Francis “Chief” O'Neill

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Francis “Chief” O'Neill

Bantry, County Cork, Ireland
Death 26 Jan 1936 (aged 87)
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Burial Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Memorial ID 48658245 · View Source
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Chicago Police Superintendent Francis O'Neill August 28, 1848 – January 26, 1936 (Aged 87)
Joined the CPD in 1873 and was Supt. from 1901 to 1905. During that time frame the CPD Superintendent was referred to as Chief of Police or General Superintendent.

Francis O'Neill (August 28, 1848–January 26, 1936) was an Irish-born American police officer and collector of Irish traditional music.

O'Neill was born in Tralibane, near Bantry, County Cork. At an early age he heard the music of local musicians, among them Peter Hagarty, Cormac Murphy and Timothy Dowling. At the age of 16, he became a cabin boy on an English merchant vessel. On a voyage to New York, he met Anna Rogers, a young emigrant whom he later married in Bloomington, Illinois. The O'Neills moved to Chicago, and in 1873 O'Neill became a Chicago policeman. He rose through the ranks quickly, eventually serving as the Chief of Police from 1901 to 1905. He had the rare distinction, in a time when political "pull" counted for more than competence, of being re-appointed twice to the position by two different mayors.

During his time as chief, O'Neill recruited many traditional Irish musicians into the police force, including Patrick O'Mahony, James O'Neill, Bernard Delaney, John McFadden and James Early. He also collected tunes from some of the major performers of the time including Patsy Touhey, who regularly sent O'Neill wax cylinders and visited him in Chicago. He also collected tunes from a wide variety of printed sources.

O'Neill retired from the police force in 1905. After that, he devoted much of his energy to publishing the music he had collected. His musical works include:

O'Neill's Music of Ireland (1903), containing 1,850 pieces of music

The Dance Music of Ireland (1907), sometimes called, "O'Neill's 1001," because of the number of tunes included

400 tunes arranged for piano and violin (1915)

Waifs and Strays of Gaelic Melody (1922), 365 pieces

Irish Folk Music: A Fascinating Hobby (1910). Appendix A contains O'Farrells Treatise and Instructions on the Irish Pipes, published 1797-1800; appendix B is Hints to Amateur Pipers by Patrick J Tuohy.

Irish Minstrels and Musicians (1913), biographies of musicians, including those from whom he collected tunes in Chicago.

His Wife was Anna Rogers O'Neill


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  • Created by: William Kazupski
  • Added: 23 Feb 2010
  • Find a Grave Memorial 48658245
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Francis “Chief” O'Neill (28 Aug 1848–26 Jan 1936), Find a Grave Memorial no. 48658245, citing Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by William Kazupski (contributor 47113700) .