Pauline O’Neill was born at the Presidio in San Francisco and died in Hollywood at the age of 96.—fitting because her life was like a movie! He and his wife, Rosalie, were Prussian immigrants. Her father was a purchasing agent for the US Army and was transferred to Fort Whipple in Prescott, Arizona Territory. Pauline was an only child and nineteen at the time of their move to Arizona. She soon became active
in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. She taught school in Williamson Valley. She was a member of the Yavapai County board of Examiners, a group charged with administering examinations for teaching certificates. She was also active in the Chautauqua Reading Circle and Catholic church charities.
Pauline worked in the Women’s Relief Corps in Prescott, which assisted women left destitute through the illness or death of their husbands. She joined other women’s groups and became active in the women’s suffrage movement. Working with Carrie Chapman Catt, they campaigned throughout th e state for a suffrage bill; it passed the lower house but died in the upper house. Her work with
Frances Willard Mund, president of the National American Suffrage Association, helped win the right to vote in 1912. Moving to Phoenix in 1899, she was elected to the Arizona House, the first woman to represent Maricopa County. She continued her work to protect women and children, introducing legislation to promote education and health care.
Pauline’s legacy has been long over-shadowed by the adventures of her husband, Bucky O’Neill, most famous as one of Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. But, throughout her years in AZ, her leadership in the suffrage movement, the legislature and community groups had a vital and lasting impact on Arizona political and cultural affairs.