Although the Comstock-Haggard book gives his name as John Murphy, I have found it only as Murphy/Murphey in all records.
From p.16 of Goodspeed: Transactions of the County Court. Murphy Brown, of Rocky Comfort; John Oliver and Abraham W. Testerman were elected first judges of the county with Burton McGhee, clerk; A. A. Hensley, sheriff, and Tillotson Pearson, treasurer. These formed the court at Rutledge in 1849. Oliver and Testerman opened court at Rutledge, Murphy Brown dissenting; but it is said Brown never attended at Rutledge.
1850 - Murphy Brown and family found in Census in Newton Co MO. 1860 they are in McDonald Co. Interestingly nearby in both censuses is found a William Brown with wife Elizabeth; they are of an age to be his parents. Possible brothers: Ezekiel, found living next door to Murphy in 1850. John S. age 18 living with William and Elizabeth in 1850 - in 1860 John Brown, age 29, living next door to William and has wife and child. Possible nephew: William Warren, age 13 living with William and Elizabeth in 1850; lives nearby in 1860, age 23 with wife and child. Birthplaces remain consistent for all.
Newton County section of Goodspeed gives as one of the first entries in Township 24, Range 30 - Murphy Brown, 1851. [They indeed may have moved - will need to check Newton Co deeds if they exist. Also see patents below]
Here is a description of the town of Rocky Comfort where the Browns settled, from History of McDonald County, Missouri, 1897.
The McDonald Co Courthouse was burned in 1865 but the following land records for Murphy Brown have been found:
Patent #MO5380_.460 Nov 1 1852 McDonald Co MO
Patent #MO5380_.461 Nov 1 1852 McDonald Co MO
Patent #MO5480_.137 Mar 10 1856 McDonald Co MO
McDonald Co Deeds, p.306
Paul Barker had checked the Courthouse on more than one occasion looking for related papers to Murphy's estate settlement. In Jun of 2002, a friend of his helping the Sheriff in Pineville to set up his office found a box of records in his storage room. It contained the following:
Mr. Brown and his son Ezekiel were "bush-whacked" while on the way to the blacksmith shop. His wife Rebekah and some of the older children went after their bodies with the wagon, took them to the cemetery and buried them in a common grave at Chitwood Cemetery near Rocky Comfort. None of their neighbors would help for fear of reprisals. It is told that after Robert Christian killed them, he told Rebekah that he was going to burn her out, but he would give her transportation documents for wherever she wanted to go. She told him, "to hell or Texas, it doesn't much matter". She did take the children to Texas, but unlike so many, she returned after the War. Her home was burned to the ground, but she rebuilt on the old foundation. It is likely two of the daughters died of disease in Texas as their graves are not in the family plot in Missouri.
Here is the rest of the story concerning Robert Christian:
Christian was a neighbor, the 1860 census shows his family enumerated between William Warren, a grandson of Murphy Brown, and Leander B. Comstock who was a brother to Murphy Brown's son-in-law, Elijah "Tom" Comstock. Murphy's married sister Jane and his father and stepmother were also on the same page.
Several places online carry the following:
Robert H. Christian was (1) 1st Lieutenant of Company I, 76th Enrolled Missouri Miltia from December 17, 1862 to March 31, 1863; (2) 1st Lieutenant of Company C, 7th Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia ("PEMM") from April 1, 1863, to September 18, 1863; (3) 1st Lieutenant of Company K, 7th PEMM from September 19, 1863 to July 28, 1864; and (4) 1st Lieutenant of Company K, 15th Missouri Cavalry from August 27, 1864 (muster date) to his death October 28, 1864.
In the 1850 census for McDonald County, Missouri, Christian was shown as 20 years old, born in Tennessee, a farmer with real property valued at $300 (page 96B). His wife Nancy C. was shown as age 19, born in TN. In March, 1856, he received a patent on 80 acres of land in section 12-T23N-R30W in McDonald County (BLM GLO Records website). The descriptive roll of the 15th MO Cavalry says he was born in Haywood County, TN; was 34 years old and a farmer in 1864; and was 5' 7" tall with blue eyes, gray hair and a fair complexion.
