U.S. Representative Charles O'Connor, son of Charles and Catherine McCarthy O'Connor, was born near Edina, Knox County, Missouri, on October 26, 1878. Raised in Missouri, the future congressman attended Colorado State Teachers College in Greeley, graduating in 1901, and earned a law degree from the University of Colorado in Boulder in 1904. In 1905 he married Elizabeth Buell. They had three sons, one of whom died at a young age. Admitted to the Colorado bar in 1904, O'Connor soon practiced law. He served as Colorado's first assistant attorney general from 1911 to 1913 and as Boulder's city attorney from 1917 to 1918.
In 1919 O'Connor moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, and continued to practice law. In 1924 he lost the Republican primary election for the First District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1928 he again entered the race. After defeating his two challengers in the primary, he defeated Democratic incumbent Everette Burgess Howard in the general election. During his term in the House O'Connor served on the Indian Affairs and Flood Control Committees. On the latter, he worked on early efforts to develop an Arkansas River navigational project. In 1930 he was narrowly defeated in his attempt at reelection by Democratic challenger Wesley Disney, losing by 260 votes. Following his defeat, O'Connor resumed his law practice in Tulsa.
A member of the Episcopal Church, he also belonged to the Masonic order, the Shrine, the Knights Templar, and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the USA. In 1936 he moved back to Boulder, Colorado, because of health problems and died of pneumonia in Denver on November 15, 1940. He was interred in Green Mountain Cemetery, Boulder, Colorado.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1996 (Alexandria, Va.: CQ Staff Directories, 1997). Lyle H. Boren and Dale Boren, Who is Who in Oklahoma (Guthrie, Okla.: Cooperative Publishing Co., 1935). Tulsa (Oklahoma) Tribune, 16 November 1940. Tulsa (Oklahoma) World, 17 November 1940.
Matthew Rex Cox
© Oklahoma Historical Society