A Cumberland pastor's research and the efforts made by the local historic cemetery group paved the way for the final honoring of a police officer who died in the line of duty some 115 years ago.
According to a report by Yahoo News, Bethany House of the Lord pastor Rev. Michael Mudge's research on the life of Patrolman August Baker helped shed light on his service. It triggered his eventual recognition as a local hero.
Died in the Line of Duty
Baker was reportedly a Cumberland Police Department officer who died on Oct. 3, 1907, while responding to a disturbance. Patrolman Baker was the lone Cumberland PD officer to die while performing his sworn duty.
Based on records, he was patrolling the canal wharf section of Cumberland when he saw a disturbance at James Hussey's Saloon.
A man involved in the incident took out a handgun and shot Officer Baker during their struggle. He nonetheless managed to place the suspect in handcuffs before losing consciousness.
A medical team rushed Baker to a nearby hospital, where he eventually went into a coma due to his wound. Baker reportedly died two days later at a hospital with his wife Eliza beside him. He was 56 at the time.
Buried in Unmarked Grave
The same report noted that Officer Baker was interred at the Green Mount Cemetery at Shades Lane on Oct. 7, 1907.
According to Cumberland Historic Cemetery Organization President Ed Taylor Jr., Baker was laid in an unmarked grave for at least 115 years.
Yahoo News said that he may have initially had his grave marked, but it has been gone since.
Honored After 115 Years
Pastor Mudge and the Cumberland Historic Cemetery Organization are behind the move to finally have a monument to honor Officer Baker's heroism after more than a century.
The monument was unveiled on Saturday at Green Mount Cemetery with Cumberland PD Chief Chuck Ternent, Mayor Ray Morris, Allegany County Sheriff Craig Robertson, and Councilman Dave Caporale in attendance.
Pastor Mudge spoke during the ceremony, in which he called Baker's actions 115 years ago "worthy of remembrance."
"What happened in Cumberland the first week of October 1907 was an awful tragedy, universally condemned and, as one local pastor put it, a 'dreadful blot upon the fair name of Cumberland," Yahoo News quoted him saying.
Mudge added how the "simple fact" of Officer Baker's death was "obscured by the evil acts of so many." He lamented how Baker left the world "with no worldly knowledge of what came after."
Pastor Mudge also stressed that the fallen police officer's life deserves to be honored and his sacrifice remembered.
"And so, 115 years and one day after his burial at this spot, we are gathered here today to give such honor and remembrance to Officer August Baker," Mudge told the 75 people who attended the ceremony.
Mayor Morris, meanwhile, said Officer Baker was 'a good man who died needlessly while serving his community.' Councilman Caporale, for his part, wished that Baker's monument "will stand as a reminder to all of us of all the sacrifices that these heroes selflessly make day-in and day-out, working all kinds of shifts, time away from family, too many times putting their lives in danger to keep us safe."