CHARLES O'CONNOR, one of the best known representative citizens of Donegal township, claims his descent from one of the kings who, at an early period of the history of Ireland, governed the provinces, and who were subject to the "Ard-Righ," or monarch of the whole, who usually resided at Tara, in the County Meath, Province of Leinster.
The Grandfather of our subject (also named Charles O'Connor) was a native of County Kildare, Ireland, born about the year 1740, and was there married to a Miss Simpson, also a native of the Emerald Isle, who bore him three children: Patrick, John and Mary Ann. This wife dying in 1788, Charles O'Connor married, for his second wife, a Miss Hughes (an aunt of the late Archbishop Hughes), of New York, and by this union three children were born: Martin, Bridget and Winifred.
The parents both died in Ireland, the father in 1832, and all the children emigrated to America, except Martin, who died in his native land. John O'Connor, who was the second son of Charles O'Connor by his first marriage, was born in 1786 in County Kildare, Ireland, where in early life he learned the trade of a weaver, serving a seven years' apprenticeship, afterward following same there until 1816 when he came to America. Landing at Philadelphia, he there carried on his trade one year, and in 1817 moved to Pittsburgh, thence to Washington borough, this county, where he secured work as a laborer on the National pike, then in course of construction. Here his steady habits and honest dealings were soon recognized, and it was not long before he was promoted to overseer of the work between Washington and West Alexander, a position he held with great credit until the completion of the road, frequently being entrusted with large sums of money for the "pay sheet." In 1820 he was married to Eliza Aston, who was born in Lancaster county, Penn., in 1800, and the children by this union were fifteen in number, as follows: Samuel (died in 1889 in South Dakota), and Charles, John, George, and Martin, all of whom died young; Charles (our subject); Mary Ann, who died in 1858; one that died in infancy unnamed; John, in employ of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company, and living near Claysville; Margaret, living near Dunlap, Iowa; Elizabeth, a spinster; a son deceased in infancy unnamed; Teresa, deceased wife of William Coyne, died December 28, 1887; Martha, who died in 1865 while attending Mount-de-Chantal College, near Wheeling, W. Va., and a twin sister to Martha who died young. After leaving the National pike Mr. O'Connor purchased a farm about two miles northeast of West Alexander, known as the "Old Higgins farm," where he followed agricultural pursuits up to the time of his death, which occurred March 22, 1872, his wife following him to the grave May 1, 1875. They were both members of the Catholic Church, and in politics he was a Whig originally, but in later years voted the Democratic ticket. John O'Connor was the cousin of the eminent lawyer, Charles O'Connor, late of the New York bar.
Charles O'Connor, of whom these lines chiefly treat, was born September 8, 1830, in Donegal township, this country, where he was reared to farm life, receiving his rudimentary education at the common schools. He then attended, for two years, the academy at West Alexander, under the head preceptorship of Rev. Father McClusky, after which he was for some time a student at St. Vincent College, near Latrobe, Westmoreland Co., Penn., which is in charge of the Benedictine Order. On April 15, 1857, Mr. O'Connor was married to Margaret Hickey, a native of County Kilkenny, Ireland, born in 1836, to which union there are no children. She died October 25, 1888. After marriage our subject settled on a farm in Donegal township, one mile east of West Alexander, immediately adjoining the National pike, where he is yet living, carrying on general farming with marked success. His home is a model of neatness and good order, entirely attributable to his good taste and untiring energy. Mr. O'Connor is a typical representative of the race from which he sprung, and, although over sixty years of age, can do as good a day's work as many a younger man. In politics he is a Democrat, and in religion a Catholic, being one of the substantial supporters of the Claysville Church.
Text taken from page 469 of:
Beers, J. H. and Co., Commemorative Biographical Record of Washington County, Pennsylvania (Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co., 1893).
Transcribed March 1997 by Donald Ackley of Santa Ana, CA as part of the Beers Project.
Published March 1997 on the Washington County, PA USGenWeb pages at http://www.chartiers.com/.
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