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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sacramento County



The pioneer type, with its sturdy fearlessness, its touch of romance and its suggestion of conquest, is one to be noted with admiration as the. visible expression of a national environment that never again can be witnessed. Every era brings its men and its opportunities, but perhaps no greater men will ever be produced than those who bravely faced the dangers of the deserts, penetrated the pathless forests and by their dauntless energy pushed the benefits of civilization still further toward the setting sun. As the pioneers of California one by one enter upon their last long journey across the desert of death and set sail upon the shoreless sea of eternity, there is called afresh to mind the service which they rendered to their country and their commonwealth, and appreciation wells afresh into the patriotic heart.

Not the least conspicuous among the surviving pioneers of Sacramento county is Patrick Henry Murphy, who first landed in the capital city on October 13, 1854. Born in St. Louis, Mo., in June, 1838, he there grew up, and in 1854 joined a company of St. Louis men. among them Isaac Lankershim and Mike Wiles, and crossed the plains with a large expedition with an ox-team train and five hundred cattle. This was a memorable year, for the Indians at that time were warlike, but by exercising the utmost diplomacy they evaded several controversies and probable massacre, and after a journey of six months and two days the train dispersed on the Cosumne river, and Mr. Murphy came on to Sacramento, where he found employment in a hotel. Later he worked in San Francisco, but soon returned to Sacramento and then secured a position in the Brighton flour and grist mill on the American river. For two years he worked in the mill at monthly wages. His next venture was the purchase of two hundred acres with a crop on the ground and a small house suitable for a frontier home. In an unexpected manner his identification with that ranch brought him misfortune. While sleeping in his bed one night he was shot by negro robbers, the ball passing through the board wall of his cabin. The two thieves made their escape, but were afterward captured and sent to the penitentiary for fifteen years. He was so seriously wounded in both arms that he was completely disabled for one year and, in fact, was left crippled for life.

Unable to work, the young farmer relinquished his holdings and returned to St. Louis, where he visited at the old home for a year or more. During 1862, in Fayette county, III, he was united in marriage with Miss Mary A. Gibbs, who was born in Ohio and died in California in 1874. Upon his return to the west Mr. Murphy preempted one hundred and sixty acres in Sacramento county and at once commenced the difficult task of clearing the property. Later he purchased eighty acres so situated that it could be brought into the home place as one farm, which gives him two hundred and forty acres in this ranch. The land lies within a mile of Perkins and is improved With a substantial residence and convenient farm buildings. A pumping plant furnishes an abundance of water for irrigation and for domestic use. The value of the place is greatly enhanced by the vineyard and fruit orchard covering fifty acres, with grapes, cherries, prunes, peaches, pears and berries in fine bearing condition.

Having an opportunity to increase his holdings in 1885 Mr. Murphy bought a partly improved tract of four hundred and fifty acres on the Cosumne river, this county, of which tract he now has over one hundred acres in hops. The balance of the ranch is utilized for pastures, alfalfa meadows and grain. The ranch was occupied and managed by the oldest son, Arthur D. Murphy, who with his family made his home there until it was leased out. On both places a specialty is made of the stock industry and the stock raised and sold includes high-grade Shorthorn cattle and pure-bred Poland-China hogs. Ever since the organization of the California state fair, a period of forty-nine years, Mr. Murphy has been an exhibitor of stock, machinery and fruit, and at the fair of 1911 his exhibits won the same admiration and attention they have received during the entire period of his association with the work. There is not another man in the state who has been such a steady exhibitor for so many years as he, and he has won innumerable prizes and gold medals in different lines. Nor is his interest in horticulture less than his identification with the stock business and for some years he has been a stockholder and director in the Florin Fruit Growers' Association situated at Florin.

Of his first marriage Mr. Murphy has three children living, Arthur D., Clara McDonald and Ralph I. The daughter is a successful teacher in the Sacramento county schools, Arthur D. is farming his own place and the younger son acts as manager of the Cosumne ranch. October 7, 1875, Mr. Murphy married Miss Carrie R. Jackman, who was born and reared in New Hampshire, removed thence to Iowa, and from there came to California during young womanhood. Five children are living of this union, namely: William C, employed in the Sacramento street-car service; Harry L., who is married and resides at the old homestead; Corda L., who holds a responsible posi- tion in the mercantile house of C. C. Perkins at Perkins; Elmer H., an expert chemist employed in the laboratory of the Union Sugarbeet Company; and George A., a farmer near Perkins.

Although Mr. Murphy cast his first Presidential ballot for Stephen A. Douglas, for years he has been identified with the Republican party. In 1864 he supported Abraham Lincoln and since then he has never failed to cast a straight Republican ticket at every Presidential election. Frequently he has been selected as delegate to county and state conventions. In local elections he supports the men whom he considers best qualified to serve the people, irrespective of their political views. For four years he served as a justice of the peace and he also has served as school trustee. As early as 1869 he became connected with the subordinate lodge of Odd Fellows and all but one of his sons also joined the order. No citizen surpasses him in loyal devotion to his township and county. It has been his privilege to witness the steady growth of this locality and the awakening appreciation of its soil and. climate. Doubtless no one takes greater pride than does he in the constant progress of the district, the increasing returns from the scientific cultivation of its ranches, the growing business of the little towns and the patriotic spirit manifested by the entire citizenship. 

History of Sacramento County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: William L. Willis
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1913)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011