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DNA test leads Arizona man in search of brother

DEWAYNE HOLLOWAY/dewayne@mcnews.online

A DNA kit gifted by his daughter has led an Arizona man on a quest to Montgomery County in an effort locate a brother he didn’t know he had.

John R. Koch shared recently during a telephone conversation that his daughter purchased Ancestry.com DNA kits for he and his wife as Christmas presents in 2018. He never expected to find out that the man who he had known as his father wasn’t his biological father. The test revealed that John was the biological son of John Tillman Monahan.

As he began to search for answers regarding his biological father John discovered a sister he didn’t know he had. His sister, Marla (Monahan) Burton was able to shed some light on his father’s life.

Marla, who lives in Fowler, Kansas, shared that their father was born in Montgomery County, Arkansas and may have lived in Bonnerdale and Mount Ida while growing up. Marla shared with John that their father loved to cook and in fact served as a culinary expert in the Navy during World War II. He learned to cook from his mother Onie May Lavender. He added that it was his understanding that some of Monaham’s mother’s family may still live in Montgomery County.

While serving in World War II, Monahan served on the battleship, the USS Maryland, which was moored at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked the Hawaiian base. 

Prior to joining the Navy, Monahan worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps also known as the CCC. 

Apparently John’s father joined the CCC while he was a young teenager. Marla shared with John that their father spent most of his time with the CCC in the Mount Ida area. Some of the local CCC projects he possibly was involved in include the Charlton Bathhouse and Charlton Spillway/Dam in 1938. Monahan may have also worked with CCC Project F-28, Company 741.  Other Montgomery County projects that he may have worked on include the Womble District Administrative Site House 1 in 1940, near Mount Ida, Crystal Springs Dam, 1939, Crystal Springs Camp Shelter, 1939, Collier Springs Shelter, 1939, all projects near Womble.

The only thing John Koch and his sister Marla know about this photo is the woman pictured is named Marie. They hope someone in Montgomery County can help them locate their half-brother.
A faded handwritten message shares that a woman named Marie gave birth to a son fathered by John Koch’s biological father, John Tillman Monahan.

Monahan’s time near Womble is what has led John and Marla’s search to Montgomery County. Marla has a letter of a young woman that belonged to her father. On the back of the photo it reads, “John Tillman Monahan girlfriend while he was in CCCamp. She had a son by him. Tillman was 16 years old.”

In his search to know more about his biological father John had found a sister and now he learned he has a brother. John shared in an email that he served in the Marine Corps on a helicopter crew during the Cuban Missile Crisis, as well as in the Vietnam War in 1963-64 and 1967-68. He quipped that his half-brother was possibly serving in the military during the same time.

John is hoping someone living in Montgomery County, or who has lived in Montgomery County can help him find his half-brother. All they know about him is that his mother’s first name was Marie. Their half-brother would have been born in 1938 or 1939. Marie would have been 18 or 19 at the time of his birth. Marie may have been of Irish descent.

If anyone has any information regarding John Tillman Monahan, Marie, or her son please contact John Koch by phone at (509) 630-1105. You can also reach him by mail at:

1265 E. Crown Drive, Oro Valley, AZ 85755-8778.

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