Sunday, January 5, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #1, William George Murphy

Amy Johnson Crow, at No Story Too Small, issued this New Year's challenge to bloggers:
The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.  
Needing some inspiration for my newly-launched Pine Trees and Pedigrees, I thought this would be just the thing to provide the incentive I need to keep my blog current. But who to start off with, out of the 168 ancestors I have identified going back through my 7x great-grandparents, not to mention all the collateral relatives? (Okay, so all those aunts and uncles aren't technically my ancestors – I'm not directly descended from them – but I'm going to use a somewhat looser definition of "ancestor" here. They're my relatives, after all.) I decided to begin with someone on my mother's side of the family: my grandfather, Bill Murphy, who I never knew (he died five years before I was born).

William G. Murphy, date unknown
William George Murphy was born 20 May 1886 in the (extremely) rural community of Hebron in Lot 8 on Prince Edward Island, Canada. He was the second of eleven children and the first son of farmer Dominic Murphy and Rose Ann McIntyre, and was baptized on 25 Jul 1886 in St. Mary's Church in "the Brae", a nearby and also extremely rural community.

I know little of his childhood, except that "Willy" grew up with five sisters and five brothers (though "grew up with" might not be an accurate description when it came to the youngest siblings – Bernard, the baby of the family, was nearly 21 years William's junior), attended school through eighth grade, and eventually decided, along with several of his brothers, to give up farming and make a new life in the United States.

His uncle Lot (and, I think, several other uncles and aunts) had emigrated and settled in Newburyport, Massachusetts, about the time William was born, and around 1904 William's grandparents had followed their children to Newburyport. By 1913, William, his older sister Mary Ann, and brothers John J. and Joseph had all emigrated; Mary Ann and John J. were both married, and the three brothers had moved to Berlin, New Hampshire (Mary Ann remained in Newburyport, where her husband had been born). William became a house painter, and his brothers went to work in the Cascade paper mills.

Bill Murphy (right) with a fellow painter and unknown man in back, date unknown
Then in 1914, his father Dominic died back on P.E.I. William returned home for the funeral, and then made arrangements for his mother Rose Ann and the seven younger children to pack up and move to Berlin. The family arrived on 5 Nov 1914 at the Vanceboro, Maine, border crossing and headed for Berlin. Over the next few years, most of the older children married and set up their own households in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. William served briefly in the U.S. Army during World War One, and was naturalized in 1918. Not until 1922 did he marry Glenna Rabideau and finally leave the nest.

William George Murphy (left) with unknown fellow soldier, 1918

Bill and Glenna had a daughter, Kathleen (my mother), and soon moved to Lewiston, Maine, where another daughter, Theresa, arrived. Aside from a short sojourn in Texas in the late 1920s, the family remained in Lewiston, and Bill continued to ply his painting trade there, until his death on 15 Oct 1946 at the VA hospital in Togus, Maine. He is buried in the Mount Hope Catholic Cemetery in Lewiston.

William G. Murphy's gravestone, Mount Hope Cemetery, Lewiston, Maine

1 comment:

Pam Seavey Schaffner said...

Great post, and wonderful pictures!