12/1964 Letter from James R. Murphy, M.D. to Theodore R. Specht
22822 Highbank Dr.
December 5, 1964
Dear Mr. Specht,
Let me introduce myself. My great uncle was Garrett Murphy, your grandfather. In the past 18 months much interest has developed in tracing the Murphy-Morphew family histories. This interest has become so widespread, in fact, that Mrs. Grace Morphew of Blytheville, Arkansas has undertaken to write a book on this -- she has records and names of over 700 of relatives of both you and me, and can trace the family ancestry back as far as 1679 in Surrey County, England. The reason for this letter is to locate a descendant of Garrett Murphy, M.D. who might furnish information on the children and grandchildren of Garrett, so that they may be included in Grace Morphew's book. Mrs. A.F. Peterson has given me your name and has said that you might be able to help me obtain this information.
Despite being closely related to Garrett, I really know very little about him. Recently an old bible of Garrett's father was located and gives Garrett's birthdate as January 3, 1850. Of Garrett's wives, the names of two only have come to light -- Amestia Ewing and Elizabeth A. Brown. Garrett married Elizabeth Brown at Nora Springs, Iowa on Nov. 5, 1876. Mrs. Peterson has mentioned that the names of Garrett's children are 1. Agatha Amesta 1882?; 2. Sarah 1888?; 3. Mingonett; 4. Clement 1880?; 5. Irene; 6. Cleveland Murphy. Of the grandchildren almost no names are known. My grandfather James W. Murphy recalls personally meeting Garrett only once. I know that Garrett is buried in the cemetary 1 mile south of Garden City, Minnesota. Of his children, the only details known are those given above. Even with this little knowledge, Garrett does star in the hot controversy of how the family name of Morphew came to be changed to Murphy. In letters from relatives which I have received, many different versions have come forth -- from "That name Morphew is not the true original name either" to the opposite extreme of Marion Morphew's "I have had letters from several states all from Morphews and not one from Murphy"---. Mrs. Lucy Eaton so far has given the only detailed account. "The name Murphy in our Morphew family began when my oldest half brother Garrett was a student in Medical College. Just a nickname at first. From then on he wanted to be called Murphy.... His brothers Riley and Cal decided they would also write their names "Murphy". My father fought against the idea but was unsuccessful in changing their minds. None of my fathers brothers or any member of their family as far back as he ever knew were ever called Murphy. It all began with Garrett which has caused a lot of confusion in tracing our relatives."
Going back further into the ancestors of Garrett, a great deal more information is known. For example Garrett's father William Morphew was born Jan. 10, 1829 at Putnam County, Indiana, and was the 2nd of a family of 7 children. About 1845 his father James Morphew and family moved on to Fulton County, Illinois, new the small village of St. David, Illinois. William met and married his first wife, Sarah Allumbaugh near there, probably at Shields Chapel which is 4 miles southwest of Canton, Illinois. While the rest of the clan headed west to Nora Springs, Iowa, William and his stayed behind in 1860 and farmed land until about 1864. A recent letter states he was ordained a Baptist Minister at Mason County, Illinois (not proven). During these times Riley Murphy recollects that William and his children went to see Abe Lincoln speak at Springfield, Illinois during a 4th of July celebration. By 1864 William also headed west, but to near Woodburn, Iowa where he worked as a Baptist Minister and farmer. After his first wife died, he remarried to Mary Hines in April, 1876. In 1893 William moved west to Kansas to join his son Riley, but was forced back to Iowa after all his crops died in a rainless summer. He later spent some time with another son Lee near Conway, Mo., and finally at the bid of Garrett, joined him at Garden City, Minnesota in 1899. The children of William Morphew and Sarah Allumbaugh were:
1. James Garrett Murphy -- Jan. 3, 1850 to 1905 at Garden City, Minnesota.
2. Riley Hanson Murphy -- Jan. 1, 1853 to 1935 at Great Bend, Kansas. This is my great grandfather. Married Amy Jones.
3. Jordan Callaway Murphy ("Cal") -- 1860 to 1937 at Topeka, Kansas. Married Eliza McDonald.
4. Charles Lee Morphew ("Lee") -- May 16, 1870 to Jan. 9, 1942 at Lake Crystal, Minnesota. Married Mary Evans.
Children which didn't live long were: Rebecca Ann, William Elijah, Rachel E., Harrison, Martha E., and an infant daughter.
Children of William and Mary Hines Morphew were:
1. Marion H. Morphew -- May 9, 1877 to June 9, 1964 at Minneapolis, Minnesota. Married Celia Ann Lee.
2. Rachel J. Morphew -- Sept. 17, 1878 to Jan. 18, 1920. Married Robert Harvey Norton.
3. Lucy E. Morphew -- March 3, 1880 - still living. Married Arthur William Eaton.
4. Veturia M. Morphew (Dolly) -- Oct. 26, 1881 to Nov. 30, 1962 at Smelterville, Idaho. Married Charles Ellig.
Mr. Specht, I would enjoy hearing from you and would appreciate any information you might have. If there is another relative or descendant of Garrett who might be interested, I would like to know their names. What is needed in particular is information on Garrett's descendants for Grace Morphew's book -- but any records of the earlier people is also very much needed. There is much work still to be done on this family history. Will be looking forward to your letter.
James R. Murphy, M.D.
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