The Tioga County Historical Society Museum, located at 110 Front St. in Owego, N.Y., recently opened an exhibit in honor of the anniversaries of two fallen Owego police officers.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of Officer Isaac Wiltsie’s death and the 50th anniversary of Officer Forrest Allen Hall’s death. Both officers were shot and killed in the line of duty.
The exhibit coincides with a memorial that will be dedicated by the Owego Police Benevolent Association and the Owego Police Department at their 90 Temple St. headquarters on Oct. 13 at 2 p.m.
Exhibit pieces showcased are associated with the stories of the fallen Owego police officers. In addition, biographies of past Owego Police Chiefs, including two classic portraits drawn in charcoal, along with police badges and various mementos and artifacts, will be on display.
The weapons used in both incidents will also be on display, including the now antique pistol used at the time of Wiltsie’s death in 1869. The gun used by Hall during his patrol duties and the weapon that took Hall’s life in 1969 will be encased for the public to view.
The Museum’s Executive Assistant, Randy White, explained that the pistol used in 1869 is a Remington-Elliot Ring Trigger Pepperbox model, and remarked, “It’s a four-barrel ring pistol typical of the time period.”
John Ricklefs, Board of Trustees president, recognizes that some may question the display of such items, and remarked, “Sadly, though, it is part of our local history.”
The exhibit is an opportunity for the public to learn about and honor Wiltsie and Hall, and then walk away with a better understanding of law enforcement and the contributions and sacrifices that often accompany it.
Officer Isaac Wiltse, once in the role of Owego Police Chief, was shot and killed when he approached suspects in connection with several burglaries in the village. His last watch was July 17, 1869. He was 50 years old. Wiltse now rests in Evergreen Cemetery in Owego.
On his last watch, Officer Hall was actually off-duty and sitting in the police station when a call came in to check out an incident in the vicinity of Chestnut Street and North Avenue. Hall was shot and lost his life in the line of duty on Oct. 13, 1969. Coincidentally, the date was exactly two years from the date that he joined the police force.
Officer Hall, age 23 at the time of his death, was a 1965 Owego Free Academy graduate and married for less than five months. He now rests in Evergreen Cemetery.
The museum exhibit will be on display from Oct. 5 through Oct. 25. The museum will be open from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 13 in conjunction with a memorial dedication being held at OPD. It is suggested that guests consider visiting the museum before or after the 2 p.m. memorial ceremony scheduled at OPD Headquarters at 90 Temple St.
For additional information, visit the museum’s website at tiogahistory.org, or call (607) 687-2460. You can also find them on Facebook.