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History of the

Watertown Police Department

Serving the community since 1853






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Up to 1842 Watertown operated under a county system of government and in April of that year Watertown held its first election for town constables.  Harris Gilman and Eli H. Bouton were chosen. 



JOSEPH GILES, Village Marshal

On March 7, 1849, Watertown was incorporated as a village and a charter was adopted.  The village marshal was Joseph Giles.


Joseph Giles was one of the early day police officers in Watertown.  He was sheriff of Jefferson County many years ago, deputy sheriff, constable, in fact held office most all his life in Watertown.  Joe was always able to manage the tough boys who came to town . . .




In 1853 Watertown was incorporated as a city, and from then on operated the law and order department, with justices of the peace, city marshals and constables.  There were justices of the peace in Watertown and sometimes two or three constables in a ward.  Occasionally in an old city directory one or two would be identified as policemen.


CITY CHARTER / AN ACT  /  To Incorporate the City of Watertown

03 03       . . . Section 7.  The mayor shall be the chief executive officer and head of the police of the city.  It shall be his duty to recommend in writing to the city council such measures as he may deem expedient.  He shall keep the seal of said city, sign all commissions, licenses and permits which may be granted by the city council; he shall endeavor to maintain peace and good order, and see that the laws of the state and ordinances of the city are observed and executed; he shall have the power to administer oaths or affirmations, and to take and certify acknowledgement of deeds and other instruments in writing.  As a judicial officer, he shall have power, and by giving the bonds required by law, may exercise the jurisdiction of justice of the peace, and to prevent or suppress riot or other public disturbance, by may appoint as many special constables as he may deem proper.


In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand a affixed the great seal of said state, at the capitol in Madison, this third day of March, A.D. 1853.


Charles D Robinson, Secretary of State.     Watertown Chronicle, 03 16 1853


-- --           LUCIUS BRUEGGER became the first city marshal in 1853 when Watertown was incorporated as a city.

       Lucius Bruegger named the Sharp Corner saloon [823 E. Main] "The Beehive."



Ernst Off, City Marshal



Night Watchman taken up town, filled with beer, while two sawed Maes’ shanty fence and threw it into the river



-- --           Harris Gilman, City Marshal

August Tanck elected City Marshal



01 27       Accounts presented and referred . . . W. Bieber & Co., for rent of lock-up to March, 1859, $18.00   WD


02 10       Confer with Messrs. Bieber & Co. and ascertain the amount of rent for lock up for the ensuring year    WD


03 03       John Staub, candidate for office of City Marshal


03 10       Subject of Police Jurisdiction


06 02       Special Police or Night Watch proposed   WD



-- --           August Tanck, City Marshal



01 26       August Tank for three months services as City Marshall, Oct. 1st, 1859, to Dec 31, 1859, $25, allowed and charged to city general fund.     WD



-- --           John Haines, City Marshal

05 23        Office of police justice to be abolished, remarks by Mayor Williams   WD



-- --           Frederick Herman, City Marshal



-- --           J. STAUB, City Marshal


06 25       NIGHT WATCH

Common Council Proceedings:  Resolved, that his Honor the Mayor be authorized to appoint a night watch if, in his opinion, it is necessary.   WD


10 15       A THIEF CAUGHT

On the night of the 8th the warehouse of George Peeples was entered by means of cutting a hole through the floor and a considerable quantity of wool and a number of sheep pelts stolen.  Sheriff Giles immediately went in pursuit of the thief, overtook him at Madison, brought him and the property back, and after examination before Justice Ducassee, was committed to jail for trial.  The name of the burglar is Otto Esche.  He will probably have a permanent location at Waupun before long.   WD



-- --           JOHN HAINES, City Marshal



Ald. Dennis moved that the Mayor is hereby requested to make out the account against the county for keeping criminals in the city lockup, and that the [Jefferson County] Deputy Sheriff, Joseph Giles, should be asked to certify on the account that he used the lockup for the county prisoners, and that such account be presented for allowance at the next meeting of the county board.  Motion carried.


