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William and Mary Murphy


This page belongs to greg krenzelok.


William and Mary Murphy

William M.8 in the Murphy Book

William Murphy came from Ireland like his Three sisters; Sarah Murphy Williams, Bridget Murphy Kelly and Margaret Murphy Williams. He purchases 118 acres of land using Military Bounty Land Warrant issued to Private Sterling Cother that was received for his service in the “Florida War” (He purchased this Military Warrant and is transferred to him in 1858) and goes to Polk County in August of 1860 and the family shows up in the 1860 Polk County census. He settles in Balsam Lake, Township 34N – Range 17W. William and Mary Clancy Murphy's son Patrick will married Margaret Rogers and homestead on Rice Creek below Milltown on their "Evergreen Homestead"


William Murphy Senior and his wife Mary Clancy Murphy

Adapted from Byron Doyle’s “The Murphy Book”

William, the last child in his family has be assigned an arbitrary birth date of January 1, 1829. This date is substantiated by his death certificate and his obituary, but is far from conclusive. After he died the relatives in Ireland wrote saying they had found his birth record and that he was just 91 when he died. One descendent, Irene Murphy Calder, who lived several years in the same household with William, says he was born in 1828 and always claimed January 1st as his birthday. To further confuse the issue the U.S. Census report vary. Was wife Mary older that William?



Picture of Ardglass House in Ireland taken by our relative Don Murphy in the summer of 1980. And the first above picture: When Byron Doyle was in Wisconsin in 1980 he was shown the above picture by Mary Ann Murphy (M.8.6.4.3 in the Murphy Book) She had found it among keepsakes handed down through her (M.8.6) line. Written in pencil on the back of the picture is “Three of William Murphy’s brothers in Dublin, Ireland) This picture was sent off to our relatives in Ireland asking for their comments. Eileen Comber Palmer (M.2.2.9.3) responded in mid November as follows, “It was great to get that old photograph, it seems to bring the American and Irish Murphy’s closer. I have shown the picture to Maureen (Eileen’s sister), and we are now certain that the house is Ardglass. It is exactly as we remember it as children. The young woman standing in the back, we are sure it is our mother, Delia (M.2.2.9) and the man sitting on the left is her father, Edmond (M.2.2). The others in the picture we have never seen any pictures of , but we are assuming that they were the people mother lived with at Ardglass. As you probably know, she lived in Ardglass from the age of 13 until she married at 36. She was 26 years old when her grandfather, James Murphy (M.2) died, so this picture must have been taken sometime before his death in 1920. The old man in the picture in the center, we are assuming is the grandfather, James Murphy (M.2) and the woman sitting at the right must be my mother’s aunt Hannah (M.2.1). My mother always described her as “small and dainty”. The other man standing at the back must be her Uncle Charles (M.2.4) who also lived there and never married. He looks quite old, almost as old looking as his father, but I think old James (M.2) was 97 when he died, so his sons were no spring chickens at the time. The only other Murphy that may fit in there was James Murphy of Cooline (M.1.5) but, as I have a photograph of him on a memorial card, he appears to have much broader features than the man in this group.

William’s birthplace was Ardglass, Charleville, and County Cork, Ireland. This was a lovely home at one time. Family tradition indicates that William was well educated and that his mother had hopes that he would study for the priesthood.

When William was still in his early teens his father died suddenly, and probably from a heart attack. Then by his mid-teens his mother died and his older sister, Bridget became the “Mother” of William and sister Margaret. William decided his future was in America so, borrowing some money from his older brother, Charles he arranged passage on a sailing ship to the port of New York.

The year of passage was likely 1847. Some family stories have his sister, Margaret coming with him while others refer to Margaret as the last to come. It is likely that William stayed in New York for a while before heading west, first to Pennsylvania and then later to the St. Croix Valley of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

A search of the 1850 U.S. Census records has failed to locate William for us. Our first concrete evidence of his where about in the U.S. comes from his “Intent to Naturalize” filed August 17, 1855 at Hudson, Wisconsin. We can guess that William came to the area and was employed in the fast growing lumber industry. Quite likely he was already investigating homesteading possibilities in the area.

