The John Mullan Papers contain documents generated and collected by John Mullan (1830-1909), pioneer, military engineer, and attorney, best known for constructing the Mullan Road in the American West. This collection primarily covers his later years as a Washington, D.C. attorney representing California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington Territory in claims cases against the federal government. Correspondence with high-ranking officials in those states and with state and federal legislators is prevalent in the Mullan Papers, and the Indian War claims and War of the Rebellion claims represent major topics of discussion. A handful of earlier documents relate to his work on the Mullan Road. Some of Mullan's personal legal documents, including his will and an inventory of his household effects in Washington, D.C., are also retained. Mullan family material is present, too, especially items associated with the Flather family and its gifts to Georgetown University. A host of printed materials, such as drafts of Congressional bills, is preserved. Finally, a number of family photographs, including about 20 of Mullan himself, are contained. The John Mullan Papers are stored in 13 archival boxes (8.0 linear feet).

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH: John Mullan (1830-1909), pioneer, military engineer, road builder, and attorney, was born in Norfolk, Virginia, to an Irish immigrant father and an American mother. He was the oldest of ten children. At the young age of three, Mullan's family moved to Annapolis, Maryland, where, despite his family's poverty, he earned an A.B. from St. John's College in 1847.

After an interview with President James K. Polk, Mullan entered the United States Military Academy, from which he graduated in 1852. His appointments, both in engineering and artillery, took him to the American West. He assisted General I.I. Stevens, who, in 1853, was exploring for a railroad route from St. Paul to the Pacific Ocean. On this assignment, Mullan adeptly explored various areas and discovered the Mullan Pass. In 1855, Mullan was transferred to the American South, where he fought the Seminoles.

Mullan's most significant post came as chief engineer in the construction of a military road from Fort Benton, Montana to Walla Walla, Washington, from 1859 to 1863. Indian battles and funding issues made the road building a difficult endeavor. The Mullan Road became a thoroughfare for immigrants to the American Northwest. John Mullan married Rebecca Williamson on April 28, 1863. The couple had five children.

Later in Mullan's career, he became an attorney, and he moved to Washington, D.C. in 1878. In the nation's capital, Mullan represented the states of California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington Territory in claims cases against the U.S. government, especially those relating to the War of the Rebellion and the Indian Wars.

John Mullan died in Washington, D.C. in 1909.

[Source: "Dictionary of American Biography." New York: Scribner's, 1934, p. 319.]


Status: Open to Researchers.

Photocopying: Permitted except where documents are too fragile.

Provenance: Gift of Mary Rebecca Mullan Flather, c. 1962.

Processed by Scott S. Taylor, April 2003.

BULK DATES: 1880 - 1909
SPAN DATES: 1826 - 1966

EXTENT: 13 boxes (8.0 l.f.)


SERIES: 1. Correspondence to John Mullan

SERIES DESCRIPTION: Correspondence to John Mullan. Arranged alphabetically by correspondent.

SERIES: 2. Correspondence from John Mullan

SERIES DESCRIPTION: Correspondence from John Mullan. Arranged chronologically.

SERIES: 3. Claims Documents

SERIES DESCRIPTION: Claims documents. Arranged in rough chronological order.

SERIES: 4. John Mullan Manuscripts

SERIES DESCRIPTION: John Mullan Manuscripts. Arranged in chronological order within each folder.

SERIES: 5. Mullan Family Materials

SERIES DESCRIPTION: Mullan Family Materials. Arranged alphabetically by individual.

SERIES: 6. Printed Materials

SERIES DESCRIPTION: Printed Materials. Arranged in oerder of preliminary cataloging.

SERIES: 7. Photographs

SERIES DESCRIPTION: Photographs. Arranged in alphabetical order by individual.

SERIES: 8. Oversized Materials

SERIES DESCRIPTION: Oversized Materials. Preserved in oversized archival box.