|End of Watch: June 16, 1896|
|Tour of Duty: 13 Years|
|Assignment: Precinct 13|
1896 was a very bad year for the Buffalo Police Department. During the course of the year seven active members had died. "The death of three of these men was due to violence, being killed while on active duty. Of the others, two died of acute and two of chronic diseases." (1) In fact 1919, with four on duty deaths, is the only year in the history of the department with more active duty deaths than 1896.
The year 1896 started tragically for the department. Just 12 days after the start of the new year Sgt. Timothy Cantlin was shot and killed - by a patrolman he had just suspended. The year ended with a third on duty death when Ptl. William Dreyer was struck and killed by a train in the old First Ward.
Frederick "Frank" Brown was a 12 year veteran of the Buffalo Police Department. He joined the ranks rather late in life, at the age of 40. It was said of Frank Brown that he was the type of person who could easily make friends and maintain that friendship over a long period of time.
As a patrolman and later as a sergeant Brown was considered to be a strict disciplinarian. In spite of this reputation he was able to obtain and keep a considerable amount of respect and popularity. For, although he was tough, Sgt. Brown was an extremely fair man with all those he encountered.
On the evening of June 16, 1896 Sgt. Brown was on foot and making his rounds. It was customary during this time for Sergeants to walk from post to post to check on each patrolman. After making his final check of the men under his command, at nearly 10:00pm, Sgt. Brown was walking back to Pct. 13 to finish his shift.
In order to return to the Austin Street station it was necessary for the sergeant to cross the New York central railroad tracks on Parish Street near Tonawanda Street. This portion of the tracks, which many people crossed, was known to be rather dangerous, especially during the night. Earlier that evening, at approximately 7:00pm the flagman had completed his shift for the day. When he left, this meant the rail crossing would be unattended until early the following morning.
When Sgt. Brown was crossing the tracks Engine 304 was also backing down the tracks. In addition to the normal rail cars that it was carrying the engine also had several empty gondola attached to the rear. Without a brakeman carrying a lantern on the rear of the train and the flagman having already finished his shift, there was no warning what so ever of the approaching train.
It appears that Sgt. Brown was struck by the train without having any chance of getting out of the way.
The only witness to this horrible accident told police that Sgt. Brown had waited for a switch engine to pass. After the engine passed Sgt. Brown started to cross the tracks. He had only been able to walk a few feet when he was struck by Engine 304. Sgt. Brown was thrown at least 15 feet and landed directly across the tracks. The witness further stated the train continued backing down the tracks and ran over the officer. According to the coroner Sgt. Brown's body was "crushed and mangled".
It was thought that death was instantaneous.
Prior to his appointment as a patrolman with the Buffalo Police Department Frederick Brown had served in the military during the Civil War.
Along with his wife, son and two daughters Sgt. Frederick Brown had made his home at 39 Military Road.
SOURCE: Buffalo Police Annual Report - 1896 Buffalo Courier: June 17, 1896 Buffalo Evening News: June 17, 1896 - Second Edition Death certificate: Frederick Brown