Eugene B. Hyde arrived in the frontier town of Spokane Falls in 1881 and jumped into the real estate business. He built a three-story brick building at Riverside and Mill, now called Wall Street, while his brothers Samuel and Rollins were building their own projects nearby.
But Hyde is best remembered as Spokane’s first policeman. Mayor Robert W. Forrest appointed the 32-year-old Hyde as city marshal in 1881. He was later elected to the position and served until 1885. He carried a .44-caliber double-action revolver and was quick with it, by all accounts.
Hyde would patrol the streets from noon to midnight while a single deputy served as night watchman from midnight to noon. One of his deputies, Joel Warren, said Hyde’s advice to him was simple: “Read the ordinances, Joe, and never lose a fight. If you lose it, it will have a bad effect on the community and cause you lots of trouble.”
Hyde organized a volunteer fire department and served as the city’s first fire marshal and road supervisor. He went on to be a city council member and state senator.
The first Hyde building was lost in the 1889 fire, but he rebuilt it with six stories in 1890. When Hyde died in 1917, The Spokesman-Review wrote about the city’s first cop. “Mr. Hyde served with high efficiency and courage. … By sheer weight of his strong and quiet personality he held the disorderly element under control … and Spokane enjoyed a high reputation for law and order at a time when many other western communities allowed themselves to be terrorized by ‘bad’ men from the plains and mountains.”
Warren, who became chief of police in 1887, said, “You never had to ask him (Hyde) to come along. He was always in the lead when there was trouble.”– Jesse Tinsley
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