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Armstrong, John Barkley (01 January 1850–01 May 1913), Texas Ranger, was born in McMinnville, Tennessee, the son of John B. Armstrong, a medical doctor, and Maria Susannah Ready. Whereas many people of the mid-nineteenth century were nearly illiterate, as the son of a doctor Armstrong received an above average education for the times....

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William J. Burns. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-114556).

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Burns, William John (19 October 1861–14 April 1932), detective, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Michael Burns, a merchant tailor, and Bridget Trahey. The family moved to Columbus, Ohio, where William attended parochial schools and business college. In 1880 Burns married Annie Maria Ressler; the couple had six children. When his father won election as police commissioner of Columbus, Burns first developed his detective skills by assisting in a number of important cases, including discovery of fraudulent voter tally sheets in an 1885 election and conviction of a gang of arsonists who had extorted thousands of dollars from insurance companies....

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Byrnes, Thomas F. (15 June 1842–07 May 1910), New York City police official, was born in Ireland, the son of William Byrnes and Rose Doyle. The family immigrated to New York City when Thomas was an infant. After a limited formal education and training as a gas fitter, he joined the Union army in 1861. When his term of enlistment ended in 1863, Byrnes joined the New York Metropolitan Police Department. He rose rapidly through the ranks: he became a roundsman (a title then used for a first-level supervisor) in 1868, a sergeant in 1869, a captain in 1870, and the head of the detective bureau with the rank of inspector in 1880. Byrnes made his reputation by arresting members of the gang that in 1878 robbed the Manhattan Bank that was located in the precinct he commanded....

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Curtis, Edwin Upton (26 March 1861–28 March 1922), police commissioner and mayor of Boston, was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, the son of George Curtis, a lumber merchant and Republican politician, and Martha Ann Upton. Curtis attended the Roxbury public grammar and Latin schools and Bowdoin College (A.B. 1882; A.M. 1885; LL.D. 1914). He read law at a Boston firm and attended Boston University Law School. Admitted to the bar in 1885, he practiced law and in 1888 became secretary of the Boston Republican City Committee. Elected city clerk of Boston in 1889, he served for two years....

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Wyatt Earp. Reproduction of a drawing by Alan Riley, c. 1949–1956. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-93572).

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Earp, Wyatt (19 March 1848–13 January 1929), outlaw, gambler, and lawman, was born Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp in Monmouth, Illinois, the son of Nicholas Porter Earp, an adventurer and frontiersman, and his second wife, Virginia Ann Cooksey. After the Civil War the entire Earp family moved from Missouri to Iowa and then wandered westward until reaching California. After three years of farm life, Nicholas Earp’s sons struck out on their own....

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Garrett, Pat (05 June 1850–29 February 1908), sheriff, was born Patrick Floyd Jarvis Garrett in Chambers County, Alabama, the son of John Lumpkin Garrett and Elizabeth Ann Jarvis, farmers. When Garrett was three, his family moved to Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, and operated a small plantation. There he attended a country school. At the age of nineteen he left home for Lancaster County, Texas, before drifting to the buffalo ranges of Texas and New Mexico. In November 1876 Garrett killed Joe Briscoe, a fellow buffalo hunter, during an argument. Nearby Fort Griffin, Texas, authorities declined to prosecute him. Garrett next appeared in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, where he likely worked as a cowboy for ...

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Glassford, Pelham Davis (08 August 1883–09 August 1959), army officer and public safety official, was born in Las Vegas, New Mexico, the son of William Alexander Glassford, an army officer, and Allie Davis. He ranked eighteenth of 124 graduates in his West Point class (1904), leading all cadets in Spanish and drawing. Commissioned in the field artillery, he spent three years on the faculty at West Point and was a captain when the United States declared war on Germany. Arriving in France in an early echelon of the American Expeditionary Force, Glassford instructed at artillery schools until July 1918, when he gained command of the 103d Field Artillery. That October he took over the Fifty-first Field Artillery Brigade, making him the country’s youngest general. His troops fought in the Marne defensive and the St. Mihiel salient. He was wounded by shellfire and decorated with the Distinguished Service Medal and the Silver Star....

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Hays, Jacob (05 May 1772–21 June 1850), police officer, was born in Westchester County, New York, the son of David Hays, a farmer and trader, and Esther Etting. Little is known about his childhood or education. By the 1790s Hays was living in New York City, where he pursued various occupations, including those of conveyancer and grocer, and served as captain of the watch. In 1802 he was appointed high constable. Starting in 1810, after nearly a decade of exchanging the office with several other men, he began a career as high constable through an unbroken succession of reappointments for the rest of his life. Although the constabulary was abolished in 1845, along with its adjunct the night watch, in favor of a “day and night” police, the title and salary of high constable was reserved for Hays until his death. He was also for many years the sergeant at arms of the board of aldermen and the crier of the court of sessions....