This article was written by Edward J. “Ed” Steenberg, Saint Paul Police Historical Society.
Eleanor/Elnor Patch of the ‘Original’ Mounted Patrol
Over the years the Saint Paul Historical Society (SPPHS) has received many pieces of police memorabilia, often donated by active or retired police officers, but in some cases from family members or the general public… sharing with us a piece of their personal history. In this case it is an 18" x 22 ½" black and white framed photograph of Eleanor Patch, the last of the Saint Paul Police Department's original horse patrol. Some documents suggest that her name was spelled "Elnor". Also captured in the photograph is Patrolman Michael H. "Mike" Cullen1 who rode Eleanor on police patrol for some fourteen years. This piece of memorabilia was given to the Police Historical Society by Eric Anderson2, a current member of our police family who had obtained it from police retiree Dan Harshman3. Both Anderson and Harshman are past commanders of the more 'recent' Saint Paul Police Mounted Patrol Unit which became a functional part of the citywide patrol on June 30. 1995.
One of the many problems that early Saint Paul police officers had to deal with over the years was transportation. Officers in the 1850s were forced to utilize whatever mode of transportation that was available no matter how ill-suited to the task at hand. It was not uncommon for unfortunate inebriates to be transported to the town jail in a wheelbarrow.
In 1856 a civic-minded grocer donated his horse and wagon for use, at night. Used during the day by the grocer, the horse and wagon remained parked and ready for police use at what's now the corner of Seventh and Wabasha Streets during the nocturnal hours. In June, 1883, the first horse-drawn patrol wagon was contracted for, and duly delivered the following October. During the months intervening a temporary wagon, costing $135, was procured. The first coach team (draft horses) to enter the department were magnificent creatures, costing the city $500. When hitched to the new patrol wagon, a rather cumbrous affair, they were an astonishment to the natives, and many a semi-respectable 'vagrant' let himself be arrested, just to see how it felt to be driven up the street in style by driver Patrick J. "Pat" Casey4. The wagon was manufactured by the Fire Extinguisher Co., of Chicago, and cost $600.
The 'Black Maria' horse-drawn paddy wagon5 was built for the department in 1897 for $300. The same year saw the emergence of a twelve man bicycle squad, formed to patrol areas of downtown Saint Paul.
1 Michael H. Cullen was appointed Mounted Patrolman on June 15, 1906; was reduced to Foot Patrolman on October 1, 1913; was promoted back to Mounted Patrolman on September 3, 1914; was reduced to Foot Patrolman on December 1, 1927; and resigned for purpose of pension on January 16, 1931.
2 Eric C. Andersen was appointed Patrolman on June 9, 1980; was promoted to Sergeant on September 15, 2001; was appointed Acting Commander for a period starting on November 19, 2006 and again on May 17, 2009; and was promoted to Commander on May 19, 2012. He is currently assigned as Station Commander, representing the department in the absence of the Chief and Assistant Chiefs.
3 Daniel D. Harshman was appointed Emergency Patrolman on February 25, 1970; was certified Patrolman on March 23, 1970; was promoted to Sergeant on April 1, 1978; was appointed Acting Lieutenant for a period starting on April 18, 1993, again on May 13, 1984, and a third time on January 9, 1994; and retired for purpose of pension on November 30, 1999.
4 Patrick J. Casey was appointed Patrolman in May of 1882; resigned in May of 1889; was re-appointed Patrolman on September 4, 1902; and retired for purpose of pension on March 1, 1922. As a 'teamster', most of Pat's police service was as a Patrol Wagon and/or Ambulance Driver of horse-drawn units.
5 The 'Black Maria' workhouse van is now on display at the Western District office, 389 N. Hamline Avenue, between I-94 and University Avenue.