Janice is a proud member of The First Families of Arizona. Three of her four grandparents’ families came to Arizona Territory in the late 1800s. They represent the wide scope of pioneers who settled the Territory.
First to arrive was William Ryan of County Tipperary, Ireland. He arrived in the Globe mining camp in January 1881, and married another Irish native, Anna Moloney, in Globe in 1884. Ryan worked in the Old Dominion Smelter, working his way up to night foreman. Upon leaving the mining industry, he and John Moloney established the first large dairy in Globe and also expanded into cattle ranching. The couple’s four sons became cattle and sheep ranchers. Ryan established the Ryan Store in Globe in 1907; it grew to 32 drugstores operating under the Ryan-Evans name before being sold to Revco in the mid-1950s.
Horace Owens came to Woodruff in 1881 from Utah with his family at the behest of Brigham Young who wanted stonecutters to build dams along Silver Creek. Owens and other stonecutters also furnished decorative stone for building storefronts in Holbrook. His son Silas settled in Snowflake and later in Pinedale. Janice’s descendency from Horace Owens makes her the fifth generation of her family to live in Arizona.
Isaac Henry Watkins, M.D., and his wife Sallie Bomar arrived in Benson in 1897. Both had been born in South Carolina and were children during the Civil War. Watkins had graduated with a medical degree from Vanderbilt University in 1890. After finishing medical school, he migrated to Texas where he practiced medicine and owned a pharmacy. Watkins met Sallie Bomar, a widow, through her brothers who worked at his pharmacy. The couple were married in Silverton, Texas. Both Henry and Sallie suffered from consumption. Henry took a job as a physician for the Southern Pacific Railroad in hopes that the Arizona climate would improve their health. He received his license to practice medicine in Arizona Territory in 1897. The couple’s daughter Edith married William Albert Ryan in 1912.
Janice’s grandmother Florence Peck arrived in Arizona from Connecticut in 1912 to visit a friend. She met a certain cowboy, Del Owens, and the couple wrote to each other for the next year. Florence returned to Arizona in 1913 and married Del, forsaking New Haven for the small town of Pinedale.
Janice has had a keen, lifelong interest in the history of Arizona. Janice and the late Kathy Wood founded the Irish Arizona Project to research and record the stories of those of Irish origin and ancestry who came to Arizona. In 2008, Janice was named an Arizona Culture Keeper, and in 2009 she co-authored a book entitled Irish Arizona. In 2014 she was named by the Arizona Cattlemen’s Association as their Top Wrangler for her research and writings on the history of the cattle industry in Arizona. In October 2014 she will be honored by the Irish Cultural Center in Phoenix with the Anam Cara award for her contributions in preserving Arizona's Irish-American heritage.
© Copyright 2014, The First Families of Arizona. Last revised 16 September 2014.