Winston Law Enforcement 1859-1913

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WINSTON 1859-1879


Winston, the county seat of the newly-formed county of Forsyth was built on land purchased from the Moravian Church in May of 1849. An underlying purpose in not putting the Courthouse in Salem was to keep all the riffraff and court hangers-on the judicial system was known for bringing into a community out of the church-controlled town of Salem.


So the prime land to the north became Winston. A courthouse was built and used for the first time in December 1859. It was one mile north of Salem Square and the streets of the new town were laid out to intersect.


Winston First Courthouse

Winston's First Courthouse, on Court Square, faced south toward Salem.




For the next 20 years, Winston law enforcement was vested in the town constable whose duties and pay were similar to his counterpart in Salem. Three patrols of volunteers, who served as unpaid patrolmen were also appointed by the Winston Commissioners.


The duties of the Mayor of Winston included serving as Judge of the Mayor's Court which dealt with the violation of local ordinances. This system ultimately became the Municipal Court with an elected Judge. However, during Winston's early years, the Mayor ran the city and law enforcement officers reported directly to him.


The Winston Commissioners were not the meticulous record keepers that the Salem Commissioners were. They met on average of eight times per year and at one of those meetings elected law enforcement officials.


Smith Sapp and Samuel Farabee were appointed patrol for the town for three months in June 1859. Edward Spach was elected town Officer and served one year.


Nathaniel Snipes followed him and served from 1860-1864. There were three patrolmen also named. All were exempt from paying the poll tax.


Other police officers during Winston's early years were:

Samuel A. Thomas


Peter Guyn 1866-1867
William Spaugh 1867-1868
John H. Waggoner 1868-1869
Edward Spach 1869-1871


Policing was only one duty. In 1867, the Board of Commissioners requested that the Police Officer of the town, in accordance with his duties as Sanitation Officer, "shall put up a red flag at every house were anyone is reported by the attending physician to be affected with small pox."


After the first ten years, Winston began a period of rapid growth and was soon ahead of Salem in population, expansion and industrial growth.


Smith Sapp, one of the first town patrolmen, was elected Town Constable and Street Commissioner on May 8, 1871. His pay was $150 a year "together with usual commissions for collecting taxes and all fees pertaining to arrest and summoning of witnesses for performing the duties of said office."


As Constable he served under the Board of Commissioners and as Street Commissioner, he answered to the Street Committee of the Commissioners.


The constable was required to file a bond in the amount of $500. The Winston Board noted in 1872 that the tools and other implements belonging to the corporation be placed in charge of the Constable with an instruction that he allow no person to use them except when working the streets.


On October 2, 1872, Sapp resigned. The reasons are not stated in the minutes and there is no mention of it in newspapers of the time. It may have been that he just wasn't interested in another term but it is interesting to note that at the meeting of January 13, 1873, the minutes state …"A settlement was made with the Town Constable, J.S. Sapp, his having been removed from office at the expiration of six months by paying him $67.89, leaving a balance due him of $38.44 which included the 5% on the tax collected a day and also a $22.65 balance due for services rendered in 1871."


Lewis Cook was appointed to fill Sapp's vacancy but served only six months. A. H. Holland was then elected Constable. He was evidently the number two choice because the minutes of June 14, 1873, state that William Maderly was elected but he refused to serve. Holland was to be paid one dollar for each arrest he made. He died, apparently of a heart attack after only a few weeks in office.



A book could be written about the trials and tribulations of the Town Commissioners of both Salem and Winston relative to the problem of hogs running at large within both towns. It is hard to conceive that during these early years, hogs roamed freely over the town streets.


One of the first taxes imposed by the Commissioners of Salem in 1857 was a tax on hogs. These animals had to be provided with a collar and tag or some other means of identification to show that the owner had paid this tax.


The minutes of the Salem Board of Commissioners are replete with recordings of complaints and requests made to the Board about the problems created by hogs running at large. There were instances where one group of citizens would present a petition asking that the Board pass an ordinance prohibiting this freedom of the hogs. However, before the Board took action on such a petition, another group of citizens would submit a petition opposing any restrictions on the hogs. In one case, at the request of citizens concerned, the Board prohibited the keeping of hogs within the designated area. However, this was not very effective since the hogs running at large in adjoining territory did not observe this imaginary restricting boundary line.


Hogs ranging in their natural habitat are not necessarily unclean animals, and they become offensive only when confined in close quarters and are forced to wallow in their own filth. They instinctively wallow in mud to get relief from insects, and perhaps they consider this a kind of beauty treatment.


These animals eat most anything with impunity, and are subject to few diseases. When ranging at large they devour almost everything in reach above ground and when this source of food supply is exhausted they root down into the ground in search of further nourishment. These activities can soon devastate the landscape.

The citizens apparently placed a high value on their hogs and they were not very receptive to restrictive town ordinances. The minutes of the Board of Commissioners of Winston, dated August 7, 1868, record: "On motion Section Nineteen of the former ordinance in relation to the taxation of hogs is hereby repealed and the following Ordinance is adopted and ordered to be posted up."


A note follows "See ordinance placed on next page marked Exhibit A." The next page of the minutes indicates that the attached ordinance had been removed. Perhaps this ordinance was later rescinded.


The Board minutes of June 21, 1873 records: On motion the Mayor was directed to confer with the Salem authorities as to the property of a Hog Law, and arrange to act consistently.


