AUGUSTA — His life quickly slipping away, Thomas Malloy hid his face in his hands and slouched out of sight as the buggy taking him to the hospital passed by his home.

Just a few feet away, Malloy heard his two young children shouting in their play, completely unaware of their father’s presence. Malloy knew he would never hear those voices again.

A short time later, Malloy, a Civil War veteran highly regarded by those at the Soldier’s Home at Togus with whom he had lived for 12 years, would become the only Kennebec County sheriff’s deputy to die in the line of duty.

It was Oct. 9, 1884. Malloy, 41, left a wife and four young children.

Outside of a name engraved on the state’s Law Enforcement Memorial and a few details provided on Internet sites dedicated to remembering those who died in the line of duty, Malloy’s sacrifice went largely unnoticed until Kennebec County sheriff’s deputies decided a few years ago to reorganize their union and memorialized Malloy by naming the union lodge after him. Now the man behind that reorganization, Capt. Daniel Davies, wants to honor Malloy the only way he can — by finding his descendants.

“We’d like to formally recognize any surviving family members,” Davies said. “We’d like to say, ‘Thank you.’ They never knew they guy, but he was family.”

What little Davies has been able to learn about Malloy primarily comes from the Oct. 10, 1884, edition of the Kennebec Journal. The detailed account, replete with headlines that scream “MURDER” and “Cold-Blooded” describe the events as “Another Case of ‘Rum Did It.’”

The fatal shot

Malloy was shot near the Soldiers Home, the forerunner of the current VA Maine Healthcare Systems Togus hospital, on what was then Hallowell Road, which ran from the home to the Hallowell ferry. The area was rife with brothels, bars and gambling that catered to veterans at the home.

Sheriff George Stevens had appointed Malloy and his partner, Stephen Cobb, to crack down on the rampant illegal liquor business. Malloy and Cobb had a warrant to search the home of Joshua Downs, who lived on a small lane off Hallowell Road. When Malloy and Cobb arrived, Charles Morgan Wallace, who was returning from a shopping trip with his wife, was inside Downs’, “for the purpose, it is believed by many, of delivering liquor.”

“Mrs. Wallace saw the officers first and informed her husband,” the article says. “In a twinkling they entered their carriage. Wallace lashing his horse with a whip drove down the lane in an endeavor to escape.”

Cobb grabbed the horse by the bits, and eventually was able to bring the carriage to a stop. Malloy climbed up into the carriage, over the protests of Wallace, who declared the search illegal. Malloy, who discovered suspicious packages, suggested taking the carriage back to the soldiers’ home for inspection.

“Wallace, meanwhile, was reaching his hand around to his hip pocket,” according to the article. “Sheriff Malloy, speaking very calmly to Wallace, repeated three times, ‘Charles, don’t draw that revolver.’ Disregarding his words, the villain in the team whipped out his revolver and, cocking it, aimed the weapon at Officer Cobb.”

Cobb, who years before had officiated at Wallace’s wedding, ducked behind the horse and told Malloy to arrest Wallace. Malloy grabbed Wallace’s arm and Wallace turned and fired point-blank into Malloy’s chest.

“The unfortunate officer, losing his strength, tottered and dropped to the ground at once, his revolver beneath him, and the crimson tide welled up through his lips, attesting that he had received a mortal wound. As he fell the poor fellow huskily gasped, ‘Oh, God, my wife and children.’”

Downs picked Malloy up and put him in his wagon to drive to the hospital at the soldiers’ home. Malloy cried out to God during the trip and begged Downs to stop so he could lie down and die.

“Oh, Charles Morgan, what did I ever do to you?” Malloy asked.

A surgeon was called from the city, but Malloy died before he ever arrived. An autopsy found the bullet had passed through Malloy’s lungs, allowing them to fill with blood.

“His mind was retained to the last,” the article says. “The burden of his mind was his orphaned children and the widow left without a protector.”

Cobb rushed Wallace after the shooting. Wallace pointed the gun at his head, but Cobb was able to grab it before Wallace fired. He tried to flee on foot, but Cobb wrestled him to the ground and arrested him with the help of Joseph Perry and George Dietrich, a one-legged soldier.

Wallace was taken to the soldier’s home, where he was spared from a lynch mob only by the arrival of Gov. Frederick Robie, who pled for law and order.

Wallace was eventually sentenced to a life of hard labor in prison.

Not forgotten

Davies encountered Malloy’s story by leading the effort by Kennebec County sheriff’s deputies from the Kennebec Deputy Association to the nationwide Fraternal Order of Police. Part of the enrollment process required creation of an organizational lodge, Davies said. Deputies named their organization the Thomas F. Malloy Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7.

Davies began to research Malloy and, found the Kennebec Journal’s accounts of the shooting on microfilm at the Maine State Library.

There is some information about Malloy on memorial websites, such as the Officer Down Memorial Page, and on the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

Now the lodge is seeking the public’s help in finding out more about its namesake so it can honor his memory further. The sheriff’s department has not been able to find a photo of Malloy.

Davies said he hopes a family member can be found. He asked anyone with information on Malloy or his family to call the sheriff’s office at 623-3614 or 621-0166.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

ccrosby@centralmaine.com