172-174 W. San Carlos Street,
San Jose, Santa Clara County, California
At one time known as The Hocking-Arnold-Monahan Mortuary
Also known as The Monahan and Moriarty Mortuary
12 Funeral Record Books Including Death and Funeral Records
From Dec. 2, 1914 through Jan. 8, 1938
San Jose, Santa Clara County, California
This introduction and photos were graciously submitted by
the granddaughter of Thomas Monahan:
Patricia Monahan Jocius
The owner and author of the funeral books was Thomas Patrick Monahan. He was born on July 4, 1866 in San Jose, Santa Clara County, California. At 16 years of age, he became a blacksmith in San Francisco, and worked at this job for 5 years. He graduated from Santa Clara College in 1883. He then worked on the first electric railway in Santa Clara County, until 1891, when he became a postal carrier in San Jose. In 1907, he became the Chief Jailer in the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department until he decided he wanted to go into politics.
County employees were not allowed to be politicians, so he quit the Sheriff’s Department and took a course in embalming and funeral directing. Mr. Monahan became an established undertaker in 1909. He married Josephine G. Moriarty on February 18, 1909, at Mission Dolores Church in San Francisco. They had three daughters, Mary, Josephine, and Elizabeth and adopted one son, giving him his own name of Thomas.
In May of 1912, Thomas Patrick Monahan was elected Mayor of San Jose, Santa Clara County, California. During his 2-year term of office, he speeded up the Fire and Police Departments by recommending motorized vehicles and improved Alum Rock County Park. Monahan Lake was named after him after damming up part of the Guadalupe River that ran through downtown San Jose. He was elected the Grand President of the Native Sons of the Golden West and was a member of the Elks, Moose, Eagles, Redman, and Casey organizations.
Mr. Monahan became a funeral director in 1914. He became world famous for being the first undertaker to fly a coffin with a deceased body in an aeroplane from the aviation field on Alum Rock Avenue to Oak Hill Cemetery, a total of 6 miles. The flight was shown in newsreels worldwide and featured in the Sunnyside Magazine, a leading undertakers’ periodical.
In 1924, a building was constructed for his business. It was located at 172-174 West San Carlos Street in San Jose. It was on the south side of West San Carlos Street near the intersection of Almaden Avenue, directly opposite the San Jose Civic Auditorium. It was a two-story wood frame building with a large concrete basement and a small elevator in the rear to move the caskets up and down the floors. The main floor was the Monahan Mortuary, which had 6 small viewing rooms and a chapel. The upper floor had two 5-room apartment units and a large sales room for casket displays. The interior was wood lath and plaster with oak floors that were covered with carpets. The property was sold on May 8, 1963 to the City of San Jose as part of a downtown urban renewal project. The City of San Jose Main Public Library now sits on the property.
Mr. and Mrs. Monahan’s own death records are listed in their funeral records in book #12 on page 222 for Thomas Monahan, August 18, 1936 and on page 163 for his wife, Josephine Monahan, March 11, 1936. The Monahans are buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in San Jose, California. Mr. Moriarty took over the business after Mr. Monahan’s death and kept the Monahan funeral books until the business was sold, at which time he placed the funeral books in the safe of the Oak Hill Cemetery.
Many years later, in a twist of fate, Mr. Moriarty’s son met Mr. Monahan’s granddaughter, Patricia Monahan Jocius, at a funeral. Making the family business connection, he offered the funeral books to her as a direct descendent of Mr. Monahan. The books have been indexed by the volunteers of the Santa Clara County Historical & Genealogical Society and microfilmed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, so that these vital records can be shared with the descendents of those listed in the funeral books.