On May 27th, 1897 Deputy Constable Dennis Cronin of Emeryville was on his beat and conducted a security check at Soule's Saloon on Park Ave just west of Hollis (see map below). James Bryan, a 17 year old accompanied by an acquaintance, was in the bar drinking (yes, things were different back then!) and noticed Cronin. Bryan was a wanderer who had taken to frequenting Oakland Trotting Park, a racetrack in Emeryville that predates Golden Gate Fields in Albany. Bryan held a grudge against Cronin and knew he would eventually show up at Soule's while making his rounds. Cronin had previously arrested Bryan and during the confrontation, Cronin found it necessary to use his baton to effect the arrest. Bryan was overheard protesting his previous encounter with Cronin and was determined to retaliate. Bryan followed Cronin out of the saloon and confronted him, shooting him once. Bryan fled, and Cronin was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries on June 4th, 1897. Bryan was captured, tried and convicted. Cronin was also the first murder in Emeryville's history. Read an 1897 Oakland Tribune account of the incident here
Earlier this year while doing research for this project at St. Mary's cemetery in Oakland, we encountered a gentleman named Alfred Janske. Janske is a historian who is researching St. Mary's history in hopes of writing a book about the cemetery and those interred there. As luck would have it, he is also fascinated with the story of Dennis Cronin. In May, 2016, a story about Janske and his efforts was published in the East Bay Times, "Fallen lawman is forgotten no more". Please read the story here. Janske took us to Cronin's resting place in the cemetery, which is unmarked (below; the blue notebook is on the location). Stay tuned for our next post, The Melrose incident: Heroes #4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.