Police Department

October 3rd, 2007


In order to carry out the ordinances of the borough and to keep peace within the limits of Watsontown, the borough council would from time to time appoint police officers to maintain law and order. This was particularly true when the community was celebrating and would have large numbers of people visiting the area. These police officers were paid by the hour when they were called and usually one was named chief over the other police. When there was no police appointed by the borough council the responsibility of maintaining the status quo fell on the constable who was elected by the citizens each year with the other governing officials. On July 12, 1880 a petition was read from citizens asking council to build a lock up and make police regulations for the better protection of the peace in the borough. After almost a year considering the petition it was decided to build a lock-up 16 x 20 feet in dimension and that the borough council would attend the construction personally. Hogue was appointed to furnish the hardware, cement, paint and painter; Crossley was to furnish lumber, doors, sash and carpenter; Johnson was to see to the excavation of cellar and purchase stone and mason; Starr was to attend to roofing and spouting; Ketner to engage plasterer and lime and assist Mr. Johnson; McClure to purchase brick and see that it is laid up. Work began on July 25, 1881 and the total cost of the building was $717.58. A police officer had to swear an oath before assuming his duties and was administered by the chief burgess. The obligation made for 1881 was as follows: “You and each of you, do solemnly swear, that as a special police for the Borough of Watsontown, PA appointed as such officers by the Burgess and the Councilmen of said Borough in conformity of an act of assembly, you will discharge the duties of Policemen by day and by night, if the peace of said Boro’ requires your services, faithfully and fearlessly, without favor or affection for any person, nor to grieve any one for hatred or ill-will, but to proceed, in the discharge of your duties to the best interests, and to the peace of this community, and that you will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. So help you God. Sworn to and subscribed this 28th day of September A.D. 1881” Of the five men appointed the previous week: Henry Kline, Burke Hogue, Isaac Stryker, Charles Bly and Jerry Mottern; Jerry Mottern was the only signature in the council book. On June 11, 1883 Chief of Police Kline appeared before the council and asked that stars be procured for them which was agreed to. The six police badges cost $7.50. In January, 1915, borough council purchased the first uniforms for police. Everitt appointed May 10, 1887 Joseph R. Housel was appointed Chief of Police with power to appoint his aids and that the Chief Burgess would purchase two (2) pair of handcuffs for the use of police. June 2, 1925 a motion was entertained to secure a Chief of Police at a salary not to exceed $125 per month, effective July 1, 1925. Mr. D.H. Brocious was elected to begin June 29, 1925. The first woman to serve on the police force was Mrs. Grace Tyson (she was serving in 1967 during the town’s centennial celebration). The duties of the police officer have changed considerably since the days when the community relied on a constable to keep the peace and to order summons. With the change in the mode of transportation from horse and buggy to the automobile and motorcycle as well as the increased population, the police enforce the traffic laws and ordinances of the community, the commonwealth, and the country. In an article that appeared in the Record and Star in 1925, there was “much talk and stories circulated throughout town about the way the new chief of police” handles the violators of the traffic laws in town. “There is bound to be some kicking by those who are caught as violators, but be a ‘sport’ by paying your fine if you are in the wrong, if not, tell your troubles to the members of the council who will only be glad to rectify any mistakes made. The Council needs your cooperation in trying to curb the speeding on Main Street as well as all violations of the borough ordinances and traffic regulations.”

Chief of Police
Wm. H. Kline1883-85Joseph H. Ulrich?-1925
Orlando F. Benson1886A.K. Batdorf1925
--1887D.H. Broscious1925
--1888W.A. Frantz1925-27
--1889John S. Fisher1927-28
Mills High1890Kenneth J. Campbell1939-41
Jesse James1891Wheeler O. Merrick1941-43
James Zettlemoyer1892; 1897Charles P. Brown1944
--1893Carl L. Reed1945-72
Wm. L. Baker1894-95; 1900; 1906-07James McLaughlin1973
--1896Henry F. McCarthy1973-76 *
--1898Harold C. Dennin1976-81
Jere Mottern1899James B. Croft, Jr.1981-91
Samuel Raup1901-12Michael Koziol1991-03
Nicholas Carroll1912-?Dennis Derr2005-
High Constablesprior to 1900
Eli Lochner1867Lycenius Hilliard1875-76
James Cummings1868Samuel Stover1877-80
Ellis Doctor1869James Watts1881; 1886; 1892
John Ulrich1870; 1882; 1887-91Wm. H. Kline1883
Samuel T. Piatt1871R.M. Wertman1884-85
Daniel Noecker1872? Longenberger1893-94
John B. Shadle1873Benjamin Krum1895
Robert McKee1874Samuel Raup1896-97; 1905
Constablesprior to 1900
Jacob S. Crossley1867-68; 1874-75David Kline1879
Andrew Fisher1869-70Wm. L. Baker1880-81; 1884-87; 1892; 1895-97
James Cummings1871-73Jeremiah Mottern1882-83
Thomas Carl1876-77John McKee1888-89
Isaac Stryker1878M.B. Yerg1891; 1894

Cited: Minutes of the Proceedings of the Town Council of the Borough of Watsontown, Book No. 1 (1867-1887), pg 241, 264, 265, 270, 314; Minutes of the Proceedings of the Town Council of the Borough of Watsontown, Book No. 2 (1887-1908), pg 11; The Record and Star, June 26, 1925, pg 1; The Record and Star, July 31, 1925, pg 1.

Last Modified: 12.27.22

3 Responses

  1. Mark Hall Says:

    I am researching the carreer of former
    Watsontown Police chief Harold Dennin
    for a biography I’m writing. could you direct me to any stories about his tenure (circa 1976)?

  2. Harold Dennin Says:

    Hi Mark, if you need, get hold of me at my e-mail address and I will give you any info you may need.

  3. Mark Hall Says:

    Hi Harold!
    I came through Watsontown in the early 90s, but you had moved on. I live in Wellsville, New York and work in Almond, New York. Contact me at [email protected],org if you’d like.

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