Among the early pioneers of Arizona, none bore a more prominent part in its development than Peter Rainsford Brady. He came, on his paternal side, from good old Irish stock. His mother, Anna Rainsford, was from Virginia. He was born in Georgetown, District of Columbia, August 4th, 1825; received his education, in part, at the Georgetown College, later entering the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, from which he was graduated about the year 1&44. After cruising around the Mediterranean Sea in the United States vessel “Plymouth,” he resigned from the navy, and left his home October 26th, 1846, for San Antonio, Texas, where he enlisted as a Lieutenant in the Texas Hangers, and served with distinction in the Mexican “War. After the war Mr. Brady joined a surveying party under Colonel Andrew B. Gray, who made a survey from Marshall, Texas, to El Paso; thence across the country to Tubac and from the latter point made branch surveys, one to Port Lobos on the Gulf of California, and the other to Fort Yuma and San Diego. Mr. Brady served as a captain on this expedition, and was prominent in many Indian fights. When the work was completed, the company disbanded at San Francisco.
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Mr. Brady was of an adventurous spirit, and in his younger life preferred the wilderness to the smooth paths of civilization. In 1854 he came to Arizona and settled in Tucson, in which place he resided for many years, bearing his part as a good citizen in those exciting times. After the organization of the Territory, he held several public offices, and was sheriff for two terms. He was married in 1859 to Juanita Mendibles, who bore to him four children, all boys. She died in 1871, and in 1878 he married Miss Maria Ontonia Ochoa, of Florence, Arizona, by whom he had three boys and one girl. He settled in Florence in 1872, and made it his home for twenty-seven years. He engaged in farming, mining and stock raising. In 1881 he received $60,000 for his half interest in the Vekol Mine.
He was a Candidate for Delegate to Congress in 1871, against Richard C. McCormick, who was declared elected by a small majority.
Mr. Brady was in all respects a strong man, not only physically, but mentally; of unquestioned integrity, and in every position of honor or trust, he reflected credit upon the appointing power. A gentleman of the old school, he was genial, kind and hospitable. The latchstring to his house always hung upon the outside. He served several times in the Territorial Legislature and always with great credit to himself, using his influence at all times to enact laws for the benefit of the Territory.
“In 1894,” says his daughter, Miss Margaret A. Brady, “my father was appointed as Special Agent for the Interior Department, in the U. S. Private Court of Land Claims, and he obtained valuable information in behalf of the Government in the Peralta Reavis land fraud. His notes are very humorous relative to the ridiculous claims of Reavis and his wife. I can say that it was greatly due to my father’s information that the Government was able to identify the fraud.”
In 1898 he served for the last time in the Upper House of the Territorial Legislature, and from the Arizona Gazette of March, 1898, I extract the following:
“Quite a pathetic little parting scene occurred at the Maricopa depot upon the evening of the departure of the members of the legislature. Hon. Peter R. Brady, the veteran councilman of the Nineteenth, whose biography has been closely interwoven with stirring and interesting events in the early history of Arizona, stood a little apart from the chatting group. Though still of vigorous constitution and robust build, the whitened hair told of the cares of many years of: active life. At the veteran ‘s side stood a tall, fair haired youth, ambition, energy and hope outlined in every attribute of his makeup. The two stood with their hands clasped in an affectionate farewell. The tears welled in the old man’s eyes as he spoke brokenly words of cheer and promise to the young man who had made so brilliant a beginning in public life. Ashurst was equally affected. Early in the session the two had become warmly attached, being respectively the oldest and youngest member of the body, and often did the young man seek the counsels of his old friend and profit by them.
“We will probably never meet again this side the grave,’ said the patriarch, as he gave the young man’s hand a fervent farewell wring, ‘ but God bless you on your way.’ ”
In 1899, Mr. Brady moved with his family from Florence to Tucson, where he lived up to the time of his death, which occurred May 2nd, 1902, at the age of 77 years. All his children are still living and have their residences in Arizona. His second wife died August 14th, 1910.