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Police Officer James R. Dodd
Jun 11, 2021

During the months of January and February of 1912, a minor epidemic of neisseria meningitis hit the City of Fort Worth, as well as several other Texas cities. The city quarantined citizens, refusing to allow train tickets to be sold from Fort Worth to other cities. Police officers, who already worked 12-hour shifts, were tasked with additional responsibilities. These responsibilities included enforcing quarantines and dealing with the sick and dying, and in some cases, dealing with the bodies of the victims.

Officer J.R. Dodd was assigned to Police Beat #4, known as "Hell's Half Acre," which was at the center of the outbreak. On Thursday evening, January 25, at about 9:00 p.m., Officer Dodd became ill while at dinner and was severely nauseated. He went home, but reported for duty at 9:00 a.m. the next morning on Friday, January 26. Officer Dodd worked until about 4:00 p.m. when he telephoned the desk sergeant to advise him that he was ill and unable to work. Officer Dodd’s condition deteriorated and a doctor was called in. The doctor pronounced Dodd as being afflicted with meningitis and began treating him for the disease. Officer Dodd became unconscious at around 4:00 a.m. Officer Dodd never regained consciousness and died at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 27, 1912. Prior to this illness, Officer Dodd had maintained a perfect attendance record for the prior 10 years.

The present Medical Director for the Tarrant County Health Department and the Fort Worth Health Authority reviewed the 1912 records and concluded that the death of Officer Dodd was directly related to his exposure to the disease while in the performance of his duties as a police officer.

Officer Dodd was buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in Fort Worth. He was survived by his wife, Elizabeth "Lizzie" Dodd.


  • Age 52
  • Tour 10 years
  • Badge Not available


  • Cause Duty related illness
  • Incident Date Thursday, January 25, 1912

100 N Forest Park Blvd, Suite 200
Fort Worth, TX 76102

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