Police Seek Eugene Kin of Marshal from 1903

Article excerpt

Byline: Rebecca Nolan The Register-Guard

Law enforcement was a new concept 100 years ago, when George Madison Martin was shot while trying to clear a crowded sidewalk in front of a saloon in Tulare, Calif.

The father of four lived for several days with a bullet in his belly, long enough to make at least two dying statements about the encounter that eventually killed him in October 1903, just six months after he was elected city marshal.

Martin was Tulare's first officer killed in the line of duty, but his death was a forgotten footnote in the farming community's history until six months ago, when Tulare police Cmdr. Tom Luttrell learned of the shooting and began a search for Martin's descendants.

The Tulare Police Department plans to honor the long-forgotten marshal on National Police Officers Memorial Day this week and Luttrell wants his relatives to be present when officers place a plaque of appreciation on his century-old headstone in the Tulare Cemetery.

The commander has been tracing the Martin family tree in hopes of finding someone, anyone, who might be related to the man.

The trail goes cold in Eugene, where a number of Martin kin seemed to have settled between 1930 and 1970.

Luttrell hopes someone in the Eugene area might recognize Martin's story, come forward, and allow the department to honor its fallen brother properly.

"Time forgot him and his story," Luttrell said. "He needs to be honored, and his family needs to know his sacrifices."

President John F. Kennedy declared May 15 National Police Officers Memorial Day in 1962, and the week containing it National Police Week.

Cities across the nation honor their police officers and remember those killed in the line of duty.

Marshal Martin was shot Oct. 8, 1903, in the midst of "the grandest celebration ever known in the history of Tulare," according to newspaper accounts published at the time. The city had just paid off irrigation bonds and celebrated with a joyous jubilee, parade and speechifying by esteemed guests, including then-governor of California, George Pardee.

Martin was asked to clear away a large crowd that had gathered in front of a saloon, but one among the group refused to move. So Martin took him by the arm and led him away. The man, Will Janes, pulled a gun from his coat pocket. …