It is obvious that as the town expanded and the population density increased, it would be necessary for the town authorities to adopt ordinances and regulations to control the hog problem, just as it became necessary to collect and dispose of night soil from surface privies and ultimately to install a sanitary sewerage system.


On June 10, 1876, the Board of Commissioners of Winston adopted this ordinance:

1.That if any hog or hogs belonging to a citizen of Winston shall be found at large upon the streets of Winston, it shall be the duty of the town officer to have the same taken up and impounded, and after advertising the same for three days at the Court house door, if the owner thereof fail within that time to redeem them by paying a fine of fifty cents for each hog, unless there be more than two hogs belonging to the same owner, and in that case ten cents each over the excess of two, and twenty cents per day for feeding each hog, to sell the same to the highest bidder, and out of the proceeds arising from such sale to pay off all forfeitures, costs and expenses, and pay the over plus to owner on demand; and in case no owner shall redeem within the time specified, nor make application for the said over plus within thirty days after sale, the same shall be forfeited to the use of the corporation.

2. That each and every hog found rooting up any street or sidewalk of the Town, or otherwise injuring the same, or breaking into any garden or other enclosure, or which shall, in anyway, become troublesome or mischievous, every such hog is hereby declared to be a nuisance, and the owner of every such hog, on notice thereof by the Town Constable, shall immediately remove said hog beyond the Corporate limits of the town, and keep same out of said town, and on the failure thereof shall forfeit and pay one dollar for each day that such person shall suffer said hog to run at large in the town after such notice.


The hog problem shows up in the minutes of both Salem and Winston until it was finally resolved in 1912.


Nathaniel Snipes who had served as constable during the Civil War came back to serve almost a year and a half.


Thomas Pfohl was elected in 1875, to be paid "all the fines in cost, plus $1 per day for street work." He was guaranteed $250 a year. Lamp lighting was added to his duties, with no extra pay.



June 21,1875-A certain Spotted Sow, four Shoats and four Pigs, said to be the property of Mrs. Fishel, was declared to be a public nuisance, said hogs having been habitually on the public streets and sidewalks of Winston; running at large, rooting and damaging same for more than twenty days. The Town Officer was ordered to notify the said owner that from and after three days the same would be abated. This was the only business conducted at this meeting.



The town ordinances were overhauled in 1876 and this entry was added:

"The Town Constable shall have authority, if resisted in the execution of
his official duties, to summon a sufficient number of men to aid him in
enforcing the law; and if any person, so summoned shall refuse to assist
the Constable is hereby directed to report the name of such person to the
Mayor and such person shall be liable to a penalty of five dollars.
Any person who shall assault, oppose, or resist, or in any manner abuse
the Town Constable or any person called to his aid, while in the discharge
of his duty, shall forfeit twenty-five dollars, or suffer imprisonment
not to exceed one month."


The Commissioners expanded the paid law enforcement force by naming an assistant constable in 1878. The Board ordered that one of them should be at the depot at the arrival of every train to keep order.


The next year the law enforcement title was change to Chief of Police and the first holder of the office was Henry C. Wooters. Pfohl, formerly Chief Constable was named Assistant Police Chief and Tax Collector. Wooters' salary was $300 a year; Pfohl's $200. The Chief was required to feed all prisoners in the City jail for thirty cents per day per prisoner. Both officers were required to make a monthly settlement with the City Treasurer.


Two special police officers were elected, probably as in Salem, night watchmen for industries. They were paid by private business, no the City.



Newspaper articles report in detail a racial incident in Winston. Police responded to a report of a fight near the intersection of Patterson and Liberty St and attempted to arrest one of the two women involved for creating a public nuisance. Some bystanders began interfering and the woman attempted to escape. Another officer was called and force was used to make the arrest in front of a growing crowd. The woman was taken to the City jail. Within an hour, a crowd of blacks began to gather on Courthouse Square as word spread through the community that police had committed "brutal acts" as they arrested the woman and that a jail break was imminent. This rumor came to the attention of a minor City official who summoned leaders of both black and white communities to calm the mob. Several prominent black leaders went to the square and reasoned with the mob, who then disbursed.


Meanwhile, Mayor Gorrell, obviously in a panic, summoned the Forsyth Riflemen, a Paramilitary organization made up of Civil War veterans, to restore order. When they arrived the square was empty. The newspapers reported that due to the fact that the streets had been cleared by the Riflemen, this was the quietest Saturday night in Winston's history.


In the aftermath, prosecuting attorneys attempted to indict two black men for inciting a riot. One was released on the testimony of the arresting officer who told the jury that the man had actually assisted him in making the arrest. The other man was released due to lack of evidence.


The incident bought a group of Winston's black citizens to appear at a Commissioners' meeting to ask that Israel Clements be hired as a black policeman. The Board refused, saying they didn't need any more policemen and there hadn't been much of a disturbance anyway. Besides, they had offered Clements the job as policeman before, but he didn't want to give up his job in the tobacco factory. Clements would, in later years, be the first African-American elected to the Board of Commissioners.



The Winston force is now four under Chief W. G. Bahnson. His salary was $40 a month. Officers furnished their own firearms. The Commissioners ordered that some blankets be purchased for use in the station house. Officers were then required to be on duty in "full uniform". Failure to do so resulted in a fine of one dollar.


Jess Bessent was hired specifically to patrol the railroad station. Bessent was a prominent Winston citizen who also served as elected commander of the Forsyth Rifles.



