1867 : First Michigan Sheriff Killed in the Line of Duty

December 12, 2018 all-day

On December 3, 1867 Kalamazoo County Sheriff Benjamin F. Orcutt was shot trying to prevent a jail break. He died a few days later on December 12th. The residents of Kalamazoo County admired the sheriff enough to hire detectives to track down the escapees. One was caught in Chicago and sentenced to the Southern Michigan Prison in Jackson, where he died. The other was caught in New York City, but served his remaining years in a New York prison because of his convictions in New York.

In 1882, Kalamazoo’s Civil War veterans also honored Orcutt by naming their Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) post Orcutt Post #79. At the Orcutt Post’s peak in 1886, it had 174 members. By the end of the 1920s, there were only 19 surviving Civil War veterans in the entire county. Seven were members of the Post. The last surviving member was Smith H. Carlton. He died in 1943 after being hit by a car.

Today, the Orcutt drum is on permanent display in the Museum’s Time Pieces exhibit—and is an important reminder of the service and sacrifices of those men and their families during a tumultuous time in our history.

Sources :

Michigan Every Day.

Benjamin F. Orcutt entry on the FindaGrave website.

Samuel W. Durant, History of Kalamazoo County, Michigan. 1880

A Drumming Cadence of Brotherhood posted by the Kalamazoo Valley Museum.

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