Frank Hamilton was a Riverside County special deputy in the late 1890s. Photo courtesy Riverside County Sheriff’s Department
Frank Hamilton was a Riverside County special deputy in the late 1890s.
Photo courtesy Riverside County Sheriff’s Department

State Sen. Jeff Stone’s legislation was passed and will rename a portion of Highway 371 in Anza. The resolution designates the portion of the highway between Howard Road and Tribal Road as “Special Deputy Frank Hamilton Memorial Highway.” Senate Concurrent Resolution 51, authored by Stone (R-Riverside County), passed the Legislature on Jan. 27 and was enacted into law on Feb. 1.

Hamilton, a Riverside County special deputy sheriff in the 19th century, is believed to have been the first law-enforcement officer in the county killed in the line of duty. He was shot and killed in 1895 in San Jacinto, two years after Riverside County was formed.

A Cahuilla tribal member from the Anza area, Hamilton served as a special deputy in the Riverside County Sheriff’s office. In the early days of the county, special deputies were used to support the Sheriff’s Department in rural and remote areas.

“It is important that we honor all of our law enforcement officers, especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our safety and security,” Stone said in the press release. “As I learned the details of the shooting of Deputy Hamilton, no matter how long ago it was, I knew it was important to find a way to honor him.”

Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Master Investigator Robert Masson, president of the Riverside Sheriff’s Association and a volunteer on Stone’s staff, worked with state, county and tribal leaders to make the honor possible.

According to Masson’s research in the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department archives, on April 8, 1895, Hamilton was in San Jacinto and became embroiled in a heated disagreement with Charles Marshall, who became enraged. Hamilton told Marshall to go away, that he did not want any trouble with him and the two then parted ways.

Marshall began roaming the town of San Jacinto in search of a pistol to borrow. Meanwhile, Hamilton was talking to Albert Larson in an alley adjacent to the town saloon when Marshall suddenly emerged in the alley and immediately began firing his borrowed pistol at Hamilton without warning.

Marshall’s gunfire initially struck Larson and then Hamilton, who, despite being severely wounded, returned fire and wounded Marshall.

Larson died early the next morning from his gunshot wounds. Hamilton died that afternoon, April 9, 1895, from his gunshot wound.

Marshall recovered from his gunshot wounds; but he was later tried and convicted in Riverside County courts for the murder of Larson and Hamilton.

Members of Frank Hamilton’s family have been invited to attend a dedication ceremony at the site to be held in the near future, according to the release.