A Project for Better Journalism chapter

John C. GreenWAY was A Big Man in his DAY


Most schools today are named after people from the past who had some sort of important contribution to society. Our great high school was named after none other than the local hero, John C. Greenway. However, not many Greenway students know Mr. Greenway’s story.

Before Greenway got involved in the mining business, he was actually a veteran. Greenway was part of the Rough Riders in Cuba, which was an American cavalry during the Spanish-American War. During this time, Greenway met his long time friend Theodore Roosevelt. They fought side by side defeating the Spanish Army.

After his service with the Rough Riders, Greenway went into mining. His first mining job was with the Oliver Mining Company in Pittsburgh beginning in 1898. In 1905, he became superintendent of the Canisteo District in Minnesota. He left Minnesota in 1910 to assume his new position as general manager of the Calumet and Arizona Copper Company. This is when Greenway started venturing towards Ajo. It didn’t take him long to decide to attempt to buy or obtain options on the mineral lands there. After making his inspection, he obtained 70% of the company’s stock of the New Cornelia Copper Company. They tested the mine and found that some 40 million tons of two different kinds of copper ore were available. The situation appeared to be ideal for open pit, steam shovel mining.

In 1917, Greenway went to Washington to see his old friend, secretary of war Newton Baker. Greenway was given a commission in the corps of engineers with assignment to France. In 1918, with a promotion, he was in the thick of battle. On several occasions, he was in the lead in attacks on the Germans during some of the bloodiest fighting of the war. He was recommended in December of 1918 for a Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in Houppi Bois, north of Verdun. A few years later, he placed his name for nomination to run for Vice President of the United States in 1924; however he never served in elected office. 

Greenway got married to Isabella Greenway at age 51 on November 4th, 1923, in Santa Barbara, California. He soon died a few years later on January 19th, 1926. Before his death, he built the Greenway mansion in Ajo. It still stands there today and is owned and accompanied by a local family. Many of these facts were found in “John C. Greenway and the Opening of the Western Mesabi” written by Donald L. Boese. 

After his death, a state of John C. Greenway was placed in the capitol’s Statuary Hall collection. His grave is part of the mansion property.