Monument unveiled for Md. officer murdered on duty in 1907
Patrolman August Baker is the only officer of the Cumberland Police Department to die in the line of duty
Duty Death: August Baker - [Cumberland, Maryland]
End of Service: 08/03/1907
By Greg Larry
Cumberland Times-News, Md.
CUMBERLAND, Md. — A monument unveiling was held Saturday at Green Mount Cemetery for a police officer killed in the line of duty 115 years ago and laid to rest in a previously unmarked grave.
When Patrolman August Baker left for his beat on Thursday, Oct. 3, 1907, his fellow officers never thought it would be the last time they would see him alive.
Baker is the only officer of the Cumberland Police Department to die in the line of duty. His patrol was the canal wharf area, a hardscrabble section of Cumberland dotted with saloons and shanties. Baker was making his way down Wineow Street when he came upon a disturbance outside James Hussey's Saloon.
According to Pastor Michael Mudge, who has done extensive research on the incident, Baker was attempting to subdue a man who was allegedly involved in the disturbance when the man resisted arrest. During the altercation the subject produced a pistol and shot Baker in the chest.
Although badly wounded, Baker still managed to handcuff the suspect before passing out. Baker, 56, was transported to a hospital where he lapsed into a coma and died with his wife Eliza at his side on Oct. 5, 1907.
Baker was buried at Green Mount Cemetery on Shades Lane two days later. However, any marker that may have existed was long gone.
"He laid in an unmarked grave for 115 years," said Ed Taylor Jr., president of the Cumberland Historic Cemetery Organization. CHCO members took the lead on having the monument made for Baker.
The monument was unveiled Saturday at the ceremony in front of about 75 people, according to Mudge, the CHCO project coordinator.
"What happened in Cumberland the first week of October 1907 was an awful tragedy, universally condemned and, as one local pastor put it, a 'dreadful blot upon the fair name of Cumberland.'" said Mudge at the event. "Obscured by the evil acts of so many is the simple fact that one man departed this life with no worldly knowledge of what came after. His life is worthy of honor and his sacrifice is worthy of remembrance. And so, 115 years and one day after his burial at this spot, we are gathered here today to give such honor and remembrance to Officer August Baker."
Among those attending the event were city police Chief Chuck Ternent, Allegany County Sheriff Craig Robertson, Mayor Ray Morriss and City Councilman Dave Caporale.
"Since our policing model is embedded in tradition, I imagine that in 1907 the CPD still operated much of the same way," said Ternent. "Officer Baker more than likely walked from his house on Davidson Street to the police station on Bedford Street. From there he would have met with his sergeant who would have told him that he has the Shantytown beat. Just as officers today are familiar with their beats, people, the hot spots and trouble areas, I am sure Officer Baker had that same cop sense on patrol in 1907. I can imagine August walking his beat, talking to the regulars, and checking businesses until he came upon the incident that would end his life."
"We honor the life of a Cumberland Police Officer whose life was ended too young by a senseless act of violence. we honor a good man who served his community well and died needlessly," said Morriss.
"I hope that this monument will stand as a reminder to all of us of all the sacrifices that these heroes selflessly make day-in and day-out, working all kinds of shifts, time away from family, too many times putting their lives in danger to keep us safe," said Caporale.
"Thank you all for your support and tribute today to the Baker Family," said Robertson. "May God watch over each and every officer and deputy as they work to make our community a safer place, and may we never have to stand before each other for this purpose again."
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