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Charles J. Moynihan papers

Identifier: COU:1109

Scope and Contents

The collection contains speeches recorded in writing, on cassette tapes, and on records, newspaper clippings, and photographs. Oversize materials include a scrapbook, newspaper clippings, and photographs. There are also sixteen folders of published materials on microfilm.


  • Creation: 1908 - 1956

Biographical Note

Charles Joseph Moynihan was one of the most well-known attorneys in Colorado and the Western Slope. The son of an Irish immigrant, he was born in White Hall, Illinois, in 1882. After graduating from the University of Illinois, he opened a law practice in Lake City, Colorado. In 1908 he joined the law firm of Moynihan, Hughes, and Knous in Montrose, Colorado, where he remained until his death in 1956. Moynihan married the daughter of a Montrose pioneer family, Marguerite Catherine Catlin, with whom he had four children: Charles Joseph, Jr., Frank Dale Moynihan, Peggy McCaffery, and Alice Mae Mills.

He was a member of many local and supporter of many local clubs, having founded the Montrose Rotary club and becoming its first president. He was a mason, an honorary life-member of the Elks, a member of the Colorado and American Bar associations, Denver Club, Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity, and Kappa Sigma social fraternity.

Moynihan was an “outstanding and colorful criminal lawyer.” Known for an old-school courtroom persona and a silver tongue, he was well known for having successfully defended Roy L. Maxson in 1917, who was accused of poisoning Samuel G. McMullin. Besides criminal law, he was an expert on water law, was the leading advocate of the Upper Colorado River project, and handled much of the litigation preceding the erection of the Taylor Dam.

His law partners later became as prominent in the Democratic Party as Moynihan was in the Republican. Dan Hughes became a district judge and Knous was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives, the state senate, and finally governor of Colorado.

Moynihan himself served as mayor of Montrose from 1914 to 1916, as president of the Colorado Board of Correction from 1917 to 1931, and was appointed to the U. S. Public Land Commission by former president, Herbert Hoover. He was a strong supporter of the Republican Party, and was the GOP US Senate candidate against the rampant Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s.


4.5 linear feet (3 Boxes )

Language of Materials



Charles J. Moynihan (1882-1956) opened a law office in Lake City, Colorado, in 1905. In 1908, he moved to Montrose to establish the firm of Moynihan, Hughes, and Knous. Moynihan specialized in criminal and water law, served as Mayor of Montrose (1914-1916), was a member of the State Board of Corrections (1917-1931), and a Public Lands Commissioner under President Herbert Hoover. He was a noted public speaker, a Republican Party activist, and an authority on Abraham Lincoln. The collection contains speeches, campaign materials, and clippings about Moynihan’s court cases and political activities.


This collection is arranged into the following series:

1. Speeches by Moynihan 2. Articles and Newspaper Clippings 3. Photographs 4. Records

Jeffrey Wermer
November 2012
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States