SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office is remembering one of its own, a deputy who gave his life for his community almost a century ago.
The sheriff’s office with help from the Kansas African American Museum, the NAACP and the Greater Wichita Ministerial League, held a headstone dedication on Sunday to honor Deputy Frank Hill who is the first Black deputy to die in the line of duty.
Hill was shot and killed by three inmates when they escaped from their jail cells after he accidentally left them unlocked. Before coming to the sheriff’s office, he worked as a lieutenant with the Wichita Fire Department.
Hill and his wife, Lulu, were both seen as prominent figures in the Wichita community in the 1920s. Lulu owned a beauty shop located above the famous Dockum Drug Store on Douglas Ave.
The idea for the headstone dedication came about when the sheriff’s office honored the lives of the deputies who were buried within Sedgwick County by laying wreaths at their gravesites. However, when they got to Deputy Hill’s, they saw a problem.
“There was no headstone,” Sherrif Jeff Easter said. “All we could go by was this is where he’s supposed to be buried, according to the cemetery and so to be honest with you, I was appalled by that.”
Kansas African American Museum Educational Director Dr. Lona Reeves says she isn’t sure why Hill’s gravesite was never marked.
“Headstones take a while,” Reeves said. “Maybe, there was one ordered, and they got lost or somebody was supposed to order it and never got delivered.”
That’s when the community, deputies, officers and retirees stepped in and raised money to make sure Hill was honored with a long overdue headstone.
“A man has given up his life for the community, even though it was in 1926,” Easter said. “There [wasn’t] at least a headstone commemorating who he is and who he worked for. It’s just a good way to remember somebody that died giving their life to this community.”
Hill died in 1927 and was buried in the colored section of Highland Cemetery located at 9th and Hillside.