John Francis Toolen, the murdered police sergeant, who had recently passed an examination for a lieutenancy with the highest mark, was one of the most picturesque members of the Los Angeles police department. The son of a wealthy contractor and politician of Chicago, and himself a member of the bar, he ignored splendid opportunities to practice his profession and enter business in order to indulge his love for police work.
He was the son of Andrew J. Toolen, former Commissioner of Public Works in Chicago, who was prominent in the politics of that city for many years. His brother is Clarence A. Toolen, law partner of Patrick H. O’Donnell, a famous Chicago attorney.
When he was but a small boy in Chicago John Francis Toolen displayed his preference for police work, an attraction that developed almost into a passion with him in later life. He would leave his home in an exclusive residential district in Chicago No. 4444 Lake Avenue and spend all his spare time out of school and during his vacations in frequenting the police stations, and in visiting with policemen on their beats. He came to know practically every Chicago policeman, and while still in his teens became an authority on police work.
His family urged him to enter one of the professions. In preparation for the law, he graduated from Lake Forrest College, from the Kent College of Law in Chicago, and was a student for several years at Notre Dame University where he became a football star and athlete.
When he was admitted to the bar he entered the District Attorney’s office in Chicago and specialized on work pertaining to the police department. He continued his close relations with the members of the force.
While employed in public office he eloped with Miss Minnie Warden, a nice of Congressman Martin B. Madden of Chicago, the present Republican nominee for United States Senate in Illinois, and known as the richest member of Congress. Her brother is Paul Warden of the District Attorney’s office in this city.
In 1901 Mr. Toolen came to Los Angeles with his father. They lived in a home adjoining that occupied by Carter Harrison, the famous Chicago Mayor, in Altadena. Mr. Toolen Sr. and Carter Harrison were personal friends and political allies.
The young man decided he wished to remain here permanently. His father desired him to continue his legal work, and Congressman Madden, who had a keen person interest in the young attorney’s welfare, offered him a splendid opening in Chicago. All these offers he declined.
His father then arranged for a good business for him here, but he declared he would never engage in any work that kept him indoors. Then, in the summer of 1901, he broke away from his legal connections and took up outdoor work. His first job was with the Southern Pacific in the capacity of locomotive fireman. He continued that work until he achieved his great desire by becoming a member of the Los Angeles police department, November 7, 1906.
He entered into police duty with a zest that won recognition and promotion. Responsibilities were placed on him by his superiors, and his devotion to duty became one the classics of the department. As quickly as permitted under the departmental regulations he passed the examination for sergeant, with a general average of 85 per cent, an exceptionally high average.
He was appointed sergeant October 31, 1910. Sergeant Toolen lived with his family at 3214 North Broadway. He was 40 years old. He leaves Mrs. Toolen and two children Andrew J. Toolen, a 17 year old high school student, and Cecelia V. Toolen, 18 years old.