Putnam County


John MURPHY, whose home is on section 10, Roberts township, is a farmer whose identification with the interests of Marshall county is both long and honorable, and the part that he has taken in promoting its best interest has made him one of its valued citizens. He was born in New York city June 20, 1855, the only child of Dennis and Mary MURPHY, natives of County Cork, Ireland. The father crossed the Atlantic in 1855, but soon after reaching New York was stricken with brain fever and died. He had sent money to his wife that she might join him, but when she arrived she found that her husband had passed from this life. Coming to Peru, Illinois, she worked for a short time in the family of Dr. SMITH, then secured employment in the family of Lyman HORROM, on Ox Bow Prairie in Putnam county. She afterward married William W. HOLMES, who was born in Herkimer county, New York, in 1806, and was one of the pioneers of Hennepin. He bought a farm east of Magnolia, where his death occurred in 1882, after which his widow went to Peru, and there died in 1887. They were both buried in Magnolia cemetery in Putnam county. Of their five children three are living – Charlotte, wife of Robert STUDYVIN, of Henry, Illinois, by whom she has two children, Ralph and Rollin; Margaret, wife of Calvin STUDYVIN, of Saratoga township, Marshall county, by whom she has four children, Blanche, Edna, Maynard and Gladys; and Oliver, of New York. The father of this family accumulated considerable property, and to some extent dealt in real estate. He took quite an active interest in politics and was a stanch republican, but always refused office. During the civil war he was a leader in the Union League.

Our subject was reared by his step-father, a well educated and competent business man, and attended the schools of Magnolia. On the 23d of January, 1884, he married Miss Ida I. ROBERTS, a daughter of Livingston and Margaret (DENT) ROBERTS. Her grandfather, Jesse S. ROBERTS, was the first settler of Marshall county. He was born in Kentucky, and married Miss DAVIS, a native of South Carolina. They removed from Smithland, Kentucky, to Montgomery county, Illinois, in 1827, and the three sons, Livingston, Obed and Jesse, planted crops that year. The grandfather selected the land on which Mrs. MURPHY is living, in 1828, and Roberts Point became a famous place in pioneer days. He made a clearing, erected a rude log cabin without doors or windows, and removed his family to the new farm in 1829. They went through the usual experiences and hardships of pioneer life. Corn ground in a hominy block served as breadstuff, and Pekin was their nearest trading point. Jesse ROBERTS served as a soldier in the war of 1812. His death occurred in 1841, and his wife then went to Du Quoin. They had six children – Mrs. Jane PHILLIPS, Obed, Jesse and Livingston, all deceased; Mrs. Margaret WINTERS, of Du Quoin, and Mrs. Martha GRAY, deceased.

Livingston ROBERTS was born March 24, 1812, in Livingston county, Kentucky, and was a youth of sixteen when with the family he took up his residence upon the farm which is now the home of Mrs. MURPHY, there spending his remaining days. His wife was born in Muskingum county, Ohio, July 18, 1814, a daughter of John DENT, who came to Magnolia, Illinois, in 1833, and made a permanent location. The parents of Mrs. MURPHY began housekeeping in a new cabin, which they occupied until 1840, when it was replaced by the present brick residence. The bricks for this house were burned in the timber here, the lumber was hauled from Chicago, and the sand from Starved Rock, in La Salle county. The home was then on the direct road between Chicago and Peoria, and early became a stage station, where the horses were changed and the passengers procured meals. It was in this way that Mr. ROBERTS earned the one hundred dollars with which he first purchased land. Roberts Point was also the general stopping place for the many movers who passed through this region and no one was ever turned from their door. They furnished dinner for as many as eighty-nine persons and during one summer the least number that sat down at their table was twenty-seven. The hospitality of the Roberts household was proverbial and a hearty welcome was ever extended to the guests. Mr. ROBERTS was a peace-loving, honorable man, who was never concerned in any lawsuit, and his word was so implicitly trusted that, although he signed papers for the amount of one hundred thousand dollars he was never asked for security. In the early days he carried one end of the surveyor’s chain, laying out the state road from Springfield to Chicago. He was a strong, vigorous man and tireless worker, and never failed to be present to assist his neighbors at a house raising. He served as an officer of the regulars, and was one of the fifty men who drove the Reeves gang from the country. Although his home was not a regular station on the underground railroad, he never turned a negro from his door hungry. He served as a lieutenant during the Black Hawk war, and during those troubles a stockade was built around the Roberts cabin. His early political support was given the whig party, but later he became a republican, and for many years served as postmaster, also as school director and road commissioner.

This honored pioneer, who was so prominent a figure in the development of Marshall county, died March 27, 1889, and his wife passed away January 28, 1892. On the 24th of January, 1883, they celebrated their golden wedding, issuing seven hundred invitations. Four persons who attended the wedding fifty years previous were present on this occasion. Mr. and Mrs. ROBERTS had twelve children – Thomas D. married Thene COMPTON, who died, leaving one child, and for his second wife wedded Dora ELLSBURY, by whom he has three children; Alonzo, deceased, married Almira STATELER, and they had one son; Melissa J. is the deceased wife of Joseph TAGGART, by whom she had a son and daughter; Jesse L. married Josephine NEAL, and has five children; Zilphia L. is the wife of John BURNS and has one son; John A. wedded Mary FINLEY and has one daughter; William G. wedded Mary GLENN and has five children; Elizabeth E. is the wife of Jerry TRONE; Henry died in infancy; Riley B. married Minnie HAWS and has four children; Mrs. MURPHY is the eleventh of the family, and Mary H., the youngest, is the wife of Dr. J. W. EVANS, and has one daughter.

Mrs. MURPHY was born February 27, 1857, on the farm, where her entire life has been passed and where she yet makes her home. She was married in this house, and here was born the only child of Mr. and Mrs. MURPHY, Olney, whose birth occurred August 19, 1887. The farm is the oldest in Marshall county, and the house has stood for a half century. The place comprises one hundred and twenty-two acres of rich land, all of which is under a high state of cultivation. Mr. MURPHY is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America; in politics he is a republican and has served as road commissioner. For many years both he and his wife have resided in this county, and are widely known among its settlers, many of whom are numbered among their warm friends.

Source: The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois  published in 1896, page 363.

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