Harry Toy

<<Back to Bios

Harry ToyServed from 1935 through 1936

Harry S. Toy was born in Elkhorn, West Virginia, in 1892, and spent his youth in Pennsylvania. Toy came to Detroit in 1910 and entered the Detroit College of Law the same year. Working his way through law school, he was graduated in 1913 and was at once admitted to the practice of law.

Shortly after the start of World War I, Toy entered the officer’s training school at Fort Sheridan, where he was commissioned a first lieutenant, and was ordered overseas in December of 1917. He became a captain in the 144th Machine Gun Company and was wounded in action three times and gassed once. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French government.

Upon his return from the service, Toy was appointed an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney of Wayne County where he served until he resigned to enter private practice in 1923. He was elected Prosecuting Attorney of Wayne County in 1930 and re-elected in 1932. He was elected Attorney General in 1934 and served until October of 1935 when he was elevated to the Michigan Supreme Court. Here he served until 1936. His only other public office was that of police commissioner of Detroit, an office he held from 1947 to 1950.

Toy’s public service as an advocate occurred in a period in Michigan’s history when lawlessness was widespread and crime was rampant. In many quarters, devotion to public duty was uncommon. In his first campaign for Prosecuting Attorney, these forces of lawlessness had unlimited means at their disposal to defeat him, many of which were promoted by enemies of society. But these forces were unsuccessful in their efforts because the public became outraged and voted Toy into office by a large majority. Criminals soon felt the sting of his sword. Threats of personal harm were often made to him and for months on end he had police protection at his home and during his travels about the county. (Michigan Supreme Court. Michigan Reports: Cases Decided by the Supreme Court of Michigan. Rochester, N.Y.: Lawyers Co-operative Publishing Co., 1949 – 1998, Vol. 348.)

Harry S. Toy died in 1955.

Portrait presented on: (Click link to read transcript)
June 4, 1957

Portrait Artist:
Gamble, Roy C.

Oil on canvas

120.02cm X 83.82cm (47 1/4″ X 33″)

Owned by:
State of Michigan

Current location:
Hall of Justice – 1st Floor:
Conference Center

Portrait photo by:
Douglas Elbinger – June 1996