I chose to write about my great-great grandfather, William “Bill” Henry Murphy, for this week’s challenge of Halfway. I feel like I have only learned/found half (or less) of information about his life. Most importantly right now to me, after over twenty years of researching, I still have been unable to learn his date of birth, or locate a picture of him. Here’s what I do know about William H. Murphy:
I know that William was born in 1838 in Kilkenny, Ireland. I have found records of the baptisms of his siblings, but not for his.
William came to Peoria, Illinois from Ireland with his parents and siblings in 1849. They came through New Orleans and settled in the Kickapoo, Peoria County area. He is listed in the 1850 and 1860 Kickapoo censuses as living with his parents.
Found in the Peoria Daily Transcript 4-3-1863 P2 C6:
"William H. Murphy-Private, 33 years of age, 5 feet 6 inches high, black hair, hazel eyes, dark complexion; residence Kickapoo, Peoria co. IL. Deserted at Peoria, Ill. Sept. 15, 1862."I believe that this would be my William, although the age is wrong. Since he deserted that means no pension records from the Civil War.
William married Elizabeth Smyth in 1864 in Kickapoo. He is not found in the 1865 Illinois State Census, but his first two children were born in Kickapoo…James in 1866 and Patrick in 1868.
In the 1870 Census, William and Lizzie are listed as living in Peoria, Illinois with their two sons. William is listed as a distillery worker.
Four children were born to William and Lizzie between 1870 and 1880: Alice in 1870, William H. in 1872, Charles E. in 1874, and Robert Emmett in 1878. In the Peoria 1880 Census, William and Lizzie are listed with their six children. William is listed as a cattle feeder.
Two more children were born in the family: my great-grandfather Edward R. was born in 1880, and an infant was born in 1883. Lizzie died either in childbirth or the following day in 1883. William re-married a year later, to Anastasia Henebery Cunningham, widow of Daniel Cunningham.
In the 1888 Peoria Census, William and Ann were listed at the family home, but only Ann’s children were living there. It seems that William’s children were living with a brother of Lizzie’s in Peoria.
In the 1889 Peoria City Directory William was listed as Superintendent of Streets, with his office at the City Hall.
William’s wife, Ann, died in 1890, and William died the following year, in 1891. His obituaries state that he had served as a Deputy Sheriff, Superintendent of Streets, and a term on the City Council.
Because of William’s activities in the city, I think that there would probably be articles in the newspaper about him, but the newspapers from that time are not indexed and are not searchable, nor are they available on Newspaper.com.
Marriage and Death Certificates for that time do not have dates of birth listed on them. The mortuary who buried him does not have records for 1891.
And that is the sum of what I know. I would love suggestions on further researching William if anyone has any ideas!