Biography of David Murray

DAVID MURRAY. – This gentleman is a well-known capitalist. He has retired from active business, and is now reaping the benefits of a life full of even and unceasing hard work. David Murray is a name that every youngster in the Kittitass valley, Washington, is familiar with. It might be well for those very same youths if they had a few of the hardships to go through that Mr. Murray did in his early life. He was born in Maine in 1831, and at the age of twenty left his home to seek his fortunes in the Golden state of California. he embarked onboard one of the sailing vessels that brought a dry dock to the Pacific coast. Rounding the “Horn” with that massive bulk in cargo was no very safe undertaking. However, reaching California, he settled at Vallejo, on San Francisco Bay; and, not having been overstocked with money upon leaving his home, he was forced to accept what work he could obtain. He did the first work that was ever done on Mare Island, where the government works and navy yard now are. After finishing his employment there, he led a life of various pursuits for a period of ten years, among which were mining, lumbering and ranching during the great Caribou gold excitement of 1862 he made his way to that field, and took up a ranch on the Fraser river, 150miles above Fort Yale, He was the first rancher in that locality, and worked assiduously on his claim for a period of six or seven years.

In 1870 he gave up the ranch there, and then came to Kittitass valley, where he has resided ever since. He bought a ranch near Yakima, and with his varied experience and a moderate capital started in to raise cattle. The ranch covered one hundred and sixty acres and the well-known adaptability of the soil to stock-farming favored his efforts, so that, by careful, attentive handling, his stock increased and multiplied, until at one time he owned the large number of four thousand head of the finest cattle in the land, and was one of the “cattle kings” of Washington Territory. He married in 1878, and, being in the height of his prosperity, settled down to enjoy those solid comforts of home and hearth which he had never previously known on account of his wandering life. The happiness he had striven so hard for was not of long duration, however; for, in the midst of his triumphs and joys, his beloved wife was called away, leaving the bright home and loving husband desolate and childless.

Mr. Murray has made one visit to his boyhood’s home in Maine since coming to the coast, but soon returned to the land that gave him fame and fortune. He owns considerable property around Ellensburgh, and was a director and shareholder in the First National Bank started there, but which closed up on account of the uncertain prospects of the railroad being built through the town. A man of generous and noble instincts, he has ever done all in his power to advance and promote the interests of Ellensburgh, and has been prominently connected with many enterprises for the public weal. Within the past few years he has retired from business, and as a landed capitalist is now engaged in loaning his money to his less fortunate neighbors. His old reminiscences and experiences in the days of his struggles with poverty in the Golden state have caused him to feel a longing to end his days in California, – his first landing-place in the West.

Mr. Murray’s life being one of outdoor work, he has an iron constitution that has never been undermined by the ravages of disease; and his age sits so lightly on his powerful frame that one could hardly credit the fact of his being in the fifty-seventh year. He is six feet tall, energetic in manner, and straight as an arrow. Everybody has a good word for Mr. Murray. He possesses the esteem and respect of his associates, and has many friends and but few enemies. His residence at the head of Second street is a model of neatness and comfort. It is the finest and most substantial dwelling in Ellensburgh. Conscientious and straighforward, he has ever led an honest and honorable life, and deserves all the encomiums and prosperity that by his diligence he has attained.



History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. 2 v. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889.

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