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John Greenway in Ajo, Arizona and Coleraine, Minnesota

John Greenway, a former Rough Rider with Teddy Roosevelt, helped to develop the fabulous Mesabi Iron Ore Range of Northern Minnesota in the early 1900's and then did the same for copper in Ajo, Arizona.

"Greenway was the second man to the top of San Juan Hill and first behind enemy lines...I only envy Greenway. I wanted to be the first there myself, but he outran me!...He was a 200-pounder, slightly over six feet tall, who thrived on embalmed beef and regarded the entire Cuban campaign through intense heat and jungle as nothing more an enjoyable outing..."
— The Rough Riders1899, Theodore Roosevelt.

Rough RidersJohn Greenway and Teddy Roosevelt as Rough Riders. That's John Greenway (in the white shirt) at Teddy Roosevelt's right side (To the left of Teddy as you look at the photo). More about the Spanish-American war.

Michael CurleyMichael Curley, 1874-1945. Photo from The Ajo Copper News, 1954. He became the Superintent of the Ajo mine. When John Greenway was chosen by The Oliver Mining Company in 1905 to open a new iron ore district of Coleraine on the western Mesabi, he picked Curley to go with him. When Greenway began operations at Ajo, Arizona, in 1912, he brought Mike down from Minnesota with him. The High School in Ajo, Arizona, is named after Michael Curley. It was built in 1919.

Isabella, John, MarthaIsabella Greenway (John's wife), John Greenway, Martha Ferguson. Martha was Isabella's daughter from a previous marriage to John's friend and fellow Rough Rider Bob Ferguson. Ajo, 1924. This photo is from Tucson's Arizona Inn, The Continuum of Style, by Blake Brophy, reprinted from The Journal of Arizona History, Volume 24, Number 3, 1983. I got this booklet at The Arizona Inn, in Tucson, which was founded by Isabella Greenway. More about Isabella Greenway in Congress. Isabella Greenway, an Enterprising Woman by Kristie Miller.

Coleraine 1920Coleraine, Minnesota, 1920. John Greenway named this town after the president of the Oliver Mining Company, Thomas F. Cole. It was to be a "spotless" town for the miners and their families and it's still a gem today 100 years later. The main street, Roosevelt, was named after John's old friend and fellow Rough-Rider, Teddy.

view of AjoAjo, Arizona, 1941. John Greenway came to Ajo, Arizona to do the same thing for copper in Arizona that he had done for iron ore in Minnesota, that is, take mines that had not been producing much and make them work. He did. Drawing from booklet Ajo, Early history of Ajo, home of New Cornelia Branch, Phelps Dodge Corporation, 1941. This view of the town is still about the same today, the palm trees are much taller, that's about all. The school under the flag is Curley High School. The Greenway mansion was just over the hill, facing the copper mine. 

Ajo plazaThe beautiful plaza in Ajo, Arizona, modern day. This is the view of the town to be seen as you stepped off of the train. The layout and construction of the plaza was in 1916. The Town Site of The New Cornelia Copper Co., Ajo, Arizona, from Architecture Magazine, 1919 (pdf)

Greenway mansionLocation of the Greenway Mansion and John Greenway's former burial site, Ajo, Arizona. Every morning on his way to work, John Greenway would stop his horse on a small hill, look back at the house and wave to Isabella. In 1926 he was buried at that spot, overlooking the Ajo mine in one direction and his home in the other. In 1995, John Greenway was disinterred and moved to the family vault near Burlington, in Boone county, Kentucky.

Greenway mansionGreenway mansion, Ajo, Arizona. Built in 1924. Designed by George Washington Smith, a reknown Santa Barbara architect famous for Spanish mission revival style. Isabella Greenway moved to Tucson when her husband John died in 1926 from complications during a minor surgery. He was only 54. The giant cross on the hillside nearby was put up by Isabella in his memory. It is made from the wire frame of the funeral floral piece that has been covered with cement. The Greenway mansion was used for a time as a convent and was unoccupied when I visited it back in the late nineties. Currently, the Greenway mansion is owned privately and is being restored.