The Clerk read the report of the election held on the 15th day of January and on motion of Ald. Dennis the Committee of Judiciary was instructed to report at the next meeting of the Council a bill to be presented to the Assembly for the passage of an act to legalize all actions had in regard to raising a tax to pay bounties to volunteers.   WD



Common Council Proceedings:  Ald. Dennis moved that the Marshal shall not bury any more dead animals at the expense of the city, but shall inform the owners that it is their duty to remove nuisances from the streets or in front of their lots.  Carried.



Resolved, That the salary of the Marshal of this city for the ensuing year shall be two hundred dollars and that the sum so paid shall include and be in full for all services that the said Marshal is performing under the direction of the Common Council.  Adopted by unanimous vote.    WD




Common Council Proceedings:  Against General Fund, John Hains, $50, three months salary as Marshal.   WD



-- --           ERNST OFF, CITY MARSHAL


1869                SPECIAL POLICE

1. The common council, for the purpose of guarding against the calamities of fire, shall have power to prescribe the limits within which wooden building or buildings of other materials that shall not be considered fire proof, shall not be erected or repaired and to direct that all and any buildings within . . .


7. The common council shall have power to organize a sack [fire] company, which shall be known as sack company number one, to consist of not more than twenty members. Such company shall constitute a part of the fire department, and at fires shall be subject to the control of the chief engineer. The members of said company, either collectively or individually, are hereby authorized and empowered to act as a special police in and for the city of Watertown, and are hereby vested with all the power and authority which now is or may hereafter be vested in any police officer of said city and shall be entitled to all the rights and immunities of the fire department; at fires they shall take charge of all property which may be exposed or endangered, and shall, so far as it may be in their power, preserve the same from injury and destruction . . . Riedl, Ken, Watertown Fire Department: 1858-2007, 2007, pg 48



Gas supplied to Engine house and Lockup on S. First St.



-- --           John “Putt” Reichert [Reichardt], City Marshal




-- --           P. Dougherty, City Marshal



-- --           J. F. Barber, City Marshal




Graphical user interface

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

Jail or lock-up located in basement of early fire house on South First Street,

as noted in "Watertown Fire Dept 1857-2007" by Ken Riedl, pgs 36-41.



-- --           WATERTOWN SPECIAL POLICE [Fire Police]

A general desire seems to prevail among many of our citizens, and the matter will soon be submitted to the consideration of the Board of Street Commissioners as to the exigency of organizing a Sack Company, to act as a reinforcement to our present police force in cases of great necessity.


Although the city charter expressly provides for an organization of this description [see 1869], still no force of this kind has yet been formed, and without it the efficiency of our Fire Department seems necessarily incomplete.  The organization, as provided by the charter, is to comprise not more than twenty men, to constitute a part of the Fire Department and to be subjected to the full control of the chief engineer.


It is understood that each member belonging to the company is virtually constituted a police officer, empowered with the same rights, privileges and authority that are vested in any emissary connected with our city police.  Watertown Democrat, 06 22 1876  / Riedl, Ken, Watertown Fire Department: 1858-2007, 2007, pg 84


Sack Company No. 1 was incorporated in 1876 for the purpose of attending fires in the capacity of a special fire police force—few now know that they even existed, much less what their role was at the time.  Special Police or Fire Police were Volunteer Fire Company members with sworn police powers.  They received special police training and were responsible for traffic control, crowd control, fire and incident scene security, apparatus security securing property and, in some instances, station security during calls for service. They hustled when the alarm of fire was heard, many times reaching the scene before the firemen themselves.  During times of large-scale or particularly serious small emergencies, the response system could become overwhelmed.  To that end, having a trained, equipped group of responders who could supplement fire personnel was an invaluable tool to incident commanders.      Riedl, Ken, Watertown Fire Department: 1858-2007, 2007, pgs 84-86



-- --           D. Kehr, City Marshal



-- --           GEORGE HENZE, City Marshal


A city marshal reported, and complained, to the city council in 1879 that he had arrested four persons as vagrants and brought them to the Justice of the Peace, who dismissed them all with the injunction "go and sin no more."  Later 17 others were arrested as vagrants, one was put in jail, 16 were dismissed to "go and sin no more."   WDT article 03 20 1982



-- --           F. P. [Peter] Brook, owner of a confectionary and fruit store on the Main St bridge, served as deputy city marshal, date uncertain   WG




