Friday, April 09, 1999

City can't locate marshal's family

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        INDEPENDENCE — He's about to get an honor bestowed on few police officers, but he's been dead for nearly 97 years. It's likely that none of his family will be there, either.

        Despite searches of property records, Internet surfing and widespread publicity, officers of the Independence Police Department have been unable to find any trace of the family of Nicholas Hopperton, the town marshal killed in 1902 after a saloon brawl.

        They know from newspaper reports of the time that the marshal left a wife and child, but they can find no one with even an idea of how to find that child or, more likely, the marshal's grandchildren.

        They are saddened that Marshal Hopperton's name will go on the national police memorial in Washington, D.C., and be read at a candlelight vigil there May 13 with no descendants even aware.

        “There's been nothing,” said Sgt. Ed Bailey. “Nothing. We haven't had any calls.”

        The name also will go on the police memorial in Covington.

        Marshal Hopperton is the only Independence law enforcement officer to be killed in the line of duty. He was shot by Billy Rice, described in newspaper accounts as “a real character when sober and much worse when drunk.”

        The marshal took Mr. Rice's shotgun away after a fight, escorted him to the edge of town and told him to be on his way. His mistake: he handed the shotgun back and Mr. Rice shot him with it.

        “It's sad, but what else can you do?” the sergeant said of the lack of family connection. “We're just not having any luck.”

        Sgt. Bailey asks that anyone with even a tidbit about Marshal Hopperton or his descendants call him at 356-2697.


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