The Cadillac Express

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Old houses have many stories to tell and the Mogollon Grille on Payson's Main Street is no exception. It was the home of the first mechanized mail carrier between Payson and Globe.

Julian Journigan was born in Flagstaff in 1884, but his mother died when he was 11 days old. Journigan's grandparents, John and Louisa See, took him in, raising him in Strawberry and the Tonto Basin. They soon found themselves also raising their grandson Charlie See, seven years younger than Journigan.

The two boys grew to become fast friends and later business partners.

As a young man, Journigan worked as a cowboy, and in 1906, at age 22, he joined the Forest Service. He was stationed at Roosevelt under Superintendent Roscoe Willson, but after two years, left that service to work for the Bureau of Indian Affairs at San Carlos.

In February 1910, he married Margaret ("Madge") Solomon, and they had two children, Jack and Delsie Dee. With a growing family, Journigan went into a ranching partnership, buying the Denton Place in Tonto Basin where he cleared and fenced and ran cattle with his partners. At the same time, he pursued his love of mining, and had several claims in the Sierra Anchas.

When the cinnabar mine (mercury) was established near Mount Ord, Journigan contracted with the mining company to haul materials, supplies and machinery by pack animals. There were no roads for trucks at that time into the Mazatzal Mountains. However, Journigan developed arthritis that forced him and his family to move to the desert. They went to Coolidge where Margaret's family had a farm, and sold the Tonto Basin ranch to the partners. During these years, Journigan also ran the first power plant in the town of Florence.

In 1921, Journigan's cousin, Charley, asked him to come to Globe and help operate the mail stage between there and Payson. The stage was still horse-drawn, and for several years, the two of them hauled mail and passengers through swollen creeks and over dirt roads.

In 1923, Journigan secured a Cadillac car, and the mail stage became mechanized. Journigan and his Caddy quickly became an institution in the Tonto and Payson basins. He not only delivered the mail, but carried packages and passengers. Folks along the way often asked him to buy this or that for them in Globe, which he cheerfully did. One lady had him take a piece of some material she was sewing so he could buy thread to match the color.

One of his nieces, local author Marguerite Noble, says that Julian also brought the local gossip with him along the route. There were no newspapers, radio or television, so people had to get their news by word of mouth. She tells that Stella Frazier, the postmistress at Roosevelt, read all the postcards and filled Journigan in on what others were doing so he could pass it on.

In 1925, Journigan and his family built their house on Main Street. It was what now is the front one-third of the building at 202 W. Main, the Mogollon Grille.

From Journigan's house on Main Street to Globe, it was a day's trip in the Cadillac stage. The party would stop for lunch at the Angler's Inn near Roosevelt Lake.

Marguerite Noble reports that on her trips to Globe, the noon meal consisted of cowboy beans, jerky, gravy and hot biscuits. The special treat was iced tea, made with ice that had been packed in from Globe. Returning to Payson the next day, the climb up Ox Bow hill often required the passengers to get out of the Cadillac and help the stage up the hill by placing stones behind the wheels as it crept along.

About 1924, Charley See gave up the mail route, and Journigan enlarged the route on his own. Mail routes were done by contract with the federal government, and the person who won the contract would often sublet portions of the route to others. These rural routes were called "Star Routes" because the asterisks on the contract were called stars.

At this time, Journigan won the contract for the entire route between Globe and the Verde Valley, going by way of Fossil Creek and including all stops in between. By this time, mail service was daily along the extended route and required a number of subcontractors.

In 1932, Journigan lost his bid for the mail route. While the family still lived on Main Street, he went to work on the Chilson/Tremaine cattle ranches around Rye, and continued his favorite sport of mining. It was in April of 1941, after a trip to his claims near the headwaters of Slate Creek, that Julian Journigan suffered a heart attack at the Sunflower Store, and died. He was 57 years old, and is buried in the Payson Pioneer Cemetery.

His son, Jack, lived in the house on Main Street for many years, and died in September 1993. Mel and Janice Laumb purchased the house and extended it to its present form. They turned it into a gift shop and restaurant called The Heritage House.

At Mel's death in April 1995, Jan retired and the business was taken over by their daughter, Diane Roberson.

In 2000, the old house was reopened as The Mogollon Grille under the ownership of six new partners.

The walls of a house have many tales to tell. This one speaks about an entire era of Rim country history.

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