William McDuff
of Navarro County, Texas


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Police officials seek picture of first black officer

Sept 2, 2002


The Associated Press

DALLAS (AP) - Dallas police officials have been searching for a photograph of the department's first black officer, who died in the line of duty in 1896.

William McDuff was fatally shot on Christmas night in 1896 and is listed among the department's 73 honored dead.

"It would be so wonderful if we could find a photograph because he is the only one who has died in the line of duty that we don't have a picture of," said Senior Cpl. Margaret McGee.

Several officers have been making efforts to find a likeness of McDuff, including McGee and Senior Cpl. Verna Durden - the department's first and second black female officers, respectively. Officer Steve Elwonger, author of "... In the Line of Duty," a 1991 biography of fallen Dallas officers, also is searching.

"He's a part of the family," Senior Cpl. Jess Lucio, an amateur departmental historian, said in Sunday's editions of The Dallas Morning News. "We can't let that stand."

Newspaper accounts conflict on whether McDuff was 50 or 63.

He had been hired as a special police officer to patrol the Stringtown section of Dallas about two months before his death. That area is now part of Old East Dallas.

In that era, black officers were hired to work in the black parts of town, Lucio said.

About a week before Christmas, he arrested two young men, Homer Stone and his half-brother, Jim Barclay, for brawling at the church.

A witness told police that the two men appeared on the sidewalk in front of McDuff's home about 7:30 that night. The two men yelled that they wanted to kill the officer. When McDuff stepped outside to order them to leave Stone shot him in the forehead. Stone and Barclay received 25-year and 10-year sentences, respectively, according to Elwonger's research.

Newspaper accounts state that he was single and an "industrious, law-abiding citizen" who had relatives in Corsicana.

McGee said she plans to travel soon to Corsicana to search for McDuff's family.

"We have tried all means and hit rock bottom," Durden said. "We just want to know who this person was."

Elwonger said he doubts a photo exists, but he, too, plans to keep looking.

 


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Edward L. Williams & Barbara Knox