NW Quadrant, East of Rock Creek, Civil War Era, Federal Government Employees, Female, Genre, Journalists, Radicals, Also of Interest

Ellen Tarr O'Connor Calder
(February 21, 1830 - April 23, 1913)
William Douglas O'Connor

(January 2, 1832 - May 9, 1889)

1015 O St. NW, Logan Circle neighborhood, DC.

O'Connor and his wife Ellen lived in DC beginning in 1861, and at this address from 1870 to 1889. O'Connor is the author of one novel, Harrington: A Story of True Love (1860) and the nonfiction pamphlet The Good Gray Poet: A Vindication (1866), defending the reputation of Walt Whitman. His uncollected short fiction appeared in journals and newspapers, and addressed reform themes of prohibition, women's rights, the abolition of slavery, and spiritualism. One story, "The Brazen Android" (1891), is considered one of the earliest science fiction stories on robots. A book of nonfiction on lighthouse keepers, Heroes of the Storm, was published posthumously in 1904.

O'Connor was a journalist for the Boston Commonwealth and Associate Editor at the Saturday Evening Post in his earlier years. After coming to DC, he worked as a corresponding clerk for the Lighthouse Board, a division of the US Treasury Department, and was promoted in 1873 to Chief Clerk. When the Life Saving Service was reorganized in 1878, O'Connor was appointed Assistant General Superintendent. He is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown.

His wife, Ellen Tarr O'Connor, also worked as a journalist. As a young woman, she worked as a mill-hand in Lowell, MA, an experience that radicalized her. She became a feminist, socialist, vegetarian, and dress reform advocate. She moved to DC to work as a governess in the home of abolitionist Gamaliel Bailey, and began writing for his newspaper, the National Era. She also contributed to other progressive papers, including the Liberator, and a monthly paper on women's rights called Una. She married William O'Connor in 1856, and did not write or publish again until their separation, when she published Myrtilla Miner: A Memoir (1885) about the founder of an antebellum school for African American girls in DC. She reconciled with her husband at the end of his life, in time to nurse him through his final illness. After his death, in 1889, she edited two posthumous books of his, Three Tales, and Heroes of the Storm. She subsequently moved to Providence, RI and married Albert L. Calder in 1892. She is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown.