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 KCPD Historical Information   Lest We Forget
Officer Martin Hynes
End of Watch: Friday, December 30, 1881
Age: 39 Year
Kansas City Evening Star Article on Martin Hynes
December 30, 1881

In the December 31, 1881, edition of the then Kansas City Evening Star, the headline read: "A Brave Policeman, While Discharging His Duties, Shot and Killed by a Drunken Desperado. The Murderer Dangerously Wounded - The Affair in Detail.

Kansas City Metropolitan Police Officer Martin Hynes holds the unfortunate dual distinction of being not only the first Irish policeman killed in the line of duty in Kansas City, MO, but also the first policeman killed in the line of duty in Kansas City, MO.

Hynes was born in Ireland in 1842. While the date and location of his birth are not known, he was most likely born in County Galway, the ancestral home of the Hynes family, probably emigrating with his family during the famine. Officer Hynes joined the old "City Police" in 1871 and on April 15, 1874, became part of the Metropolitan force when it was organized. Officer Hynes was described as "brave, efficient and careful, esteemed by all who knew him and loved by his associates on the force." At the time of his death, Officer Hynes was 39 years old.

About 5 PM on December 30, 1881 the police were called to the White House Saloon by loud cries of "Police", "Murder," etc. Officer Reilly, who was on the beat, accompanied by Detective O’Hare and a Times reporter, were quickly on the spot. A large crowd collected as the affair promised to be a serious one. The cries were found to have been occasioned by the fears of Mrs. Clay Crenshaw, who claimed that her husband was beating and abusing her and that she was in fear of her life. On the representation of Mr Crenshaw, proprietor of the White House the officers forebore to make any arrest. He said that his wife was undoubtedly crazy and that she was going away on the evening train to visit her friends and family at Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Officer Reilly impressed by the iron rule of the police commissioner, which provides that no officer shall drink or visit saloons, unless called in business, while on duty soon left the saloon but Detective O’Hare and the Times reporter remained to see things seeming to quiet down.

However At about 8:30 p.m. on December 30, 1881, Officer Hynes was standing on the corner of 10th and Main Streets, when Maggie Crenshaw, wife of H. Clay Crenshaw, came running out of the saloon pursued by her husband. It was reported by Mrs. Crenshaw that her husband had been drinking for two days and was very drunk. Apparently, Mr. Crenshaw had struck and pushed his wife while inside the saloon and Mrs. Crenshaw, fearing for her safety, rushed into the street, pleading with bystanders to protect her from her husband. Officer Hynes, standing on the northeast corner, hurried across Main Street to assist Mrs. Crenshaw. He confronted Mr. Crenshaw on the sidewalk, took hold of Crenshaw's sleeve and said, "Crenshaw, I shall have to arrest you if you don't keep quiet." Crenshaw became angry with Officer Hynes telling him "it's my own domestic matter" and saying that he could "whip any man on the force." Crenshaw jerked his arm away from Officer Hynes' grasp and rushed back inside the saloon. While inside, Crenshaw retrieved a .45 caliber derringer from behind the bar and started toward the door flourishing the revolver. Mrs. Crenshaw, who had returned inside, screamed, "don't shoot me." When Mrs. Crenshaw realized her husband was headed for the door, she shouted, "don't shoot that man," referring to Officer Hynes. Crenshaw proceeded into the saloon's vestibule as Officer Hynes was on the front step. Crenshaw was heard saying, "No son of a bitch of a policeman arrests me in my own house. I'll run my house." Crenshaw took deliberate aim and fired one shot at Officer Hynes, striking him in the right side of his chest. Officer Hynes then staggered slightly and returned one shot. As Officer Hynes advanced into the vestibule, four more shots were fired, three by Crenshaw and one by Officer Hynes. Officer Hynes then reeled and gasped three or four times before falling dead against the inner wall of the vestibule. One witness recalled that the first shot from Crenshaw appeared to be the fatal one, for the officer "changed color and action." Dr. W.H. Louis, who was among the first to arrive at the scene, pronounced Officer Hynes dead. Hynes wounds consisted of a gaping bullet hole through the right breast the second finger of his left hand was broken at the knuckle and his little finger shattered by a bullet. The flying bullets splintered the door and one entered the side of the wall near the stairway to the north of the saloon.

Following the exchange of gunfire, Crenshaw looked down at the prostrate form of Officer Hynes and either dropped the derringer or was disarmed. Crenshaw retreated into the saloon saying to the barkeeper "I’m shot." Crenshaw then ran through the saloon and exited through the rear door onto 9th Street where he entered another saloon at No. 13, crying, "For God's sake, gentlemen, send for a doctor! I'm a dead man!"

Apparently Officer Hynes had wounded Crenshaw in the exchange, shooting him in the neck and abdomen. While Crenshaw's wounds would prove to be serious, they were not fatal.

On January 1, 1882, the funeral for Officer Hynes was held. At 1:30 the procession, consisting of a band, Metropolitan and special Police Officers and Patrolmen, a platoon of firemen and the mayor and police commissioners, formed at the police station and marched to the late officer's residence. A large concourse of people on the sidewalks and in the streets followed throughout the line of march to escorted the remains to St. Patrick's Church at 8th and Cherry where a mass for the dead was pronounced. The body was neatly enveloped in a shroud and bore on the breast the badge of the order of St. Joseph. The procession left the church and proceeded with the remains to St. Mary's Cemetery where they were interred.

Crenshaw recovered from his wounds and after more than a year he was tried for the murder of Officer Hynes. The highly publicized and emotional trial convened on January 15, 1883, and after eight days of testimony and two hours of deliberation, the jury returned with a verdict of not guilty. Following the trial, one of the jurors, while at the White House Saloon, stated the reason for the verdict was because" .... the witnesses for the State didn't tell straight stories."

Today at the corner of 10th and Main Streets we have honored the place where Officer Hynes became the first officer in Kansas City to pay the ultimate price while discharging his duties. He is not, nor our any of those officers just a name on the roll of fallen officers inscribed on a granite memorial in front of police headquarters. But he was also a husband and father, he was a man that left a grieving family behind. We want his descendents that are here today to know that his sacrifice has not been forgotten. We want his brothers in blue to know that we have not forgotten. We can never forget the contributions of all Irish-Americans and the integral part they are and have played in american history.

Photos of Martin Hynes Dedication Ceremony
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Lest we forget