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place in the station itself. O’Neill was a fine musician, had a wonderful ear for music, and could easily commit new tunes to memory. As he rose through the ranks in the police force, becoming a desk sergeant, then a patrol sergeant, then a lieu- tenant, then secretary to the Chief of Police, and subsequently serving a long tenure as captain before being appointed General Superintendent, he also grew in stature among local musi- cians. In 1901, the year he became Chief of Police, he was also Sometimes, O’Neill forgot that a man in his position was always closely watched by the press, with amusing results. In 1923, the Chicago Daily Tribune recalled one such incident: One day, while a sensational murder case held the attention of the Police Department, Chief O’Neill received a telephone call from a sergeant “back of the yards.” The sergeant, Dennis Dillon, had found a woman 93 years old who “had a tune.” Reporters who saw the chief leaving his office hurriedly fig- ured that he was going out on a hot tip concern- ing the murder case. All the evening papers gave the story a “scream” head. Upon his re- turn to the office he was besieged by the reporters. Calling the boys into his office he told them of his trip. He brought back with him the notes of a tune he had never heard. And he called it “The Little Red Hen.” elected President of the Irish Music Club of Chicago. Around the time of O’Neill’s promotion to lieu- tenant in 1890, it occurred to him that it would be helpful to create a written record of the tunes he was learning. However, despite his many accom- plishments as a musician, O’Neill Squad of Chicago mounted police, ca. 1907. Many of these men served under O’Neill, who retired only two years before this photo was submitted for copyright; the exact date of the photo is unknown. LC Prints and Photographs Division; Reproduction number LC-USZ62- 117653. was not good at writing down music from the playing of musi- cians. He therefore enlisted the aid of a fiddler he knew from the police force, Sergeant James O’Neill (no relation). In some cases, Francis O’Neill learned tunes from other musicians, and played them on the flute to James O’Neill, who wrote them down. In others, Sergeant O’Neill took down music directly from other players. After transcribing a tune in pencil, Sergeant O’Neill would use his fiddle to play it back to the contributor, who would either accept or correct the written record. Accord- ing to the Chicago Daily Tribune, the chief and the sergeant also convened an informal “committee of inquest” made up of Irish musicians including (among others) James Early, Bernard Delaney, Edward Cronin, Patsy Touhey, and John McFadden. This committee, or its individual members, would be called in whenever there was a gap in a tune or a discrepancy between the chief’s memory and the sergeant’s. On another occasion, Chief O’Neill left the office early, intending to go home. On the way home, he changed his mind and decided instead to go to James O’Neill’s house to play music. As a result, only Chief O’Neill, Sergeant O’Neill, and the chief’s driver knew where he was. A practical joker took advantage of this situation and, in an anonymous phone call, informed the police that O’Neill had been assassinated. Word quickly spread among the force, and at the evening shift’s roll call every officer was told to keep his ear to the ground. The re- sult was that practically the whole force was looking for O’Neill, while the chief himself was off playing the flute. The joke was not funny to O’Neill’s family, who had suffered with him through various injuries and one near-fatal gunshot wound at the begin- ning of his career. As soon as he heard of the rumor, therefore, O’Neill rushed home to reassure his wife. Later, however, he would remember with good humor the moment when Sergeant Hartnett and another officer arrived at James O’Neill’s house with the news: O’Neill continued collecting throughout his time as lieuten- ant and as captain, and even after obtaining the lofty rank of Police Chief. This sometimes led to awkward moments, when musicians were discovered loitering outside his office, needing a moment with the chief to cement a tune in their memories. They would have to be escorted in, through several anterooms filled with puzzled police officers, and granted a private audi- ence. O’Neill’s enthusiasm for tunes also led to a certain level- ing of the usual hierarchy, in which lowly officers and sergeants could make direct phone calls to the chief, as long as it was for musical reasons. “In through the kitchen rushed a policeman with bulging eyes to announce that ‘the chief was assassinated.’ […] With a look of terror he precipitately backed out on seeing me, convinced that it was my ghost which appeared to him” (O’Neill 1910, 216-217). When reports of this nature appeared in Chicago newspa- pers, the writers generally employed a tone of amused affec-






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