12 of the first 16 Kansas City police officers killed on duty were Irish or Irish-born.
In 1867 or so Dennis Malloy from County Clare helped found the police force in Kansas City. Naturally he recruited from friends and people he knew so up to 3 quarters of the force in the early days were Irish.
In 1869 tens of thousands of people gathered on the banks of the Missouri to celebrate the opening of the Hannibal Bridge. It’s a huge celebration for a town which just 4 years earlier had a population of just 4,000. The quarter-mile long bridge on 7 piers was to make Kansas City a commercial hub for the railroads expanding to the west and one of the most important factors in the growth of KC into a city bigger than all others in the region. Dennis Malloy’s wife, Sarah, prepared the barbecue to feed those thousands celebrating the bridge’s opening.
You can hear such tidbits if you listen back on KCUR to local KC author Pat O’Neill talk with Steve Kraske about how the Irish were stitched into the fabric of Kansas City in the early days - on both sides of the law. It’s 40 minutes long and as ever with Pat, very entertaining.
• History of the Police Department (Published in the Kansas City Journal of Commerce
January 27, 1870)
• Bridge to the Future (KC Library - Kansas City History by Jason Roe, doctoral student, Department of History, University of Kansas)
• Lawyers, Lawmen & Outlaws: The Irish In KC (KCUR by Steve Kraske and Danie Alexander)
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