Youthful Experiences, by Garrett Murphy (abt. 1892)

[From a copy made by Theodore Specht, around 1940. The original is in the possession of Dr. Walter A. Specht, Jr. Walter A. Specht, Sr., writes: "Many of the pages are missing. This is very unfortunate. There are important segments of his life missing. I guess his notes were written about 1895. He was ordained as a minister in 1892.
There is a note at end by Jerry Specht about possible third marriage(?)]

During the war and the strife and bitterness and hate it engendered between neighbors we were not spared, and I became a very profane if not a dangerous boy. I refrained from profane language in the presence of any parents (except once) and they never knew the depth of the wickedness and depravity of their wretched boy. In the month of February or March, 1864, we sold our house and removed to Warren Co., Illinois, Greenbush, where my father and mother were members of New Hope Church, the church where Elds. Van Meter Bradbury R.M. Simmons belonged.

Father and mother would go to their meetings on Sunday and I would go fishing to Swan Creek. Deacon John Van Deveer's lived near us, they were high-tempered and fighting stock, and in June, 1866, came a trouble between the families, commencing with a fight between the little boys until George (six months younger than me) fought my younger brother, and then I drove him away and the next Sunday evening, June 24, 1866, an older brother, Chas. Vandever, who was working away from home, came home to give me a whipping. He was twenty two years old and weighed about 180 pounds. He kept our cows from coming home on Sunday evening and waited for me to come after them and then, suiting the action to the word, said he "would make me fight" and the result was a fight of about thirty minutes and two disfigured combatants. Then his father kicked me two or three times and I took a pocket knife and cut Charles in 13 places on his side and hip and finally loosed him and got away.

I was arrrested, tried, and, of course, came clear as I was clearly justifiable, but I was threatened again, and after he had recovered, I came to Iowa in the fall of 1866 and became acquainted near Bladensburg with Mary Jane Wright whom I married in January 1867, being then only 17 years old.

My father had given me a release of my time, and consented to my marriage, though I had no property. Having attained my majority, and being now a citizen of this world, I then began to look about me to find my proper place, and learn my duties as a citizen and soon came to the conclusion that it was my first duty to become a Christian, and then live a consistent Christian life, as a duty to my fellows, and the reward eternal life would be thereby secured, as well as the confidence and respect of my fellow men.

My wife was a Missionary Baptist, but I attended the Christian [on?] Campbellite Church and soon began to think their doctrines reasonable. Eld. Ira Mitchell of Kentucky was preaching at Bladensburg then and he seemed to show plainly the truth of his formula "Hear the gospel, believe the gospel, obey the gospel" & "We preach the gospel: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." "Repent and be baptized - and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." This seemed plainly to point out my duty and I professed a belief that "Jesus Christ was the Son of God" and was immersed in Buckeye Creek by Elder Jas. Glenn on Feb. 7, 1867.

Now came trial and doubt and even before my baptism Elder Glenn told me "not to expect any vivid manifestation of the spiritual gift, as I might be disappointed that it sometimes came very gradually". This perhaps weakened my faith and at least weakened my confidence in their profession and after my baptism, when I found I was the same I was before, without a single evidence of forgiven sins and as great a tendency to do evil as before, and when I would swear I would look to see if any one was near to hear me. I of course could not regard this as other than a farce and a mockery of the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet I felt that the doctrine of a conditioned or "offered salvation" must be true; it was the only plan any man or woman with a due regard for their natural nobility, or human reason, could accept.

It seemed that Infinite Wisdom and Almighty Power, Predestination and the Foreknowledge of God would make Him the Author of Evil and Sin and therefore was too unreasonable for human belief. My parents of course were of old-fashioned views, and rather to be pitied, for they certainly had not studied these things in the light of Modern Science and theology.

Just now it pleased God in his providence to hedge[?] up my way and break my pride. The very occurance which I regarded as the greatest worldly calamity that could befall me was at hand, and without ever assigning a reason for her action, my wife abandoned me forever, and I was left alone indeed to my reflections. I now began to review my past and wonder why was all this?

Had I only died in my infancy would it not have been better? Yet I was not consulted and I am here, perhaps for some reason unknown to me. I tried to live a moral life, tried to comply with the law's demands only to find it impossible to do so.

My wife who had also united with the Campbellite Church was expelled and I received a letter of dismission. She went to Oregon and again married and took my daughter with her. I had never seen my child. She was born Nov. 22, 1867.

I came to Warren County, Iowa, in the fall of 1867, broken in health and spirits, and settled with my father's family, who also came from Illinois this year, near New Virginia. I had a severe cough and was treated by Eld. J. M. Joillete[?] also a practioner of medicine during the winter of 1867 for lung disease.

My mental trouble grew more severe and in the winter of 1868 I and my brother Riley and my sister Rebecca went to the "Mourner's bench" at a Methodists meeting in our neighborhood, and a few weeks afterward, they were both relieved and singing the praises of the Great Physician, but I was no better. I thought for sure I knew the work of grace going on in their hearts but alas for me! I feared there was no forgiveness, no hope for earth nor heaven. I thought if I ever experienced a work of grace it would be like my father's experience or my mother's or vivid like the work in the case of my brother and sister, and I would know then what had happened to me.

I know when my brother had stopped swearing (he had been very profane) and saw him hiding himself to try to pray, as I had done so many times, and I saw his tears dried and his weeping changed to singing.

I saw my sister's tears, and wondered at her weeping, for she seemed pure as an angel, and knew when father was called to her bedside in the night to pray for her, and I saw here happy face when she confessed her hope of sins forgiven.

