Member Biography

John Patrick Colihan 

Sessions Office Position District Party
1875       30 Democrat
1876       30 Democrat

COUNTIES: Schuylkill  


1840 - 06/15/1885

Private John Patrick “Big Jack” Colihan (D30) Schuylkill County 1875-1876 

Early Life:

Private John P. “Big Jack” Colihan born 1840, Galway, Ireland, 1842, son of John and Ellen Colihan,  moved to Middleport, Schuylkill County; coal mine engineer, 1860; private Civil War, 1861-1863; dry goods and grocery business, Ashland, Pennsylvania; 1870-1885; elected, Democrat, Pennsylvania State Senate, 1875-1876; married, Mary Campbell, children, Edward James Colihan, Mary Agnes, John Colihan, Hannah, William Colihan, Thomas Colihan; died, June 15, 1885 (44-45) Ashland, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.

Early Career:

Enlisted, with brother, Patrick, Ashland Rifles, April 21-July 25, 1861; saw limited action; later mustered in, Aug. 17, 1862, private, Company K, 137th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry - nine months; saw action at Antietam and Chancellorsville; mustered out, June 1863.

Pennsylvania Politics:

Elected, Democrat, Pennsylvania State Senate, 30th district, Schuylkill County, 1875-1876, member, Accounts (Appropriations) and Mines and Mining Committees. 


Supported the Bituminous Coal Health and Safety Act, establishing misdemeanor penalties for mine owners who neglected its provisions; voted in favor of allowing defendants to testify in their own defense, important legislation during the Molly Maguire trials in Pottsville. 


Cox, Harold "Senate Members "C"Wilkes University Election Statistics ProjectWilkes University.

Smull’s Legislative Handbook, (1875) Smull, J.A., Members of the Senate of Pennsylvania, page 601 and 606-608.