James D. Monihon

Last updated
James D. Monihon
James D. Monihon.jpg
12th Mayor of Phoenix
In office
1894 May 11, 1895 [1]
Preceded byP. J. Cole
Succeeded byR. L. Rosson
16th Mayor of Phoenix
In office
June 4, 1896 [2]  1897
Preceded byFrank B. Moss
Succeeded byJohn C. Adams
Personal details
Born(1837-11-06)November 6, 1837
Oneida County, New York, US
DiedSeptember 2, 1904(1904-09-02) (aged 66)
Phoenix, Arizona Territory
Political party Republican
Josie C. Linville(m. 1877)

James D. Monihon (November 6, 1837 September 2, 1904) was an American businessman and politician. He was a signatory to the formation of the Salt River Valley Town Association, the first government of the area that became Phoenix, and later served on the board of supervisors and as mayor of Phoenix.

Phoenix, Arizona State capital city in Arizona, United States

Phoenix is the capital and most populous city of Arizona, with 1,660,272 people. It is also the fifth most populous city in the United States, and the only state capital with a population of more than one million residents.


Early years, mining, military service

Monihon was born to James and Ann (Martin) Monaghan, Irish immigrants, in Oneida County, New York on November 6, 1837. [3] :236 When he was two, his family moved to St. Lawrence County where he grew up on a farm and attended local schools. Monihon joined the California Gold Rush in 1854, traveling by sea via the Isthmus of Panama. [4] :447 After reaching San Francisco, California, he became involved in placer mining often around Howland Flat, Sierra County until 1861. [3] :236

Oneida County, New York County in the United States

Oneida County is a county located in the state of New York, in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 234,878. The county seat is Utica. The name is in honor of the Oneida, one of the Five Nations of the Iroquois League or Haudenosaunee, which had long occupied this territory at the time of European encounter and colonization. The federally recognized Oneida Indian Nation has had a reservation in the region since the late 18th century, after the American Revolutionary War.

St. Lawrence County, New York County in the United States

St. Lawrence County is a county in the U.S. state of New York. As of the 2010 census, the population was 111,944. The county seat is Canton. The county is named for the Saint Lawrence River, which in turn was named for the Christian saint Lawrence of Rome, on whose Feast day the river was discovered by French explorer Jacques Cartier.

California Gold Rush gold rush from 1848 until 1855 in California

The California Gold Rush (1848–1855) began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California. The news of gold brought approximately 300,000 people to California from the rest of the United States and abroad. The sudden influx of gold into the money supply reinvigorated the American economy, and the sudden population increase allowed California to go rapidly to statehood, in the Compromise of 1850. The Gold Rush had severe effects on Native Californians and resulted in a precipitous native population decline from disease, genocide and starvation. By the time it ended, California had gone from a thinly populated ex-Mexican territory, to having one of its first two U.S. Senators, John C. Frémont, selected to be the first presidential nominee for the new Republican Party, in 1856.

At the beginning of the Civil War, Monihon enlisted in Company F of the 1st California Infantry Regiment. [5] While in the military, he served throughout the area that composes modern day Arizona and New Mexico. As Chief of the Howitzer division he fired a celebratory salute in Tucson on July 4, 1862. [4] :447 Ten days later he saw action during the Battle of Apache Pass when his unit of 64 soldiers was attacked by over 450 Apache Indians led by chief Cochise. [3] :236 [5]

American Civil War Civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865

The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North (Union) and the South (Confederacy). The most studied and written about episode in U.S. history, the Civil War began primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people. War broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States. The loyalists of the Union in the North, which also included some geographically western and southern states, proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights to uphold slavery.

1st California Infantry Regiment Union infantry regiment

The 1st Regiment California Volunteer Infantry was an infantry regiment in the Union Army during the American Civil War. It spent its entire term of service in the western United States.

Arizona state of the United States of America

Arizona is a state in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the Western and the Mountain states. It is the sixth largest and the 14th most populous of the 50 states. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. Arizona shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico; its other neighboring states are Nevada and California to the west and the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California to the south and southwest.

Following the battle, his unit spent two months in Mesilla before being redeployed to Fort Craig. [3] :236 In late 1863, Monihon's unit was ordered to Fort Wingate. From there they continued to the Chino valley where they established Fort Whipple. [4] :448 Monihon served as Provost Sergeant at his new posting until his discharge at the end of the war. [5]

Mesilla, New Mexico Place in New Mexico, United States

Mesilla is a town in Doña Ana County, New Mexico, United States. The population was 2,196 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Las Cruces Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Fort Craig former U.S. Army fort in New Mexico, USA

Fort Craig was a U.S. Army fort located along El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, near Elephant Butte Lake State Park and the Rio Grande in Socorro County, New Mexico.

