Death Classification: Line of Duty Death

Agency: Chicago Police Department

Served: Length of Service Unknown

Unit of Assignment / Detail: 1st District - Armory Building

District of Incident (Present Day): 001 - Central

Location of Occurrence: 

Cause of Death: Illness - Erysipelas

Age at Time of Death: 39


Date of Birth: 1825

Date of Appointment:

Date of Incident: 001 - Central

End of Watch: 25 Mar 1864

Date of Interment: 27 Mar 1864


Interment Details

 Cemetery: Graceland Cemetery - Chicago, Illinois
 Grave Location: Unknown
 Interment Disposition: Burial


Memorial Details

Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Not Enshrined

Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 25

Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Not Listed

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Not Listed

Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed



 Military Service: No Military Record Found


Incident & Biographic Details

Patrolman John C. Churchwood, Sr., Star # Unknown, aged 39 years, was a veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 1st District – Armory Building.

On March 21, 1864, Officer Churchwood was called to the Soldiers’ Home at No. 64 West Randolph Street (present day 541 West Randolph Street). The building was a free residential facility operated by the Methodist Church of Chicago where many Union Soldiers were given quarters as they passed through the city. Officer Churchwood was called to place Duncan McGillis, age 39, a Private in the 51st Illinois Infantry Regiment, under arrest for Disorderly Conduct. McGillis was heavily intoxicated and had a drinking problem. Officer Churchwood placed him in custody, but prior to transporting him to the station, McGillis asked Officer Churchwood if he could get some of his possessions from his room. Officer Churchwood agreed and as the two were walking up the stairs, McGillis stumbled from his drunken stupor and fell down the long flight of stairs taking Officer Churchwood with him. Officer Churchwood was seriously injured during the fall and sustained several broken bones in his thumb. The injury quickly became inflamed and infection set in and spread into his arm. Within two days the infection became so bad that doctors wanted to amputate Officer Churchwood’s arm above his elbow. Officer Churchwood, refused to let the doctors amputate and within four days the infection spread throughout his entire body. Officer Churchwood was pronounced dead at 1:30 a.m. on March 25, 1864. His cause of death was from Erysipelas, an acute infection of the upper dermis.

Duncan McGillis was held to the Grand Jury by the Coroner, Justice Conrad Diehl. The Coroner’s jury found McGillis not guilty of the death of Officer Churchwood.

Officer Churchwood was waked at his residence located at No. 91 Prairie Street (present day address unknown), his funeral mass was also held at his residence. He was laid to rest on March 27, 1864 in Graceland Cemetery, 4001 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois

Patrolman John C. Churchwood, Sr. was born in 1825.

Officer Churchwood was a member of the Washington Lodge American Protestant Association. He was survived by his wife, Helen and son, John C., Jr.

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