by Peter Palmquist
Emma Olive Harris O'Connor worked as a commercial photographer with her husband (a photographer and dentist), in Blocksburg (Humboldt County), California, c 1893-1900. She moved from her birthplace to Blocksburg with her parents around 1876 and in 1878 married Deming Loran O'Connor (b. 1848). Between 1879 and 1896 she and her husband produced five children.
In 1885 Mr. O'Connor became a licensed dentist and they both became interested in photography. In the 1890-1891 business directory Emma was listed as a photographer in Blocksburg, but in 1893 the family relocated to Hydesville where she had her own gallery in connection with her husband's dentistry office. By July 1894 the family moved to Fortuna and Mr. O'Connor relocated his dentistry office to a local hotel, the Lane House. Emma continued with her photography as well as working in the dental office and cooking for the hotel.
Considered "quite an ambitious woman," among her many activities she helped institute Reichling Parlor #97 (in Fortuna) of the Native Daughters of the Golden West. She was also an active member of the Eastern Star, the Rebekahs, the Pythian Sisters, the Grandmother's Club of Fortuna, and the local Monday Club.
In addition to her photography, she did oil painting and watercolor painting on china. She died in 1936 "after being paralyzed for years," the result of a fall and being struck by an automobile.