We next locate William at Blossburg, Pa. where, on August 9, 1856 he married Mary Clancy at St. Andrews Church a parish where Williams’s nephew, Father Patrick Murphy (M.1.3) would later serve as pastor. And of interest attending is Margaret Clancy and Thomas Williams. Margaret was to marry William Cosgrove and become a life long neighbor of Long Lake, Polk County, Wisconsin. Thomas married two or three years later in Minn. Then many years after, two of Tom’s daughters married two of Williams Murphy’s sons.

Mary Clancy had been born in May 1833 in Ireland to the marriage of Patrick Clancy and Ellen Riordan. Rose Murphy Doyle recalled her grandmother, Mary as the one they loved to spend time with. She in spite of her daughter in-law, Maggie’s instructions would give the children tea, or anything else they asked for. She always called her husband “Woolum” with her thick Irish brogue. It can be guessed that William and Mary left right after the wedding for Stillwater, Minn and that William was employed in the lumber industry. One story refers to his job as “William toated from Stillwater to the headquarters of the Namekogen River”. One dictionary refers to toating as a lumber industry term meaning to haul. It is also spelled “tote” and carries a similar meaning.

In Stillwater they settled in a section called “Slab Alley” an Irish settlement near the river. It likely was name Slabally with the accent on the first syllable by the Irish. Bally is part of many town names in Ireland. The non-Irish anglicized it into Slab Alley.

In the early 1970’s an old Stillwater lumberman described Slab Alley geographically as “There is a stairway from the South end of Main Street to Broadway and Slab Alley ran from the stairs, paralleling the river, down to the Saw Mills located on the river bank.” He recalls in his early days there were still some houses as well as a blacksmith shop in the area.

It was here that daughter Mary Ann in 1857 and son James in 1859 were born. However on May 22, 1858 William had applied to settle on land at Polk County, Wisconsin. This involved buying a land patent from Sterling Cotner a private in the Tennessee Militia, during the Florida War. Then on July 16, 1860 the land deeds were officially transferred to William Murphy by order of President James Buchanan.


William and Mary home in the Long Lake area of Polk County, WI taken around 1908. Note: For a while now I have had a copy of this picture but I was not sure who was in the picture or whose house it was until my trip to the Long Lake area to do family research in 2008. Byron had passed away who could have easily identified this picture and I never got a chance to ask him and when I had shown his family they were not sure. It was hard to have such a wonderful picture and not know for sure who or where it was taken. Our Turner relatives who have a copy of this picture and were able to tell me that it was William and Mary Murphy’s old place. I was sure surprised when Charles and his wife Marion showed me their copy. I had a short but wonderful visit with them. The house and farm is still in the family. I am still not sure who is in the picture but William is sitting down and I am guessing his daughter Mary Ann is next to him and his son’s James, William Jr, Patrick, John and Edward maybe in the back ground. William's wife Mary died in 1906, 13 years before William passed away in 1919 and I am guessing that she had passed away when the picture was taken.


Above picture was taken at William’s son Patrick and Maggie Murphy’s home a few miles away from his home. Taken around 1910, in the picture from the left are: first women and baby we are not sure of yet, next is Pat and Maggie’s daughter Mary Murphy McDermott holding Evelyn, boys sitting on the ground are Pat and Maggie’s son Leonard and Sylvester, seated is William Murphy Senior, Mr. Reader, Henry Rogers, Pat Murphy, Mary’s husband Arthur McDermott, young girl and woman is unknown, Margaret Rogers Murphy (Maggie), Margaret Carney Murphy and husband William Jr (Willie) and Margaret Murphy Sullivan.

It seems quite likely that William moved the family to Long Lake immediately after son James was born on May 30, 1859 as of August 2, 1860 the family of four shows on the 1860 census in Polk County, Wisconsin and there starts the family farming the area.

A brief comment on the naming of the first son if he was named James in honor of his paternal grandfather in the line with Irish tradition, we now have another reason to accept that William’s father was James Murphy. Of added interest is the fact that this son grew up and married and named his son William after his father, or as the Irish tradition.