An Editorial:  A prominent farmer of Emmet made quite a disgraceful exhibition of himself on Main Street yesterday afternoon on account of being well filled with corn juice.  He became quite noisy and when remonstrated with by an officer, endeavored to convince the arm of the law that he could act just as he pleased on our streets.  Our deputy marshal made an effort to quiet him, found kind words of no avail, and was compelled to use his cane on the fellow’s head, cutting him slightly.  At this juncture in the proceedings our rural friend’s wife took a hand in [the incident] and the officer was persuaded to let the fellow alone.  Such fellows as the subject of this item have been dealt too lenient with by our officers and they imagine that they can do just as they please without being interfered with.  If this fellow’s head is sore for some time to come, our verdict is that he deserves not only a sore head, but should be fined for raising a disturbance.   WG



August      Charles Kerr, appointed night patrolman, becomes city marshal and first police chief; served 1885-1912.

09 04       Officer Stylow; chance to show the public just how adept he was at handling six desperate tramps




A city officer, who is supposed to be a custodian of the public's peace, could be seen Sunday last highly intoxicated, unable to control himself, let alone other people, and at the same time dashing through the streets in a buggy and putting the whip to the horse in a manner that made said officer liable to be arrested for cruelty to animals.  Should our city tolerate this state of things much longer?   WG



Sheriff Illing and Marshall Zautner had quite an exciting time arresting seven tramps who were quartered near the C. & N.W. Ry. depot.  The tramps made a strong resistance, and the sheriff found it necessary to draw his revolver and for the marshal to use his billy in arresting them.  They were finally captured and placed in the lockup overnight.  Next day Commissioner Feld examined them.  Four were bound over for trial to the circuit court for being tramps, and two for resisting an officer.  The last of the gang was sentenced to the county jail for 15 days for using profane language.



-- --           CHARLES ZAUTNER, City Marshal

Night police officer sleeping while on duty, Zautner prepared formal complaint regarding.




Marshal Zautner has a number of articles of wearing apparel that he found in possession of a tramp this week.  They were evidently stolen from a clothes line.  The owner can have them by calling on the marshal.     WG



Night watchmen was made subject to the control of the city marshal and they shall be on duty from 8 o'clock p.m. until 6 o’clock a.m. during the winter months and from 8 o’clock p.m. until 5 o'clock a.m. during the summer months.


The following- was passed:  Police force of the city would consist of 3 members which would be under the control of the city marshal.



A young man named T. W. Berry, supposed to be a pal of one J. M. Officer who is wanted at Ava, Mo., having escaped from the sheriff at that place, was arrested on Watertown’s Main Street this morning by Deputy Sheriff Graewe.  The desperate character of the man is shown in his drawing a revolver on Graewe before being taken.  He was placed in the lockup.  J. M. Officer is thought to be somewhere in the city.     The Watertown News, 05 14 1890



In our last issue we recorded the capture here of one T. W. Berry, supposed to be connected with two notorious characters in southern Missouri, named J. M. Officer and Geo. Scott, all three having escaped from the hands of Joseph M. Lyon, sheriff of Douglas county, Missouri, while in his custody to answer to the charge of the robbery of Samuel Turner’s store, at Arno, Missouri.


Deputies Graewe and Arndt, returning from Jefferson afternoon, after leaving Berry in jail, spotted Officer and Scott, who had got on board at Janesville.  The pair left the train here and started up town, followed by our officers and Sheriff Hibbard.  Officer and Scott went into the Watertown post office and enquiring for the same mail that Berry had gave assurance to the officers that they were on the right track.


One was arrested in front of Stallmann’s and the other at the corner of Second Street.  The prisoners attempted to draw revolvers, both being well armed, but Deputy Graewe and his assistants were too quick for the fellows.  The Missourians were taken down to Jefferson by the 4 o’clock freight and lodged in jail.


Monday Sheriff Lyon, accompanied by Mr. Turner, identified the prisoners and a requisition having been obtained from Gov. Hoard, they started back with their prisoners yesterday morning.  A reward of $75 was offered for the arrest of these men by Sheriff Lyon and Deputy Sheriff Graewe has received his money.  About $200 was stolen from Turner’s store, but the prisoners are also wanted by the sheriff of Wright county, Missouri, for breaking into the county treasurer’s office and taking $7,000.


