The Death of Officer Frank Groeschner
By Sgt. Daniel J. Marcou, 1990
Officer Frank Groeschner, in 1916 was the cream of the crop on the La Crosse Police Department. He was an elite member of the motorcycle police squad, which had been in existence since 1910. He was married and a member of a social group of Police Officers called “The Odd Fellows.”
Officer Groeschner was on patrol on November 18, 1916 on his Police Motorcycle when he was struck by a Gund Brewery Truck and killed instantly in the intersection of 3rd and State Street. The driver of the truck, Otto Betz was not charged and the incident would be regarded as a tragic traffic accident.
Officer Groeschner‘s young widow would be eligible for a $3,000 death benefit. A Police escort led the body from the Groeschner home, located at 1318 Kane Street, to Oak Grove Cemetery, where he would be laid to rest. Officers Emil Last, August Koschnitzke, William Wermuth, Sgt. Michael Britton, Sgt. Horschak, and Detective William Fitzsimmons, were also members of the social group, “The Odd Fellows.” The last thing they would be able to do together with their good friend, would be to sadly serve as his pall bearers.
Officer Frank Groeschner did not die in a hail of bullets. He did not die performing a gallant act of heroism. Instead, he died doing, what every cop does day in and day out. He was on routine patrol serving the City of La Crosse as a La Crosse Police Officer. One of the earliest “Odd Fellows.”