Biography of John Murphy

John Murphy. A fine farm, a good home, an excellent family belong to John Murphy, one of the prominent residents of Kerr Township, his well cultivated acres being located in section 32.

Mr. Murphy is a native of Ireland, a son of Martin and Mary Murphy. He grew up in his native isle and was twenty-four years of age when, seeking the better opportunities of the New World, he immigrated to America and came direct to Champaign County. This section of the New World seemed to offer especial promise to young men of limited capital and unlimited energy and he soon found work as a hand.

It was after coming to this country that he married Miss Jennie Whalen. She was born in County Wexford, Ireland, daughter of James and Mary (Cullen) Whalen. She also was twenty-four years of age when she came to America with two cousins named Gordon. She was the first member of her immediate family to come to this country. She was ambitious and able to work and willing to do her part. She first came to Gifford, where she had cousins and friends, and the first friendly face she met after leaving her home in Ireland was her cousin, Joseph Gordon, who took he*r to his home, where she remained four years. While there she made the acquaintance of John Murphy, a young Irishman from the same part of Ireland, and in a short time they were married. They began housekeeping east of Gifford on the farm of Mr. Sunderland. They rented land from Mr. Sunderland six years, and there they laid the foundation for their permanent prosperity. They next moved half a mile south of Penfield, and for three years rented a farm from Mr. Benjamin. By that time through strict economy and thrifty saving they had accumulated enough to enable them to purchase 120 acres north of Penfield. In that locality they have made their home ever since.

Six children were born to them, and they lost one, Thomas Richard, in infancy. The others are, James, Mary, John, Margaret and Mildred. One of the first things Mr. and Mrs. Murphy thought about was the proper education of these children. They sent them regularly to the Stonestreet district school and afterwards to the Penfield High School. Miss Mary was graduated in 1916 from the high school and made a splendid record as a student. The subject of her graduating thesis was “The Value of Reputation,” and many compliments were paid her for the manner in which she treated this subject and for its delivery. Besides her literary training she took music lessons from Mrs. Klein, and music has always been encouraged as a feature of culture in the Murphy home. The daughter Mary had an ambition to teach school but so far has been hindered in taking the examination on account of illness. The son James Murphy is living on his father’s old farm. He married Esther Kelley, daughter of Patrick Kelley, present postmaster of Penfield. Mr. and Mrs. James Murphy have a little daughter,’ Mary Vivian, who at this writing is four months old. The other children of Mr. and Mrs. Murphy are students in school and Margaret has taken piano instruction from Miss Grace Gray.

Mr. Murphy has done his part toward maintaining high standards in the local schools and has served several years as a school director. The family is active members of the Catholic Church at Penfield, all the children having been reared and confirmed in that faith. In matters of politics Mr. and Mrs. Murphy are Democrats. In northeastern Champaign County the ability and success of Mr. Murphy’s efforts as a farmer need no special mention. Farming with him is a business and crops always seem to prosper under his skillful touch. Mr. and “Mrs. Murphy has developed a fine grove of trees on their farm, an attractive feature of the landscape, furnishing protection to the live stock both winter and summer.

A word should be said concerning the younger children in school. Margaret is now in the seventh grade and Mildred in the fourth grade. Mr. and Mrs. Murphy have done everything they could to encourage their children in obtaining the best of educational advantages. Their daughter Mary especially excelled in penmanship and was awarded a Palmer’s certificate for skill in writing.



Stewart, J. R. A Standard History of Champaign County Illinois. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York. 1918.

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