They are a hard and desperate gang and there is no doubt they belonged to the Jesse James desperadoes.  After committing the burglary at Arno the fellows were tracked to Memphis,Tenn. about March 31; from there Sheriff Lyon dispatched to Deputy Graeve that these men would be in Watertown about a certain time, which happened to correspond to very nearly the exact day when they did put in their appearance here. 


Many are asking themselves why it happens that Watertown was chosen as their projective point, and what was their inducement for coming here.  There is no doubt that the prompt arrest of these desperate characters saved us from some fine work, that most likely would have taken place on the night of the day the capture was made.     The Watertown News, 05 21 1890



Last week Thursday, Marshal Kerr had quite an encounter with a tramp named John Miles near the C.M. & St. Paul depot.  Miles was in company with two other tramps, in Hubers lumber yard, and the former took hold of Theo. Martin, a laborer therein, with intent, it is supposed, of robbing him of his money.  Martin resisted and summoned aid, when the tramps skipped away.  Marshal Kerr was telephoned for and hastened to arrest them.  On arriving in that vicinity he found the tramps and gave chase.  Two of them got away but Miles was induced to stand after the marshal had emptied two chambers of his revolver as an inducement to have him stop.  On catching up with Miles he showed fight, and it was necessary for the marshal to burst his billy over his trampship's head before the fellow would submit to an arrest.  He was a big, burly-looking fellow, weighing nearly 200 pounds, and he evidently thought his size would scare the marshal if he resisted arrest.  He was not long in being convinced, however, that he had run upon a hornet’s nest and the hind legs of a mule combined in the person of Marshal Kerr.  He was placed behind the bars in the city lockup for the balance of the day, and the next morning sentence for vagrancy by Justice Stacy to five days solitary confinement in the county jail.             WG



A drunken tramp placed in the lock-up was released last night by a comrade, who broke down the door of the marshal’s office and was then able to turn the key in the door of the lock-up, thus giving the fellow inside his liberty.  Both tramps made a sudden departure.        WR



In our issue of last week we referred briefly to the arrest of John Schlueter charged with setting fire to G. B. Lewis & Co.’s bee hive factory in February.  As stated, Mr. Parks, the junior member of the company, visited the reform school at Waukesha for the purpose of getting a confession out of Eddy Weigel, a boy 11 years of age sent from here to that institution last October, with the suspicion hanging over him that he knew all about the various fires that were kindled here the present year, involving the loss of over $25,000 worth of property in the destruction of the G. B. Lewis Co.s bee hive factory, the Watertown woolen mill, Geo. W. Evans’ livery barn and the Herzog and Lange barns.


When Mr. Parks first began interviewing young Weigel, he was reluctant to telling all he knew about these fires, but he finally made a clean breast of it.  He stated that he fired Evans’ and Lange’s barns merely for the sake of seeing a fire, and Herzog's barn because some of the Herzog family were mad at his folks, and called him names because they did not buy beer at Herzog's saloon, and he fired the barn to get even with them.


With regard to the Lewis fire, he stated that he and Schlueter planned this fire because they had applied for work at the Lewis factory and were refused.  Early in the evening they passed some time in a barn back of the William Pell house in the 5th ward, and then strolled down towards Weber’s lumber yard, thence down to the river bank, and waited around the mills and factory until the electric lights went out.  Weigel gave a minute description of the interior of the factory at the place therein where they started the fire on the night in question, so that there can be no doubt of his story being correct.


As soon as the electric lights were turned off, both entered the basement door on the south of the factory leading from the alley way between there and the woolen mill, Schlueter applied the match whilst Weigel stood guard outside watching so that they could not be surprised in their nefarious work.  When everything was ready, Weigel went outside to watch, but returned again to inform Schlueter that a man was passing by and they had better wait awhile longer.  They did so, and both returned to their respective posts. 


Schlueter applied the match to a pile of shavings in the fore part of the basement and then skipped outside, calling to his partner to run.  Both started on the run, got separated in Weber's lumber yard, but came together again near Jesse Stone's residence, and then proceeded to Hughes' barn nearby, where they passed the night.


