Leon Dallas McMurray, postmaster at McPherson, Kan., was born in Washington county, Iowa, Sept. 25, 1873, a son of Loren Clark and Evangeline (Scott) McMurray. His grandfather, Joseph McMurray, came to Iowa at an early day. In 1849 he took the perilous trip across the great plains and mountains to California, to mine gold, but his hand was blown off by a premature blast and he returned to Iowa, where he engaged in farming until 1880. Accompanied by his family he then came to Kansas and located in Hayes township, McPherson county, where his son-in-law, Holden E. Day, had settled. He engaged in agricultural pursuits there until 1883, when he retired from active life and moved to the city of McPherson, where he passed away in 1888. Loren Clark McMurray received his education in the public schools of Iowa, then entered the state normal school at Iowa City to prepare himself as a teacher. After graduating from that institution he taught in the State of Iowa for a time and in 1879 came to Kansas, locating in McPherson county, where he took up land, engaged in farming and at the same time taught school. In 1883 he removed to the city of McPherson to accept a clerical position in the office of Milliken, York & Barber, attorneys. He read law and was admitted to the bar in 1890. While working in McPherson the desire had grown with Mr. McMurray to own a business of his own, and in 1886 he formed the firm of McMurray & Holt, abstractors, which continued until 1888, when he was elected clerk of the district court. He filled this office with such marked ability that he was reëlected for eight successive terms, serving until 1906. For years he had been a stanch supporter and active worker in the interests of the Republican party and in June, 1906, was appointed postmaster at McPherson by President Roosevelt, serving until his death, July 8, 1910. He was a man of exceptional ability, a student all his life, one of the broad, kind-hearted men who was very popular with the citizens of the county, who stood for honesty, upright and clean living. During his office as district clerk he had a fine record, but was ill during all of his term as postmaster. Early in life Mr. McMurray lost a leg below the knee, which was much of a handicap where business was concerned. For years he was chairman of the Republican County Central Committee and was elected a delegate to the state and Congressional conventions a number of times. Fraternally he was associated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Modern Woodmen of America, and in faith was a Presbyterian.
In 1872 Mr. McMurray married Evangeline, the daughter of Winfield Scott, of Washington county, Iowa, a native of Scotland, who emigrated from the old country and became a farmer in Iowa. Mrs. McMurray died in 1879, leaving the following children: Leon Dallas; Ruhama Edna, the wife of Edward Funk, who is associated with the "Topeka Daily Capital," Topeka, Kan.; and Mary Elizabeth, who lives in McPherson. In 1881 Mr. McMurray was married a second time to Louise Caroline DeBrie, of Johnson county, Iowa. Mrs. McMurray and the following children survive: Minnie Myrtle, the wife of Albert E. Hapgood, of McPherson; Glenn Wilson, who is associated with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad, at Newton; and Frederick Lindon, of McPherson.
Leon Dallas McMurray accompanied his parents when they came to Kansas and received his education in the public schools of McPherson. in 1883 he became assistant clerk of the district court under his father and filled that office until 1893. The same year he took a course in shorthand at Conway Springs, Kan., and became the secretary of Chester I. Long, member of Congress from the Seventh district of Kansas, and served in that capacity until the adjournment of Congress in 1897. While filling this position he rendered valuable service during the thick of two Congressional campaigns, in which the redoubtable Jerry Simpson was Mr. Long's opponent, Simpson winning in 1896 and Long in 1898. He was clerk in Mr. Long's law office for the two years, 1897-98, but resigned in the latter year to become assistant postmaster at McPherson under Benjamin A. Allison, and held that position until appointed acting postmaster by President Taft, July 9, 1910. On Sept. 30 of the same year he was given a recess appointment as postmaster by President Taft, and was reappointed and confirmed in December, 1910. Mr. McMurray has demonstrated his ability and qualifications for the office he holds and the postal officials refer to his office as one of the models in Kansas. He is a man of strong character, decided views, well read, broad minded and liberal, who is progressive in methods and has a record that may be pointed to with pride. His experience while with Mr. Long at Washington gave him an opportunity to study men, their motives and to watch the working of one of the greatest parliamentary bodies at close range. Mr. McMurray stands high in the community where he lives, is a man of force and will make a mark in the public life of the future. He is honest, forceful, a man who makes friends and keeps them; has many stanch supporters in McPherson county, where the people have the utmost confidence in him and his ideas which are for clean politics, upright living and good government. Mr. McMurray is a member of the Kansas Postmasters' Association, the Southwestern Postal Association, the McPherson Lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and Chapter Royal Arch Mason, and is a master of his lodge.
On Sept. 30, 1896, Mr. McMurray was united in marriage with Mary Gertrude, the daughter of Isaac B. De Groat, and the following children have been born to them: Loren Dallas, born Sept. 21, 1897; and Bonnie Dee, born Nov. 27, 1908. The family are members of the Presbyterian church, and Mrs. McMurray belongs to the Friends and Council of McPherson. Mr. McMurray is a musician of note and a saxophone expert. He finds this one of his favorite means of relaxation. The family is one of the most prominent in the town where they have many friends.Pages 452-454 from volume III, part 1 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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