For reasons that will be obvious from the following accounts of his Civil War service, Christian was one of the most notorious figures of the war in Southwest Missouri:
Excerpt from a 1931 Interview of Thomas Sallee of Exeter, Missouri:
The Christian gang burned many houses in that part of the country, claiming that the owners were Confederate sympathizers. Later on a man by the name of Moore, who was one of General Joe Shelby’s scouts and whose father Christian had killed, asked his commander for a few days’ furlough in order that he might kill Christian. The furlough was granted. He killed Christian near Newtonia, cut off his scalp and beard, tied it to his horse’s bridle and rode over the country showing the scalp to many people whose homes Christian had burned. Mr. Sallee’s wife, then a young girl named Nancy Hale, saw the scalp. Moore rode over the country and gave every widow whose house Christian had burned $10.00. This incident marked the ending of the Christian gang in Southwest Missouri.
Source of the above: Interview, February 15, 1931. Bill Landers found this in the McClure Family Book and was generous enough to pass it along. It probably appeared originally in a story by Eunice Arnaud in the Monett Times.
Here is another story from the same webpage::
Excerpt from Interview of F. L. Moore in the Indian Pioneer Papers
I was the youngest of several children and was born February 7, 1854 on Indian Creek in Newton County, Missouri...
We left our Missouri home the last year of the War, after Price made his raid from Missouri to Texas, and our family moved to Texas and stayed till after the War.
Old Bob Christian, who lived near Newtonia, Missouri, was the head of a bunch that bushwacked in our part of the county. They robbed, stole, and killed; burned houses and tortured as well.
Old Bob, trying to force the women to tell where the men were, would pull off the finger nails of the women with bullet molds. He would go so far in his torture as to cut off their ears.
He and his bunch burned our house twice and would not let us save anything; he forced us to stand by and see our home and all our belongings burn; our beds, bedding and what we had to eat as well as the children's clothes, etc.
He hated my father, as we were rebels, and when Uncle Lewis Moore came or rather stopped to see his step-mother, Bob Christian thought Uncle Lewis was my father. Bob shot Uncle Lewis and then, hanging his body to a tree, shot it to pieces.
After that, on the way to our house this raiding party met my Sister Nan, who lived near, and Bob said to her, "I am the man that killed your G__d__ Daddy."
Reaching our house, they set fire to it. He struck my mother over the head with a fire chunk, and she carried to her grave a big scar of the burn.
Shortly after that, Father met Bob and told him, "I am going to kill you for killing Lewis." He shot and crippled him, disarming him. Bob begged him not to kill him, but was told that he was going to get some of the torture that he had been giving others. Father scalped him while he was still alive and hollering. Afterwards he took the scalp, washed it in the creek, rolled it up and put it in his pocket. General Price had offered a reward for the capture of Christian, but my father's hatred of Bob for the murder of Uncle Lewis was so intense that he killed him instead of taking him alive...
Sitting before the fire that evening with Mother sitting on his right, he pulled the rolled up scalp from his pocket and tossed the roll into her lap. She drew back and the scalp fell to the hearth and partially unrolled. In the light of the fire, she saw it, and she said, "That's Bob Christian's scalp." He made me dry it before the fire and when he left he had a square of the skin just above and in front of each ear fastened on each side of this bridle.
Bill, a son of Bob Christian, was born with only one ear. Shortly after this, my family went to Texas...
Samuel Moore, the slayer of Bob Christian, was alleged to have been a member of Quantrill's band and was himself killed by John Lacey and H. W. Goodykoontz in Newton County in 1867.
Variations on the story about the ears abound. It is said that Christian's wife gave birth to a child without an ear or ears following the War. That child wasn't the son William or Bill, who was born in 1855 - however there was a son probably born just before or immediately after the death of Robert Christian, named Robert H. for his father. The 1900 census shows the son to have been born in October of 1864 - his father died on the 28th of that month. One story from Newton County Saga does say that the youngest son, Robert Christian Jr. was born soon after his father's death and that he was born with one ear defective, about the size of a dime.