Fort Wingate fort near Gallup, New Mexico

Fort Wingate is near Gallup, New Mexico. There were two other locations in New Mexico which were called Fort Wingate: Seboyeta, New Mexico (1849-1862) and San Rafael, New Mexico (1862-1868). The most recent Fort Wingate (1868-1993) was established at the former site of Fort Lyon, on Navajo territory, initially to control and "protect" the large Navajo tribe to its north. The Fort at San Rafael was the staging point for the Navajo deportation known as the Navajo's Long Walk. From 1870 onward the garrison near Gallup was concerned with Apaches to the south, and through 1890 hundreds of Navajo Scouts were enlisted at the fort.

He remained in central Arizona, where he worked in mining again for several years [6] and ran a livery stable in Prescott. Much of his mining work was as engineer of the mill at the Big Bug mine. [6] In 1868, Monihon sold the livery business, the Plaza Feed and Livery Stable, to Gideon Brooke and Jacob Linn. [7]

Big Bug, Arizona Ghost town in Arizona, United States

Big Bug is a ghost town in Yavapai County, Arizona. The former settlement is located twelve miles southeast of Prescott and was established in 1862.

Gideon Brooke was an American politician and businessman who was a member of the 8th Arizona Territorial Legislature in 1875. He was a local businessman in Yavapai County, Arizona Territory and served on the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors from 1870–1873 and again in 1877–1878. In between, he represented Prescott in the legislature at the territory capital Tucson and was chairman of the Committee on Roads and Ferries.

George M. Willing tried to sell him half ownership in the fraudulent Peralta land grant for $250 in 1867. Willing suggested that the two of them could reap a sizable profit by selling nearby mines back to their owners. Monihon was incensed by the offer and rebuffed Willing who quickly left town. [8] Almost 30 years later, Monihon testified as a principal witness for the government about this in court after the fraud was exposed. [9] Monihon relocated to Wickenburg and in March 1869, opened the Wickenburg Feed and Sale Stable. [6]

George Maurice "Doc" Willing, Jr. was an American physician, prospector, and political lobbyist. He is known for his time as an unelected delegate to the United States Congress for Jefferson Territory and as the person who introduced James Reavis to the fraudulent Peralta land grant.


The Monihon Building, as depicted in the 1892 Phoenix Directory Monihon building 1892, Phoenix, Arizona.jpg
The Monihon Building, as depicted in the 1892 Phoenix Directory

A year later, he was in Phoenix where he built what is claimed to be Phoenix's second house. [3] :239 [7] He was one of the first builders in the area, using adobe techniques suited for the available materials. [10]

In 1870, he was a signatory to the formation of the Salt River Valley Town Association, the first government of the area that became Phoenix. [11] On January 17, 1871, he planted the first Cottonwood tree in the town. [12] [7]

He partnered with Captain Hancock in 1871 to erect the first Maricopa County Courthouse which they rented to the county as the seat of the county government. The city's first public school was located there and the first District Court for Maricopa County held its initial session in the building which also acted as the civic center of the city. When the county moved out in 1875, the building was used as a Justice of the Peace office for many years. [7]

In May 1872, he built a barn and corral for the Starar Brothers, from which they ran the Phoenix Livery, Feed, and Sales Stables on the corner of Washington Street and First Avenue. [3] :239 [6] Monihon was paid with a one-third ownership interest in the business. At some point, Monihon bought out his partners and became sole owner. [10] [6] He operated the business for ten years. [3] :239 [6] [lower-alpha 1]

He was on the board of supervisors in 1874, [3] :239 and was nominated to run in the first mayoral election as the Republican candidate after Phoenix was incorporated in 1881. [11] He lost by seven votes [3] :239 [lower-alpha 2] but was elected councilman the next year. [5]

He left Phoenix for a period of six years but returned from the east in 1889 and became chairman of the board of directors of the Insane Asylum of Phoenix which had opened two years earlier. [3] :239 [lower-alpha 3]

The next year, he built a large building on part of the stable grounds. The Monihon building was at the time considered "the finest edifice in Arizona". [3] :239 It was torn down in the mid-1930s. [12]


He ran for Phoenix mayor a second time in 1892, being unanimously nominated at the Republican city convention, [13] and was again defeated, this time losing 268 to 198. [14] Monihon continued to be active in the party, and organized "the greatest political gathering in the territory", a rally of the Republican party in Maricopa County in September 1892. [15] He was victorious in his third run in May 1894, winning by a large majority of 388 to 234 and leading a Republican sweep of all positions in the city election. [16] He failed to win the Republican nomination in 1895 to Pierce Evans [17] who lost the election to the Democrat candidate. Monihon regained the Republican nomination and won the next election in June, 1896 by a vote of 268 to 238. [3] :239 [2] He received the party nomination again in 1899, but not the endorsement of the Arizona Republican, which endorsed every other Republican on the ticket for city offices. [18] He lost the election. [19]

