First patrolman of his race.

by Lisa Y. Henderson

Wiley G. Overton.

The First Full Fledged Patrolman of His Race Appointed on Brooklyn’s Police Force.

Wiley Granda Overton is a successful undertaker, whom Commissioner Hayden has appointed as patrolman and assigned to the First Precinct, in the most popular and business part of Brooklyn, under Capt. Campbell. Mr. Overton is originally from North Carolina. He was born in Elizabeth City, Oct. 20, 1859, of free parentage. He spent his early days attending school, until his graduation from the normal school. While yet quite a young man he passed a good examination before the county commissioners and obtained a position as a teacher in the public schools. With his parents he came North fourteen years ago and settled in Brooklyn. Through his energy and push he was not long in obtaining a good situation [illegible] wholesale firm in New York City [illegible] Taylor & Co. Entering as a porter he rose to the important position of stock clerk, which he held for seven years. While in this position he spend all of his leisure moments in private study and improved his education. After leaving his New York situation he engaged with a well known undertaker, Moses Genung, and after sufficient training he started out in business for himself at 75 Lawrence street. His business has grown rapidly, and he will turn it over to his cousin, R.D. Overton.

Immediately after his business venture, it came to his mind that he would like to become one of the guardians of the city and he entered the civil service examinations …. He attained 76 ½ percentage, standing 58 on a list of 164 eligibles. It was thought that Mr. Overton’s color would be a barrier to his appointment …. Commissioner Hayden, however, … said: “He passed a good examination, and, as the law makes no distinction in regard to color, I do not see why there should be any question as to my duty in the matter.”

Mr. Overton is nearly six feet high, of fine athletic build and of dark complexion. He has been assigned to Post 5 of the First Precinct, bounded by Pierpont, Joralemon, and Clinton streets and Columbia Heights. … Mr. Overton is a devoted member of Bridge Street A.M.E Church and has been been a member of the Trustee Board for several years. He has a charming wife and two beautiful daughters to cheer him at his fireside.

In the 1860 census of Pasquotank County: Jeffry Overton, 62, farmer, Juley, 31, Jeffry, 29, Haywood, 18, Ruben, 10, Margaret, 9, Mary, 6, John, 4, George, 2, and Wiley, 8 months.

The New York Age, 21 March 1891.