On arriving home from Waukesha, Mr. Parks had Schlueter arrested.  He was closely questioned as to his connection with the Lewis fire, and told substantially the same story as above. . . .


. . . . It is a relief to know that older persons were not engaged in this work.  Both boys will probably spend the best years of their lives in the reform school, if not in the state prison, and it is hoped that with this as an example before them, other boys here may be prevented from ever engaging in such despicable work. 


The reform school and state prison, to our mind, is altogether too mild a punishment for such acts.  It now remains to discover who fired the old Lindon House barn, and let us hope that the guilty one may also be found out.     WG



-- --           Police Dept located in City Hall, adjacent to Fire Dept




-- --           CHARLES KERR, City Marshal



01 23      1894 CRIME REPORT

During the year 1894 there were 226 arrests made by officers in this city.  The statistics as compiled by the chief-of-police show the nature of complaint and number of arrests as follows: Assault, 29;  abusive language,27;  drunk and disorderly, 17;  petit larceny, 11; carrying  concealed weapons, 4;  obtaining money by false pretenses, 3; malicious mischief, 3;  indecent exposure,2;  threats, 2;  resisting officer, 2; bastardy, 1;  grave larceny, 1;  assault with intent to rob, 1;  non-support, 1; jumping board bill, 1.   In addition there were papers served on 121 tramp cases, making the total 226 arrests.  Besides, 1,000 persons were accorded free lodging at the jail.  WR


06 29       Julius Schoechert appointed special policeman   WG


x              Charles H. Pieritz appointed to force




West siders are crying for another night police officer in their section.  It is claimed that one man cannot possibly render service to the business portion of that part of the city and at the same time keep a watchful eye on the horde of tramps and tough characters who infest the railroad tracks from the Junction to the Northwestern coal sheds.  It is not deemed safe for a citizen to travel over that route after nightfall.  An extra officer is urgently demanded.   WR



A rude tramp had lodgings Saturday night at the police station.  He somewhat amused the officers by demanding that they provide him with cigarettes, specifying Sweet CaporaIs as the only brand that he smoked .  Such luxuries, however, are not furnished at the station.   WR




Member of police dept:  1893-1916  /  Police Chief:  1896-1916


Watertown's first Chief of Police in the modern sense of that term was the late Herman C. Block.  He was first named in 1896 and served by appointment of the City Council from 1903 to 1910, when he was appointed to the same position by the Board of Police and Fire Commissioners, serving until 1916 when he resigned and was succeeded by Charles Pieritz. 


Mr. Block became a Milwaukee Road detective after leaving his position here.  His home for many years was at South Fourth and Market Streets, the site now [1954] occupied by the office building of Dr. A. C. Hahn, Dr. A. C. Nickels and Dr. Vernon P. Smebak.


Death of, 1926




At a meeting of the Watertown Fire Department Monday evening Ferdinand Link was elected assistant chief engineer in place of Charles Pientz, whose position on the police force prevented his qualifying. Mr. Link received 33 votes against 32 for Herman Conrad.      Watertown News



03 09       03 09     POLICE SET TRAP FOR TRAMPS

         After resident offers sleigh to officers

A gang of eight tramps who had imbibed freely of alcoholic spirits held high revelry and caused considerable trouble in the vicinity of the Chicago & Northwestern railway roundhouse last Thursday afternoon.


The police department being notified, Officers Eifiler, Kerr and Pieritz were dispatched to quell the disturbance and arrest the culprits.  At about 5:30 the latter were encountered, and after a desperate struggle, in which Officer Kerr was roughly handled but nevertheless succeeded in besting his man, three of the gang were landed behind the bars of the lock-up.  They gave their names as Charles Carney, William Bates and Thomas Curlen.  Subsequently Justice Stacy sentenced Bates to the county jail for twenty days and Curlen for five days, the former for using obscene language and the latter for drunkenness. Carney was held for examination on the 11th inst.


After jailing the above three the officers went back in quest of the other offenders, who it was ascertained had kept up their nefarious work in the meantime.  They attempted to ensconce themselves in the roundhouse and, being ordered out by the engine-wiper, Samuel Fluker, had unmercifully pounced upon the latter and pummeled and kicked him so that he was rendered unconscious, when they left him and fled up the track.  Fluker was found by neighbors in this condition and taken to his home.


