|Pauline Marie Schindler was the only child of Prussian immigrants,
Rosalie Young and W.F.R. Schindler. Her father was an army officer,
and she was born at the Presidio in San Francisco. When he was
transferred to Fort Whipple, near Prescott, Pauline was nineteen, and
she moved to Arizona with her parents. There she became involved with
the newly formed territorial Woman's Christian Temperance Union. She
also taught school in the area until she met and married local
journalist and politician, William "Buckey" O'Neill, in 1886. Although
Pauline had many accomplishments to her credit, she was often
overshadowed by her first husband, who was Yavapai County tax assessor
and sheriff, the mayor of Prescott, and died a hero, as one of
Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War.
In the 1890s, Pauline was a member of the Yavapai County Board of
Examiners, which administered examinations for teaching certificates.
She also was active in the Chautauqua Reading Circle and Catholic
Church charities. In addition, she was a leader in the Women's Relief Corps in Prescott that provided financial relief to women left indigent through
the illness or death of their husbands. She joined women's groups,
like the Prescott Woman's Club, where she became involved in social
reform efforts, and met the territory's leading politicians. Through
her work in temperance, Pauline became involved with the Arizona woman
suffrage movement, and historians believe it was because of her urging
that her husband introduced a bill in 1897 in the territorial
legislature to allow women to vote in municipal elections. Buckey died
the following year, and in 1899 the Arizona Territorial Supreme Court
declared the municipal suffrage law in violation of the 1862 Organic
Act that created the Arizona territory.
Despite these setbacks, Pauline continued to work for suffrage,
becoming the second president of the Arizona Suffrage Association
(after Josephine Brawley Hughes) in 1899. When Carrie Chapman Catt, an
organizer for the National American Woman Suffrage Association, who
would go on to become president of NAWSA, arrived in Arizona in 1899,
she traveled extensively in the state with O'Neill, campaigning for a
suffrage bill. During the 1899 legislative session, they successfully
moved a suffrage bill through the lower house, but it died in the
upper house when a filibuster kept it from coming to a vote.
In 1901 Pauline married Buckey's younger brother, Eugene Brady
O'Neill, and moved to Phoenix, where her husband served as Maricopa
County representative in the House and a leader in the state
Democratic Party. Pauline served as the legislative liaison for the
suffrage movement, providing crucial intelligence to the movement's
new president, Frances Willard Munds, who bought Pauline's former
residence at 220 N. Mount Vernon.
During the successful suffrage campaign of 1912, Pauline created and
led the Phoenix Civic League, a group of dedicated women who braved
the 100-degree heat of Phoenix in June and July to collect more than
4,000 signatures to put a suffrage amendment on the ballot. After
women won the right to vote that fall, she transformed the Phoenix
Civic League into an organization for progressive reform,
investigating slaughterhouses and dairies in the county, and
admonishing city officials to improve and enforce sanitation codes for
those businesses. She also continued her woman's club work, becoming a
member of the Phoenix Woman's Club and a board member of the Central
Arizona Federation of Woman's Clubs. Using her female network, she ran
successfully as representative to the Arizona House in 1916, the first
woman to represent Maricopa County.
During her two terms in the House (1916-1920), she continued her work
to protect Arizona's women and children, introducing legislation to
promote education and preventative healthcare, to prohibit alcohol
consumption and prostitution, and to pass labor laws to protect women
and children. In 1925 she moved to Los Angeles with her adopted son
Maurice, and continued to be active with the Red Cross during World
War II and with women's clubs until the end of her life.
Sewall House on Mount Vernon Street is an elegant Victorian private
residence today that is a drive-by site for viewing. It is listed on
the National Register of Historic Places and has a marker designating
it as the home of both Pauline O'Neill and Frances Munds, who worked
out of the home's parlor to promote the cause of woman's suffrage.
Sources: Anne L. Foster, "The Right Kind of Girl: Pauline M.
O'Neill," in Rough Writings: Perspectives on Buckey O'Neill, Pauline
M. O'Neill, and Roosevelt's Rough Riders, compiled by Janet Lovelady,
Sharlot Hall Museum Press.
Heidi Osselaer, Winning Their Place: Arizona Women in Politics,
Pauline Schindler O'Neill - Courtesy of the Sharlot Hall Museum
Sewall House - Courtesy of the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office