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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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James Moran

James Moran

GRHC - July 20th, 2010

James Moran (1832-1886), first Grand Rapids, Michigan, chief of police    



When he was five years of age James Moran came, with his parents, to Grand Rapids from Detroit. They traveled the entire distance on ponies, following Native American guides along their well-worn trail and camping in the woods at night. They finally reached their destination after a journey of eight days.

Born in 1832, James was the third child in a family of thirteen. The Morans were related to the Campaus; the mother of Louis Campau, the early fur trader, was Marie Therese Moran

When James reached the age of 15 he signed on as a deck hand on one of the old Grand River steamers, and later he served as a pilot on one of the riverboats. It is said that he received the highest salary ever paid to any pilot in this part of the state. Two years later he bought a one-third interest the steamer,  “Nebraska,” and was her captain until river traffic declined due to the increased shipping of freight by the new railroads. Moran lost everything he had invested.

In 1871 he was made chief of the first organized police force in the city. He held this position until 1879 and returned to serve for another year in 1881when he retired. The board of fire and police commissioners appointed him chief detective in 1884 and Moran retained that position until his death in 1886. Considered one of the keenest detectives in the country, he was a terror to local criminals. 


Full Details

TitleJames Moran
KeywordsGlance at the Past, history, James Moran, police, chief, radio, WYCE, Grand Rapids, Historical Commission, Podcast
Pubdate StringJuly 20th, 2010

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