Family found of fallen SPD officer

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SALYERSVILLE – After recent news spread that the Salyersville Police Department was trying to have a fallen police officer honored, the family of the man has stepped forward, finally piecing together the story of what happened to their great-grandfather.

Earlier this month the Independent covered the story of how Salyersville Police Chief Matthew Watson had been on Facebook and the Officer Down Memorial Page (www.odmp.org) popped up on the side. When he pulled up the website and checked out all that were from Magoffin, he found out about Salyersville Police Chief Lewis Marshall, who had only held the title for three months when he was shot and killed in 1937. 

The police department has applied to have Marshall included on the memorial for fallen officers in Richmond, and hopes to take any living family members with them to the ceremony.

On Friday, March 9 five great-granddaughters of Marshall stopped by the police department, eager to find out more about their “Poppy Marshall.”

Paula Ferrell, Jennifer Caudill, Genius Taylor, Cornelia Reffett and Brenda Pierce, all great-granddaughters of Marshall’s, didn’t really know much about his death, or about their Magoffin County heritage.

They knew he had died in the line of duty, and that his funeral had been held at his home on the day of his granddaughter’s eighth birthday, and that his wife went to live with one of their daughters in West Van Lear after his death, passing away only seven years later.

Through Watson’s investigation, historian Jimmie Allen told him Marshall had been a mason by trade, building the house he lived in (still standing on Kentucky Street in Dixie). 

The original article by the Associated Press, dated November 6, 1937, stated the following: “Chief of Police Lewis Marshall was shot and killed here today as he placed a prisoner in a cell on the second floor of the jail.

“Chief Marshall had arrested the man, named by Sheriff A. L. Cooper as Wiley Salyer, a farmer about 50 years old, on complaint that he was drunk and disorderly. Marshall led him about two blocks to the jail but had failed to search him.”

During the altercation, Marshall also shot Salyer, Jimmie Allen told Watson.

According to the ODMP website, the county sheriff then locked the man into the second floor of the jail to let him cool off. Several hours later the man was reportedly discovered suffering from a gunshot wound in the abdomen. The subject subsequently died later from his wound in the hospital in Paintsville. 

Reportedly, Marshall had only served as chief of the Salyersville Police Department for three months. 

According to the Historical Society, Marshall was born April 14, 1880, and died November 6, 1937, and was buried in the Bluegrass Cemetery. He was the son of William Marshall (1835-1919) and America Bradley (1838-1915). He was survived by his wife and two adult daughters.

Genius Taylor, named after Marshall’s daughter (her grandmother), said, “We’re just so excited to get to know more about him. We didn’t know the name of the man that shot him. We didn’t know we had prominent people here, with a former county judge and a Commonwealth attorney in our family on the Patrick side. One started First National Bank and was involved with the treasury and we didn’t know until all this came about.”

The five said they – along with their families – will all want to go to the ceremony if it happens.

Jennifer Caudill said, “We’ll definitely go. We’ve been going to the cemetery for years and years, and heard the story of his death from birth.”

The family is now hoping to find out more information about their Marshall and Patrick lineage.

Watson apologized to the family for not working on this sooner, but said the information has been pouring in steadily since he first started looking into it.

“It’s a shame it took this long,” Watson said. “Each day someone would call me and it just snowballed from there. He was killed in the line of duty, so he needs to be honored.”

 

Pictured above, five of Lewis Marshall's great-granddaughters meet with Salyersville Police Chief Matthew Watson on Friday, March 9.