrolman without a department. The Charles A. Farley post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars ceased to exist years ago. Although he was not a Lincoln police officer, he was similar to what we might now think of as a reserve or auxiliary officer. He was clearly acting in the public benefit when he encountered Tom Hall in the shadow of the spanking-new Nebraska State Capitol, armed with a concealed .32 caliber revolver, on his way to hold up the Capital Hotel in downtown Lincoln.

Today at noon, we will host a ceremony on the steps of Lincoln’s Hall of Justice and Law Enforcement Center to honor the Lincoln police officers who have given their lives in service to their fellow citizens. Ceremonies of this type will be taking place this week throughout the United States, at courthouses, State houses, and police departments. Speeches will be delivered, salutes rendered; taps will be played, the roll will be read.

No one has been reading the name of Special Duty Patrolman Marion Francis Marshall.

Until now.

The women and men of the Lincoln Police Department are adopting Marion Marshall. We will remember him, and we will honor the sacrifice he made on behalf of his City, State, and country. He is now added our roll call of honored dead, and this afternoon I will read his name.


Anonymous said...

A terrific tribute... I wonder what happened to his wife and kids.

ARRRRG!!!! said...

Welcome aboard Officer Marshall.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful Story Chief! A fitting tribute to what sounds like a great man. I wish that there could be a historical marker about the deeds of this fine police officer in that area of Lincoln mentioned in your blog.

Anonymous said...

What happened to the shooter?

Anonymous said...

This was a very touching story and you opened a nice widow in history for us. When you announced we were adopting Marion Marshall you gave it a wonderful ending. I think this is a wonderful idea.

Dave said...

Very cool Tom, very cool!

It is this kind of historical tidbits that keep me returning to your blog.


Tom Casady said...


Tom Hall got a plea bargain from County Attorney Towle. He was allowed to plead guilty to second degree murder, and Judge Chappell sentenced him to life in prison.

Remarkably, this happened on September 20, only 13 days after the shooting and 11 days after Marion Marshall's death.

Towle conferred with the police chief, sheriff, and Marion Marshall's widow, Eva, before reaching this decision. He noted that by Hall pleading guilty, the County would be saved the expense of a trial.

Here's what Eva Marshall had to say about the matter:

"I feel that he should spend the rest of his life in the penitentiary. I am opposed to capital punishment, and I am also opposed to the sentencing of a man to life and letting him out in ten years."

Anonymous said...


Thank you so much for your story. Thank you also for focusing on the details. A Marine would not wear an Army uniform! Happy Police Week to ALL officers!!


Tom Casady said...

Interesting oral history related to this post: Capt. Lowell Sellmeyer left LPD in the late 1970's and became the Milford, NE chief of police for several more years before retiring. He attended our ceremony today.

At the reception, he told me that when he was a boy, his had a buddy around the corner whose dad was a VFW "rover." I had him repeat that term, to make sure I heard him right. He carried a gun, wore a uniform, and went on patrol. I think he said the family name was Victor.

The Sellmeyers lived in the 1400 block of Pawnee Street. Lowell was born in 1926, so that would be about the right time frame for the period that Special Duty Patrolman Marshall was doing the same work.

Anonymous said...

I was very happy to listen as you related this story at the Memorial today. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to do this for he and his family. We are all better off for having learned this.

Also, thank you for participating in today's ceremony as well as the one at the Nebraska Law Enforcement Memorial dedication Monday. These two things ensure that those we have lost will never pass from the collective memory.

Anonymous said...

this is not related to this story - but THANK YOU to LPS for your hard work and diligence in arresting a suspect in the rape/robbery cases that have been happening in Lincoln!!

Anonymous said...

This is a extraordinary tale. Especially the fact it has so long been forgotten and reintroduced into the history of Lincoln Police officers and our city. Chief Casady gets an A for this research.

Anonymous said...

If someone wished to make a donation to the Nebraska Law Enforcement Memorial fund, how can it be done. Nice job on the blog as usual.


Tom Casady said...

Thanks for that setup, 256. It's easy to make a donation to the Nebraska Law Enforcement Memorial, and even small ones add up.

Anonymous said...

Everone wants a handout

Zen said...

Wow, that is such a great story. You know, there are lots of veterans around right now that would probably be interested in doing something similar, and it could provide an slightly abbreviated pathway to the police academy, too. It would also save you from having to publish the email addresses of the aspiring winners every year of your 'they applied to the police dept. using WHAT email address?" contest.

Zen said...

Anonymous 5:59-its a memorial fund, no one is getting a 'handout'. If you don't believe it what they are doing, don't donate.

Tom Casady said...



You might be surprised how many soldiers we hire, and the fact that so many of our new officers have done volunteer work at law enforcement agencies prior to their employment. Veterans have always been a great source for police recruitment and hiring.

Anonymous said...

Vet pref just is another way to silver spoon the elite, the guy on the street ends up with leftovers. Thanks for the bred crumbs. Status is as status does, Mom, dad, sisters, brothers and eeo is a cartoon;]
Plenty of cash as govt can not print the debt quick enough,,, do I hear Pink floyd in the musac rotation at lPD? crowed chants spend that cash, rinse shower repeat.

Anonymous said...

Money in the time we have is going to jobs and food and shelter, and a wall to ease paine, counsoling that I pay 170 an hour for and a wall is a flushing of the toilet and a bye bye cash ceremony,
1.Wad oney
2 Toss in toilet
4. Feel just as good.

Anonymous said...

9:10, 9:16-
Dude... way too many drugs while listening to the Pink Floyd albums back in the day.

that's what she said...

9:10, 9:16 wonders why his/her LPD application has been turned down so many times.

Anonymous said...

One guy that I went to high school with (he dropped out and got a GED) rocked out of Army basic, because he was unable to reassemble his A2. That's an extremely simple task - if a dog had thumbs, they could probably do it, with a little training.

I suspect that 9:10 and 9:16 might be that guy, since he wouldn't qualify for Veterans preference points (and would resent those who did), and his language arts skills were similar. Much like a housefly, he seemed able to focus on only one simple task at a time, hence the two posts.

Anonymous said...

12:43 - heh I remember a guy like that in my plt. Everyone hated being near him with live ammo. That guy couldn't hit the side of a barn if his life depended on it.

ahh - the memories! I can still take that A2 apart and put it back together blindfolded in my sleep.