John Tabor Alsap (1832-1886)
Most contemporary sources
suggest that John Tabor Alsap was born 28 February 1830
in Frankfort, Kentucky . He was the only son of Rev.
John Alsap (sometimes spelled Alsop) and his wife Keziah
Randall . The family soon moved to Ohio and later to
Indiana. After studying medicine in Ohio, young John
went to California in 1853, intending to practice
medicine there. Once in California, however, he
developed an interest in mining--an interest which
brought him to the Walker diggings in Yavapai county, in
November 1863 .
skills came in handy in 1864 when he accompanied King
Woolsey's second punitive expedition against the Apaches
as the party's surgeon . His reputation thus
established, he was appointed territorial treasurer in
late 1864 by Governor John Noble Goodwin .
Alsap opened the
first saloon in Prescott, a shrewd business move which
brought him into contact with much of Prescott’s
electorate . On 6 June 1866, he married Louise A.
Osborn, daughter of pioneer John Preston Osborn .
Tragically, she died barely a year later.
In 1868, Alsap
became Yavapai County's representative to the
territorial legislature. However, his larger political
ambitions were not to be fulfilled in Prescott, possibly
because he was still a relative newcomer to an
established community. In 1869, therefore, he moved
south to the Salt River Valley, where he helped to
select the 320 acres comprising the original Phoenix
townsite. He was one of the original commissioners of
the Salt River Town Association, formed in 1870 to
promote settlement along the Salt River .
mining and saloon-keeping, Alsap now turned his
attention to public service and the practice of law. As
the fledgling community along the Salt River gained a
foothold, he petitioned to have a new county created,
with Phoenix as its seat . Following the creation of
Maricopa County from Yavapai County in 1871, Governor
Safford appointed Alsap its first probate judge . In
his capacity as judge, he sometimes officiated at civil
weddings when no minister was available. He also served
as superintendent of public education. In 1874, Alsap
reported 20 children attending public school in Phoenix,
district 1; 41 in Riverside, district 2; and 47 children
in Tempe, District 3 .
Between 1873 and
1879, Alsap served in the territorial legislature .
On 7 September 1876, Alsap wed Anna Dugan Murray, one of
the eight daughters of William P. Murray and his wife
Margaret . All the Murray girls married
well-connected men and founded some of Phoenix’s ‘first
contributions to the city of Phoenix were recognized
when he was elected its first mayor in 1881 .
John T. Alsap was
an ardent Mason throughout his life. A photograph taken
in Contra Costa, California, shows him dressed in his
Masonic regalia. He was the first master of Aztlan Lodge
No. 1, F&AM, in Prescott and also of the Arizona
Masonic Lodge in Phoenix, and he chartered the Royal
Arch Masonic Lodge . Upon his death in 1886, he was
buried in the Masonic Cemetery in Phoenix.
wife, Anna Dugan Murray, died 20 December 1902 and is
buried next to him. A modern granite headstone marks
their graves, although for some reason Anna’s dates were
never added to it .
Copyright © 2011-2014 by Donna L. Carr. All rights
reserved. Last revised 2/18/2014.
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