Skip to main content

State police had 'won their spurs' by early 1910

Published February 27. 2010 09:00AM

Undermanned, under budgeted and overworked local police departments were facing hard challenges during the first few months of 1910.

One man who was stretched to his limit was George Hahn, Tamaqua's police chief, who dealt with everything from street punks to hard-drinking miners to gun-slinging criminals. During one incident, Hahn went searching for a visitor from New Philadelphia who had been drinking heavily and was reportedly insulting women on the street.

Hahn caught up with him in Boyle's saloon but the man tried to bolt as he was being led to the lockup. After being recaptured, he lashed out at the chief.

"The officer realized that he had a troublesome customer so a few smacks with the mace (a police club) brought him into submission and he was locked up," a Tamaqua Courier reporter stated.

The disorderly conduct and resisting an officer charges earned him 30 days in the lockup.

In early February, Hahn's small department received some support when a detachment of state police, which had been stationed in Lansford for a year, established a headquarters on Pine Street. It was felt that Tamaqua was more centrally located, allowing the troopers to be dispatched to the Panther Valley as well as to more distant towns such as Pottsville.

Although the troopers "did good work" while in Lansford, one reporter for the Lansford Leader felt there might have been something more shady behind the troopers' leaving town.

"It seems one of the men who was stationed here was too fresh with some very young girls and complaints were sent to the front about him," the writer said. "He is no longer connected with the state troopers but the complaints are said to be the cause of the removal of the rest of the men. He was too fresh and should have been called to account before."

The reporter said some of the fellow troopers "spoke to the man about his action but it was of no use." The five other troopers who saw service in Lansford were reportedly "gentlemen and attended to the business of the troop and did good work in town."

When the troopers arrived to set up their new headquarters in Tamaqua, one of the first things they did was have a telephone installed which would greatly improve their response time. The plan was to keep one officer at headquarters at all times "to answer any summons."

Soon after locating in Tamaqua, however, the troopers' returned to Lansford to carry out some some unfinished business against the gamblers and "bums" in that place. According to one local reporter, the state police troopers "swooped down on the slot machines and other gambling devices," and also "raided the sand houses and placed under arrest a number of bums who have been wintering there and have become a nuisance in the town."

The persons arrested were taken to the Mauch Chunk jail where they were ordered to serve 30 days for vagrancy.

One reporter stated that the troopers planned to clear the vagrants from Tamaqua's streets after their return from Philadelphia where they were helping to put down some bloody riots during a city transit strike.

In late February, the Tamaqua Courier writer stated in an opinion that the state police had certainly earned the respect of the public and had proven its mettle since the founding of the force in 1905.

"We say with a degree of pride that no finer body of men ever sat on a horse than the state police of Pennsylvania," the writer said. "They are clean, healthy Americans; picked men, trained to fight with arms and with brain - no roughs or bullies, no booze-fighters or gamblers find a place in the ranks of the 'Black Hussars.'"

He explained that on order to become a trooper, the candidate must meet some rigid standards.

"He must consecrate himself to duty, to the life of a soldier of the law, ready to ride and fight at the command of the state, always vigilant to protect the interests and uphold the laws of that same state," he said.

The writer said troopers certainly earned the respect of the citizens of Philadelphia during the transit riots.

"Politics do not touch the state police and neither does the power of the corporation," he wrote. "At times, they chatted pleasantly with the crowd, but when the occasion called for sternness, they were quick to act.

"They are not a lot of swaggering bullies but men who are pleasant and agreeable; men in whose faces there are no marks of dissipation, men whose eyes are clear and bright with the light of clean and healthy living, men who have been trained to face perils and to die most gloriously - doing that which is right as they have been taught to see it."

His closing comment echoed the feelings of many coal region citizens.

"The Pa. State Police has ridden over prejudice and won its spurs," he said.

Classified Ads

Event Calendar


October 2017


Twitter Feed

Reader Photo Galleries