James H. Murphy was my great-great-great-great grandfather. He was born in 1803 in Ireland. He married Alice Read 23 October 1831 in Kilmacrow Parish, County Kilkenny, Ireland. James and Alice had seven children-five daughters and two sons-all born in County Kilkenny between 1832-1844. James brought his family to the United States in 1848, landing in New Orleans. The following year the family traveled up the Mississippi River to the Peoria County, Illinois area, where they settled near Jubilee College. The following was taken from one of the obituaries written upon the death of James Murphy:
"At the time of his arrival, Bishop Chase was perfecting his arrangements to make of Jubilee College a model educational institution, and Mr. Murphy was engaged as overseer of the garden and farm. He continued there in that capacity for eighteen years, and while working for the Chase family went up to Princeville and broke the prairie for the farm of Philander Chase. He subsequently opened the first stone quarry in Stark County, from which the material was procured to build a stone church in that neighborhood. Later Mr. Murphy moved to Kickapoo and to a settlement then known as "Irish-town", where he rented a farm and raised a large family. For five consecutive years he was collector of Kickapoo township and was ever regarded as a man of justice and probity. In the declining days of an active and laborious life he moved to Peoria and was the first man who took charge of the Bridge street crossing."
James lived a long life. His wife, Alice, died in 1880. James was listed in the Peoria, Illinois records until 1887. After that he went to live with one of his daughters in Crescent City, Illinois. He died there in 1890. He was 87 years old.
From other obituaries was written about James:
"During all his lifetime Mr. Murphy never had a quarrel or a law suit. Plain, blunt and manly, he walked boldly through life, and after an earthly existence of four score and seven years, laid down its burden, leaving behind him the priceless heritage of a good name."
"With little pain, death came and bore the old man's spirit away to the realization of the hopes which doubt he had anxious anticipated. He has always been a devout communicant of the Catholic church and for years spent a portion of his time in pious meditation."
James made a fresh start for himself and his family by immigrating to the United States from Ireland. He and his family prospered and his descendants are numerous. I’m thankful that he had the courage to leave what I am sure was a hard life in Ireland in 1848 and brave the voyage and unknown to come to a new country and start over. (Sure wish that I had a picture of James to include!)