Daniel Francis O'Neill was born in Trailibane just outside Bantry, Cork on the 28th August, 1848. The youngest of seven siblings, he grew up in the wake of the Great Irish Famine. At the age of 16 he enlisted as a cabin boy aboard an English merchant vessel and would spend several years at sea, travelling and trading throughout the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. He would eventually settle in the US and marry Annie Rogers, a fellow Irish emigrant. He worked in various professions before settling in Chicago in 1870 where he enlisted in the Chicago Police Force.
He rose through the ranks and was appointed Chicago's General Superintendent of Police in 1901. He also had a life-long passion for Irish music dating back to his childhood in west Cork. Today O'Neill is celebrated as one of the 20th century's greatest collectors and publishers of Irish traditional music as he undertook an ambitious task to collect and publish Irish traditional music during his time in Chicago. His determination would ensure that over 3,500 traditional Irish songs were preserved, and later published, at his own expense.
Francis and Annie had 10 children, five sons and five daughters. Tragically all five sons and one daughter pre deceased them. O’Neill himself lived to 87, dying in January 1936. He is buried in Rose Hill cemetery in Chicago.
Chief Francis O’Neill is just one of over 320 characters featured at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum.
|Date of Birth||28th Aug 1848|
|Date of Death||28th Jan 1936|
|Spouse (First Name/s and Maiden/Surname)||Annie Rogers|
|Occupation||Superintendent of Police (Chicago) Merchant Seaman|