William immediately threw himself into getting his new farm operating. Breaking soil for the first time was a backbreaking job as most of the land was heavily wooded. One of the ways to remove the stumps was by digging a hole under the stump and carefully placing your dynamite in a way that blew the stump completely out of the ground and sometimes into the air. Stump pulling was never ending job either by horse team or dynamite. Also in those days the neighboring men took turns going to Stillwater with team and wagon for supplies and mail. They were usually gone for about a week because there wasn’t much of a road. The women were very good at using whatever they had on hand to keep the family together.

At this time their new homeland was engaged in a war that everyone was talking about, the Civil War. Everyone was trying to understand what it meant for them and did they want to get involved. They had left a lot of lot in Europe and they had a taste for a better life. The newcomers were not emotionally involved in this war that they did not understand. Their most serious concern was the draft. The December 12, 1863 Polk County Press listed these people as eligible for the draft in January 1864; 1st class listings included such names as John Hurley, Mike Kelly, John Lillis, John Lynch and James Lillis. 2nd Class listing included William Murphy and Michael Rogers.

The September 3, 1864 list of those enrolled in the draft included William Murphy. Apparently his family and occupation kept William from ever having to report for duty in the army.

At this point let’s examine William at a person from the information that we have. First from a physical standpoint he was quite short, standing only slightly over 5 feet in height. Next it can be easily assumed he was well educated for the times. He enjoyed music and even poetry and on occasion submitting bits to the newspaper for publication. More likely these poems described an actual happening in the community. An example piece was:

“Twas the 17 th January
This couple took a ride
He tipped the cutter (Sleigh) over
And he hurted the old bride”

He also enjoyed singing Ballards that he wrote and loved to dance and drink at community gatherings was a specialties of his, he was a true Irishman! William really enjoyed a good party or family gathering especially if there was dancing. It is said he was the “life of the party” and would dance until he was exhausted and maybe had a little too much to drink. (Note: Byron always tried to warn us that drinking was in the family) William had a good, but dry sense of humor. Many of his expressions came from his Irish youth such as: “Bad Cest to them” if he was upset with someone.. Another expression was” Don’t stand there like a Stotten bottle” if he wanted action. Note: I tried to do a little research on the meaning of this without any luck.

We can guess that William had a happy disposition, which consisted of general good humor, yet he likely could be volatile if crossed. His obit describes him as “of jolly disposition, hospitable and because of his genial ways, he had lots of friends”.


From right to left: William Murphy Sr who came over from Ireland with his 3 sisters, his son Patrick and Patrick's daughter Mary Murphy McDermott with her daughter Evelyn taken on October 16 1910 in the Long Lake area of Polk County, Wisconsin.

We can follow Williams’s life over the next several years on a chronological basis to learn much about him and the lives and happenings in the Long Lake Community.

In 1870 William and his family appear again in the U.S. Census. Then on June 8, 1870 newspaper article shows him as a school district clerk.

The May 31, 1873 Polk County Press said “William Murphy is building a new log barn” June and July 1873 newspaper articles relate to the big 4th of July picnic. Then on November 11, 1876 the news reports a fistfight between William Murphy and Mike Hurley. Note: see below for a copy of the fight.

The March 3, 1877 Polk County Press reports that “William Murphy of Milltown is having his old Casey threshing machine rebuilt. Leroy Loveless is doing the work.

Next, Polk County Press reports” Justice Samuel Emery, a few days since tried the case of the State of Wisconsin against William Cosgrove for assault and battery on Bill Murphy. Two warrants were issued for two different assaults. Could this have been William versus William Cosgrove (1832-1910) the husband of Margaret Clancy who was William’s sister in-law and maid of honor at his wedding to Mary Clancy?

William and his family again appear in the 1880 U.S. Census. Oldest child Mary Ann has already married and left home. The following year William decides to finalize his citizenship and on April 11, 1881 he legally becomes a citizen.

