PASO ROBLES — On Sunday, May 6, Paso Robles Police Department engaged in a time-honored tradition of donning their mourning bands — those little black bands on their badges — to remember night watchman, David Nathan Morehouse. Morehouse was the department’s only officer to the die in the line of duty on May 6, 1919. Morehouse was born on Aug. 4, 1860, and was appointed on Dec. 17, 1918, to the Paso Robles Police Department. His end of watch was marked on May 7, 1919, though he passed away on May 6 in the line of duty.
The Board of Trustees of the City of Paso Robles paid Morehouse a salary of $85 per month. Morehouse was the sole law enforcement presence for Paso Robles during the evening hours.
Morehouse, at age 58, died in the line of duty after being shot and killed in the early morning hours of May 6, 1919. Morehouse was investigating two suspicious persons who were fleeing across a vacant lot next to the Mercantile corner. The two suspicious persons had just stolen $200 worth of firearms, ammunition, razors, knives and two hats from the Mercantile store. Morehouse had fired his revolver three times at his assailants, reported a local newspaper.
John Ford, Fowler City Marshal, later arrested the two suspects, Edwin Langdon and Hugh Moore who were caught in Fowler in Fresno County. Langdon confessed to the murder of Morehouse on May 23, 1919. He confessed in front of the Assistant District Attorney F.W. Docker, and Fresno Police Department Inspectors Enos and Merritt, Marshal Ford and Court Stenographer James W. Gearhart.
“There was no other way out,” Langdon said during the confession. “He had us covered and it was his life or ours.” When asked if he was scared, he replied, “Scared? Hell. I stayed there and shot all of my bullets. “I’ll hand it to him (Morehouse). It takes a pretty brave fellow to walk into chaps loaded with rifles.”
Langdon was tried at the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Aug. 28, 1919, and convicted of the first-degree murder of Morehouse. Langdon was sentenced on Saturday, May 30, 1919, to serve a life sentence at the State Prison of the State of California in San Quentin.
Morehouse was born in Healdsburg, Sonoma County on Aug. 4, 1860, and spent his youth growing up on his father’s homestead in San Luis Obispo County. On May 27, 1885, Morehouse married Flora Cotter of Healdsburg. Their union produced four children, two boys, and two girls. His life chronicled on the California Peace Officers Memorial Foundation website.
“A plaque honoring Night Watchman Morehouse in on display at the State Capital,” Chief Ty Lewis said in an email to his police department. “I would highly encourage you to stop by and pay your respects if given the opportunity.”
National Police Week starts Sunday, May 13 and continues through Saturday, May 19. Local law enforcement will have a public memorial ceremony on Thursday, May 17 in Morro Bay. “
All law enforcement agencies in the county will be participating,” Sgt. Jason Carr with the Atascadero Police Department said. “A caravan for police officers vehicles beginning in Templeton sheriff ’s office north station go down 101 and go through San Luis and out to Morro Bay at the site of the memorial.”
The memorial ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. at Morro rock.