Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Working Wednesday - Working the Murphy Ranch


William Murphy Sr, father of William Murphy Jr (who Lydia Roehm married after her first husband, George Roehm passed on) is seen here working on the ranch he owned in Brentwood. It looks like he's on some kind of tilling machine, but I am really unsure of what he's doing. It actually looks more like a chariot he's on, haha.

I have seen very few photos of William Sr show up among our many family photos and documents, but this is one of them and it's nice to put a name to a face. He died in 1910. He was very young when he passed on.

Here is a very nice biography written about him around the time he passed on:

Prominent among the men who were conspicuous and influential in developing and advancing the agricultural resources of eastern Contra Costa County was the late William Henry Murphy, a son of Thomas Murphy, an honored and esteemed citizen of this county, who came to California in 1856. Thomas Murphy, the father of William H., was born in County Cavan, Ireland, March 24, 1830. At the age of five years his parents left him in the old country with an uncle and came to America, residing in New York for five years. Thomas joined them at the age of seven. His parents removed to Connecticut. Thomas received a common-school education and in June, 1856, he started for California via the Isthmus route.

He intended to return to New York State in one year, but, liking the climate and resources of California, he remained and sent for his family. On joining them he went to Napa Valley and followed farming until 1867, when he removed to the eastern part of this county and purchased four hundred and eighty acres where Knightsen is located. In 1873 he purchased eleven hundred acres in Round Valley. At a later time he purchased more land in Round Valley, and had at the time of his death, which occurred in August, 1905, sixteen hundred acres. Thomas Murphy was married in Mystic, Connecticut, to Miss Alice Ross. To this union have been born five children, William H., the subject of this sketch, James B., Annie L., Alice, and Hattie. William Henry Murphy was born in Napa, California, and died June 9, 1910. He received his education in the Iron Horse and Eden Plain schools, after which he attended the University of the Pacific, at San Jose.

Finishing his education, he returned to the home place, where he was identified with general farming and stock-raising until his death. He was a systematic and thoroughgoing farmer, and after his father's death, by his enterprise, rendered both ranches the most attractive in this section. He was held in the highest esteem by his fellow-men. William Henry Murphy was united in marriage to Miss Catherine Braun, a native of San Jose, and a daughter of C. W. and Florentine Braun. Mr. and Mrs. Murphy were blessed with five children - Arthur Ray, born near Antioch, March 9, 1889; Katie, born near Antioch, July 24, 1890; William Henry Jr., born in Round Valley, April 2, 1892; Esther, born in Round Valley, June 24, 1895; James Campbell, born at Brentwood, November 3, 1906.
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Aftermath

This land, which was divided between William Murphy Sr's children after his wife passed on in 1949, has since turned into a regional park. Bill Murphy Jr's brother, Jim Murphy, sold a large portion of the acreage to the park district in 1988, after his passing, as it was his wish that it remain as lovely as it was when her grew up there. Bill Murphy's portion, which is where my Grandma currently resides, was partially sold off in the late 1990's, finally completing the Round Valley Regional Park and giving them access to build a bridge over Marsh Creek and create trails and fences. I have found through many people who really love this park and I am thankful that people have embraced the land as much as I hold it so closely to my heart.

Sometimes when researching the property, I notice that the media makes no mention of my Grandmother's part in selling her part of the property to complete the transaction of making it a park. It frustrates me at times to know that giving up that land was a difficult decision for her, but fortunately, she still owns 10 acres of it privately and we can still enjoy it as our own for sometime longer.