December 28, 1881- A small pox outbreak caused the Winston Commissioners to enact an ordinance regarding quarantine of the infected patients.


At the January 3, 1882 meeting it was decided that a house could be erected to keep the patients in for $160. This was approved.


A call meeting was held on January 14 to make the quarantine more effective since the confined patients were drunk and had left the grounds. A Special Policeman was employed to guard the house and anyone who gave liquor to anyone confined in the house would be fined $25.


Another called meeting was held five days later at which the Health Officer reported one person had died and he expected another to die from the disease that day. The Commissioners then ordered everyone entering the town to be vaccinated and every one living in the town to be vaccinated within ten days.


By February 7, the guard was released as there were only two cases left. The Health Officer reported that between 7 and 800 people had been vaccinated.


May 3, 1882-“The Policemen were ordered to supply themselves with suitable uniforms color to be navy blue, brass buttons. The Board of Commissioners will supply them with billets and shields.


An appropriation for handcuffs was approved on May 22.




Police whistles were purchased for each officer and another assistant policeman was hired. Two part-time policemen were hired to work on Saturday night and Monday morning.

Council Minutes of June 5, 1883-

“ it was ordered that the Town Constable shall be under the supervision of the Chief of Police when he is actually engaged in the performance of his duties as Town Constable and Tax Collector and any violation of this ordinance shall subject the offending party to a discharge from office by the Board of Commissioners

Regular Policemen shall appear in full uniform when on duty and any Policeman failing to comply with this regulation shall pay a fine of one dollar for each and every offense.”

A copy of the 1883 Ordinance pamphlet is attached to page 211 of Minutes Book 4.


As the town grew more Police were needed, at least in the short term. The Council Minutes of November 6, 1883 state

“It was ordered that the extra police on duty at night to be continued at the discretion of the Mayor and with a view of having a permanent night Police.”

At a special called meeting on November 16, 1883 an election of two night policemen was held. They were ordered paid $40 per month. On January 1, 1884, the night Police were ordered paid and discontinued.



On May 13, 1884, the Board established a Police Commission, consisting of two members of the Board and the Mayor, as chairman. The Board also adopted a resolution ordering that "while any member of the Police force is on duty he shall not visit barrooms or look around such places, unless it is for the purpose of making arrests or abating a nuisance or putting out fire. For any violation of this, he shall be discharged."


The last recorded lynching of a white man occurred that year. Contemporary accounts tell of a "halfwit white boy" who worked for the Reich family on a farm in the area of present day Bowman Gray Stadium. The boy allegedly murdered Mrs. Reich with an ax when she surprised him in her pantry where he was supposedly looking for money. Police Chief Bahnson arrested the boy that afternoon.


Later in the day a group of prominent citizens came to the Winston jail and told Bahnson they would take care of this. Bahnson evidently let them take the prisoner without a fight. The alleged murderer was put in a wagon and driven to Centerville where he was strung up from a tree in the area of the present UNCSA campus.


WINSTON 1886-1889

John W. Bradford was elected Police Chief, but served only one year. Bradford was a former county jailer who was the executioner in the third of Forsyth's four public hangings.


John A, Meroney, Chief from 1887-1889 was instructed by the Board to "Buy four spittoons for the Mayor's office." He was also authorized in 1888 to hire a "secret detective to ferret out violations of the law. His salary would be paid out of a certain portion of the fines.” This was the first reference to a plainclothes or undercover officer. Whom Meroney chose for this job has been lost to history.


There is an entry on April 5, 1897 that the Secretary and Treasurer was authorized to settle up with W. T. Phol for six months services as detective at the rate of $40 per month. Phol was a former police officer and town constable in the 1870’s. He operated the town’s first private detective agency.


Bradford was reelected in 1889. Jess Bessent was elected "Police Clerk." Bradford had four patrolmen. Bradford was fined 10 dollars and suspended 10 days for leaving the City without receiving permission from the Mayor.


A rule book was printed and given to each officer. It laid out, for the first time, specific rules of conduct for Police. Its small size allowed it to be carried in a vest or inside coat pocket at all times. At least one copy of this book still exists in the Department’s archives.

Minutes of August 17, 1889-

The Chief of Police was instructed to collect all pistols and other property taken from parties arrested and not called for within 30 days and to collect all property hereafter taken from prisoners and deposit same with the Police Clerk to be disposed of hereafter by this Board



September 2, 1889-

“The Sanitary Policeman shall be required to wear his badge and to wear the same uniform as the balance of the Police force so as to be readily recognized by the public as an officer of the town, and he shall have the power an authority of a regular policeman in the execution of legal process and shall make arrest for violations of all sanitary ordinances and shall receive the same fees as other Police Officers.”

Today his duties would fall under the Department of Health. It mainly consisted to making sure that resident outhouses and commercial privies did not interfere with the city water supply and that human waste was properly disposed of.



The Commissioners admonished Chief Bradford to clean the city jail every Sunday since it was in a "filthy condition." There was a full-time turnkey added to the force at a salary of $40 a month.


June 10, 1890-Police Officer J.W. Wilson was fired. At the same meeting the Police Commission was authorized to secure other quarters for the town prisoners at once.


Aug 22, 1890-"Mr. Vaughn moved that Policeman Mallard charged with sleeping on duty, be suspended until the election of police officers on August 28th.”