Our own family tradition about the death of Robert Christian is that a unit made up partly of bitter young men from the families in McDonald, Newton & Barry Counties of Missouri, who had been terrorized by Christian, came into Missouri with Gen. Joe Shelby & Sterling Price in their final push to retake Missouri. They did indeed hunt down Robert Christian and kill him, mutilating the body; several of them kept body parts as keepsakes. My ancestor, Tom Comstock, who married the daughter of Murphy Brown who Christian had murdered, claimed to have been a part of the affair. Certainly he had reason to hate Christian.
Robert Christian's story from the viewpoint of the Yankees, differed.
On the 28th day of October, 1864, a memorable day for the citizens of Newtonia, Newton county, Mo. - occurred the last fight with Price's rebel raiders in this State. That Post was garrisoned by company K of the 15th Mo. Cav. Vols. commanded by Lieut. R. H. Christian. For more than two years the Lieutenant and his command had distinguished themselves by capturing rebels and killing bushwhackers not only in this county, but in Jasper & McDonald counties, often pursuing them into Arkansas. Many plans had been laid by the exacperated rebels to destroy this troublesome band of patriots, but all failed up to this fatal day.
Christian lived about one-fourth of a mile from the fort, (which had no cannon), and his wife had been confined on the 26th. On the morning of the 28th the Lieutenant was notified by his superior officer of the approach of the rebels in full force, and ordered to withdraw his command eastwardly as the enemy was approaching from the north. Accordingly, he withdrew his men early in the morning to the timber, about two miles from tow, where he could have observed the enemy's movements; but becoming restless, having had to leave his wife in town, as she was too ill to be removed, he and a few of his men returned to town, and there watched for the approach of the enemy. At about 8 o'clock A.M. the rebels appeared in sight about one mile distant, marching in three columns. The Lieutenant and his half dozen brave men stood as if fascinated, gazing on the swarming hosts, though often warned and entreated to go, by Mrs. Wolcott, a Union lady, near whose house they were standing. But they depended on their horses and apparently waited to get a shot. But the enemy had fleet horses also, and a gang of bushwhackers, who were well acquainted with the lieutenant, and knew he would be likely to expose himself, came on like an avalanche and swept all before them. Too late Christian attempted to escape - he was overtaken and killed. Not content with the death of the intrepid foe, these white savages scalped him and hacked of a portion of his head, skin and all, and returned to town and with exultation and horrid oaths exhibited these bloody trophies to the Union ladies they met.
Christian fell about two miles from town near the house of Mrs. Jane Sanderson, whose husband - a bushwhacker - had been killed. She saw his mutilated body, and came to town crying and said, as she described it: "I am called a rebel, but I cannot stand such sights as this." She informed some Union ladies where they body lay, and they, moved by her story, and by the taunts of the rebels, proceeded to enact their part, which for coolness and true heroism has not perhaps been surpassed during the war, and their names should be recorded and remembered with honor. They were Miss Mary McKee, school teach, Miss Amanda Rictcheny, sister of the Captain, Mrs. Wear, wife of Lt. Wear of Christian's company, Miss Nancy A. J. Pearson, Miss Priscilla Walker, and Miss Elizabeth Killion. These ladies, accompanied and assisted by Mrs. Sanderson, recruited into their service a small boy with a yoke of oxen and a wagon, and amid the roar of cannon and the crash of small arms - annoyed and insulted by the rebels going and coming - they proceeded to where the body of the unfortunate Lieutenant lay, and brought it inside to his own house, just as Gen. Sanborn arrived to reinforce Gen. Blunt, who was pressed hard by the rebels.
History of McDonald County, Missouri, states that the Christians settled in Richwood Township in the latter forties, early fifties. And makes this comment about the murder of Robert Christian, "On the Union side, Lieut. Christian was a terror to the evil doers. He was possessed of great bravery and his expeditions into this county were very much dreaded by his foes. He was afterwards killed and scalped by the Confederates."
