THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE

  Private Jack Curtis Smith
Pennsylvania State Police
Troop "A"

1884-1909

Incident Details

Jack Curtis Smith was born October 20, 1884, at Beavertown, Snyder County, Pennsylvania.

He enlisted with the Constabulary from Centralia on January 14, 1909, and was assigned to Troop A, Greensburg. He was 24 years old, 5' 8" tall, and gave his occupation as a horseman.

On August 22, 1909, Private Smith, accompanied by Privates John L. Williams, Lucian Jones, George Kitch, and Patrick O'Donnell, was sent to the Pressed Steel Car Company plant at Shoenville, near McKees Rocks, Allegheny County, where a riotous strike was in progress. En route they were attacked by a mob at O'Donovan's Bridge, Shoenville. Private Williams was shot and killed. Private Smith suffered gunshot wounds to both legs and a fractured skull. He was taken to Mercy Hospital at Pittsburgh and died the following day, August 23.

Both Privates Smith and Williams were robbed of cash and other possessions by the mob. Private Smith's body was shipped by rail to Centralia for burial. He was survived by his father, Mr. George W. Smith, of Centralia. Private Smith, 24, had completed seven months of Constabulary service. On September 8, 1909, Superintendent John C. Groome issued General Order No. 31:

"The Superintendent announces with deep regret the deaths of Privates John L. Williams and Jack C. Smith, Troop A, in the line of duty performed at McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, on the night of August 22, 1909. The unfaltering devotion to duty displayed against the greatest odds by the deceased will stand alone a glorious page in the history of the Force. While the Department mourns the loss of two men of noble fiber, this opportunity is also taken to express the highest commendation and sincere sympathy for the injured comrades who stood so nobly by them in the moment of peril."

On January 4, 1910, Superintendent Groome wrote to Congressman John A. Martin stating there was nothing in Pennsylvania law to relieve dependents of deceased Troopers. "I endeavored to have a law of this sort passed at the last session of the State Legislature, but I was not successful."