FRANK A. O'CONNOR
HON. FRANK. A. O'CONNOR, one of Iowa's ablest lawyers, is a partner in the prominent Dubuque firm of Hurd, Lenehan, Smith and O'Connor. In addition to the splendid work that has made his reputation as a lawyer, Mr. O'Connor has contributed in notable measure to the increasing vitality and usefulness in the life of the state of the Democratic party organization. The party has on several occasions paid him honors that are given only to an outstanding leader.
Mr. O'Connor is a native of northeastern Iowa, and was born at Independence, Buchanan County, August 2, 1875. His parents, Timothy and Ellen (Curran) O'Connor, were born in County Kerry, Ireland. His father came to this country when fourteen years old and his mother was brought before she was two years old. Timothy O'Connor lived at Galena, Illinois, just before the civil war. While there he came to know the quiet ex-army officer who was a clerk in his father's leather store, Ulysses S. Grant. Afterwards, in 1864, Timothy O'Connor moved to Dubuque and for many years conducted a farm in Dubuque County. In 1865 he drove a freighting wagon drawn by mules across the western country carrying supplied to the scattered settlements of mining communities. Two years after arriving in Dubuque, Timothy O'Connor married, and he and his wife had a large family of thirteen children, nine sons and four daughters. Timothy O'Connor died December 8, 1913, and his wife on September 16, 1890.
After the death of his mother, Frank A. O'Connor grew up in the home of his grandfather, Patrick Curran, at Lawler, and lived there with his aunt and uncle, James and Hannah Curran. He has never been able to exhaust his gratitude to these splendid people form whom he derived constant encouragement in his efforts to make good use of his talents. His education in the meantime had been derived from the public and parochial schools. Subsequently he enrolled in the University of Iowa, taking special work in the Liberal Art School for two years, and for two years was a student in the law department. He was graduate with the LL. B. degree in 1898. Mr. O'Connor first practiced at New Hampton, Chickasaw County. He lived there twenty years, and during that time made a name for himself in county politics, serving for four years as county attorney.
Mr. O'Connor was a member of the Thirty-third and Thirty-fourth General Assemblies of Iowa. The work of these notable legislatures in fully reviewed in the general history volumes. The Thirty-fourth General Assembly, it will be recalled, was deadlocked during most of the session over the election of a successor to United States Senator Jonathan P. Dolliver. Gov. B.F. Carroll has appointed Lafe Young to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Mr. Dolliver. This struggle in the Legislature marked the climax of the internal dissensions that had almost wrecked the Republican party of the state. In this General Assembly the Democrats had thirty-eight members in the House and sixteen member in the Senate. Mr. O'Connor was the accepted leader of the Democratic forces, and it was in recognition of that leadership that hte full party strength in both Houses was given to him as the Democratic candidate for the United States Senate during several days of the deadlock.
Mr. O'Connor went to Baltimore, Maryland, in 1912, as delegate at large from Iowa. While some of the Iowa Democrats were pledged to the nomination of Champ Clark, Mr. O'Connor early recognized the statesmanship and political availability of Woodrow Wilson, and aided materially in bringing about the nomination of the New Jersey governor. President Wilson appointed Mr. O'Connor United States Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa. He held that office from January, 1914, until January, 1922. He was district attorney during the World war period, handling with remarkable efficiency and tact the many complicated cases that arose as result of the war. In addition to his duties as a federal official he was by appointment of Governor Harding a member of the State Council of Defense.
Mr. O'Connor removed from New Hampton on July 1, 1918, to Dubuque, and has since been affiliated with the distinguished law firm of Hurd, Lenehan, Smith & O'Connor, with offices in the Bank and Insurance Building. With his ripened powers and long experience in public life he has continued to be one of the most influential citizens in the state of Iowa in all matters of public interest and welfare.
Mr. O' Connor is a member and former president of the Dubuque Chamber of Commerce. He has given his influence and assistance in the promotion of worthy civic movements. He is a member of the Dubuque County, Iowa State and American Bar Associations and member of the Alumni Board of the State University.
He married November 24, 1904, Miss Mary Agnes McNevin. She was born at Cresco, Iowa, and for a number of years taught school in Minnesota. They were married at Indianapolis. The three sons of their marriage are: Gerald F., born September 4, 1905; Charles E. O'Connor, born March 30, 1908; and Francis John O'Connor, born March 29, 1916. Gerald graduated A.B. from the University of Iowa in 1928, and Charles E. graduated with the A.B. degree in the class of 1929 from the State University and is now a law student there.
Source: A Narrative History of the People of Iowa, Vol III, Page 379, Chicago: American Historical Society, 1931