Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens


MICHAEL J. MURPHY. It is indeed hard to find among our cosmopolitan civilization, people of better habits of life, taking it all in all than those who originally came from the fair Emerald Isle or their immediate descendants. They are distinguished for their thrift, wit, consecutive industry, patriotism and loyalty, and these qualities in the inhabitants of any country will in the end alone make that country great. One of the well-known engineers of the Frisco is Michael J, Murphy, who has long resided in Springfield, a man, of Celtic blood and of the second generation of Irish in America. He hails originally from the Crescent City of the far South.

Mr. Murphy was born on January 1, 1861, in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is a son of Michael D. and Dorothy Ann (O'Dwyre) Murphy, both born, reared and married in Ireland and there resided until 1854, when they emigrated to the United States, first locating in New York state, then, in 1859, went to New Orleans, and in 1861, when the Civil war began, they came north to Rolla, Missouri, when our subject was an infant. In 1847 Michael D. Murphy took part in the Smith-O'Brien rebellion. He escaped and went to Australia, and after a separation of seven years rejoined his wife, and they came to America. He was a railroad levee contractor. His death occurred in September, 1872, at Rolla, this state. His widow subsequently removed to Springfield, where her death occurred in 1892. To these parents four children were born, namely: Jeremiah, Charles E., Mary, are all deceased, and Michael J., of this sketch.

Mr. Murphy, our subject, had little chance to receive an extensive education. However, he is a self-made man. On April 1, 1879, he went to work for the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad Company in a stone quarry at Rolla, later coming with an extra gang to Springfield and helped put in the foundation for a turntable and roundhouse at the North Side shops. In 1880 he was given a position as fireman out of Springfield and was promoted to freight engineer in 1889, and to regular passenger engineer in 1901, and has retained this responsible position ever since, being regarded by the company as one of its most efficient and trustworthy engineers. His present run is between Springfield and Newburg.

For three years he traveled as special representative of the Frisco in fourteen different states, and did his work most acceptably. Since August 15, 1914, Mr. Murphy has been devoting his time on the "Safety First" movement in accident prevention for the conservation of human life and limb of the employees and patrons of the Frisco system, and because of the increased cost of materials used and consumed by the railroads and the increased cost in taxes, interest and wages and the decrease of 33 1/3 per cent in passenger revenue and decrease of 21 per cent in freight revenue, due to the two-cent passenger fare and the maximum freight rate in Missouri, resulting in placing the Frisco and other Missouri railroads in a position where their earnings are not sufficient to meet cost of, operation and maintenance, interest and taxes, the roads are forced to retrench and cut down expenses. This could only be done by the laying off of men in shops, in the office and in the bridge and building departments and the purchase of less material, such as ties, ballast, steel rails, bridges, and building materials. This retrenchment on the part of the railroads placed over forty thousand wage-earners, skilled and unskilled, idle, leaving them unable to purchase the necessaries of life, which in turn affected the retail and wholesale merchants and producing classes of the state. To overcome those conditions and to start the wheels of progress moving, to find employment for the idle men, Mr. Murphy on February 3, 1915, organized the Railway Employees Protective Association, and by and through this organization in the state of Missouri secured the signatures of bankers, farmers, merchants, manufacturers, and members of organized labor to petitions aggregating in the whole the signatures of over 750,000 of the above citizens of Missouri and mailed those petitions and signatures to the members of the Forty-eighth General Assembly of Missouri asking for a repeal of the maximum 2-cent passenger fare, restoration of the 3-cent passenger rate, and that the public service commission of Missouri to adjust and grant a fair equitable equalization of rates in Missouri, and for the future Mr. Murphy will be engaged making this movement nation wide in its scope, so that capital will be encourage to invest in railroad securities, so that the credit of the railroads will be restored, so that capital and labor will be in a position under wise and just laws, state and national, to furnish the transportation facilities so essential to the future development of the internal resources of Missouri and of the nation as a whole.

Mr. Murphy was married on September 27, 1887, in Rolla, Missouri, to Mary A. Powers, a native of that city. She is a daughter of James and Winifred C. (Condron) Powers, both natives of Ireland. They spent their early days in their native land and finally emigrated to the United States. Mr. Powers was in the employ of the Frisco Railroad for a number of years. His death occurred on July 10, 1878, in Rolla. Mrs. Murphy's mother died in Springfield on May 19, 1900. The wife of our subject was reared and educated in Rolla, attending the public and Catholic schools.

To Mr. and Mrs. Murphy two children have been born, namely: Charles Edward, born on August 20, 1888, in Springfield, was educated in the public and high schools here; he is a machinist by trade and is living at home. Blanche May, born on January 11, 1890, in Springfield, attended the local public and high schools and later business college; she married C. N. King, who is with the International Harvester Company, and lives in Little Rock, Arkansas. Mr., and Mrs. King were married on May 10, 1910, and one child has been born to them, Jack Weldon, whose birth occurred on January 19, 1911.

Politically Mr. Murphy is a Democrat. He is a member of Ozark Division, No. 83, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. The Murphy family are members of the Roman Catholic church. They own a fine and neatly furnished home on North Main street, Springfield.

[1285-1287]


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