Among the California pioneers of 1851 there is no one more highly esteemed than the popular public official, John Monahan, the subject of this sketch. He was born in Ireland, in the County of Tyrone, December 25, 1832. His parents were Roger and Bridget (Goodwin) Monahan, natives of Ireland and devoted adherents of the Catholic faith. They became the parents of five children; the mother dying at the age of forty-five, but the honored father lived to the advanced age of ninety.
In his native land John Monahan received his education and when thirteen years old, in 1845, he left Ireland for America where he learned the trade of machinist in Sing Sing, New York. When he had accumulated a sufficiency he sailed for California, where he arrived in April, 1851, and was soon working in San Francisco at his trade, finding a good opening at the establishment of the Donahue Brothers, now the Union Iron Works. On Christmas Day of that year he came to Sonora, but returned to San Francisco, coming back to the former city two months later, since which time he has made his home here. In 1852 Mr. Monahan engaged in mining, first visiting Columbia, working placer ground until the water gave out, when he went to Jacksonville on the Tuolumne River and was very successful, as at one time he took out a nugget valued at one hundred and ten dollars, and with two companions he worked in the Tuolumne River for a time, when the find was eight ounces per day, averaging sixteen dollars an ounce. He also was employed until the fall of 1859 as an engineer in some of the mountain sawmills of the region.
For eight and one-half years following his location in Sonora, Mr. Monahan was engaged in the livery business, in partnership with A. A. Whipple, becoming also interested in other lines. For six years he served as a constable and acted as stage agent between Stockton and Sonora, in which latter position it became his duty to capture several stage robbers and secure their conviction and punishment. So efficiently did he perform all the duties of his position that he was later honored by election to the office of deputy assessor, under John A. S. Troutt for three years, and in 1878 he was appointed the assessor of the county for one year, to fill out the unexpired term of said Troutt. He was then elected county assessor and since that time he has been re-elected for six successive terms, never having had an opponent against him for the nomination in the Republican ranks, on account of his personal popularity, the people believing so completely in his justice that he was always re-elected, defeating many popular Democratic candidates, and is still the county assessor. Our subject is a member of the Republican Party and feels it an honor to have voted for John C. Fremont, in 1856. In order to cast this vote for the man he so sincerely admired, Mr. Monahan was obliged to make a trip into the mountains where he had left his bag containing his naturalization papers. The rats and squirrels had committed depredations and destroyed all of his belongings except his naturalization papers, which he yet has in good condition.
Our subject was married July 9, 1860, to Miss Catherine Fahey, a native of Ireland, a daughter of Patrick Fahey. Her family had immigrated to Canada when she was three years old, lived a time in Vermont and she came to California in 1858. Mr. Monahan is the fortunate possessor of an accomplished and intelligent daughter, Mary R., who is his efficient deputy. Socially he is connected with the A. O. U. W. and the Chosen Friends, being active in both organizations. He counts his friends by the number of inhabitants, all of whom wish him long life and prosperity.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.