Monday, July 22, 2013

Changes Can Come Quickly

In the passage of less than two years, a lot can happen—considering a new party had swept into office with the most recent election.

With the 1897 disposal of the “Reform Candidate,” Chauncey Oakley, the new (yet vaguely familiar) Fort Wayne mayor, Henry P. Scherer was now free to see that fellow Democrats were appropriately advanced in service.

Perhaps that was the incentive convincing police captain William Borgman to make a surprise announcement that he was resigning his post to, um, launch a new business venture.

The newspapers, however, made big to-do over the suddenness of his resignation. According to the Fort Wayne Sentinel,
The first intimation the members of the police force or the public had of the proposed action of Mr. Borgman was at 1:45 this morning when the patrolmen came to the station to go off duty. The captain told them that he had served his last day as their superior officer and admonished them to be as faithful in the performance of their duties in the future as they had been during his captaincy....
The Fort Wayne Morning Journal bluntly captioned the event, “Borgman Retires,” and noted the move “created a feeling of surprise” and surmised that the Captain “arrived at this decision hastily.”

Whatever the reason for Captain Borgman to relinquish his position—he was, after all, well respected by the line staff “who have warm feelings for Mr. Borgman, whose conduct towards them has always been of the kindest,” as the Journal put it—it was not a move made in isolation.

Like one great cascade of dominoes pieces, William Borgman’s move set in motion that cumbersome political machine which processes men’s futures. At the same time that Captain Borgman moved from his seven year tenure at the police department, his brother August gained a toe-hold in the department, by virtue of the vacancy created by the officer who was appointed to fill the slot of the sergeant who was promoted to replace the outgoing captain.

And, since the mayor presiding over the grand schemes of Fort Wayne at the moment was a Democrat, it may come as no surprise that this time, John Kelly Stevens had found his sweet spot in the lineup.

Fort Wayne policemen lined up in front of City Hall in early 1920s


  1. I did a "look around" for William Borgman, and found on page 449 of The Pictorial History of Fort Wayne, Indiana: A Review of Two Centuries of Occupation of the Region about the Head of the Maumee River, Volume 1


    "...William Borgman born in Stemmorn, Germany in 1837, canal boat captain, policeman, contractor, and member of the Brown Trucking Company..."

    Not many folks could say they were canal boat captains... Seems Mr. Borgman returned to his Police Captaincy by 1904...

    1. It appears you are right, Iggy. Actually, William Borgman may have wound his way in and out of this position a couple more times...most likely courtesy of the shifts in political fortunes of those who appointed him.

  2. Sounds as if you are suggesting that Borgman resigned because he had political aspirations? I forget if he was a Republican? Well, whatever the reason, now John Kelly Stevens has a job in a favorable political landscape. Sometimes the wide world works out in your behalf!

    1. Actually, Mariann, while I don't know for certain, I am wondering if William Borgman's "resignation" was either much like that of the officers I mentioned recently, or as a pre-emptive strike in the face of shifting political circumstances. He did, as Iggy has mentioned, return to office later. It would be interesting to superimpose Captain Borgman's various tenures upon those of Fort Wayne's mayors.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...