End of Watch: The Death of Pensacola Police Captain William Etheridge

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December 26, 1908

 William Thomas Etheridge was born in July 30, 1851 in Conecuh County, Alabama.  On November 12, 1871, he married Nannie Bradley in his home county.  To this union were born three daughters: Clara, Ella and Willie.

The first mention of him as a Pensacola police officer came on January 10, 1902, when he temporarily went undercover to catch burglars. On April 21, he was attacked by a suspect armed with a knife, choked, and his hand badly injured. He was dismissed from the department on July 22, 1903, but was reinstated shortly thereafter. On April 16, 1904, he was one of a few Pensacola police officers who were attacked by a large mob in retaliation for another officer making an arrest. In the aftermath of the hurricane of 1906, he broke his arm, but continued to work at his post until he could be relieved. Later that year, he was promoted to the rank of captain. 

On Friday night, December 18, 1908, Captain Etheridge was patrolling the city on horseback. Suddenly without warning, the horse stepped into a hole, causing it to fall. When the horse fell, it landed on Etheridge’s arm, breaking it. After a few days, lockjaw (tetanus) set in. On the night of Saturday, December 26, Captain William T. Etheridge died from his injuries. 

The funeral took place the next afternoon.  It began at 3:00 at his home at 914 N. Palafox Street and continued to St. John’s Cemetery where the interment took place.  Rev. Charles Gavin of the First Methodist Church conducted the service.  Pall Bearers were: Mayor C. C. Goodman, Alderman J. N. Andrews, Marshal F. D. Sanders, Chairman of the Board of Public Safety John Oliver, Dave Rutherford, and O. E. McReynolds.

He was survived by his wife, Nannie Bradley Etheridge, a clerk at William Johnson & Son, and three daughters: Clara, Ella and Willie.

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