Linn served as village's earliest lawman

Series: Hinsdale 150 | Story 29

When Hinsdale officially became a village in 1873, it did so without a police department. In fact, it wasn't until nearly 15 years later that John Linn, a local delivery driver, was put in charge of law enforcement in town.

The versatile Danish immigrant brought his skills to bear in several jobs over the course of his more than five decades in Hinsdale. This obituary of Linn's death at age 77, which ran in the May 5, 1938, edition of The Doings, pays tribute to his important role in the fledgling community.

"Hinsdale's first policeman passed away Tuesday, May 3, at 2:30 o'clock, when John P. Linn succumbed to an illness of four years' duration which resulted in the loss of strength and vitality. He was a historic figure in Hinsdale years ago when he used to light the street lights in the village. Tuesday evening the board of trustees of the Village of Hinsdale voted to honor the memory of Mr. Linn by some fitting observance at the police station.

"John P. Linn was born in Bornholm, Denmark, on Jan. 14, 1961. He arrived in America in October 1882, came to Chicago and from there went to Michigan, later settling in Hinsdale in June, 1883.

"He was engaged in the livery business from 1884 to 1885 on the site of the Steben Cash Grocery and Market on First Street. He married Olivia Heming on Dec, 9, 1885.

"In January 1888, he was appointed by the village board of Hinsdale as the police officer and carried star No. 1. He held this position three years, and subsequently held the same position eight years and three months. In 1890 he was employed by Bassett & Washburn as a heating engineer from 1900 to 1927, retiring on March 1, 1927, and has been retired since then.

"He is survived by his widow, Olivia; a daughter, Jennie L. Carlson of Downers Grove; a son Alleck L. Linn of Hinsdale; and four grandchildren.

"He built his home on its present site at 422 S. Lincoln St. in 1887, where he resided continuously except for a period of about 10 years when he lived at 408 S. Lincoln St. He has been a continuous resident of

Hinsdale for 55 years.

"He was a member of the Mission Covenant church, Hinsdale, a good many years, a staunch supporter of the church."

- by Ken Knutson