JOHN MURRAY, whose name is indissolubly linked with the early and later history of Morgan County as one of its most intelligent and prosperous pioneers, is still dwelling among us in the enjoyment of a hale old age. The town of Murrayville, where he owns and occupies a valuable farm, was named in honor of his brother, and out subject has been a prominent factor in promoting its growth and increasing its material prosperity. He has been very extensively engaged in the past in breeding fine Short-horn cattle, and representatives of his stock may be found all around in this part of the country. He has been a very large land owner, but has sold off much of his real estate, and has reduced the acreage of his farm to 186 acres, all prairie land, and as fertile and well adapted to general farming as any in the county. Mr. Murray has given up the management of his farm to his son, and has retired from active life.
Mr. Murray was born Sept 3, 1812, in Galloway, Scotland, and was the second child in the family of four sons and one daughter born to John and Hannah (McKean) Murray, natives of the same shire. Three of the children are still living, and one son, David, was finely educated, and for many years was a leading business man in Portsmouth, Ohio, but is now living in retirement. The family came to America in 1835, and after living three years in Pennsylvania came to Illinois, taking five months to perform the journey. They settled in Morgan County, where Murrayville now stands, and here the good old father and mother stayed their earthly wanderings and passed their last days in peace and plenty, dying at a ripe old age, the mother passing away in 1856 and the father surviving her four years, his death occurring at the venerable age of eighty-seven years.
Our subject was bred to the life of a farmer in his native land, receiving the benefit of a common school education, and after coming to America had the general oversight of his father's affairs. In 1838 he came to Illinois on a visit, and being pleased with the country resolved to settle here. After purchasing 190 acres of land, just west of the present site of Murrayville, he went back to Pennsylvania for his father and mother and the rest of the family, and returned with them the same year. The country around here was very desolate in those days, and the prairies were filled with sloughs that have since been drained and form the best land here. Mr. Murray and several other young men cut and hewed timber to build a log church at Murrayville, which was the pioneer religious institution of the village where today four churches stand. The home in which our subject and his parents lived was a rudely constructed log house, with a mud chimney, puncheon floor, clapboard door, and all put together without a nail. That humble dwelling lasted them a year, and it was then replaced by a more commodious two-story frame house. In the opening paragraph of his sketch we have seen how Mr. Murray has prospered in the long years that have followed his settlement here, and that by hard and well-directed labor he has accumulated a fine competence. We will now refer more particularly to his domestic life.
Mr. Murray has been twice married. The first time, Aug. 27, 1847, to miss Sarah A. Huey, daughter of Daniel Huey, of Morgan County, who came here from Mississippi in 1835. He was a large land-owner, and after giving his two sons a quarter-section each, he still possessed six full sections of fine land. Mrs. Murray was the third child in a family of seven. Her married life was not destined to be of very long duration, as on Jan. 30, 1852, she folded her hands in death, and now lies quietly sleeping her last sleep in the pretty cemetery at Murrayville. She bore her husband three children, as follows: Peter, who died out West in 1884; James, who lives near his father, married Nettie Moore, and has one child; Sarah A., wife of James B. Beadles, of Jacksonville, Ill.
Mr. Murray's marriage to his present wife, whose maiden name was Rachel Emily Reed, took place March 7, 1854. She is the daughter of Silas Reed, a Virginian by birth, who became a pioneer of Scott County in 1839, and was a man of prominence in that part of Illinois, taking an active part in the public affairs of his day. To her and her husband three children have been born, as follows: John Edwin, who died in infancy; Catherine Reed, who married Henry C. Tunison, the manufacturer of maps in Jacksonville, and has five children; Ada, who lives at home with her parents.
Mr. Murray is man of unswerving integrity, of a high sense of honor, and of true Christian principle, and is held in warm regard and reverence by the entire community with whose interests his own have been identified for more than half a century. His keen foresight, cool head, good powers of judgment and discrimination, and other traits that he inherited from a sterling Scotch ancestry, have led him to prosperity, and he is numbered among the most substantial citizens of this part of Morgan County. Mr. Murray has always manifested great interest in school affairs, and has promoted the cause of education as School Director, which office he has held several years, and for the past twelve years he has been School Trustee. He is a model citizen in political matters, voting as his conscience dictates, and has been a strong supporter of the Republican party since its formation. He voted for William Henry Harrison, and in the fall of 1888, forty-eight years later, had the pleasure of casting his ballot for his grandson, our present President, Benjamin Harrison. He and his wife are both devoted members of the Presbyterian Church, his connection dating from 1856, and he is now an Elder, and has always been a warm supporter of the Sunday Scho