Biography of James F. Mahon

It is especially gratifying to be enabled to chronicle in this volume of the history of Harney county the salient points in the career of the
estimable gentleman whose name appears at the head of this sketch, since he has done so much for the development and advancement of this county, has demonstrated his ability as a financier and to handle successfully large interests, of which he is happily possessed at the present time, being doubtless the largest grain farmer in the county and also a leader in raising fine horses and mules; while individually, Mr. Mahon is a man of marked ability and integrity, always dominated by sound principles and possessed of an executive force and practical judgment that array him on the side of success, and his moral virtues and untarnished reputation for honor and uprightness are commensurate with his other qualifications of high order. The account, therefore, of Mr. Mahon’s operations in the county would form an important parts of its history, and it is but right that such giants of achievement, whose labors have wrought such advantage to all, should be granted a position which their sagacious conduct rightly marks as their own.

Reverting more particularly to the personal history of our subject, we note, which accounts for his indefatigable energy and the boundless
resources of his personality, which demonstrate him equal to any emergency, that he comes from stanch Irish blood, his parents being natives of the Emerald Isle. He, himself, was born on April 29, 1855, in Syracuse, New York, to Patrick and Catherine Mahon, who had come hither while young. James F. was reared on a farm, gaining his education from the schools of his vicinity, and early he manifested the precocity which later produced the success winning talents which have characterized him in his entire walk. At the budding age of nineteen, James F. started out for himself, and soon we see him in the far west in the vicinity of Stockton, California. He engaged on the farm of Jacob Grundike, as a laborer. The estate of this worthy gentleman consisted of two thousand five hundred acres of land devoted to grain and stock. Mr. Grundike was a man of keen perception and sound judgment and withal of a kind and dissrminating spirit and soon he discovered that in his employee, he had a man of no ordinary ability and trustworthiness, and he did the wise thing both for himself and out subject, he placed him in the position of superintendent of the entire estate, which was a very responsible incumbency. For two years in that capacity and also as renter of the entire property for five years, Mr. Mahon remained with Mr. Grundike; and the only outcome that could resolve itself to the skill, energy, industry, and excellent judgment of Mr. Mahon was the unbounded success that attended his efforts, both to his own and Mr. Grundike’s financial advantage. During these years, Mr. Mahon’s father had come to join his son and in 1879 they disposed of their interests in California and came thence to central Oregon, settling in Harney valley. Let it be said to the honor of the kind benefactor of Mr. Mahon, Mr. Grundike, that he willingly placed to the credit of our subject the financial backing necessary to start this young man on a career that has won a most brilliant success. Space forbids the details of the years since the first settlement in Oregon to the present, but a brief summary of the present will manifest plainly the talent with which Mr. Mahon has wrought. For a time his father remained in partnership with him and then the son bought his interest and now he is one of the heaviest property owners in the state. Coming early, and being a practical farmer, Mr. Mahon secured the choicest farms to be had in Harney county. He has five different well improved ranches in the county. Two of them, aggregating two thousand five hundred acres, make the finest grain farm in the county. The other three amount to four thousand acres, which Mr. Mahon has a number of sections of fine grazing land. His home place is at Steins mountain, and the postoffice was named by Mr. Mahon, Mule, from the fact that he handles so many of these animals. Mr. Mahon makes a specialty of raising horses and mules and is the largest owner of these quadrupeds in the county. On his home place he has twenty-six miles of fencing and utilizes it as the breeding ranch for his entire stock. His horses are all well bred black Percherons and he owns a Dexter Prince stallion, Thomas H., which paces in two-fourteen, and many other horses of fine blood, as Clydesdale, and so forth. Mr. Mahon is a noted nimrod and has some fine animals for the chase consisting of Chesapeake hounds and Blue Dane; and many exciting chases he participates in.

The marriage of Mr. Mahon occurred in 1881 and his wife died in 1886. He contracted a second marriage and has four children by this union,
Emily F., a graduate of Oxford; Iva J., attending school in California; R., and Stella M., deceased. Fraternally he is well connected, being a member of the Masons, the Elks, the I. O. O. F., the K. of P., the A. O. U. W., and the M. W. of A. Politically he is allied with the Democratic party and is active in the interests of good government. Mr. Mahon is a fine expert with horses and an admirer of that beautiful animal. He is a leading man in the county, and has done much for the advancement of its interests. From the time his faithful labors attracted the kindly notice of his worthy employer, Mr. Grundike, who promptly placed him on the road to brilliant success, which he has achieved, Mr. Mahon has always been faithful, upright, progressive, dominated by wisdom of a high order, and he has made a name and place for himself among men that is worthy of emulation, and the prestige which he now enjoys is the result of his intrinsic worth wrought into crowning achievements. Mr. Mahon is taking great pains and sparing no expense to grant his children all opportunity to gain a first class educational training. He has recently given his son, Ira J., an interest in the business. The young man is proving his ability and mettle by making a success which is a credit to himself and his father.

Transcriber’s Note: The original text has an incorrect plural in the first paragraph, discriminating is misspelled in the 2nd paragraph and references his son’s name as Iva in one place and Ira in another, thus I have transcribed the above exactly as originally printed.



Whitman, Marcus. An Illustrated history of Baker, Grant, Malheur and Harney Counties: with a brief outline of the early history of the state of Oregon. Chicago: Western Historical Publishing Co., 1902, 871 pgs.

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