I felt that I, the oldest brother was a Cain indeed -- rejected of God, my brother, my sister, accepted I could not go to meeting when they were baptized, my feelings were beyond description. I dreamed about this time that I was standing on a gentle eminence facing the south, and saw a clear river of water running to the eastward, and upon its bank, a congregation of people, all dressed alike, in white, and a large marble monument, square, stood among the congregation, about eight feet high, and upon this stood the Savior Jesus preaching his own gospel and I was close enough to hear the sound of His voice but could not hear his words though I tried my best and could get no nearer, though they were on the bank next to me. I could hear the sweet music of the voices when they sing, but not the words, such sweet melody I have never heard in my waking moments but once.

I told this dream and was advised to tell it to the church but oh my soul! how far from hope this manifestation left me! I feared I never might be nearer, never might hear that music of the language of Jesus pronouncing my "sins forgiven". This was my prayer, this my desire by day and night. Yet dreary, hopeless, helpless, despairing I came to the month of March 1869 and then I thought my days on earth must be short, I would go away from home to die. I agreed to cultivate a farm for Deacon John Beal[?] about six miles from father's house, and went away.

[Note by T. R. Specht: The above are p. 7 thru 18; there is a gap - then p. 31.]

[Note by Jerry Specht: J. Garrett completed medical studies sometime before 1876 and, in 1876, married Elizabeth Ann Brown.]

... to have me sent to St. Peter to the asylum at once. Yet sometimes the tears would flow, and the silent prayer ascend, that God would deliver and save at last.

Aug. 26, 1877, our first-born died, a daughter -- died at birth.

Aug. 18, 1880, our second child, a son, aged a little over two years died about two hours after his sister was born, and she died Feb. 26, 1882, aged about 18 months. Elder Nelson Jeffers visited us some time after this occurrence. (He was a friend of my father and myself in whom we had great confidence, one who had suffered great persecution and misrepresentation for the truth's sake.) He stayed over night at our house in Garden City, Minnesota, and his wife, dear sister Jeffers, with him. I met them at the gate and told them we were very glad to see them (which was the truth) and that they were welcome to the best we could afford and then told them "we will not talk about religious subjects at all" when I, poor starved prodigal, desired to hear this most of all things. The next morning when they were in the buggy to go, Eld. Jeffers said, "Brother Garrett, I am going to call you brother now I am in my buggy. God is stronger than you are." "Good bye." Dear brother he is gone to his blest reward, and little did I think then I should be sent to take the pastoral care of Lime Creek Church in his stead. Time rolled on and my trouble increased, my health failed and my time seemed short on earth. I sought for ease, no peace could I find, no rest not a ray of light to illuminate my worse than Egyptian darkness. I rode out sometimes in storm & night, but the darkness which surrounded me was nothing to that which was felt.

My wife made a visit to her people in the September of the the year 1889, and during her stay my mind was so distressed I could hardly eat or sleep. I lay out on the porch and wept through the long hours of the night and on her return I asked her, "Do the Baptists hold their little meetings at your father's yet?" and she said "I believe you are getting crazy." I said, "Perhaps I am." She said, "Are you thinking of going there?" I said, "I don't know what I shall do."

I wrote my father and sent him the money so he could meet me here, so we would be sure to have some preaching, and in October 1889, I came to the meeting with streaming eyes and a broken and contrite heart, and asked forgiveness of my brethern, if they could forgive such a wretch as I, and told them I hoped the Lord had forgiven, and they received me again, and in the month of May 1890.

They licensed me to preach and I went to Clarke County in Sept. 1891 and made an appointment with the brethern there, and made a public acknowledgement to the brethern and told them if they could forgive me, to again give me the hand of fellowship, and all of them did so, and I found these indeed joyful seasons.

My wife and daughter made the way hard for me at home comparing my actions and my professions, and I avoided their company much as possible and passed most of my home hours in the medical office. In the evening before retiring I would kneel in prayer, in my office, and ask for mercy and forgiveness for them and in September 1890, my wife's opposition ceased, and I heard her of evenings singing in her organ room, "What a friend we have in Jesus" yet I never thought of what had occurred to her, and supposed her music teacher had her studying church music. In October I was taken very sick and my life was for a time thought in great danger, and my wife came to my bed one evening and said, "I want to tell you something before you die" and then told me the dealings of the Lord with her. I improved in health from that time. She was baptized July 4th 1891 by Eld. A.J. Norton.

In the month of April 1892, the Presbytery composed of Brethern Eld. Thomas Blake & Elder Wm J. Reeves called by the church for that purpose ordained, and set me apart, to the work of the ministry. Elder Thomas Blake is a member of the Otter Creek Church in our association (the Turkey River) and Elder Reeves is a member of a church in the Western Association. After ordination I was formally chosen pastor of Lime Creek Church in which position I still remain. Brethern Abram Lestes was since ordained Deacon in our church by Elder Blake and myself.

[Note by T.R. Specht: The rest available seems to be scripture notes.]

-- prepared by Jerry Specht, December 15, 2002.

Additional notes by Jerry Specht. I have copied a note on J. Garrett Murphy's life by Walter A. Specht (my uncle), posted in Gary Tharp's entry for him on, to this address: .

I find (searching "amesta murphy" on that the following marriage record is retrieved:


Marriage Date: 12 Oct 1871
County: Warren
State: IA

This would have been in the "interim period", when Garrett was spouse-less. Warren County is the county where Garrett was living. (See above.) It's interesting to note that one of the children born to Garrett and Elizabeth A. Brown was named Amesta. (This was my father's mother.) But it seems she never used that name --she always went by "Agatha" or "A. Agatha".

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