That year the city purchased the property at the northwest corner of Main and Fourth for a new City Hall Building. Previously, city business had been conducted in the county courthouse.


This building was completed in 1892. City jail was moved from North Trade Street to the north Main side of the new town hall.





Winston Town Hall

Winston Town Hall at 4th and Main Street


The General Assembly, on March 9, 1891, ratified an "Act to consolidate and Revise the Charter of the City of Winston." Under this act the Town becomes the "City of Winston", and the persons who constituted the Board of Commissioners of the Town of Winston were constituted as the Board of Aldermen of the City of Winston.


June 26, 1891-The Board offered a $100 reward for the apprehension and safe delivery of Nick A. Wright, murderer, to the proper authorities. There is no record that this was ever paid.


At the July 1891 elections, Jesse James Cofer was elected policeman. There would be part of the Cofer family, son and grandson, in the department continuously until 1965.


In August, Chief Bradford and his force of 10 petitioned the Aldermen to pay them a salary instead of the guarantee and fees and fines collected:

Whereas, the present system of fees is the source of some unpleasantness
among the Police Officers of this City; and whereas, it affords opportunity
for one officer to secure money by neglecting his own beat to work up
cases that properly belong to another officer; and whereas, the present system tends to bring discredit upon the police force and the municipal government of our city in the opinion of many of our best citizens; there, we the undersigned members of the police force of the City of Winston respectfully petition your Honorable Body to abolish the present system of fees by turning them into the City Treasure and in their stead to pay the policemen a sufficient salary to secure their best services and enable them to maintain their families.


Alderman Hodgin, for the Police Commission, recommend that instead of fees, the Chief of Police be paid $70 a month and the balance of the force $50 a month and that the City furnish each officer "a good hat."



Jan. 17,1892-"Chief of Police was instructed to notify Mr. R. J. Reynolds to put his sidewalk in good condition on 3rd and Liberty Streets and that an iron railing must be put around his stairway on that street near the entrance to his restaurant."


Resolutions such as this were common entries into the Board minutes. At this time, Reynolds was just one of a group of wealthy business men in Winston.


The entire force took a $10 a month cut in pay in March of 1893 but only two months later the Chief got a $10 raise and patrolmen $20 a month.



March 15, 1892-The annual election of policemen for the town was never much of an issue. Now that the men were salaried and the force was the largest it had ever been, it got cumbersome when there were more candidates than positions.

“After some discussion it was moved and carried that the Board proceed to ballot and that each Alderman should vote for any 10 men of his choice on one ballot. After the votes had been counted, it was discovered that by mistake Mr. Snipes had failed to vote. The Board then decided to allow him to vote. The votes being counted the following gentlemen were declared elected.”



June 6, 1892-The Police Commission reported that they had held a meeting on the previous Wednesday to hear evidence in charges of drunkenness, insubordination, etc brought against Chief of Police Bradford and Policeman Suggs.

“Several witness were examined and it had been established that Mr. Suggs had overstepped his duties as an officer in refusing to receive security for the appearance of Kohn Kerner and offering to fight Kerner and using language to him unbecoming an officer and a gentleman and in refusing to obey the orders of the Mayor. The fact was also established that Chief Bradford should not have allowed one of his officers to act in the unbecoming manner in which officer Suggs did….We find it necessary to reprimand Chief of Police Bradford for allowing any one of his officers to act in a manner unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, however there appearing to be no evidence that Chief Bradford was under the influence of intoxication he was honorably discharged from the accusation.


The Commission further asks for the badge and billy and suspension of Officer Suggs.” The Board concurred.



Oct. 18, 1892-"The conduct of Sanitary Policemen F. A. Martin was discussed in regard to feeding his horse at the expense of the City, hauling slops to his hogs at the expense of the City, and his conduct in general. The Sanitary Committee was instructed to investigate charges and report back to this Board."


On November 21, 1892- Col. Alspaugh reported in behalf of the Committee appointed to investigate charges against F. A. Martin for feeding his horse at the expense of the City, that this committee had made an investigation and were of the opinion that the animal's service was a sufficient remuneration." Apparently Mr. Martin used his own horse in performing his city duties, therefore the Committee felt it was not unreasonable for the city to feed the animal.






Winston Police Force 1893

The Winston Police force in 1893.  Seated from left are Chief W.G. Bahnson and Town Constable and Tax Collector J.C. Bessent.  Standing are O.W. Hanner, Sanitary Policeman Frank Martin, J.J. Cofer, W.M. Sugg, Henry Valentine and J.T. Thompson.  On the far right is M.M. Vickers whose death in 1895 led to a deadly race riot.


March 14-Police Officers were elected: J.W. Bradford, Chief of Police; Frank A. Martin, Sanitary Policeman and regular policemen J.T. Thompson, J.M. Wilson, H.C. Valentine, A.A. Dean, J.J. Cofer, J.R. Hasten and J.J. Adams.


At this meeting the salaries of the policemen were reduced $10 per month. However, on May 5, 1893, the salary of the Chief was increased to $80 per month, and police to $60 per month.



November 6, 1893- “Mayor Webb as Chairman of the Police Commission stated that Chief of Police Bradford and F.A. Martin had been arraigned before them and that each one had been (fined) $25.00 for misconduct in office.

Almost immediately this resolution was passed.

That in case any officer or employee of the City shall owe an account for as long as twelve months and show no disposition to settle same, that it should be considered grounds for dismissal."


