L. Murray Perkins

L. MURRAY PERKINS, a record of whose life is an unusual and exceedingly interesting one, is one of the best known citizens of Baxter Springs, Kansas. He traces his ancestry in the Perkins line to John Perkins, who arrived at Nantucket in Captain Pierce's ship "Lion," in 1631. He died at Ipswich, Massachusetts, in 1654. His son, Jacob Perkins. was the father of Joseph Perkins, "The Deacon," who was the first of that name to settle in Norwich, Connecticut.

Joseph Perkins was born June 21, 1664, and died in August, 1726. On May 22, 1700, he married Martha Morgan and their son, Joseph, who was a physician, was born October 25, 1704, and died in 1794. Dr. Joseph Perkins was the father of Dr. Elisha Perkins, who was born January 16, 1741, and died September 6, 1799.

On September 23, 1762, Dr. Elisha Perkins was married to Sarah Douglas, who was born April 18, 1744, and died August 10, 1795. She was a daughter of Lieut.-Col. John Douglas and a granddaughter of Deacon William Douglas, of Plainfield, Connecticut. The last named was a great-grandson of Robert Douglas, who was born in Scotland in 1588. William Douglas, a son of Robert, and known as "Deacon," was also born in Scotland, in 1610. In 1640 he landed at Cape Ann and settled in Boston. He moved to New London, Connecticut, in February, 1660, and became the head of one of the most worthy families in the colony. His education for those times was very liberal. His son, also named William and known as "Deacon," was born in April, 1643, and his grandson, Deacon William Douglas, the grandfather of Sarah (Douglas) Perkins, was born February 19, 1672. Among the Probate Court records, saved after the burning of Plainfield, Connecticut, in 1781, by the British, was found the will of the last named, Deacon William Douglas. His son, Lieut.-Col. John Douglas. was born July 28, 1703, and was a man of no little importance in his day. He was lieutenant-colonel of the 8th Connecticut Regiment, the best equipped of any in the colony; they wore scarlet coats, which had been taken from a prize vessel. Two of Colonel Douglas's sons,—Gen. John Douglas and Col. William Douglas,—acted with distinction in the Revolutionary War. As noted above, his daughter Sarah married Dr. Elisha Perkins, the great-grandfather of our subject.

Dr. Elisha Perkins was the father of 10 children, and of these the one in direct line of descent to L. Murray Perkins was Benjamin D., born June 24, 1774. He was educated at Yale and finally went to London, England, to study medicine, and our subject still preserves the card, dated January 1, 1799, that entitled him to admission to the lectures on anatomy. Dr. Benjamin D. Perkins married Mary Murray, a daughter of John Murray, Jr., of New York, and Catherine Bowne, his wife. Dr. Perkins died October 13, 1810. He was the father of two children: Caroline, who died unmarried and in her minority; and Benjamin D., Jr.

Through the marriage of Dr. Benjamin D. Perkins and Mary Murray, our subject traces his descent from Robert Murray, who was owner of the famed country home called Murray Hill, now included in New York City, and for many years considered the most aristocratic residence portion of the metropolis. Robert Murray's father, John Murray, who was familiarly known and spoken of as "The Good," was born in Perthshire, Scotland, in 1699. He was a gentleman of Clan Athol and a Presbyterian by birth and was active in the Wars of the Pretenders. He came to America with his son Robert in 1722. John Murray, Jr., was the brother of Lindley Murray, the grammarian, and author of the English grammar which bears his name and is a universal textbook. Mrs. Robert Murray, the mother of Lindley and John, is said by Rev. T. Dewitt Talmage to have saved American independence by detaining Lord Howe to dine with her, long enough to permit Israel Putnam to cross the lower end of Manhattan Island and join the forces of George Washington, before Howe was able to overtake him. This detention and the stories told by the fair friend saved 4,000 men, who otherwise would have been cut off and captured. Through John Murray, Jr.'s wife, Catherine Bowne, the subject of this sketch is descended from Thomas Bowne, who was born in England in 1595, and landed in Boston in 1649. In company with his son John, he erected in 1661 the house in Flushing, Long Island, known as the Bowne house, in which George Fox, founder of the Society of Friends, preached in 1662. Because the house was used for Friends preaching, John Bowne was deported for trial to Holland by the Dutch Governor, Peter Stuyvesant. However, after an investigation by the authorities, he was returned to his home, and Governor Stuyvesant was severely censured for his action in the matter.