John Greenway's funeralJohn Greenway's funeral was held in Ajo, Arizona on Saturday, January 26, 1926. Five Pullman cars arrived. Forrest Rickard [The development of Ajo to mid-year 1942] claims over 3000 people were at the funeral…believable since nearly all of Ajo would have turned out. 17 of the 18 living Arizona Rough Riders were in attendance. Governor George Wylie Hunt and ex-governor Thomas E. Campbell were there. P. G. Beckett, Vice President and General Manager, Western Organization, Phelps Dodge Corporation" was also in attendance. The President of the University of Arizona (Cloyd Heck Marvin) and the President of Valley National Bank (C. E. Mills) were there too. No mention was made of any Roosevelts by Rickard but he only gave a partial list of notables. The funeral directors called it the funeral of the century. Bi-planes flew overhead dropping flowers on the gravesite.

John Greenway's grave markerJohn Greenway's Marker in Kentucky. From the book by Don Boese and Patricia Wells: John C. Greenway's funeral in 1926 in the desert near his Arizona model town, Ajo, was an elaborate affair with special trains carrying the multitude of mourners to the remote location and bringing vast quantities of flowers along with the latest in funeral equipment and a new model hearse. The hearse ignored, Greenway's coffin was hand-carried to the rock cut tomb that had been carefully prepared. For many years a daily flag raising ceremony was held there but in later decades the site was deserted and fell into disrepair although the magnificent desert view remained. The large copper plate that bore Greenway's name included also that of his wife, Isabella, who he had married not long before his death. But after her illustrious career serving the state of Arizona, she was buried in her family plot located in Kentucky adjacent to the home where she grew up. Before her death she had expressed a wish that Greenway's body be moved to be near her own future resting place and in a surprising move, ten-years ago Greenway family members at last decided to fulfill that request. Greenway's remains were disinterred and taken to the Kentucky location.

John Greenway statueJohn Greenway's statue given by Arizona in 1930 at the National Statuary Hall Collection, Washington DC. Bronze by Gutzon Borglum. In 2008 the Arizona State Legislature began making provisions to have the statue of John Greenway replaced by a statue of Barry Goldwater, but currently, John Greenway is still there.

Bisbee deportationThe Bisbee Deportation. In 1917, John Greenway supervised the creation of vigilante leagues, falsely implying that the roundup had support of the federal government, which it did not. Read more about the Bisbee Deportation.

John C. GreenwayJohn Greenway's life after the mines. In October, 1917, John Greenway resigned his position with the mine and accepted a commission as a major in the army, and was sent to France. He was indicted for kidnapping and conspiracy for his role in the Bisbee Deportation, but the charges were dropped. After the war, he returned to Arizona where he was active in business and was frequently mentioned as a candidate for governor.

Ajo strike of 1984Arizona Republic, August 13th, 1984. The mining strike against Phelps-Dodge in Ajo.This is how the ownership of the Ajo mine went: It started as a Spanish mine nicknamed "The Old Bat Hole", which was abandoned and later discovered in 1847 by the first Anglo in Ajo, Tom Childs. This became the Arizona Mining & Trading company, founded by Peter M. Brady. He sold the mine to the Cornelia Minining Company (of St. Louis, Missouri). They were unsuccessful and in turn sold it to the Calumet and Arizona Mining company, which was coordinated by John Greenway. They were very successful!

You can visit the Calumet and Arizona guest house here. The Calumet and Arizona sold it to Phelps-Dodge. On March 19th, 2007, Phelps-Dodge was aquired by Freeport-McMoRan and now operates under the name of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.

markerA.V. Towsend marker, Lake View Cemetery, Coleraine, Minnesota. This marker from 1908 caught my eye. It says "Died Dec. 25 1908, Age 35 yrs, 2 months, 12 days. Member of Roosevelt's Rough Rider Regt. This stone erected in affectionate memory by a comrade". I took this photo in 1995 during a visit to see my Grandmother, who lived in Bovey. The comrade was John Greenway.

The Arizona InnThe Arizona Inn, founded by Isabella Greenway, John's widow. The Arizona Inn was founded by Isabella in 1930, four years after John's death. Isabella built the Inn in for its own sake and also to help disabled World War I veterans preserve their jobs in her philanthropically inspired furniture shop, “The Arizona Hut”. When the shop ran into financial trouble following the stock market crash of 1929, Isabella characteristically rose to the occasion and built the Arizona Inn as a way to create enough demand to keep the shop going. Read more about the Arizona Inn. Photo ©2009 Kristen Aliotti.

Greenway house view in Santa Barbara, CaliforniaThe view from the Greenway house, Santa Barbara, California. Isabella Greenway lived in Santa Barbara in the 1920s, as confirmed by Michael E. Redmon, Santa Barbara Historical Museum Director of Research, in the 1929-1930 Santa Barbara City Directory. It is now a private residence and it has this wonderful view of the harbor.

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