A federal officer gunned down while transporting prisoners through eastern Kentucky was honored at a small ceremony Friday in Texas, more than a century after his death.
Senior officials with the U.S. Marshals Service and judges gathered at a courthouse in Plano, a suburb northeast of Dallas, to present a flag to Russell Wireman's great-great-great grandson, Gary Hulsey.
Wireman, a marshal, was shot in the chest in 1889 during the so-called Moonshine War, but his death until recently has been a lost part of history. The presentation of the folded flag was part of an effort by America's oldest federal law-enforcement agency to recognize officers whose deaths during a particularly deadly period of its history had been obscured by the passing decades.
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"We have a saying in the law enforcement community that we never forget," said Richard Taylor, U.S. marshal for the Northern District of Texas. "One hundred and 30 years later, we never forget."
Wireman, 32, lived in Kentucky with his wife and four children, U.S. Marshals Service historian David Turk said. He was one of many marshals killed during a federal government crackdown of illegal liquor distilleries in the Appalachian Mountains around the turn of the 20th century, Turk said.
The marshal had been transporting prisoners through Knott County, Kentucky, when he was ambushed by a posse that was looking to free the moonshiners, Turk said. A gunfight broke out and Wireman was shot in the chest while trying to cross a shallow place in a river.
Hulsey, 40, of Wylie, Texas, said he's related to Wireman through one of the late marshal's four daughters. He said he knows little about his great-great-great grandfather but was honored when told Wireman's name would be added to the memorial wall at the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the U.S. Marshals Service.
Turk said he and marshals in Kentucky pieced together what happened to Wireman through newspaper accounts, court documents and other records. They eventually found Hulsey through an ancestry website.
In the many years that have passed since Wireman's death, some things in Knott County have endured, Taylor said.
"By the way," he said, "it's still a dry county today."