Because so many Union graves were destroyed by the Confederates, the family of Robert Christian placed a heavy concrete slab over his grave. It is the only remaining Union grave at the Old Newtonia Cemetery.
MURPHY BROWN and REBEKAH POINDEXTER JONES were married on 29 June 1836 in St. Francois County, Missouri.10,34,41 REBEKAH POINDEXTER JONES42,43,44,45,46, daughter of RICHARD JONES and DOROTHY AMOS POINDEXTER, was born on 4 November 1822 in Morgan County, Illinois.10,34,42,47,48 She died on 10 February 1912 at the age of 89 in McDonald County, Missouri.10,34,42
Rootsweb Archives: St. Francois County MO Marriages (1819-1836)
Microfilm of Marriages Volume 1 1836-1852; p. 2. 30 Jun 1836. Murphy Brown and Rebecca Jones each of St. Francois Co MO were married by William Polk, Elder
During the Civil War, Rebecca is said to have ridden a mule, carrying food to relatives in need. She also had to bury her husband and son, and take the rest of her family to Texas until the war ended.
1870 Census. McDonald Co, Richwood Township, Pineville P.O;. p.6, Dwelling 44
In the 1876 MO State Census, Rebecca has Lemuel & Belle still at home as well as her granddaughter Isabell Brown, daughter of William, and a 4 year old boy named Robert Lee Wilson. [I have no idea who he might be.] Rebecca has 3 horses, 8 cows, 5 sheep, and 28 hogs; she produced 66 bu wheat and 700 bu corn.
Rebecca Brown purchased from Tom Comstock for $100: E1/2 of SE qtr of S7T23R29 80 acres. 18 Oct 1865.
Deed Book G, p.603. 20 May 1879. Rebekah P. Brown and John R. Brown and his wife Margret E. and Lemuel G. Brown and his wife Isabell, and Beverly C. Barnett and his wife Eliza sold to Laura I. Brown of Barry County the following tracts: the SW 1/4 of the SW 1/4 in S8, T23, R29 containing 39.14 acres and 6.53 acres in the SW corner of the SE 1/4 of the SW 1/4 of the same section. For $100. Maranda J. Comstock and her husband Thomas were also listed in the deed but a margin note states that their names were erased. Another deed follows, dated 30 May 1879, from Miranda and Thomas Comstock of Crawford County, Arkansas, to Laura I. Brown, the same tracts of land for $1. [This must be land inherited from Murphy. Laura is a granddaughter, daughter of deceased son William Clayborn. However, it should have also included the daughter Sarah F. and her husband John Davidson ...unless another deed is recorded in the following Deed Book.]
1880 Census. Richwood twp. An 8-year-old child, Robert E. Lee Wilcox [his named appeared to be Wilson in the 1876 state census] lived with Rebecca. Daughter Belle, and sons Lemuel Green & John R. all lived right in a row.
OBITUARIES, DEATH NOTICES AND NEWS ITEMS EXTRACTED FROM THE VAN BUREN ARGUS; VOLUME 2; Fran Alverson Warren, 2001; p.9
Deed Book 31, p.159-165
1900 Census. Rebecca had grandson Harvie and his family living with her and farming. She stated her occupation was "Interest on monery". She owned her farm free of any mortgage.
1910 Census. McDonald Co; Richwood Twp, p.150b. Rebekah Brown, age 87, living with son Lemuel G. Brown.
Not only did "Becky" bury her husband and son Ezekiel: most of her 15 children pre-deceased her. Miranda, my ancestor, died 5 days before Rebecca died. Only Sarah Frances, Lemuel Green, and Eliza Isabel outlived their mother. Rebecca is said to have moved around in her later years, living with each child for awhile. She lived with Miranda and Tom Comstock for a time, but died at the home of her youngest child Belle.
McDonald County Library lists the following obituary:
MURPHY BROWN and REBEKAH POINDEXTER JONES had the following children:
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