Officer Samuel F Irish - Died June 7, 1909
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Officer Samuel F Irish - Died June 7, 1909
The Unique Story of Officer Samuel F. Irish
Historical research recently uncovered the circumstances surrounding the death of Officer Samuel Irish more than 100 years ago.  Officer Irish passed away on June 7, 1909.  On December 5, 2013, with the signature of Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Chief Rick Hite, his death became an official line of duty death with the department.
Officer Irish’s story starts in the early 1990’s when former Indianapolis Police Department Chief of Police Mike Spears asked an employee (who wishes to remain anonymous) to maintain the police department’s website.  Part of this website is a memorial to fallen officers.  This employee took it upon herself to add to this important duty.  She wanted more for the memory of these fallen officers then simply a name and date of death.  She started conducting research on these officers.   She had a college degree and could have been a librarian.  How fortunate for us she chose to work for the police department.  She soon was checking facts, locating microfilm of the old news documentation and articles, along with obituaries and death certificates.  She soon started compiling a list of where fallen officers were buried.   Then she added a map with a listing of where the officers’ incident occurred.
During the research of the final resting place of Officer Edward J. Petticord (which is still not located and may never be found) found a pension listing for officers.  In this listing were numerous names she cross-checked to see if they should be listed as a line of duty death.   While investigating each pension person, it was discovered that Officer Irish died six years after his illness.  His illness was soon found to be on-duty related because of articles in the city library newspaper archives.
Officer Irish worked on July 6, 1905, and started this day like any other.  He proudly put on his Indianapolis Police Department uniform.  A part of this uniform was a wool tunic with large buttons.  The tunic was a little longer than waist length.  Little did he know this would be one of the hottest days of 1905.  Officer Irish also didn’t know it would be his last day to be actively employed in his chosen career.
As Officer Irish walked his beat area near the former Atlas Engine Works (near current day 1900 Dr. Andrew J. Brown Ave. on the east side of the city) he was overcome by the heat and was taken home.  He was never able to return to full duty.  
Dr. Hodgin, police surgeon, stated at the time he believed Officer Irish suffered heat stroke.  This affected some of his mental as well as physical capabilities. 
In the Indianapolis Morning Star, dated January 12, 1906, it is stated,  “Officer Irish fellow officers at the police station are inclined to credit the misfortune of this officer to the fact that officers must dress, even on the hottest days, as they do on cooler days of the summer.  They must wear the same heavy coats and must button them and walking through the hot sun wearing the heavy uniform coats and helmets is a physical trial for the strongest of the men.”
Dr. Hodgin and the Board of Safety pensioned off Officer Irish due to his disabilities he suffered from the heat stroke.
Officer Irish passed away on June 7, 1909, his death certificate listed “softening of brain” as a cause of death.  He never recovered and spent his last four years on disability pension with the police department.
It is said in one article that he was not completely aware of his disabilities and was actively seeking to return to work on the department.
Because of the research commitment started by one employee, and continued with Lt. Tom Feeney and Sgt. Jo Moore, in May 2014, the National Law Enforcement Officers memorial will add the name of Officer Samuel F. Irish to its official roster.  This has occurred throughout the history of the memorial as departments locate and document historical line of duty deaths.
Lest we forget …

Sources:  Indianapolis Morning Star dated January 12, 1906; pension records; death certificate; Hyman's Handbook of Indianapolis: An Outline History (pages 288-290)