Probably, it was about 1885 when William wrote and began singing the ballad about putting the steeple on St. Patrick’s Church. Note: see below. Of interest is the fact that Jim Scott would have been William’s nephew by marriage. Jim had married Lizzie Williams (M.7.3) the daughter of William’s sister, Margaret.


Early Plat map of the area, look for the red dots that locate some of our family in the area. More of our relatives had farms to the east and north of William Murphy's. Our Rogers line of the family were also located on the northend of Long Lake.

In Father Gordon’s story of St. Patrick’s Parish he refers to the records showing a report written by then pastor, Father Stephan Duren. We quote Father Gordon as follows, “One item of particular interest to the writer of these chronicles is on July 2, 1887 appears expenditure to settlement with J.H. Scott, 298.00 dollars. It was fifty years later that I received a warm letter from a writer named Scott urging settlement of his claim against St. Patrick’s Church”

By 1900 when the census is taken only son John is still at home. William , incidentally shows as age 65, born January 1835 and wife Mary shows age 70 and born May 1830. Regrettable it does not show the year of immigration for either of them.

On March 14, 1906, William’s wife Mary died and was buried at St. Patrick’s Cemetery Long Lake. Then in 1908 son John married and moved onto his own farm up in the area of his brother Patrick place. Youngest son Edward now a widower was living in Cloquet, Minnesota, while his 3 children were separated and living individually with other families after his wife Flora died. For Edward’s benefit as well as for his own, William suggested the Edward and his family return to the “Old Home Farm” as it was called on a permanent basis. As an incentive he offered Edward a life estate contract and on June 15, 1908 the agreement is signed.

Edward returns and marries Inez Cahalan and makes this once again a happy, noisy home again. Inez had been born in Ireland and she and William became fast friends very quickly. Edward’s daughter Irene Murphy Calder has many memories of William and the years together in the same household.

Irene became William’s corresponding secretary and well recalls his saying “Here, back this letter for me” This meant to address the envelope, for the letter he had written to a relative back in Ireland. Irene easily recalls the address as “Ardglass, Charleville, Newtown, Shandrum, County Cork, Ireland. She also recalls his writing to a Sarah Sheehan in New York State. See the M.2.6 in the Murphy Book for Sarah and her descendants, including those still living on Long Island.

On March 19, 1919, only four months after the end of WW1, William died on the “Old Home Farm” He is buried alongside his wife Mary Clancy Murphy and their tombstone reads;

“In loving memory of Mary Clancy, wife of William Murphy, Sr. born in County Cork, Ireland, died March 14, 1906 at age 72.

A Loving Wife
A Mother Dear
A Faithful Friend
Lies Buried Here
May She Rest in Peace, Amen

William’s reads:

William Murphy Sr.
Born in County Cork, Ireland
Died March 19, 1919 age 90
May His Soul Rest in Peace, Amen.


The above family tree shows Williams parents in Ireland and his brothers and sisters, and then his and Mary's children. There again it was Sarah, Bridget, Margaret and William who came to America and finally were some of the early settlers in the Long Lake area of Polk County WI.


1876 fight between William Murphy and Mike Hurley


William Murphy's Battle of the Steeple at St. Patrick's Church

On March 19, 1919, only four months after the end of WW1, William died on the “Old Home Farm” He is buried alongside his wife Mary Clancy Murphy and their tombstone reads;

“In loving memory of Mary Clancy, wife of William Murphy, Sr. born in County Cork, Ireland, died March 14, 1906 at age 72.

A Loving Wife
A Mother Dear
A Faithful Friend
Lies Buried Here
May She Rest in Peace, Amen

William’s reads:

William Murphy Sr.
Born in County Cork, Ireland
Died March 19, 1919 age 90
May His Soul Rest in Peace, Amen.


William and wife Mary's grave marker at St Patrick's


I was in the Long Lake area doing research in April of 2008 and I had a chance to put some flowers on our relatives graves at St Patrick's Cemetery. If you get a chance to make a visit please remember our family that is there.


Click on the Murphy Family Homepage link:

Murphy Family of Polk County Wisconsin