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May 12, 2014

In memory of 'The 11'

GREENVILLE — The 11 law enforcement officers from Hunt County who have died in the line of duty will be honored this week during the 17th annual local observance of the National Peace Officers Memorial Day, one of several events scheduled across the United States during National Police Week.

The ceremony is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Fletcher Warren Civic Center, 5501 Highway 69 South in Greenville. The service is open to the public.

The officers from Hunt County who have died while in the line of duty include:

— Hunt County Deputy Sheriff Robert F. Hagood. On Oct. 14, 1874, Hagood followed horse thief James Glass to Marion and Cass counties in East Texas. Hagood was killed when he attempted to arrest Glass. Two, $500 rewards were later offered for the arrest of the person or persons responsible for Hagood’s murder. No records have been found as to the disposition of the murder charge.

— Deputy Sheriff John William Benjamin Adair. Adair also served as a jailer and on Aug. 28, 1886 had tracked six escaped prisoners on horseback, capturing three of them before one fled again. Adair handed his pistol to another man and told the individual to go after the fleeing prisoner. The remaining two inmates overpowered Adair, attacking him with a knife.

— Deputy Joe Brigham, who died Dec. 18, 1892. Brigham and his wife were among the very first settlers in Celeste toward the end of the 19th Century. Brigham, responding to an incident at S. L. Green’s Saloon in Celeste, had been deputized by a Hunt County Constable at the scene to assist in capturing a suspect burglarizing the business. Brigham stepped into the middle of a gun battle, with the suspect shooting him in the chest. Three suspects were eventually captured, but the person believed to be the shooter was never apprehended.

—  Deputy Constable George William Hardin. Late on the night of July 1, 1900, Hardin, along with police officers Lee Howard and Tom Ingram, were outside of Bob Bolton’s Saloon on the east side of the town square. The officers were investigating to see if Bolton was selling liquor in violation of the Sunday closing law. During the confrontation which followed, Hardin was shot in the stomach by Bolton. Hardin drew his pistol and fired several times, killing Bolton. Hardin died at 6 p.m. the next day, July 2, 1900.

— Deputy Sheriff W. R. “Will” Velvin, who died on Sept. 13, 1902. Velvin was believed to have been attempting to arrest Jim L. Beckham for violating local options laws. When confronted, Beckham allegedly shot Velvin once in the face, killing him instantly.

— Greenville Assistant Chief of Police John L. Southhall and Special Deputy Sheriff Emmett Shipp both died Oct. 6, 1912 as the pair attempted to arrest a drunken gunman known as Sant Slemmons.

— Deputy Sheriff Rayburn L. Shipp died on Oct. 18, 1972, while transporting three prisoners from the Hunt County Jail to the Huntsville State Penitentiary.

— Wolfe City Officer/Chief Tom Ellis (T. E.) White died on July 8, 1975. At the time Wolfe City’s only patrolman, White was killed by a sniper’s bullet as he sat in his police vehicle in downtown Wolfe City early that morning.

— Quinlan Officer Billy Gene Smelley was killed on Sept. 18, 1983. Smelley had arrested a suspect on a charge of driving while intoxicated and during the book-in process, the suspect grabbed the handgun belonging to then-Assistant Quinlan Police Chief Larry Dean Boyd. The suspect shot and killed Smelley and wounded Boyd before taking his own life.

—  Celeste Police Department Sergeant John Maki. On Feb. 10, 2004 Maki was en route to assist Police Chief Clint Mott on a domestic disturbance call in Celeste when his vehicle was involved in a traffic accident which claimed Maki’s life.

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