John N. Allaback

Chief of Police

Dayton Police Department - 1910
Pages 18-21

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Regarding Ulysses S. Grant as a commander, Hamlin Garland says: "His most marked characteristics were measureless persistence, swift and unhesitant action, calm mastery of details, considerateness in the treatment of a subordinate, courage to assume a responsibility, and beyond, and perhaps above all, the capacity to do, in the heat and tumult of war, things so conspicuously right that when the battle is ended they seem to have been inspired by miraculous common sense.

The above paragraph is just as befitting the character of John Newton Allaback, Chief of the Police Department of Dayton, Ohio, as it was suited to the characteristics of the immortal Grant. A five-minute talk with the Chief assures one that he is "the right man in the right place."

It was in the year 1857 that John Newton Allaback, the present Chief of Police of the City of Dayton, first saw the light of day.

Born in the village of West Point, in northwestern Ohio, of parents of moderate circumstances, his educational opportunities were naturally limited. He proved a good student, however, and made the best of the few years he attended the public schools of Galion and Dayton. From boyhood, he cultivated the trait of being quiet and unassuming, and on account of his retiring and diligent nature, he was dubbed "Quiet Newt."

When "Chief" (as he is so commonly known) reached his majority his spirit of bravery and adventure manifested itself, and he went to Cincinnati, where he enlisted in the U. S. Army and was assigned to the Second U. S. Cavalry, Troop M, which was stationed in Montana, the hotbed of Indian activities. One of the most memorable pages of our history is that page which tells of the Sioux Indians. They had ceded to the United States a large tract of country in Dakota Territory, reserving for themselves the district known as "The Black Hills," but when it was rumored that gold had been found on their reservation, white men began to push in, and the Sioux, being a warlike tribe, retaliated by attacking the frontier settlements in Montana and Wyoming. United States troops were sent out against them, but met at first with terrible disaster. It was soon after the terrible massacre of General Custer and his soldiers that "Chief" set out for the West to serve his country as a soldier. The hardships that he there endured, the valiant service that he rendered, and the continual danger that he was in at all times, made him fearless, strong, resolute, and brave. He participated in many important engagements, among which were the Milk River and Ogleby battles. He is most proud of the fact that he was one of the party that escorted General Phil. Sherman to the Yellowstone National Park, blazing the way through miles of virgin forest.

As an Indian scout and as a model soldier he was looked up to by all of his comrades. His splendid services were substantially recognized in that he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant, which rant he held when honorably discharged.

A most interesting event in the Chief's life is his March overland to Fort Custer, where he helped erect the historical Custer Monument on Custer Field, the "Gettysburg of Montana."

The Indians having been subdued in a measure, our Chief came back to live with his friends in Dayton. He had to begin life almost anew because of his having been away from civilization for so long a time, but being active, energetic, and ambitious, he at once set to work in the trades, doing work for various contractors. However, the spirit of the soldier manifested itself so strongly that he decided to join the police force, and at the age of twenty-nine was appointed patrolman.

His career in this field has been a meteoric one. After six years of service in the ranks he became roundsman, and a few months later sergeant. He had not served a year as sergeant when he was promoted to the office of captain, and he has steadily worked himself up. When Mayor Edw. E. Burkhart was installed into office he looked about him for a man who could execute his commands, a man who was fearless, a man whose record was clean, a man who would uphold the dignity of the office, a man who could execute orders, and when, on the fourth day of November, 1908, he selected Chief Allaback, the people said, with one account, "He has made no mistake."

A five-minute talk with the Chief assures one that he is the "right man in the right place." There is that spirit of fearlessness manifesting itself in his entire make-up. He is a doer, rather than a talker. A modest man, a beloved superior, and a faithful public servant. He believes that honesty, ability, and courage are the three qualities to be most admired in a man; that there is sometimes an excuse for a narrow fellow who falls from grace, but there never was an excuse for a man endowed with brain to choose a crooked path.

The men tell the Chief the truth, for he has made them feel that he knows all and everything about them, and that it is dangerous to lie. When he told the writer that there was no graft in his department, he was asked how he knew. With a silent stare, his eagle eyes partially closed, as if surprised at such a question, he replied with finality and decision, "Because if there was I'd know about it."

Every man must do his duty, or he will be replaced by one who will do so. A splendid system prevails in this department, and the people of the city are receiving a good administration at the hands of Chief Allaback.

Chief Allaback is quiet but stern, unostentatious but determined, and never does he permit an infraction of the rules. All who know him well have learned to love him because of his kind and sympathetic nature. He is a firm believer of treading the "straight and narrow path" of truth and honesty, and is always ready to hear the two sides of every story. Reticent in his speech, he impresses one as a man who accomplishes things without the blare of a trumpet.

In matters of religion he is liberal, but intensely sincere. He has but little patience either with those who are creed-bound, or those who deride religion. Now and then in the excitement of controversy he will emit a few torrid words that might not pass the censorship of the Bishop, but they are merely expletives, and suited to the time and occasion. He reminds one of the English Bishop, who, when asked if he thought profanity were ever permissible, replied earnestly, "Hell, no!"

His home life is beautiful. On his return to civilization he wooed and won the hand of Alice Francis, the daughter of Ammon Francis, who was one of the pioneer millwrights of Dayton. Two sons, Clifford and Wilbur, both of whom are married, and one daughter, Helen, have blessed this union and are the pride of his life. They always find a lively and lovable companion in "Dad."

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