Whatever Happened To Cincinnati’s Boy Policeman?

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At Cincinnati City Hall’s Central Police Station one day in the summer of 1894 Police Lieutenant Edward C. Hill looked up from his desk and beheld a most unusual visitor.

Sketch of Horace W. Carle dressed as a policeman,
Sketch of Horace W. Carle dressed as a policeman,

Cincinnati Enquirer, July 1894

There, standing in front of him, was a youngster decked out in full police uniform with all the trimmings. Not only was the small boy wearing a police uniform, he was wearing an authentic lieutenant’s uniform, with silver badge, stripes on his shoulder, a toy revolver and a cop’s wooden nightstick. According to The Cincinnati Enquirer [15 July 1894], the youngster had business in mind:

“‘Lieutenant, when do I get my pay? I think it is about time ’cause I want to get a whistle and lots of things.'”

Lieutenant Hill asked his visitor how much back pay he was owed.

“‘Well, you might give me about $50, I guess. That’s a big pile of money, but I ’spec it’s about what a lieutenant ought to get and you know I am a lieutenant now,’ and the little shaver strutted about and then asked Lieutenant Hill if he thought a burglar could get away from him.”

The “boy policeman” so entranced an Enquirer reporter hanging around the Central Station that he penned a brief profile, illustrated by a simple portrait. The portrait was especially unusual; the Enquirer was not called the “Grey Lady of Vine Street” for nothing. The paper rarely used art.

As the reporter discovered, the little lieutenant was Horace W. Carle, and he was well known to the real Lieutenant Hill. The story said Horace was 6 years old, but he may have been 5 or younger.

“‘Lieutenant’ Horace Carle, though only a very little boy, is a born policeman. Ever since he was a baby, he was wild over policemen. When he was on short dresses he strutted around with a club and would run to the window and call to every policeman that passed. He got acquainted with Lieutenant Hill when the latter was a Sergeant. Little Horace had his aunt fix his suit up as a sergeant’s uniform and when Lieutenant Hill was promoted he had his uniform changed, too, and Lieutenant Hill got him a silver star and a club.”

Little Horace and his father, Edward C. Carle, lived with his Aunt Anna Carle at 199 Mound Street. That was about seven or eight blocks away from City Hall, so one hopes young Horace didn’t trundle on down to Lieutenant Hill’s desk unattended, but those were different days, and he was in uniform after all.

Horace’s father listed his occupation in 1894 as an engraver. He was a widower. Horace’s mother had died from peritonitis in 1893. The Carle —Edward, Horace, Edward’s sisters Anna and Margaret, as well as Edward’s brother Percy—merged household’s around this time. Anna, as the eldest, was head of household when the census enumerator knocked in 1900, but Percy, a clerk at Aetna Insurance, and Edward, by now a meat inspector for the U.S. government, were the bread winners.

So, what became of the “Boy Policeman”?

Much as few boys from the 1940s became cowboys and few from the 1960s became astronauts, Horace Carle did not become a policeman.

Horace’s father, having switched careers from engraving to inspecting meat in Cincinnati’s stockyards, made another switch around 1905 and moved to St. Joseph, Missouri. There, the 1910 census finds Edward Carle working as a veterinary surgeon for the U.S. government. He is head of a household that includes his two sisters as well as Horace, who is now 20 years old and employed as a church musician.

That stint as a church musician must have been a part-time job while Horace attended school because, by 1920, Horace shows up as a medical doctor, married to the former Charla Wahl, and father to two sons and a daughter. He is now living at 2802 Mitchell Avenue in St. Joseph, a large but hardly ostentatious house that is still standing. In addition to his wife and three children, Horace housed his father, both aunts, and now his Uncle Percy. One hopes the crowded residence was happy.

By the 1930s, Dr. Horace W. Carle was a pillar of the community, serving as president of the city’s school board. One of his sons followed him into a medical career and became a cardiologist.

Cincinnati’s “Boy Policeman” died in 1947 of a pulmonary embolism resulting from a chronic heart condition. He was 57 years old. Horace is buried in St. Joseph’s Memorial Park cemetery, next to his wife who survived him by almost 40 years before she died in 1985.

This article was reposted with permission from Greg Hand, editor of Cincinnati Curiosities

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