Courage has long been the distinguishing mark of every good police officer. Unrelenting courage to face the daily risks of duty, even though it may mean giving the last full measure of devotion, the sacrifice of life itself.
The Muskegon Lodge took its name from such an officer, one whose heroic devotion to duty was proclaimed throughout the nation, for his act of bravery won universal appreciation.
The man was Charles DeWitt Hammond, a detective on the Muskegon Police Force some thirty-six years ago. Charlie Hammond was a man of large stature and one entirely without fear. He could always be depended upon, regardless of how tough the situation might be.
Det. Charles D. Hammond
It occurred on Halloween Eve, October 31st, in the year 1925. It was early evening, the streets were filled with merrymakers in every sort of Halloween costume. The briskness of fall was in the air, but the sun had set in a cloudless sky, leaving an evening of near perfect weather. Hundreds of children milled the streets of Muskegon marking up windows, and performing other mild pranks. At Police Headquarters, then in the old city hall building, Chief of Police Peter Hansen was at his desk, alert for any disturbances that may need the attention of his department.
Trouble was brewing, but it was of an entirely different nature than anyone would expect on this lovely fall evening. It all started from a phone call from Garcia Ingalls at the Colonial Tea Room on Western Avenue, a few doors west of the Elks Temple. The call reported that they had just received a counterfeit twenty dollar bill. Charlie Hammond, while waiting for his partner, William Feeney, was showing Chief Hansen the new overcoat that he had just purchased. Feeney was late in reporting in that night due to an overdue street car. The chief informed Hammond of the call, and without waiting for his partner, Charlie left police headquarters to walk the three and a half blocks to the Tea Room. Mr. Ingalls told the detective this brief story of what had happened. A man purchased a box of candy in the Colonial a short time before and he tendered a twenty dollar bill in payment. Because they were short on change that night, the twenty dollar bill was taken to the Muskegon Savings Bank a few moments later for the needed change. The bank teller, Mr. Baughman immediately spotted the bill as a counterfeit, and advised calling the police.
After Hammond received the story from Mr. Ingalls, they decide to walk down the street and see if the man could be found in the immediate locality. Mr. Ingalls spotted the subject coming out of a nearby drugstore and pointed him out to Detective Hammond, who without delay, informed the stranger that he was wanted at police headquarters.
There appeared to be no difficulties, the man surrendered peacefully and accompanied Hammond to the police station to an area in the alley behind City Hall. Then without warning, he broke away, drew a heavy calibered revolver that was cleverly hidden in his clothing, and started firing at Detective Hammond as he ran down the alley.
Hammond's gun was inside his new, buttoned up overcoat, and could not be reached in time to halt the man. Nevertheless, he gave immediate chase and was hit with a heavy slug to the stomach. This did not stop Hammond either, as he grabbed the man, and pushing him up against the building, ripped the gun from his hand. Although fatally wounded, Hammond turned the gun on his assailant, killing him with his own revolver. He then with unsteady steps, walked into the police station where he turned the death weapon over to Chief Hansen with these words, "Here is his gun, but he got me." He was rushed to the hospital where it was a little too late. Duty had called, he had answered without hesitation and had paid for it with his life.
There was great excitement and speculation over the identity of the stranger whose lifeless body was carried into the chief's office a short time later. He was well dressed and immaculately groomed. His papers gave the name of a Mr. Davis, but his fingerprints brought his real identity later from the FBI. His prints proved him to be George "Dutch" Anderson, the number one wanted man of the day. He had taken part in many sensational crimes, including the famous Leonard Street Mail Robbery in New York City in which million of dollars were involved. At the time of his death, over two thousand dollars were found on his body, all counterfeit. He had recently escaped from the Federal Prison in Atlanta, Georgia, with the notorious Gerald Chapman, who was later executed in the East, for also killing a police officer.
George "Dutch" Anderson
Because Detective Hammond gave his life in capturing this widely sought criminal, the press throughout the nation gave the story much space. A memorial fund was started for his widow, and the money was contributed by many sources. Hundreds of people sent checks, cash, and the fund reached several thousand dollars. Liberty Magazine, a popular weekly publication at that time, ran stories of the acts of heroism. They paid a thousand dollars for every story used. The"Charles D. Hammond" story was submitted and received one thousand dollars from the magazine. From the series of twelve stories, one thousand dollars was also offered to the most outstanding story of the series, and this too was awarded to the "Charles D. Hammond Story".
Both men are buried in Muskegon cemetaries. Over the Hammond grave is a fitting headstone provided by the City of Muskegon, proclaiming Charles D. Hammond's heroic deed in engraved letters. Not too far away, is another grave with a question mark after Anderson's name on a small headstone. It was provided by an attorney from Rochester, New York, who had appeared in Muskegon to offer the information that George "Dutch" Anderson was in reality Von Teller, an offspring of a prominent Danish family. He had turned to a life of crime shortly after coming here to the United States.
When Muskegon Charles D. Hammond Lodge #99 was formed, it gave the new organization an opportunity to perpetuate the name of the brave and distinguished officer, one whose devotion to duty has brought honor to the entire police profession.
As told by: Arthur J. Siplon Sr., Captain Retired Charter Member and First President of Charles D. Hammond Fraternal Order of Police