At a called meeting the next night, an amendment was passed that “…the limit of time for a policemen or other employee of the city to pay bills be changed from 12 to 6 months.”


At the next meeting a representative of the Merchants and Traders Union asked the Board to carry out the ordinance. No action was taken.


The controversy did not affect the Board’s confidence in Chief Bradford. He was unanimously reelected Chief of Police.





1894 Winston Police Force

The 1894 Winston Police force and their recently purchased "nice new hats" posed on the stop of the Town Hall.  The men in front with Chief Wilson may be Aldermen who were members of the Police Commission.


Elected as Police Officers were:

J.M. Wilson, Chief of Police, salary $55 per month.

Six Policemen at $45 per month: M.M. Vickers, J.J. Cofer, J.R. Hasten, J.J. Adams, J.T. Thompson and A.A. Dean. S.J. Lamb was elected Sanitary Policeman at $45 per month.


March 19, 1894-The Board approved the purchase of “nice new hats’ for the Policemen. Police were still required to furnish their own uniforms. R.H. Hensley was hired to Patrol on Saturday night and Sunday and guard the prisoners the rest of the week. He was paid $1 a day.


In September, former Chief Bradford was appointed extra policeman for 3 months. The minutes state that he was suspended on November 19 and discharged.



During this period police officers were elected every six months, generally in March and in September. In March, 1895, these were elected.


J.M. Wilson, Chief of Police

Policemen: J.R. Hasten, J.J. Cofer, A.A. Dean, J.J. Adams, J.T. Thompson, M.M. Vickers and N.A. Lewis.


On June 8, 1895, J. S. Wrenn, J.W. Still and J.A. Thomas were elected to serve until September 1, 1895:


M.M. Vickers

M.M. Vickers


The first death of a police officer would indirectly result in the worst riot in the City’s history. The Union-Republican newspaper's May 23 edition gives the following account of the shooting of Officer M.M. Vickers:

As usual, especially on Saturdays, the street (around Courthouse Square) was thronged and the excitement produced a veritable jam. When opposite the stores of WM. Messick in the Municipal Building, Police Officer H.H. Dean called for the crowd that had gathered about this point to disperse and not block the street.


Dean, who was with Vickers, later testified that a group of blacks had been walking on the sidewalk, unknowingly blocking the passage of a white woman. Dean ordered them off the sidewalk to let the woman pass, which they did — all but 19-year-old Arthur Tuttle whom Dean said, told him he would move "when he got damn ready." Dean said a fight followed when he removed Tuttle from the sidewalk, then tried to search him when it looked like the young man reach for a pistol. Tuttle resisted the search. He swung at Vickers, knocking him to the ground. Dean defended his fellow officer in turn by knocking Tuttle down. When Tuttle rose, Dean said, he came up with a pistol in his hand and shot Vickers in the neck and stomach. Other witnesses verified the story.


Vickers died the next day and Tuttle was charged with second-degree murder. According to newspaper accounts, there was enough concern for his safety to take him to Greensboro by train to be jailed and shortly afterward sent him to the Mecklenburg County jail in Charlotte.


Forward to August 11...Tuttle has been returned for trial. The newspaper reported that a rumor spread that whites were come to take Tuttle from his cell and lynch him. This rumor may have been based on fact, primarily because North Carolina had, only days before, changed the law so second-degree murder was no longer a capital offense.


Witnesses estimated that 300 or more blacks surrounded the jail at 9:30 to protect Tuttle. Judge Brown, Mayor Gray and the sheriff came to the jail and spoke to the crowd, imploring them to go home and saying that the prisoner would get the necessary protection and than an extra guard would be put on the jail that night.


The Mayor and the judge were apparently satisfied with the crowd's response when they saw some begin to drift away, so the officials went home. Not long afterwards, the sheriff called Judge Brown reporting that the crowd had reassembled and was again acting unruly. The judge told him to arrest them. The Sheriff called out the Forsyth Riflemen to assist. The newspaper says the deputies formed on Church Street and the Riflemen moved down Main. As they closed on the mob, the newspaper said, the crowds scattered, running behind trees and buildings. According to the newspaper, someone in the crowed fired a shot.


The Riflemen some of whom had fought in the Civil War some 40 years earlier formed in two standing and one kneeling.


"Several of the officers were slightly wounded,” according to the paper. "If any in the mob was injured it was impossible to learn of the fact. The command was shoot to hit..."


No further details of the incident were ever reported except to say that the "skirmish" lasted until 4 AM.


Later that day the Aldermen called an emergency session and decided to make a special request to the City of Charlotte for its Gatling gun. "Further that the Sheriff and Chief of Police be requested to procure arms and ammunition and make all necessary arrangement for the protection of the city tonight."


No mention in the minutes of why the gun was needed and no suggestion that a riot had occurred. The gun and a crew arrived by train the next day, but was never used.


Thirty-eight blacks were later arrested and tried for unlawful assembly and carrying concealed weapons; 24 were convicted, with 15 getting prison sentences of four months to a year. Within two weeks, Tuttle was tried, found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison.


On August 29 the Union-Republic concluded: "And this ends the riot. Had those implicated but heeded the admonitions of Judge Brown, Mayor Gray and others on the night of the gathering and dispersed when their demand for a guard around the jail had been promised. It would have caused one blot less upon the pages of our exceptionally clean local history."


