Today is Pennsylvania State Police Memorial Day and police in Jefferson County used the occasion to unveil a new historical marker.

We have more on how they are remembering two long-lost troopers who died about 110 years ago.

Troopers say the two men who died near here were tracking murderers from the Black Hand society, a criminal group of Italian immigrants in the coal mining town of Florence, now called Anita. It was 1906. They arrived by horse or street car.

“They made an arrest and one of the actors fled into a nearby residence and that started a chain of events where they had to have more troopers come respond. A couple of gentlemen barricaded themselves,” says Capt. Bernard Petrovsky of the state police Troop C.

The police website says John Henry, 31, was within 20 feet of the house when someone shot him.

Later, Francis Zehringer, 34, was in a back-up group that battered in the side door, under heavy cover, before a shot from up on a stairway killed him too. Both had just nine months on the job, the website says.

They came from Philadelphia, like Pete Carlton’s dad, who was in that back-up group.

“When they put the enlistment out, he was sent here. He was 24 years old at the time when he arrived in Punxsy,” says Carlton, 85, who attended Monday morning’s event.

Carlton says his dad later worked on the Panama Canal when the troop broke up, but never forgot the day his two colleagues died.

“i have four older brothers and he never wanted any of them to become state troopers because of what happened here,” says Carlton.

Troopers eventually got to Zehringer’s body before blasting those in the house, Petrovsky said.

“They think during the course of the evening that some of the people that were in the house might have escaped before daylight, and daylight is whenever they dynamited the house,” says Petrovsky.

Troopers say the historical commission rejected the marker about 10 years ago, then approved it in December 2014, with help from a sergeant who was temporarily assigned here from Harrisburg.

The troopers’ association paid about $1,700 to install it on Route 310, Petrovsky said. The actual site is on nearby private property off Ash Street. Carlton is glad they prevailed.

“It needed something to show where this happened,” says Carlton.

The state police had just been formed in 1905. Henry and Zehringer were the first two troopers to die in the line of duty.