Section of the 1893 Official Map of Pima County by George Roskruge  showing O’Donnell Canyon. Map courtesy of Library of Congress

O’Donnell Canyon in Canelo runs northeast from the Canelo Hills and is adjacent to Sycamore Gulch. It is most likely named after brothers Anthony and Patrick O’Donnell whose ranch is identified on Roskruge’s 1893 Official Map of Pima County. Neighboring ranchers included James McCarty, Victor Igo, Fernando Martinez, J. Rice, T. Rice, and Samuel Hunter.

Patrick O’Donnell. Photo Courtesy of

The O’Donnell brothers were born in Ireland – Anthony in 1850 and Patrick in 1856. They emigrated to the United States about 1873 and arrived in Southeastern Arizona from California around 1878. They initially lived in Tucson, working in the hotel business, and Anthony worked for the Pima County Sheriff. [Arizona Daily Star, 6/19/1900]. 

The 1880 U.S. Census lists the brothers living in Harshaw; Anthony’s occupation is miner and Patrick’s is prospector. Anthony was also the Harshaw town constable. 

In 1881 Anthony purchased “100 acres of land west of Huachuca Mountains” for $1,000, and the brothers became cattle ranchers. [Tucson Citizen, 8/14/1881]. They also “raised a fine strain of race horses which they shipped to England.” [Tucson Citizen, 4/5/1926]. 

Patrick married Mary McNamara of San Francisco in 1889. They had eight children: Annie, Anthony, Mary, Maude, Gertrude, Genevive, Regina, and Joseph. Patrick was awarded beef and grain contracts and became notary public of Fort Huachuca. [Tombstone Weekly Epitaph,11/18/1894]. When a large gold deposit was discovered in Pearce, AZ, Patrick considered relocating to “develop some mining properties.” [The Border Vidette, 6/12/1897]. The 1900 U.S. Census lists Patrick, Mary, six of their children, and Anthony living together and raising stock. Around 1901 the brothers decided to sell out and move to the San Francisco Bay area where they returned to the hotel business. Patrick and his family remained in California. Mary died in 1926, age 64. Patrick died in 1951, age 95.

In 1902 Anthony, age 51, married 29-year-old Johanna Sheehy, whom he had met in Arizona. The couple had one daughter, Katherine. Anthony returned to Tucson to again work for the Pima County Sheriff Department, as the “day jailer.” [Tucson Citizen, 1/8/1907]. He also owned and operated the Belmont Hotel at 125 W. Broadway and invested in several Santa Cruz County mining operations. In 1919 he held up city plans to broaden Broadway in front of his hotel by refusing to accept the initial condemnation offer. He was eventually awarded the compensation amount he requested. [Tucson Citizen, 12/21/1919]. Anthony died in 1926, age 76. His wife Johanna died in 1959, age 86.