As mayor, he spoke at a ceremony marking the completion of the Santa Fe, Prescott and Phoenix Railway in March 1895 and presented a gold key to the Vice President of the railroad in appreciation for connecting Phoenix with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway network via Prescott and on to the mainline at Prescott Junction. [4] :449

Personal life

Cover art of a 1891 invitation from Monihon to a Phoenix Fire Department fundraiser masquerade ball Monihon invitation 1891.png
Cover art of a 1891 invitation from Monihon to a Phoenix Fire Department fundraiser masquerade ball

Monihon married Josie C. Linville of Santa Rosa, California on March 15, 1877. The union produced one daughter, Rebecca Ann. [3] :239

He was a charter member of Phoenix Engine Company #1, Phoenix's first volunteer fire department that was formed in 1886 [20] and was a bucket brigade captain [3] :239 and has been called the "father" of the Phoenix Fire Department. [5]


Monihon had an extensive association with Masonry, being a member of the lodge, chapter, commandery, and Mystic Shrine. He served for three terms as grand marshal of the Grand Lodge. [4] :448 He was a member and commander of the Civil War veterans' fraternal organization, Grand Army of the Republic lodge and was a delegate to the 1889 "National Encampment" in Boston. [4] :448


Monihon died in his home September 2, 1904, in Phoenix. [5]


  1. another source says Monihon sold the business in 1875, only four years after opening [6]
  2. another source says the vote was 127-102 [11]
  3. now the Arizona State Hospital

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  1. "Old and New. A Transfer of Municipal Authority". The Arizona Republican. Phoenix, Arizona Territory. May 12, 1895. p. 1 via Newspapers.com. Lock-green.svg
  2. 1 2 "It's Monihon Elected to Be Mayor of Phoenix". The Arizona Republican. Phoenix, Arizona Territory. Jun 3, 1896. p. 1 via Newspapers.com. Lock-green.svg
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 McClintock, James H. (1916). Arizona, Prehistoric, Aboriginal, Pioneer, Modern: The Nation's Youngest Commonwealth Within a Land of Ancient Culture. Volume III. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing Co. OCLC   5398889.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Death of J. D. Monihon". The Arizona Republican. Phoenix, Arizona Territory. September 3, 1904. p. 4.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Early History of Phoenix". library.arizona.edu. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  7. 1 2 3 4 History of Arizona Vol VI (PDF). p. 202. Retrieved November 9, 2017.
  8. Powell, Donald M (1960). The Peralta grant; James Addison Reavis and the Barony of Arizona. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. p. 17. OCLC   1533625.
  9. "The World Is Mine". Graham Guardian. Safford, Arizona Territory. June 22, 1895. p. 1 via Newspapers.com. Lock-green.svg
  10. 1 2 "Maricopa County History". Weekly Republican. Aug 23, 1883. p. 4. Retrieved January 31, 2019 via Newspapers.com. Lock-green.svg
  11. 1 2 3 "City of Phoenix History". phoenix.gov. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  12. 1 2 Robert A. Melikian (1 February 2010), Vanishing Phoenix, Arcadia Publishing, pp. 33–, ISBN   978-1-4396-3966-5
  13. "Jom Monihon for Mayor". The Arizona Republican. Phoenix, Arizona Territory. April 30, 1892. p. 1 via Newspapers.com. Lock-green.svg
  14. "The Democrats Win". The Arizona Republican. Phoenix, Arizona Territory. May 4, 1892. p. 1.
  15. "Grand Rally, Republicans Will Meet En Masse". The Arizona Republican. Phoenix, Arizona Territory. September 24, 1892. p. 1 via Newspapers.com. Lock-green.svg
  16. "Stormed the Town". The Arizona Republican. Phoenix, Arizona Territory. May 2, 1894. p. 1.
  17. "Republican City Ticket". The Arizona Republican. Phoenix, Arizona Territory. Apr 25, 1895. p. 2 via Newspapers.com. Lock-green.svg
  18. "Republican Municipal Ticket". The Arizona Republican. Phoenix, Arizona Territory. May 1, 1899. p. 1 via Newspapers.com. Lock-green.svg
  19. "A Democratic Tinge Result of the Municipal Election Yesterday". The Arizona Republican. Phoenix, Arizona Territory. May 4, 1899. p. 4 via Newspapers.com. Lock-green.svg
  20. "Phoenix Fire Department History". City of Phoenix. Retrieved January 29, 2019.