Slain Officer Vickers' widow was placed on the City payroll at half patrolman's salary for the next 13 months. How many may have died in the riot? No one knows for sure. Local historians say as many as 25 may have been killed when the two lines of the Forsyth Riflemen opened fire on the mob.


Sept. 2, 1895-".... S. J. Lamb was elected a Police Officer to be known as Superintendent of Public Works; also to purchase all supplies for the City. Salary to be $60 per month."



The September 2, 1895 Board minutes state “All policemen are granted a vacation of one week during the year.” This is the first reference to paid vacations for any city employee.




J.M. Wilson, Chief of Police

A.A. Dean, J.S. Wrenn, J.J. Cofer, J.R. Hasten, J.T. Thompson, C.F. Cuthrell, and N.A. Lewis, patrolmen. S.J. Lamb, Policeman in charge of Public Works.

The salary of the Chief of Police was set at $50 per month and the policemen at $40 per month. The Chief of Police was also to act as Clerk of Mayor's (Municipal) Court.



Elected on February 15, 1897 to serve for six months, were: M.E. Teague, Chief of Police; Policemen J.E. White, J.F. Frazier, J.W. Burge, D.G. Allen, J.K. Henning, B.L. Poindexter, G.W. May.


On August 2, the Board minutes state

“..for a cause the Police Commission had seen fit to suspend the Chief of Police for a few days and that he was then reinstalled and asked that the Board give some expression as to whether or not his being reinstalled met with approval of the Board.”


The action was approved. The newspaper at the time does not report this and gives no indication as to why Chief Teague was suspended. He was not reelected the next year but would be elected as Forsyth County Sheriff.


Two more patrolmen were hired so one man could be on duty at headquarters at all times and one could be at the railroad station to meet all trains.




October 8, 1898-The Mayor and the Chief of Police were instructed to select 20 additional police officers to serve during Fair Week at a rate of $1.50 per day. The Tobacco fair was one of the first steps in the evolution to the Dixie Classic Fair of today.


May 16, 1898-Mayor Gorrell instructed the Board as to the duties of the Chief of Police and suggested the importance of having an officer on duty in Police headquarters during the absence of the Chief also the importance of having an officer attend all trains arriving and leaving the city.”


On May 26, the Police Committee recommended the addition of two officers to the force, one to be known as train policeman to meet all trains. The salary of all policemen was then reduced from $ 50 to $40 dollars per month. The salary was raised back to $50 on November 14, 1898.


At the Fall Election- J.J. Adams, Chief.

Patrolmen: F.G. Crutchfield, No. 1, J.T. Thompson No.2, J.J. Cofer, No. 3, J.A. Thomas, No. 4, Charles A. Pratt, No. 5 O.W. Hanner, No. 6, J.R. Miller, No. 7 , W.T. Penry, No. 8, E.L. Reid, No. 9

Hanner was named train policeman. He resigned on September 5, 1898. Chief Adams served only one term, six months. He was allowed to keep a horse at the town's expense.


December 15, 1898-The Police Committee recommended the purchase of six pocket lanterns for Policemen to cost $3 each.




Feb 16, 1899-Mayor Griffith stated that he had called the meeting to report progress made in relieving the needy and distressed, on account of the severe cold weather now prevailing. That he had sent two officers to each Ward of the City, who ascertained the condition of the people and those in need of wood and provisions were promptly supplied. That about two car loads of wood had been distributed. He was of the opinion that $250 would cover the entire cost to the City, and that no private subscriptions had been asked.



March 6, 1899- Capt. F. G. Crutchfield was elected Chief. He had eight patrolmen


June 5, 1899-Amendments to the City Charter were approved and the Aldermen adopted new city ordinances including these regulations for Police

The Policemen shall be elected for a term of six months.

All persons connected with the police are required to reside in the City and no person shall leave without permission from the Mayor.

Members of the force are required to report their places of residence to the chief so that they can be easily found.

Policemen must not walk together or talk with each other, or with any other person on their routes, while on duty, unless it be to communicate information pertaining to the department or in the line of their duty, and such communication must be as brief as possible; they must not stand still, but constantly patrol their routes.

The Policemen shall keep their hair trimmed, shaved, and shoes polished, and present a genteel appearance at all times.

Each Policeman, whether regular or special, shall give bond in the sum of one hundred dollars, with approved security, for the faithful performance of his duties as officers of the City, and for the faithful accounting of all monies which may come into his hands or with which he may be chargeable.

The regular Policemen shall appear in full uniform when on duty and any policeman failing to comply with this regulation shall pay a fine of one dollar for each and every offense, unless a reasonable excuse is given to the Mayor.


On the subject of the duties of the Sanitary Policeman:

“For the more effectual carrying out of the intent of this ordinance (covering the cleaning of surface privies), when the work is done by the City Scavenger Wagon, the occupant shall pay a reasonable amount for the services rendered, and upon failure to do so, the same shall be reported to the Chief of Police who shall proceed to collect the same as other taxes and penalties are collected. Provided that dwelling property of every description not situated on the line of City sewer, shall receive the service of the Scavenger Wagon free of charge.



The semiannual election of city employees was held on March 5. F.G. Crutchfield was again named Chief of Police. Nine Patrolmen were also named. S.J. Lamb, Policeman and Supt. Streets and Sanitary Work and W.F. Keith, Sanitary Officer. Crutchfied was reelected at each election through the spring of 1906.



