Title: Police officer
Death Date: August 2, 1891
Plot Location: Section D, Range 4, Lot 9; GPS: 39.93093* N, 075.23415 W
The teeming masses of Irish immigrants in the mid-19th century suffered from prejudice and bigotry after they arrived. Then they began voting in large numbers, and local officials wanted to keep earning their votes, so they rewarded them with police jobs. From there, they often hired friends and family, and over time their numbers expanded to where the Irish have become the dominant ethnicity among law enforcement professionals, particularly in the eastern U.S.
John was one such immigrant, whose father died not long after the family settled in Philadelphia. Anna Smith, another immigrant born in the same year, became his wife and mother of six children, three living to adulthood. One source says John was a shoemaker at some point, but joined the Philadelphia Police Department around 1889.
On a hot summer night in 1891, John was on mounted patrol in South Philly near 29th and Passyunk Avenue. He had just finished speaking to a fellow mounted officer and they split up to go on separate patrols. Suddenly his horse was frightened by an object lying in the middle of the road and he was thrown off the horse. He struck his head on a lamp post and his horse fell on top of him.
John’s partner had decided at the last minute to join him, returning to find him unconscious. Help was summoned and John was taken to St. Agnes Hospital where he was diagnosed with a fractured skull, broken nose, and several broken ribs. Surgery was performed on his brain to relieve pressure but he succumbed to his injuries 10 hours later.
Burial took place here in Section D where their three little ones were already interred. Anna and the other three children would eventually be buried here as well.
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