Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.


Patrick Murphy

PATRICK MURPHY. Apart from material achievements, the accumulation of wealth and property, there are many men who regard the chief results of life as "experience." Experience with life in all its phases is the groundwork of human character. Even bitter hardships become sweet to the recollection in after years, men becoming interesting to others not so much by what they have as by the experiences they have tasted and which have become part of their very being.

While the books of the assessor in Lane County would show that Patrick Murphy is abundantly possessed of this world's goods, the following paragraphs are written not so much to call attention to his possessions as to the variety of experience which he has been through both in Western Kansas and elsewhere.

The Murphys lived in Ireland, on a little farm in County Armagh. Owen and Bridget (McArdle) Murphy were lease holders of some property there, and so long as they paid rent no one could dispossess them. They and their ancestors had occupied the land for generations, and their posterity still possess it. Owen and Bridget had eight children. Six of them still survive, and all of them are in the United States. Their names are: Terence, of Lane County, Kansas; John, a farmer in the same county; Patrick; Sarah, wife of John McEnulty, of Leavenworth County, Kansas; Michael, a farmer whose home is near his brother Patrick; and Miss Bridget, who lives with her brother Patrick and, like, him, is a homesteader of Lane County.

Patrick Murphy was born in County Armagh, Ireland, in September, 1864. He received a very limited education in the Village of Balleek. He learned farming, but that knowledge was of little advantage to him after he came to Lane County, since the only crops he was familiar with as a boy that could be grown in this country were oats and potatoes. When he was about nineteen years of age he came to the United States with some kinfolks who had been visiting in old Ireland. The party set sail at Liverpool on the steamship Alaska, and eight days later landed in New York, in November, 1883. There was no special incident of the voyage except the visit of the United States inspector who went through the little trunk carried by Patrick Murphy, but none of its contents proved a bar to his landing. He had perhaps as much as $10 after paying for his passage. He visited an uncle and a brother in the City of New York, and during the winter found work selling suit patterns in that city and vicinity. From that work he made a good living, and in the spring he and his brother John and Michael McArdle came out west to Kansas City. It was several years later before he arrived in Lane County for the first time, and that was at the end of a ramble over a large part of our western and southern country. From Kansas City he and his relatives went to Atchison County, Kansas, and he followed his work as a salesman until he came to Lane County in the spring of 1887. Preempting a quarter section of land in Spring Creek Township, he built a sod house for his protection while proving up, but his experience was one of hard work and nothing to show for it, and before two years had passed he became convinced that the claim would not provide for his wants and he decided to go elsewhere where conditions were becoming more suitable to the permanent residence of white men. On first coming to Lane County he arrived by train at Dighton. After the ending of his experience as a homesteader he resumed the selling of goods, and that work took him across the continent to California and back.

Mr. Murphy arrived in Lane County permanently in 1892. Again there were difficulties and hardships, and he almost despaired before concluding to take a homestead. He finally entered the northeast quarter of section 10, township 20, range 28. There he erected his pioneer house, and on that land he has had his home ever since.

His pioneer house he still preserves. It is a place endeared to him by many sentimental associations, and he intends to keep it as long as he remains in that locality. Being pressed for time he contented himself with the erection of a "dugout" twelve by fourteen. He plastered it inside, made two half window openings and a single entrance. Though it had its disadvantages, a more comfortable home could not have been built. Its contents were a little bookcase with door, a grocery box for cupboard, a cook stove for which he paid two dollars and a half, a home made pine table, a good bedstead and bed, and his table was covered with flour sacks and there was plenty of food. Bed and food were the prime requisites with him at the time. For a time he took in his neighbor, Ed Kepner, as a bachelor friend. The old dugout served Mr. Murphy for ten years, and it is one of the spots on his farm to which he clings with sentimental affection.

The fall that he took up his claim Mr. Murphy sowed wheat. He says the grain is still in the ground, since nothing was ever seen of it again. He did not allow himself to become entirely discouraged by this venture, and the following year put out another crop, from which he obtained a small return. There were several other crops before the real bad years began. The first satisfying crop he harvested was in 1903. After that followed other crop years until 1914. By 1913 Mr. Murphy, as well as many others in the community, felt that "the end was in sight." He is convinced that had there not been a turn for the better the entire country would have been abandoned except by stockmen. Seed wheat was not to be had anywhere in the county, and the commissioners and the railroads got together and hit upon a scheme to supply seed. Twenty-two carloads of seed came to Lane County, some of which was bought through a wheat club and some of it sent out on condition that so much rent was to be returned to the owners. After this final and desperate effort the year 1914 rewarded the long suffering farmers with a splendid crop.

In the meantime, after several years, Mr. Murphy had secured a few head of cattle, and it has been his plan to encourage their multiplication ever since. No settler can do well in this locality without pasture and cattle, is Mr. Murphy's opinion. He has made good money on wheat and cattle, though at times both products were low in price. From the nucleus of his original homestead he has increased his holdings to six other quarter sections, all of which is now fenced, divided into pastures, and with about 400 acres under cultivation. For more than ten years he has been raising alfalfa, and as a rule cuts three crops every season without irrigation. It was not without regret that Mr. Murphy moved from his dugout into his more modern home in 1904, and his splendid and ample barn was built in 1907, with a large addition in 1916. His cattle are standard bred, of the white faced strain, and his horses are a good class of the Percheron.

Mr. Murphy has spent seventeen years on the school board of district No. 31, the "Wests'" school. The district has always had funds to maintain a school, though during two or three years there were not enough pupils to warrant hiring a teacher. Mr. Murphy has been township trustee of Cleveland Township, and in 1908 was elected county commissioner, succeeding Commissioner J. B. White. He has been elected twice since then, and in 1916 was chosen against his protest. His service has been marked by the exercise of good judgment in public expenditures, and his activity in behalf of the wheat farmers for seed wheat, above mentioned, is well and widely known and deserves appreciation in the permanent annals of the county. The only enterprise outside of his farm in which he has taken an interest is as a stockholder in the Farmers Elevator at Dighton. Mr. Murphy has never married. He took out his citizen papers in Atchison County and repeated the process in Lane County, completing his final qualifications about 1897. He has always been a loyal democrat, and cast his first presidential vote for Mr. Bryan.

Mr. Murphy and his sister, Miss Bridget Murphy, have lived together since she came to the county. She proved up the northwest quarter of section 2, township 20, range 28, and in this family, too, is a nephew, Frank McEnulty, who is a graduate of the common schools and is a pupil in the Lane County High School.


Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

Volume 4 - Table of Contents

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