The property was in the Panther Lake area between (1999 street names) 334th and 10th Avenue SW and 21st Avenue SW and 1st Avenue S. John Conna was a Civil War veteran and as such received with the claim two of the five years of required residency. In her history of the Tacoma area Winnifred Owens writes, "He came to Tacoma in 1883 and became a wealthy real estate agent."
Republican Party leaders appointed Conna Assistant Sergeant at Arms of the 1889 Washington Territorial House of Representatives, making him the first black political appointee in the Washington Territory. In addition, he served as Sergeant at Arms of the Extraordinary Session of the Senate and at the regular session in 1890.
Horace Cayton, the prominent newspaper publisher, credited John Conna with framing the Public Accommodations Act of 1890, and lobbying for it. The Act entitled all citizens, including persons of color, to civil and legal rights such as access to accommodations at inns, theaters, restaurants, and public conveyances.