Pauline O'Neill (suffrage leader)

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Pauline Marie O'Neill (née Schindler) (January 13, 1865 – January 12, 1961) was an American suffragist and legislator. In addition to her personal accomplishments, she is remembered as the widow of William Owen "Buckey" O'Neill.


O'Neill was born Pauline Marie Schindler in San Francisco, California on January 13, 1865. An only child, her parents, W.F.R. and Rosalie Young Schindler, had immigrated from Prusia and her father worked as a purchasing agent for the U.S. Army. Around 1884 her father was transferred to Fort Whipple and she accompanied her parents to Arizona Territory.[1]

Schindler met her first husband, Buckey O'Neill, while working as a school teacher. At the time he was editor of the Hoof and Horn newspaper. The couple were married on April 27, 1886. Their first child, "Buckey" Jr., was born January 1, 1887 and died two weeks later. They adopted a second son, Maurice, on October 15 the same year. O'Neill was widowed on July 1, 1898 when Buckey died during the Battle of San Juan Hill.[1] Life insurance of US$200,000 along with property in Phoenix and monies from her husband's onyx mine left her financially secure for many years to follow.[2] She remarried on May 16, 1901, wedding her late husband's brother, Eugene Brady O'Neill. Eugene was a Phoenix-based lawyer who served two terms in the Council (upper house) of the Arizona Territorial Legislature before he committed suicide in 1918.[3]

The same year she lost her first husband, O'Neill was elected president of the Arizona Territorial Women's Suffrage Association while her friend Frances Munds was elected the group's secretary.[4] Unlike earlier suffrage leaders in the territory, such as Josephine Brawley Hughes, O'Neill and Munds reached out to Mormon ladies within the territory. This outreach enable to organization to lobby Mormon member of the territorial legislature to support legislation supporting women, the result being passage of a women's suffrage bill by the 22nd Arizona Territorial Legislature. The bill was later vetoed by Territorial Governor Alexander Brodie.[5]

In 1910, with the convening of Arizona's Constitutional convention, O'Neill joined other suffrage leaders in lobbying for women to be granted the vote in the new constitution. Her personal appeal was that unless they had governmental representation, women should not be taxed. Failing to achieve the desired outcome, she joined with Munds to launch a ballot initiative. The suffrage initiative passed during the 1912 election.[5]

O'Neill's first government position came with an appointment to the Yavapai County Board of Examiners. This was followed in 1917 with her election to the first of two terms in the Arizona Legislature. As a member of the legislature she supported a variety of children's and women's issues, including her vote for ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution.[1]

In 1924, O'Neill moved to Los Angeles, California. She remained active in a variety of civic and charitable causes, even winning a commendation from the American Red Cross for her aid to soldiers and their families during the Second World War. She died in Hollywood, California on January 12, 1961 and was buried in Los Angeles' Calvary Cemetery.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Foster, Anne (July 19, 1998). "There Was A Lot More To Pauline O'Neill Than Buckey". The Daily Courier. pp. 6A. 
  2. ^ Walker, Dale L. (1997). Rough Rider Buckey O'Neill of Arizona. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. p. 183. ISBN 0-585-26790-1. 
  3. ^ "Eugene Brad O'Neill Commits Suicide". Graham Guirdian, Graham County, AZ. 20 July 1917. p. 1. 
  4. ^ Simpson, Claudette (March 22, 1998). "Frances Munds and Arizona's history of suffrage". The Sunday Courier. pp. 6C. 
  5. ^ a b Osselaer, Heidi J. (2003). "Arizona Political Women". In Bakken, Gordon Morris; Farrington, Brenda. Encyclopedia of women in the American West. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE. pp. 13–20. ISBN 978-0-7619-2356-5. 

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