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In the statute books too

Today is the day The Legal Genealogist toughens up and does that terribly hard thing that’s been looming in the schedule this week.

After all, I’m speaking Saturday at the 2019 Seminar of the West Valley Genealogical Society, and somehow I have to get from here to there.

So today is the day I leave behind the ice and snow of the east coast for the 60-degree temperatures of Arizona.

I’m sure you feel my pain.1

But one last foray into the earliest of Arizona statute books before boarding the plane really does highlight one of the biggest reasons why I’m sending this Valentine’s Day heart out to law books as genealogical resources.

Arizona statutes

The book I’ve been focusing on is the very first book of session laws passed by the very first Legislative Assembly of the Arizona Territory at the end of 1864.2 It’s a little tiny book, as law books go, with fewer that 80 pages, and some of them with very little other than headings.

And yet even in this small book, there are dozens and dozens of names named.

Right at the beginning, we find out that Richard C. McCormick was the secretary of the Territory.3 A few pages later we find out he was from New York. Territorial Governor John N. Goodwin was from Maine. Chief Justice William F. Turner was from Iowa. Associate Justices William Howell and Joseph Allyn were from Michigan and Connecticut, respectively. District Attorney Almon Gage was from New York Surveyor General Levi Bashford from Wisconsin, Marshal Milton Duffield from California and the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Charles Poston, from Kentucky.4

Just after that is the list of nine members of the upper house, called the Council, and 18 men who were members of the lower house, the House of Representatives.5

Oh, and just in case you might be wondering about genealogical value here, all 21 are listed by residence, occupation, age and where they were from before they came to the Territory. The youngest was 24, a surveyor from Ohio. The oldest was 62, a merchant from New York. One man was from Mexico. Another from Germany. Two lawyers, three merchants, one physician, a printer, a carpenter, a hotel-keeper, and a whole mess of miners.6

And we’re not even into the laws themselves yet!

Once we turn the pages, one of the first acts, passed 13 October 1864, was for the benefit of John G. Capron. It says that in 1860, there in Arizona, he’d been “induced by fraudulent concealment of criminal facts to legally marry one Sarah Rosser” and gave him a divorce with freedom to marry again.7

And the names roll on from there through the men authorized to form railroads, and keep ferries, and set up wagon roads, and incorporate mining companies, and form the Arizona Historical Society, and serve as translator for the legislature or as speaker of the house. Oh, and one woman who was names as anything other than the one against whom divorce was granted. Mary Catherine Mounce was the one who got the divorce.8

Naming names always helps nail an ancestor’s feet to the floor. It says, directly or indirectly, that he (or, occasionally she) was in that place at that time.

And law books — even small ones — do a great job of naming names.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Naming names in Arizona,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 14 Feb 2019).


  1. Don’t throw things. You’ll break the internet.
  2. Acts, Resolutions and Memorials, Adopted by the First Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Arizona (Prescott : Arizona Miner, official paper, 1865); digital images, Internet Archive ( : accessed 12 Feb 2019).
  3. Ibid., “Certificate,” at v.
  4. Ibid., “Officers of the Territory,” at ix.
  5. Ibid., “The First Legislative Assembly,” at xi.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid., “An Act for the Benefit of John G. Capron,” at 19.
  8. No, I’m not going to cite all those individually. Read the book!
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