Benjamin D. Perkins, Jr., was born in 1807 and died in September, 1831. He received his education in New York City, where he was born, but lived with his parents in their home at Flushing, Long Island, where he was occupied in farming on a large scale. He married Mary Shotwell of Rahway, New Jersey, who was born February 2, 1809, and died December 25, 1876. They were the parents of two children: L. Murray, our subject; and Benjamin Douglas, who was born April 2, 1832 and died August 3, 1888.

L. Murray Perkins was born at Flushing, Long Island, September 6, 1829. His education was obtained in West Town Boarding School and Haverford College, institutions of the Society of Friends, located near Philadelphia. He finished these courses of study at the age of 16 years. Since early childhood he had evinced a desire to visit the country where coffee grew, and in 1847 he made a trip on the bark "Z. Ring" to Rio Janeiro, Brazil, where he remained some time. In 1849 he went around Cape Horn to California. Before leaving New York he had obtained a map of the world and each day's run was marked upon it, as well as the ship's course. This map went around the world after our subject left the ship at California and it was later returned to him. It is preserved among many other souvenirs of his travels. He returned home in 1850, but soon went to Europe, and again went to Europe after a short visit home in 1851. In 1852, he returned to America and on December 24th of that year was united in marriage with Caroline Campbell of Rahway, New Jersey, who died February 4, 1861. On February 24, 1874, he formed a second union with Elizabeth R. Enders, also of Rahway, New Jersey. The time intervening had been spent in farming in New Jersey. In 1882, he came West to Baxter Springs, Kansas, where he has since resided.

By his first marriage he became the father of four children, namely: Benjamin Douglas, born January 16, 1854, and deceased February 24, 1861; Frank Marbury, born May 16, 1856, who married Nettie Mullin, of Iowa, and has two children,—Grace E. and Frank M.; Ira Campbell (who resides in Sapulpa, Indian Territory, of which city he is mayor), born December 25, 1858, who married Ella Burgess, of Ohio, and has three children,—L. Murray, Jr., Caroline C. and Ruth E.; and Carrie Campbell, born September 16, 1860, deceased August 14, 1861.

Mr. Perkins has a palatial residence in Baxter Springs, surrounded by beautiful and well kept grounds. His home is adorned with many curios collected during his travels in almost every country on the globe, rivaling in some respects those of the Smithsonian Institution. Included in this collection are antiquities from Rome: articles from the ruins of Pompeii; curios from Ceylon; a large ebony spear inlaid with ivory from India; a beautiful robe from Canton, China; a variety of things from Scandinavia, including a pair of mounted owls and a reindeer; a Turkish water pipe; Persian rugs; Japanese jinricksha and a set of shoes for house and street wear; Egyptian relics; a variety of mounted heads of elk, moose and bison from Norway and America; a snake-covered cane from the Philippines; Turkish, Egyptian, Chinese and Japanese embroideries; and giant clam-shells from New Guinea, weight 405 pounds. This is a very valuable collection and excells[sic] anything of the kind in the State of Kansas.

A cousin of our subject, Hon. George Perkins Marsh, born in 1801, was resident minister at Constantinople, also minister at Turin when it was capital of Italy, and later at Rome, being appointed by President Lincoln. He died at Val Ambrosia, July 24, 1882, and was buried in a Protestant cemetery at Rome. Members of all legations united in showing him honor by attending his burial. Another cousin, Susan Marsh Lyman, is wife of United States Senator Edmunds, of Vermont.

Mr. Perkins is a member of the Friends' Church, but the rest of the family are Presbyterians. Fraternally, he is a member of the Masonic Blue Lodge and Royal Arch Chapter. His portrait accompanies this sketch.


History of Cherokee County Kansas and its representative citizens, ed. & comp. by Nathaniel Thompson Allison, 1904, transcribed by Carolyn Ward, instructor from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, 5/5/97.


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