In 1860, Thomas O'Neil and his young family purchased 3 Maria St. in the South of Market area. O'Neil and his wife, both immigrants from Ireland, had lived in California since the 1850s. He was a glass cutter who worked for one of San Francisco's earliest glass cutting businesses, supplying windows to the rapidly expanding city. By 1867 he had begun his own glass cutting firm. He must have met with some success as by 1870 his property holdings were worth $10,000, making him one of the better-off people living on his block. O'Neil continued to live on Maria St. with his wife and four children until at least 1878.
O'Neil lived in an area of the South of Market that had been settled in the 1850s, mostly by Irish and German laborers who wanted to be close to their work at Gordon's Sugar Refinery across Eighth St. People like the O'Neils, who purchased their land early, found that it became a considerable asset as the growing industry and encroaching city began to drive up property values. Those who came later and could only afford to rent found it more difficult to get ahead.
the O'Neils' house on 3 Maria St. archaeologists found an abandoned
privy. It contained artifacts probably discarded by the O'Neils between
1868 and 1878 when they left the address. Refuse from a possible remodeling
project including door knobs, drawer pulls, window glass and plaster,
and pieces of outdated, cheaper tablewares suggest that the O'Neils,
comfortable in their growing affluence, invested money in modernizing
their house and possessions.