Brooklyn Union
15 May 1871

A Brief History of the Old City Watch, Marshals, and Municipal Police.
Old James Street Market -- Chief of Police and Captains.
Consolidation, Metropolitan Act, Etc., Etc.

It is often pleasant to indulge in a retrospective view of events and trace 
them up to the present day.  Brooklyn, although young in years, has been a 
city of very rapid growth, and the principal events in her civil and 
political history, have, in consequence, been very sudden, or in other 
words, not much time elapsed between the innovations.  The history of the 
OLD CITY WATCH AND POLICE will serve as an illustration.

  In 1802, when her popluation could be numbered by hundreds, crime and vice 
seem to have made fresh and increasing inroads upon the primitive simplicity 
of the residents as the Town Trustees took measures to determine the 
location, and ascertain the expense of eractiva a "cage or watch house".  At 
this very same meeting, the foreman of the fire engine companies were duly 
authorized to establish and regulate a "guard or night watch" for the 
prevention of crime within the limits of the town.

  In 1815, during the month of May, a number of prominent residents came 
together at the house of Joshua SANDS and organized a society which had for 
its object the suppresion of vice in the town of Brooklyn, and at a 
subsequent meeting the society passed a resolution ordering that several 
extracts of the laws of the State relative to working, sporting, traveling 
and selling on the Sabbath be published in the Star, the then only paper 
with which Brooklyn was blessed.  
The officers of this society were :
Andrew MERCEUI, president; 
Joshua SANDS and Joseph SWITT, vice-presidents; 
Fanning C. TUCKER, secretary; 
Abraham REMSEN, treasurer.  
The formation of the society and the publishing of the extracts of the 
laws of the State were approved by the several 
Justices of the Peace, who were :

  In 1819 the town authorities established a temporary night watch and 
everything in the way of business and improvement went on in a hum-drum kind 
of a way until 1824 when the career of progress fully commenced.  Roads, 
lanes, streets which had been considered a nuisance were laid out.  Mounds 
of mother earth quickly disappeared before the pick and spade a commodious 
market was erected, a VILLAGE WATCH organized, and a municipal court 
established.  A portion of the old market, which yet stands and is located 
on the corner of James and York streets, was fitted up for the accomodation 
of the village watch and prisoners.  Nothing of any interest in the history 
of this department transpired until the year 1837 when John S. FOLK was the 
recipient of the mattering honor of being made the Captain of the village 
The municipal judges at this time were 
Rodney S. CHURCH, 
William H. RUSHMORE, 
COL. S. DOWNING.  Their courts were held on the corner of 
Cranberry and Henry Streets in the same building occupied 
by the Old Apprentices Library.

  In 1840 he was one of the five City Marshals appointed by Cyrus P. SMITH, 
then Mayor of the city.

  In 1848 the members of the Commmon Council after a hard fought caucus, 
appointed the following five City Marshals, who were to act as constables, 
with the privilege of preservinc order, make arrests on criminal proceedings 
and atend to the service of all civil business pertaining to the Courts:  
Daniel K. SMITH, 
George COLEMAN, 
Samuel WOLVIN 

The Mayor, Francis B. STRYKER, was also allowed the privilege of 
appointing some ten or twelve and he selected the following:  
Platt POWELL, 
Christopher WRIGHT, 
Sidney CLAYTON, 
William SQUIRES, 
Jeremiah HIGGINS, 
Zebulon COOMBS, 
William CLAYTON, 
Jonas PARKER, 

  In 1849 the city watch were forced to change their quiarters from the old 
James Street Market to the City Hall, which was far from being in a state of 
completion.  Their ffice or room in which their prisoners were subjected to 
an examination preparatory to being locked up or discharges, was in the 
northeast corner of the basement of the building which was formerly occupied 
by Judges VOORHIES, ADAMS, and BUCKLEY and their sleeping apartments were in 
the room opposite, now occupied by Judge WALSH as a private office.  The 
location of the two cells was the same then as now, in the centre of the 
long hall running through from Fulton to Court Street.

  At this time there were no stairwasy leading to the main portion of the 
building and the watchmen, in conducting their prisoners before Judge 
GARRISON were forced to ASCEND  A LADDER in order to reach the court.  Edgar 
S. BOYD, who was lately removed from the police force was keeper of the 
cells at that time.  Mr. BOYD, through his efficiency as an officer, was 
appointed Sergeant under the metropolitan regime, and filled that officer 
with credit for a number of years in the First Precinct, but 1st year when 
the Democracy assumed control over the for, he was removed to make way for a 
pet friend of the Deputy-Street Commissioner.  The new appointee did not 
long enjoy his office as his remains were carried to his last resting place 
some ten days since.  Ed BOYD has been taken care of by Postmaster BOOTH, 
and makes as polite and agreeable clerk as he did an officer.

  The same year the first police Justice was elected in the person of Truman SMITH.  
After him came 
Daniel K. SMITH, 
Chauncy PERRY 
Andrew WALSH, the latter being the present justice.

  In 1850 the State Legislature, one  of the most accommodating public bodies 
known, was called into requisition and an act passed providing for the 
election of a a Chief of the Municipal Police and several police captains, 
John S. FOLK was chosen for the first office and the 
Joel SMITH for the First, Third and Fourth Wards:  
Thomas KING for the Second and Fifth Wards: 
James CAMPBELL for the Eighth and Tenth Wards; 
Christopher WRIGHT for the Seventh and Eleventh Wards.

  In 1855, the act of consolidation which united Williamsburgh with Brooklyn 
was consummated.  At this time there were seven police districts with a 
force of 274 men under the chiefship of John S. FOLK.  The Eighth, Ninth, 
and Eighteenth Wards not being included, they having a special police at 
their own expense.  Policemen at this time were appointed by the Common 
Council with the consent of teh Mayor.  The way it was done was as follows:  
The newly elected Alderman wiould pick out certain political favorites who 
had materially aided him in his elevation as one of the City Fathers, and 
present them to the Mayor, who would smile graciously, affix his signature 
to a formidable certificate and the appointee at once assumed the position 
as a guardian of the peace.
  In 1859 the Metropolitan Police Act came into operation.  The district 
comprised the counties of New York, Kings, Richmond, and Westchester.  Up to 
this time the members of the police force in the two cities had been 
controlled by the local authorities but now five commissioners were 
appointed together with the Mayors of New York and Brooklyn, who were to act 
as memers ex-offcio, to control the pilice affairs of four counties. 
The first commissioners were 
Simeon DRAPER, 
Jas. W. NYE,  
Jas. BOWEN, 
Mayors WOOD and POWELL. 

  The Metropolitan police system was in full operation until one year ago 
when the Democracy, having obtained a majority in the State legilsature, 
repealed the act and orgainzed the present force.
  We will close this article by mentioning that William APPLEGATE has been 
longer on the police force than any other member of it.  He has been a 
patrolman, detailed in the Mayor's office, stationed on the Courts of Judges 
SMITH, CORNWALL, PERRY and now remains with Judge RILEY as a special officer 
on his court.

Transcribed by Dawn Golda