In 1901 there was an allocation from the Board for $25 for the training of bloodhounds. The force was reduced to 8 men.



Dec. 2, 1902-The members of the Police Force presented a petition asking that their salaries be increased during the winter months. On the recommendation of the Police Committee, the salary of the Chief of Police was increased $10 per month and that a Regular officer $5 per month from December 1, 1902 to May 1, 1903. The salary of the Supt. of Streets was also increased.



July 2, 1903-The Police Committee recommended that the salary of the Chief of Police be increased to $70 per month and the salary of regular police to $55 per month.



March 3, 1904- The City Physician …advocated the purchase of a combination Police Patrol and Ambulance wagon. He was of the opinion that the Physicians would be glad to pay for the service of the ambulance instead of the hire of a carriage which they often did. The matter was referred to the Police Committee.



A called meeting of the Board of Aldermen was held at 9 AM on November 2, 1904. Mayor Eaton presided and every member of the Board was present. The minutes of this meeting, recorded by W. E. Franklin, Secretary, tell the story about the breaking of the City Water Reservoir on Trade Street near 8th Street.


Mayor Eaton stated that the meeting had been called to take necessary action in regard to the bursting of the City Reservoir which occurred this morning about 5 o'clock, causing much loss of property and the lives of nine persons.


Capt. Henry, Supt. of Water Works, was present. He stated that the Reservoir was in use as usual but that it was being supplied from the new station instead of the old station. That there were no water gauges connected with the Reservoir from the new station and that he had been sending a watchman to the Reservoir at night in order to inform the fireman at the station as to the height of water in the Reservoir. That on the night of November 1, 1904, he sent a young man by the name of Mr. Dean to the reservoir, and that Mr. Dean reported that he had informed Mr. Bugher, the manager of the pumping station, by phone at 8:30 PM, that water in reservoir was within two feet of overflow pipe, and to stop running.


Mr. Bugher, the Manager of the Pumping Station, was called in. He stated that the message was received from Mr. Dean about 8:30 PM and that he immediately instructed his fireman on duty to slow the pumps and not to pump beyond the usual consumption at night, which is about 150,000 gallons, and that before leaving the station he was certain that the pumps were not working at a greater speed than necessary to lift this amount of water, and which could not fill the reservoir to the overflow pipe, and he instructed his fireman to continue this speed and no faster throughout the night. He stated that he believed that the fireman had obeyed orders, as he had always found him to be thoroughly reliable.



Reservoir wall collapse

Photo showing the collapsed north wall of the reservoir.  The standpipe at left was already being used as part of the town water supply.  (Forsyth County Public Library Photo Collection)


At 5:20 that morning, the north wall of the reservoir had collapsed, demolishing the home of Martin Peoples who lived next door, and emptying about a million gallons of water into the street. The water rushed east down the steep hill at Trade St and then followed the ravine to Belo’s pond.


The mighty crash of concrete sounded to many like an earthquake. One man looked out his window to see a huge river coming down the street carrying parts of houses and rubbish. Some people were crushed under the bricks and stone and some were swept away by the powerful force of the water. A total of eight houses were destroyed.


The fire alarm rang about 6:00 from Town Hall and hundreds rushed to the reservoir to assist the injured and to locate missing people. One man escaped injury by clinging to a fence while William Adams and his wife rode out the flood on their mattress, landing safely 500 yards from their home. A boy whose mother was crushed to death in the collapse of the wall was saved because the bed on which he was sleeping was in an upper room under the roof, where the two sides came together in a peak. When large stones hit the house, the low roof dropped over the bed and the boy slept through the catastrophe.


Spectators at Collapsed Wall

Spectators and workmen stand on the collapsed north wall of the reservoir. 
(Forsyth County Public Library Photo Collection)



Several people were swept away from their homes east toward the railroad junction, which was covered with water and debris. When the concrete settled and the water stopped flowing, nine people had been killed and ten injured.


The disaster was freely discussed by the Board, and it was agreed that everything possible be done at once to relieve the suffering and the distressed.


The Mayor was authorized to detail Police Officers and all other employees of the City, with instructions to carry out the work and supply all necessary aid and assistance.


It was also the sense of the Board that every loss should be as speedily and effectually repaired as soon as possible, to settle with the people damaged on fair terms, if possible, but in order to guard the City's interest it was thought wise to employ additional counsel. Aldermen W. T. Brown, F. C. Brown, and J. S. Casper were appointed a Committee and authorized to take the necessary steps in this matter of additional counsel.


Mayor Eaton was authorized to look after the proper preparation and burial of all the dead.


Aldermen Norfleet, Lipfert and Brown, with the Mayor added, were appointed a Committee with power to adjust and make a settlement of all personal property loss and damage claims, and all personal injury and death claims.


Aldermen. . Lipfert, Cranford and Hine were appointed a Committee to get estimates and authorized to make settlement of all claims for buildings destroyed and damaged.


Alderman Norfleet made a motion which carried that everything be done to guard the City's interest, but as far as the public was concerned, to be perfectly frank and give out all information concerning the disaster.


Belo’s Pond was searched for bodies as was the devastated neighborhood along Trade Street. Newspapers reported that by midmorning, a crowd of several thousand had gathered to view the scene.


The Western Sentinel newspaper called the collapse “the most horrible catastrophe in the history of Winston-Salem”. The Union Republican termed it. “The saddest Chapter in hour history and the Winston-Salem Journal called it “Winston-Salem’s greatest tragedy.


