My fascination with the history of Phoenix started with trying to figure out the names of the streets. It turns out that many of them, such as Bell, Thomas, and of course, Osborn, are named for the persons who owned the farm on that property. The roads were probably just called "the road to the Osborn place", which just got shortened when they started making maps.
Anyway, John P. Osborn (pictured above) started his farm right around the time of the establishment of the Phoenix townsite, in the 1870s. His son Neri was born in 1864 in Tennessee, so they weren't in Arizona that early. Neri's son, Sidney, was born on the farm in Phoenix in 1884.
|Sidney Osborn, grandson of John P. Osborn|
By the way, Sidney Osborn was the 7th Governor of Arizona, so you history buffs know about him. So, to keep the family records straight, Sidney was the grandson of John P. Osborn, for whom the street was named.
|Neri Osborn, son of John, father of Sidney|
The Osborn family was a large and influential family in Phoenix. So much so that some people around the turn of the century complained that they were overly-influencing the politics. And this concentration of power is something that always happened with wealthy and well-connected families. My research is that the Osborns were good for the city of Phoenix, and the state of Arizona. Sidney served four terms in office, and died while still in office, of Lou Gehrig's Disease.
John Preston Osborn is buried at the Pioneer & Military Memorial Park Cemetery at 15th Avenue and Jefferson. There is an active organization, of which I am a member, called The Pioneers' Cemetery Association, that helps preserve the memories of the people who made Phoenix.
So there you go. If someone tells you that the city of Phoenix isn't that old, just show them John P. Osborn's beard!
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