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Marion County Sheriff's Office holds memorial for 1st fallen deputy in 1893

Deputy James George Binnicker's death is the earliest recorded line-of-duty death for the agency.
Credit: Marion County Sheriff's Office

MICANOPY, Fla. — New details about a Marion County deputy killed in the line of duty back in 1893 were recently discovered and the sheriff's office honored him with a memorial service this Wednesday.

Marion County Sheriff Deputy James George Binnicker's death is the earliest recorded line-of-duty death for the agency. He died on Sept. 29, 1893. 

The Alachua County Sheriff's Office was able to find the untapped information about Binnicker while researching the sheriff's office's accreditation and alerted Marion County Sheriff's Office's Accreditation Department. The Marion County Public Information Office Coordinator Kayla Welch also discovered the information while preparing for the Marion County Fallen Officer Ceremony, but details were "scarce and unconfirmed" at the time, the Marion County Sheriff's Office said. 

Digging deeper, Welch reached out to the Marion County Clerk of Court's Record Center and was able to uncover the actual files from the 1893 court records that provided detailed verification on Binnicker. The sheriff's office was able to learn more about the deputy through the documents.

Binnicker began working with the Marion County Sheriff's Office in January 1893, just eight months before his death, according to the filing. The sheriff's office said records show on Sept. 24, 1893, Binnicker was guarding a prisoner by the name of Ed Dansey.

Dansey told Binnicker he planted gold near the woods in Ocala and needed to dig it up in order to pay his attorney, Mr. J.W. Wideman. Sheriff Hodge reportedly granted Binnicker permission to escort Dansey to the area to locate it. 

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It wasn't long after, Dansey, Binnicker and Wideman traveled by carriage to the Reddick area to find the buried gold. During the search, Dansey got hold of the deputy's gun and shot him, the sheriff's office said. After the shooting, Dansey fled to Wacahoota Hammock in Alachua County. 

A search got underway for Dansey and the Alachua County Sheriff's Office found him and transported him to jail. Five days later, Binnicker died from blood poisoning from the bullet, according to authorities.

Dansey was later found guilty of murder. On Jan. 11, 1894, Dansey provided a "full confession to the murder of Deputy Binnicker while standing on the gallows before his execution."

The Marion County Sheriff's Office held a memorial service for Binnicker on Wednesday, Oct. 26, at Flemington Cemetery. Part of the reason Binnicker's story has been lost with time stems from a large fire Ocala experienced near the turn of the century, the Marion County Sheriff's office reports.

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