On their way over the police were notified of what had happened by Station Agent Heimerl and Joseph Reinehr and chase was given, Mr. Reinehr placing his sleigh at the officers disposal.  As they neared the crossing north of the roundhouse the tramps espied the pursuing party, but supposing them to be farmers returning home, set about to hold them up.  The tramps were somewhat dismayed upon discovering the trap they had fallen into and their capture was soon effected by the officers.


The prisoners gave their names as Robert Gray, Thomas Ryan, John Gukeen, Charles Haney and James Clark.  Saturday morning Justice Stacy committed them to jail at Juneau to await their examination tomorrow, when it is expected Mr. Fluker will be able to appear against them. Mr. Fluker was quite seriously injured, sustaining a broken rib and some pretty sore bruises, but he is recovering nicely.  His assailants, it is hoped, will receive their just deserts at the hands of the law.




The police force of this city is probably the poorest paid of any like body of men in the state.  People must remember that these men are on duty when they are snugly ensconced in a good warm bed, and that they are obliged to face the extremes of all kinds of weather.  They have to support their families, and dress as becomes the dignity of their positions.  How are they going to do it on $35 per month?  Other cities pay about twice that sum.  Besides, it is a very hazardous occupation.  Their work is amongst the criminal classes, and the liability of bodily injury and the destruction of hard-earned uniforms continually stares them in the face.  Others might be found to take their places at the same miserable stipend, but an increase in their monthly allowance would not only be an act of justice but tend to greater zealousness.  These men have long been in the employ of the city, and their faithfulness deserves to be rewarded.   WR



(same date) Chief of Police Block reports that during the year 1898 1,648 persons mostly tramps were given lodging in the city lock-up.  The total number of arrests made on warrants was 171.  WR



Times, Weltbuerger and Gazette are in hardy accord with the Republican in the movement to increase the pay of our policemen.   The Welbuerger's suggestion of $45 per month is not a dollar too much.  And even that rate is $15 less per month than Fond du Lac and Madison, and $30 less than Janesville. WG



At about 2 o'clock Sunday morning Officer Lucius Bruegger shot and killed Gustave Dumpke near the corner of West Main and North Warren streets.  Apparently the deed was committed in self-defense.


It is said that Dumpke, together with two companions, Edward Gruel and Henry Saum, had been drinking and carousing downtown Saturday night and the police warned them to desist and retire to their homes.  They had proceeded a portion of the way when Officer Krueger, on his return from the Junction, came across them at the place above mentioned.  The men were still boisterous and noisy and Bruegger threatened them with arrest unless the disturbance ceased.  Thereupon the three attacked the officer, knocking him down, taking away his billy and unmercifully pounding him.  Bruegger fought bravely, but was badly used up, the injuries about his head being terrible and resulting in much loss of blood.  While lying on the ground and only as a last resort, he claims, he pulled his revolver and fired, the bullet hitting Dumpke in the right neck, passing upward and lodging in the left temple.


As best he could, Officer Bruegger notified Janitor Krueger of the occurrence.  The latter gave the alarm and Officers Kerr and Pieritz were soon at work on the case, Bruegger meanwhile going to a physician to have his wounds dressed.   WR



Last week Thursday a tramp with his arm in a sling was going around the city begging for money.  He claimed that he scalded his arm while working at Janesville and was endeavoring to reach his home in Green Bay.  Marshal Zautner took him before Dr. Werner, who examined his arm and agreed with the marshal’s opinion that the scar thereon was not induced by scalding, but was self-inflicted for the purpose of playing on the sympathy of the public, and thereby extracting money from people who might sympathize with him.  He was then placed in the lockup, where he made a confession to the marshal, saying that he produced the scar by placing some acid upon his arm for the purpose above stated.  He was taken before Justice Stacy and given ten days solitary confinement in the county jail, during which time he will have a chance to reflect on the heinousness of his crime. 


Any person who will mutilate his body as this fellow did, and for the purpose, does not deserve to live.  Watertown Gazette, 12 20 1889




          Portfolio of Police Dept pictures  




                File on city jail

                Fuermann Brewery, Police Dept occupies former site of




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History of Watertown, Wisconsin