By Anne Foster
He was a Yavapai County probate judge, sheriff and tax assessor, ex officio school superintendent, reporter, editor and publisher, court recorder, and mayor of Prescott. She, although few remember, was a legislator, suffragette, teacher, businesswoman, writer, community leader, presidential elector, clubwoman, volunteer, musician, artist, wife, and mother. He was, of course, Prescott's hometown hero-Buckey O'Neill. She was his wife - Pauline M. O'Neill. A woman of talents as remarkable as her husband's, her story has too long been eclipsed.
Pauline Marie Schindler was born January 13, 1865, in San Francisco, California. The daughter of Prussian immigrants W. F. R. Schindler and Rosalie Young Schindler, Pauline was an only child. A Civil War veteran, W. F. R. Schindler worked in a number of occupations: storekeeper, mining secretary, president and business manager of a German-language newspaper, and clerk for the U. S. Army's Purchasing and Depot Commissary. About 1884, he was transferred by the army to Fort Whipple. Pauline accompanied her parents to Arizona.
A school teacher, probably in Williamson Valley, she caught the eye of Hoof and Horn newspaper editor Buckey O'Neill. Pauline later recalled the awkwardness of their first meeting: "He was so nervous he almost dropped his white cowboy hat in the dust. It worried me nearly sick. I later discovered he was always like that when first meeting strangers, and very inclined to blush. That made him mad, which made him redder. Red cheeks and white hat were a contrast that night!"
On April 27, 1886, in Prescott, Arizona, Pauline married William Owen "Buckey" O'Neill. Buckey's passionate marriage announcement set tongues-wagging and has continued to delight readers with its purple prose--especially his nineteen adjectives! They had two children: "Buckey" Jr., born January 1, 1887, who died at two weeks old and Maurice, adopted on October 15, 1897. Pauline was widowed less than a year later.
Pauline honed her political skills with several leadership positions in the Arizona Territorial Women's Suffrage Association, including at least one term as president. She helped Arizona women earn the right to vote, four years before the 19th amendment was enacted. Her first political office was an appointment to the Yavapai County Board of Examiners. In 1917, she was elected to the Arizona Legislature, the first woman from Maricopa County to win a seat. Serving two terms from 1918-1921, she supported many women's and children's issues, including Arizona's ratification of the 19th amendment, a plan to codify the governance of the public schools, and a minimum wage for women. She also sponsored the bill that purchased the "Old" Governor's Mansion in Prescott, thus paving the way for Sharlot Hall's dream ten years later.
Pauline was also an active member of the Women's Relief Corps, Prescott's Chautauqua Circle, Monday Club, Women's Temperance Union, Phoenix Women's Club, American Red Cross and the Catholic Church. She was elected to numerous leadership positions within these groups, including a term as recording secretary for the Monday Club and two terms as president of the Women's Relief Corps. Her work for the Women's Relief Corps and the American Red Cross made a tangible impact on many families and soldiers suffering hardships, and earned her a commendation from the Red Cross for her contributions during WWII.
Pauline married Eugene Brady O'Neill (Buckey's brother) on May 16, 1901, in Phoenix. Brady was an attorney, territorial legislator and a leader in Arizona's Democratic Party. He died in 1918.
Although Pauline moved to Los Angeles about 1924, she remains one of Arizona's indomitable pioneers. Through her work in the Arizona Legislature and in the suffrage movement, her contributions are still recognizable in the Arizona of today. Pauline died on January 12, 1961, in Hollywood, California. She is buried in the Calvary Cemetery at Los Angeles, California.
Beginning Friday, July 24, at 8:15 p.m., the Sharlot Hall Museum's Blue Rose Theater will present "They Called Him Buckey," an original play based upon Buckey and Pauline's relationship.
Anne Foster is Assistant Archivist at the Sharlot Hall Museum. She will portray Pauline O'Neill in the upcoming production, "They Called Him Buckey."
Sharlot Hall Museum Photograph Call Number: (o148p). Reuse only by permission.
Pauline O'Neill's civic life involved most everything from the Woman Relief Corp shown here (Pauline is lower right and her mother is first row, third from the left) to being the first woman from Maricopa County to win an Arizona legislative seat and then sponsoring the bill to preserve the "Old" Governor's Mansion here in Prescott.