Provo Police Chief Killed in 1873.
Provo‘s Leaders contended with an alarmingly high number of younger boys and young men who suffered from behavioral problems during the late 1860’s and early 1870s. These Street hoodlums roamed to the town unattended, swore, stole, raced horses on Sunday, threw rocks at people’s houses, rustled calves, destroyed fences, vandalized the meetinghouse, and formed opposing gangs called the Provo Roughs and the Salt Lake Roughs.
These deplorable actions caused mayor Abraham O. Smoot to say “A check must be put upon this, that our mountains may not be filled with Gadianton Robbers.” One of Smoot’s best friends, David John, declared that although Provo’s boys “were sons of Zion, their actions at times makes them more the sons of hell than anything else.”
One of Provo was bad boys, Harrison Carter, caused Smoot some of his most mournful moments as mayor. Carter’s father seem to powerless to correct him. The young man used vile and vulgar language, disturb dances and church meetings, and maliciously damage the interior of the meetinghouse. He also displayed a fondness for drink. Carter earned the reputation for being “the wickedest young man in the country.”
One crisp fall night in 1873, Carter’s drunken revelry disturbed the peace in downtown Provo. Albert H. Bowen, a 51-year-old man with a wife and nine children, had become Provo’s chief of police just a year earlier. He arrived at the scene and attempted to calm and disarm the intoxicated youngster. During the resulting struggle, Carter shot Bowen in the side of the head and escaped. Bowen died three days later.
Lawmen captured Carter two months later in Nevada. A Utah court tried him, found him guilty, and sentenced him to life in Prison. As it turned out, his stay in prison was a short one. Prisoners who were attempting to escape shot and killed Provo’s first convicted murderer in 1876.