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Community honors Illinois' first fallen police officer

February 08, 2018 4:17 PM | Guest Blogger (Administrator)

This February we celebrate Black History Month with several events that recognize the achievements and roles of African Americans in our history. Below is an article about a memorial ceremony held this week to honor the first police officer to be killed in the line of duty, not only in Quincy, but in the state of Illinois, William H. Dallas. He was very courageous and broke down many barriers to accomplish things others in his generation we unable to do in the late 19th century. His heroic story has been the highlight of discussion among the community this month. Dallas’ actions have paved the way for future generations to protect those that need it the most.

By Richard Keppner
Historical Society of Quincy & Adams County and Civil War Roundtable

In Memorium
William Hall Dallas
1834 - 1876

One hundred and forty-four years after his death, Detective William Hall Dallas of the Quincy Police Department (QPD) received the honor he so heroically earned. A headstone was placed on his grave site in Woodland Cemetery. An identical marker for his wife was placed beside his grave site.

Born a slave in 1844, Dallas escaped and eventually found his way to Quincy, Illinois where he was helped by a local businessman, J.K. Van Doorn.  However, fearing slave catchers, fled to Canada.

When African-Americans were permitted to enlist in the Union army during the Civil War, Dallas signed on with the 55th Massachusetts Infantry. Private Dallas was injured in a battle on Johnson Island, South Carolina in July of 1863. After many months of recuperation, he received a medical discharge and returned to the only real home he had ever known, Quincy.

He married Virginia (Jennie) Winn in 1868 and joined the QPD in 1874. In May of 1876, he and his partner were on a burglary stakeout in a barn where Washington School now stands, 1400 N. 8th Street. A gun battle ensued with the suspects, and tragically, Detective Dallas was fatally shot. He was buried in Woodland Cemetery, but no marker was ever placed on his grave site.

Jim Rost, a retired QPD detective, researched the story of William Dallas. In conjunction with the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County (HSQAC), he set out to give this brave Quincy police officer the recognition he deserved.

On Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, a large group, including numerous members of the Quincy Police Department, gathered at Woodland Cemetery, 1020 S. 5th Street, to dedicate the head stone that now marks his grave site.

After opening remarks by Beth Young, HSQAC and the Civil War Roundtable, Robert Copley, Quincy Police Chief, welcomed those gathered. Rost gave a brief history of this courageous man. New headstones for both Dallas and his wife were unveiled by Rost and Danyelle Harrison, Harrison Monuments, who graciously donated the material and labor for Dallas’ head stone.   

After the unveiling, Reverend James Hailey of the African Methodist Evangelical Church led those gathered in a prayer. This was followed by the QPD Honor Guard giving the Last Call, and the American Legion Post #37 in conjunction with the Payson VFW honor guard presenting the traditional rifle salute. The ceremony ended with taps sounded by Beth Young.

R.I.P. Officer William Hall Dallas, one of Quincy’s finest.

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