The progenitor of the Murphy family of this county was Capt. Samuel Murphy, a native of Frederick county Virginia, born in 1756. He led a remarkable career, one full of adventure, vicissitude and usefulness, and was famous both as soldier and pioneer. Left an orphan at an early age, he was reared by a Col. Stinson, a revolutionary patriot. He accompanied the forces of Lord Dunmire in their expedition into the region now Southern Central Ohio, in 1774, and joining the Continental army (the 8th Pa. regt.), served through the revolutionary war. In the fall of 1781 he was captured by the Indians, on the north fork of Salt river, in Kentucky, and taken by Simon Girty to an island in the St. Lawrence river, sixty miles above Montreal. He performed valiant and valuable service on the frontier during the revolutionary war and the subsequent Indian wars, and Major Denny said that he was "the best soldier he ever knew." He was intimately acquainted with Gen. Washington, and on one occasion, while a boy, at the suggestion of Col. Stinson, he perpetrated upon that great man a practical joke which so pleased Gen. Washington that he gave young Murphy a silver coin. Shortly after the close of the revolutionary struggle, Murphy removed with his family to what is now Sharpsburg, where he remained, with the exception of some brief absences, until 1798. He assisted in the laying out of the town of Erie, and was a lieutenant in a company of rangers in 1794. In 1798 he removed to that part of Armstrong county now known as South Buffalo township, and settled upon the farm which is still in the possession of the Murphy family. He remained here, following the quiet vocation of farming, until his decease, which occurred in 1850. He was a fine type of the Armstrong pioneer, six feet two inches in stature, muscular, well formed, and possessing great courage and endurance.
Capt. Murphy's wife, whose maiden name was Elizabeth Powers, was a native of Maryland, and ten years his junior. She died in 1820. Their children were: William, Thomas, Mary, James, Elizabeth, Margaret, Samuel, Benjamin, Nancy, Susan, John and George, all of whom are living except William, Thomas, Elizabeth and Samuel. William, who was a farmer, removed to Washington county, Ohio about 1818, and died there in his eighty-third year. Thomas died in Mississippi, and Samuel in California, in the year 1872. The others are all living in this county.
Mary married James Patterson.
James, or Capt. Murphy, as he is more familiarly known in this part of the state, was born in Sharpsburg, September 10, 1796, and reared in Armstrong county. He remained under the parental roof until he was twenty-five years of age, when he became a river man, which occupation he followed in various capacities for about twenty years. He ran the first steamboat which ascended the Allegheny river, in 1828. In 1850 he went to California by the overland route, walking the greater part of the distance. He remained on the Pacific coast about a year, during which time his father died, and on his return he went on to the farm where he has since resided. He possesses many of the distinguishing characteristics of his father, and is widely known for his integrity of character and marked social qualities.
Margaret, Nancy, James and John are unmarried, and live upon the homestead farm acquired by their father.
Susan became Mrs. William Truby. Elizabeth married Benjamin King, one of the prominent citizens of Freeport; both are deceased. Benjamin was born May 10, 1815, and reared on the old home farm, a portion of which he owned and tilled, until his removal to Freeport, where he now lives, in 1879. He married Miss Jane, daughter of James Green, of North Buffalo township. They have reared a family of eleven children: James, Elizabeth, Rebecca, Samuel, Margaret, Emily, Walter P., Isabella, Theodore, Sarah and Lovina. Samuel died in the service. Walter P., one of the prominent business men of Freeport, is the only son living.
Source: Page 408, History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania by Robert Walker Smith, Esq. Chicago: Waterman, Watkins & Co., 1883.
Transcribed June 2000 by James Hindman for the Armstrong County Smith Project.
Published 2000 by the Armstrong County Pennsylvania Genealogy Project.
Return to the Biographical Index
Return to the Smith Project
Return to the Armstrong County Genealogy Project
(c) Armstrong County Genealogy Project