All the equipment from the plant near Belo’s pond was moved to the Winston Lake pumping station.


The ruins of the reservoir stood for several years until small businesses and homes gradually reclaimed the neighborhood.


The area devastated by the disaster of November 2, 1904, has been completely obliterated. When the extension to Martin Luther King Jr. was built in 2000, city workers reported finding brick from the old reservoir. In the path of the rushing water is now a church. Belo’s Pond has disappeared in a grassy field east of the ABC Store on Northwest Blvd. Peter's Creek is just a trickling branch that has been channeled and bridged alongside the road. Most people who live in the area have no idea that they are on the sight of Winston-Salem’s worst disaster in the last 100 years.



Chief Crutchfield died on July 1, 1906. Mayor Eaton addressed the Board at some length on his life and character and closed his remarks saying...."Crutchfield has left the richest legacy man can leave to man: The memory of a good name." The board passed a resolution saying "Our City has lost a faithful and efficient officer; our counsel, a valuable Sergeant-At-Arms."


J.A. Thomas, who was listed as regular policeman #4 in 1905 was promoted to Police Sergeant in 1906. This was the first use of this rank in the Winston Department. The Sergeant was authorized to act as Chief during the absence of the Chief. On March 7, 1907, Thomas was elected Chief. The first man to come through the ranks to the top.


Thomas had two sergeants, paid $75 a month. One was Jesse Cofer and the other was J.T. Thompson. Thompson had joined the Winston Department abound 1890 and would remain with the Department, with the rank of Sergeant until he retired in the early '30's.





April 4-Mr. E. H. Griffith, who was named by the Legislative enactment as the first Recorder of the new Police Court, addressed the Board and requested that he be authorized have all the necessary papers books and be prepared for the Court which will convene for the first time on Tuesday, May 14 1907. Through revisions in the Charter, the Mayor’s Court, chaired by the Mayor, and was now replaced.




April 4,-Mr. M. D. Bailey, Jr. Chairman of the Board of Trade Public Amusement Committee asked the Board of Aldermen for two Police officers to be detailed for duty on Court House Square during the summer band concerts season and that they be required to wear white duck uniforms during the Concert entertainment. The Concerts to be held two nights in each week during the months of June, July and August.”


There was some objection by the other members of the Police Committee to the white duck uniforms but the motion carried. Mr. Norfleet stated that he did not expect any object to granting the request and therefore made a motion to reconsider whereupon Mr. Bailey asked that he be allowed to withdraw the request which was granted.


Concert Band

The rich Moravian music history continued with groups like this band photographed on the steps of the Court House in 1900. (Forsyth County Public Library Photo Collection)





The Chief of Police and the regular Policemen were elected for six month terms, generally in March and in September of each year. However, on September 2, 1907, the Board adopted the policy of electing these officers for full one year terms, with new officers to receive a salary of $50 per month for the first year’s service.


Those elected were:


J.A. Thomas, Chief of Police

K.S. Fulk, Officer No. 6

W.A. Hartness, Officer No. 1 E.F. Apple, Officer No. 7
R.W. Bryan, Officer No. 2

J.H. Clerk, Officer No. 8

C.A. Pratt, Officer No. 3

J.Q. Hutchins, Officer No. 9

C.C. Royal, Officer No. 4 Ed Rothrock, Janitor at City Hall
J.T. Thompson, Officer No. 5  



Patrol Wagon 1907

A patrol wagon similar to this was purchased in 1907.  Oral history says Chief Thomas never liked it and when it overturned enroute to a call he refused to have it repaired.  It would be made obsolete by automobiles in less than 10 years.




July 2, 1909- The Board passed several ordinances dealing with motor vehicles. One ordinance regarding the speed of automobiles limit their speed to 8 miles per hour in the business district and 12 miles per hour elsewhere.


The Board approved a city permit be required to operate a motor vehicle within the town. The permit or license cost @$2.00. (8-29)


Police were required to stop speeders and motorists were required to stop immediately if a policeman blew his whistle. Vehicles were required to keep to the right. In operating motor vehicles, the chauffeur shall not make or permit to be made, any unnecessary noise upon the instrument used for giving signals.



J.A. Thomas, was reelected Chief on September 3, 1909. These men were also elected:

Patrolmen: J.T. Thompson, J.G. Hutchins, N.B. Williams, J.S. Young, J.J. Cofer, W.J. Mock, J.H. Clarke, H.W. Stanford, Ed Rothrock, Jailor(8-86)




Sept 1, 1911-J.A. Thomas, Chief

Patrolmen: J.S. Young, E.F. Apple, C.M. Reid, J.G. Hutchins, W.F. Byrd, J.T. Thompson, J.J. Cofer, T.O. Smothers, T.A. Early, W.J. Mock, R.W. Bryan, Ed Rothrock, Jailer.

J.T. Thompson who had joined the force in the 1880’s had resigned on May 6, 1910. He was reelected on this date and would remain with the force until the 1930’s.




Chief- J.A. Thomas

J.J. Cofer, Sergeant No. 1, J.T. Thompson, Sergeant No. 2

Patrolmen: J.S. Young, R.W., Bryan, J.G. Wooten, J.G. Hutchins, C.M. Reid, G.A. Lester, W.F. Byrd, J.L. Matthews, A.C. Wall, T.B. Smothers, C.A. Pratt, Sanitary Officer








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