Ripley’s Believe It or Not and HPD’s first female officer

Fifth in a Series

Like a lot of cases I’ve worked, the longer I kept digging the more information came to light.

Policewoman/Detective Eva Jane Bacher made local, state, and national news at least 40 times during her nine years at HPD.

Just a few of the highlights:

During her early years from 1917 she developed a medical program at the city jail/farm for the women incarcerated there with a follow-up program after they got out.

When she was with a group of detectives interviewing a bank robber at the station, she tackled the robber when he tried to escape.

There was an episode in 1922 when Mayor Oscar Holcombe was alleged to have been participating in a gambling activity at the Binz building.  It was busted but there was some “confusion” as to whether the mayor was actually there or not.

The Baptist pastors in the city called for a conference of everyone involved to try to determine the “truth” of the matter. And the people involved showed up!  [That’s when preachers had real political clout]

There was conflicting evidence and testimony regarding the Mayor Holcomb being there but ultimately the pastors “exonerated” him.

The questions put to Detective Bacher were regarding her being offered $2,000 to resign.  That’s $32,321 in today’s money.  She testified that she wasn’t really sure if the comment had been a joke or not.  Obviously, she didn’t take the offer.

I think the “capstone” of her career was in 1924 when she was sent all expenses paid by the City of Houston and the Police Department on a month-long tour of the Quebec, London and Paris police agencies to study how they worked.  The event was done in conjunction with the St. Louis Ad Club members that went with her.

She was involved in murder cases, and as stated before, interstate and intrastate cases.

I think the following article sums up how society in general viewed women in the first half of the 21st Century.  From the El Paso Herald, Tuesdy, Aug 31, 1926:

“Houston’s famous policewoman is here with her badges on.  She’s known all over South Texas.  She’s been a policewoman in Houston for 12 years.  She “packs” a pistol ‘n everything.” [If this is accurate, Bacher started in 1914, possibly as a jail matron.]

Ripley’s Believe It Or Not owner/chief editor Douglas Ripley wrote a letter to HPD in February 1953 asking for verification that a “diminutive …. woman is making Texas history.  She has been enforcing the law and order in Houston for 12 years as the City’s first and only police woman.”

Ripley also asked for a photo so their artist could make a drawing.  Chief L. D. Morrison got Captain of Detectives George Seber to answer the letter and advised him that no picture was available, that HPD had women officers since 1940.  The letter mentioned that Mrs. Bacher left the employment of HPD on April 16, 1929, which did verify that she had worked for HPD.  I have no idea if she appeared in the Believe It Or Not column.

She went on to advocate for foster homes for children and medical care for female inmates.

After she left HPD she continued to work private security for downtown businesses and department stores, arresting shoplifters and thieves.

She had a son that went on to become a U. S. Army colonel.  Colonel Robert M. Bacher and his wife had one son, Robert Newell Bacher, PhD Theology, who went on to work for the Lutheran Church headquartered in Illinois.  He currently lives in South Carolina with his wife, and they have three children.  One of his daughters currently lives in Dallas.

Hopefully, by Monday, Sept. 12, 2022, National Police Woman Day, a graveside, or some type of ceremony might be held for the Houston Police Department’s first female sworn officer.

Stay safe, keep your head on a swivel, and watch your 6.  Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean there isn’t somebody out there trying to kill you.