John Lawler


Elite/Denver, Colorado Unknown 1700-0897-0003.jpg PO-897 B&W 1700-0897-0003 1700-0897-0003 Print 5x7 Historic Photographs 1900s Reproduction requires permission. Digital images property of SHM Library & Archives



John “Jack” F. Lawler (b.1857 - d.1916) was born in Chicago, Illinois on September 15, 1857. His parents were both born in Ireland, names unknown. Jack and his  brothers and sisters ( Mary, William, Michael, and Danie) grew up in Kansas.

John was a “Johnny-come-lately” in the Arizona gold fields.  In 1876, at age nineteen, he left Kansas to follow his brother, Michael, to Arizona Territory where he found work in the mines of Bisbee, Tombstone and the Bradshaw Mountains.  In his mid-twenties Jack left the Bradshaws to prospect the remote canyon country of far western Yavapai County, prospecting along Copper Creek where the Bagdad and Hawkeye claims had previously been located in 1882.  Jack purchased these claims for about $200, and soon located and patented six more claims, although none showed promise for precious metals.  An industrious, intelligent fellow, Jack soon was a driving force behind the organization of the Eureka Mining District.  Twenty-five years after arriving in the district, long after he’d discovered, developed, sold and reacquired the Hillside mine, he sold those copper claims for $150,000. Lawler struck gold in the Eureka Mining District at his Hillside Mine. He developed the Copper Creek claim, known today as Phelps Dodge Bagdad, Inc. and founded the Yavapai Savings Bank. Jack’s mining and subsequent real estate investments in the Prescott area, San
Diego, and San Francisco led to the involvement of his brothers and nephews. Three of his nephews were John W. Lawler, Michael L. Lynch, and William A. Lawler. The Lawler Block on North Cortez Street was one of many sources of income for the Lawler family.

Jack saw the potential for the railroad helping to transport ore from the Hillside Mine. The Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, precursor to the AT&SF, crossed northern Arizona in 1882.  Anxious to take advantage of new economic opportunities offered by the coming of the railroad, merchants, miners, and cattlemen of Prescott clambered for construction of the 60-mile-long Prescott and Arizona Central Railroad, hastily completed in 1886 to link Prescott with the transcontinental railroad at Seligman.  Excitement related to the arrival of the railroad extended all the way to Copper Creek where Jack Lawler and his partner, B.T. Riggs, decided to expand their prospecting into the rugged canyons northward toward the railroad.

The following is Lawler’s account of his fabulous gold strike from an interview given to W. H. Storms at the Hillside mine: “About three years ago [March 1887] I and my partner, B.T. Riggs determined to come over to this section … We intended to prospect … northward as far as the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad.  We started with a horse packed with grub and about $10 in our pockets, and finally made our camp down the creek [Boulder Creek, three miles north of Lawler’s Copper Creek claims].  I came around here and even walked over this mine, but my day had not come.  One lucky day, however, I came up here again, and went around the hill … came down along the mountainside, passing down the gulch right over the Seven Star [a later claim] … and went on down to the creek to get a drink.  I was tired and worn, but thought I would go up the next little gulch a way, and as I walked along I saw about a foot of iron-stained rock and climbed up to it.  I knocked off a few pieces and saw at once that it was good ore. I then commenced to search for the continuation of the vein, for it was not afloat.  I traced it easily, and by nightfall had located the Hillside …”

Handwriting on photograph reads: "John Lawler 1890s-1900s".

John died in Los Angeles, California on March 16, 1916. He had been ill for sometime, with "miners" consumption and had gone to Los Angeles for treatment.

He is buried at Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California.

Sources: Sharlot Hall Museum Days Past "John Lawler's Hillside Bonanza" on 7-19-2014; Arizona Memory Project;; The Coconino Sun 3-24-1916; California Death Index, 1905-1939; US Census, Yavapai County, Arizona 1880, 1900, 1910; Arizona, Yavapai County Voting Records, 1875-1932; Weekly Journal-Miner 2-22-1914, 3-11-1914, 6-17-1914.


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