Death Classification: Line of Duty Death

Agency: Chicago Police Department

Served: 11 years, 4 months, 13 days

Unit of Assignment / Detail: 7th Precinct - Fiftieth Street District

District of Incident (Present Day): 002 - Wentworth

Location of Occurrence: 

Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy

Age at Time of Death: 45


Date of Birth: 1843

Date of Appointment: 20 May 1878

Date of Incident: 002 - Wentworth

End of Watch: 03 Oct 1889

Date of Interment: 05 Oct 1889


Interment Details

 Cemetery: Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery - Chicago, Illinois
 Grave Location: Unknown
 Interment Disposition: Burial


Memorial Details

Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # A-3

Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 1

Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 1, Line 24

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 47-E: 7

Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed



 Military Service: No Military Record Found


Incident & Biographic Details

Patrolman James McDowell, Star #763, aged 45 years, was an 11 year, 4 month, 13 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 7th Precinct, Fiftieth Street District.

On October 2, 1889, at 11:00 a.m., Officer McDowell was on duty and had just arrived at the intersection of 43rd and State Streets to make his report to the station at the patrol box. Located at the intersection was J.J. Phelan’s Saloon. Inside the saloon a patron, Andrew Gilligan, asked the saloon keeper, Mr. Phelan, if he knew who were the promoters of the new gas company. The saloon keeper referred him to Officer McDowell who was now standing on the corner outside. Officer McDowell entered the saloon and he along with Gilligan retired to a back room and talked for a few minutes. The two men then exited the back room, Officer McDowell walking in front of Gilligan they both approached the bar. As Officer McDowell walked towards the bar, he turned around and said, “You had no right to call me a liar.” No sooner had he turned back, without warning, Gilligan drew a revolver and fired once. Only three feet away from a wounded Officer McDowell, he turned around and immediately grappled with Gilligan. Phelan ran from behind the bar and joined in the fight, managing to get the revolver away from Gilligan, although not before it had been discharged a second time. Gilligan then grabbed the officer’s club, but before he could strike the officer, another policeman arrived and he was taken into custody. The patrol wagon from the 50th Street Station was summoned and arrived a few minutes later. Both Officer McDowell and Gilligan were transported to the station. Gilligan refused to say anything. Papers found on him revealed him to be a resident of Cincinnati, OH and his bankbook from Oakland Bank showed he had a credit of $50.00. Officer McDowell gave his antemortem statement and was then transported to Mercy Hospital where he was pronounced dead on October 3, 1889.

Gilligan stood trial and was found guilty. He was sentenced to two years in the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet.

Officer McDowell was waked at his residence located at No. 4443 South Evans Avenue. His funeral mass was held at the Holy Angels Catholic Church located at 607 East Oakwood Boulevard. He was laid to rest on October 6, 1889 in Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery, 2755 West 111th Street, Chicago, Illinois. His grave is located in Grave –, Lot N 12, Block –, Section 25.

Patrolman James McDowell, born in 1843, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on May 20, 1878.

Officer McDowell was survived by his wife and four children.

Chicago Police Historical Homicide Database case not found for this incident.