The Port Monmouth Nine

The newspaper clipping here is from the April 22, 1914, issue of The Red Bank Register,(later called The Daily Register) which provided local coverage of all of the towns in the part of Monmouth County, New Jersey, where our Murphy family lived from around 1850 through at least the 1970s. The paper folded in 1991.Murphy-brothers-in-Port-Monmouth-baseball-game-22Apr1914

The article, headlined “Headden’s Corner Wins,” tells of a local baseball game in which the Port Monmouth team was beaten by the Headden’s Corner team, 3-2, in 12 innings.

Pitching for the Port Monmouth team that day were two of my great uncles, George Murphy (1895-1971) and Edward Murphy (1897-1967).

George and Edward were brothers of my grandfather, Henry Gerard Murphy (1893-1951). For the 1914 game in which the brothers “did the slab work for the Port Monmouth team,” George would have been 19 years old and Edward 17 years old.

1915-New-Jersey-Census-George-MurphyThe teams were made up of local amateurs playing in an organized Monmouth County Sunday league. George and Edward were laborers on the family farm. (See the image here of the 1915 New Jersey State Census).

Another family tie-in, Charles Corcoran, the manager of the Headden’s Corner team, is a first cousin of George and Edward. Charles’ mother is Mary A. Murphy Corcoran (sometimes showing up as Cochran), wife of William Corcoran of Chapel Hill. The couple is named in the disposition of my 2nd great grandfather James Murphy Sr.’s will.

George Francis Murphy is pictured above in the header image of this blog (the picture is from around 1937). He is on the far right of the picture next to his wife, Lillian Christiansen Murphy (who hailed from Keansburg, New Jersey), and my dad, Henry Neil Murphy.

I don’t recall ever meeting my Uncle Edward, but when still living in New York we would often visit Uncle George and Aunt Lillian at their place in Keansburg. They also came to visit us in Texas at least once. I know I have a picture of them taken at the State Fair of Texas. I’ll update this post when I find it.

Finally, here’s a picture from 1964 of George and Lillian with my family and cousins Anne and Tom Murphy. I’m pretty sure this was taken at my grandmother Murphy’s apartment in New York.


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A Rookie Mistake

You’ve been introduced to my maternal grandfather in a previous post, NYPD Blue: George Benedict Latchford. By all accounts he was a well-respected officer who served the New York City Police Department with distinction for about 32 years, from 1926 to 1958.

But his rookie year had some interesting ups and downs. In October 1926, just a few months after joining the force, he participated in a well-publicized interrogation of a fur thief. The episode was covered in the October 19, 1926, edition of the New York Daily News.

NYTimesArticle001Just a few months later, in January 1927, Patrolman Latchford was part of another well-publicized incident, this one a low point in the rookie officer’s first year. It probably didn’t help that the episode was covered in the January 13, 1927, edition of The New York Times under the headline, “Policemen Lose Pistols in Hold-Up.” One of the sub-headlines further trumpets, “Two Bluecoats Are Surprised While Eating a Meal–Both Are Suspended.”

You can click on the image of the article here to read the entire account, but the gist of it is that my grandfather and his partner, Patrolman Thomas E. McCormack, were seated at a table in the deli while “their overcoats and belts containing their pistols were on a near-by hook.” Robbers entered the deli, covered the policemen with pistols, took their firearms and shields and $50 from one of the patrolmen, emptied the cash register and left.

To make matters worse, the article claims that while McCormack was on the regular relief period of half an hour allowed for meals, Latchford was off post without permission. The pair was suspended by NYPD Commissioner McLaughlin.

Chalk it up to a rookie mistake. Things got better as his excellent police work was recognized in subsequent years.  Just four years later, Patrolman Latchford received a grade advancement that was recorded in the May 21, 1931, edition of The New York Times. And he was recognized for “Excellent Police Duty” in 1942, as recorded in the July 13, 1942, edition of The New York Times. Click on the articles here to read.


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Almost Lizzie?

Missouri Birth Record for Katherine Antoinette Singler 1894Just a quick post as a followup to the previous entry about Grandma Reinhardt. The Registry of Births for the City of St. Louis in 1894 records her birth on October 11 to Jacob and Sophia Foerstel Singler, living at 817 S. 4th Street.

Take a close look at the child’s name on the registry (No. 9318 on the right-hand page). It was originally recorded as Lizzie Singler. The name Lizzie was scratched out and you can just make out the name Katherine Antoinette written above the scratched-out Lizzie.

My guess is that it was a mistake by the registrar rather than a change of mind by her parents. Glancing at some of the other entries on the page, you can see that there are a few other corrections made in a similar fashion.

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A Budweiser and Some Kentucky Fried Chicken

Grandma Reinhardt profileThe beautiful woman in this photo is Katherine Antoinette Singler, Peggy’s paternal grandmother, born October 11, 1894, to Jacob and Sophia Foerstel Singler. She was the youngest in a family of six girls and one boy.

Katherine married Clarence Reinhardt on May 4, 1927. They were married for nearly 22 years and had four children (Charles, Hubert, Joseph and Mary) before Clarence died suddenly of pulmonary thrombosis in January 1949.

Katherine led a full and active life thereafter, outliving her husband by more than 47 years. For the major part of the rest of her life, she lived with daughter Mary, son-in-law John Colombo and grandson Eddie Colombo in St. Louis and, in later years, Raleigh, North Carolina.

In May of 1991, the parish priest at the Catholic Church the family attended in Raleigh told Mary he’d like to give Katherine a special blessing as the oldest member of the parish. Mary offered him this brief account of her mother’s vocation in life.

All through her youth Grandma had always wanted to become a nun—specifically a Daughter of Charity. This is an order of nuns that work with the poor. She had worked for many years as a volunteer at the Guardian Angel Settlement. This was, in the 1920s, a day care center for the working poor. When she approached her mother about her vocation, her mother objected for reasons unknown to Grandma. In those days you did not question your parents.

Grandma continued throughout her life to do good works. Before she was married, she was a dressmaker. During the day she made ball gowns for the very rich, while in the evenings she made first communion veils for the very poor. She taught the women at the day care center how to sew clothes for their children. She always used the talents given her to help the poor and the church. She made all the vestments and altar clothes for our parish, Sts. Peter and Paul. She also made cassocks for poor seminarians.

She always treated everyone with dignity, no matter how down and out they might look. When we were young, hobos (men out of work who would do odd jobs for a meal) would always come to our home. I think the word was passed that Grandma was very kind and a great cook.

When I was about eight or nine, Grandma heard about Helen, a former classmate who had been institutionalized by her husband in the state mental hospital. When she went to visit her, she found out that Helen had no visitors for five years. Grandma proceeded to visit Helen at least once a month and took me with her. There was nothing wrong with Helen except that she knew that her husband did not want her and felt she had no place to go. Grandma tried to get her released to her care but her request was turned down. Through Grandma’s efforts and prayers, Helen was ultimately released to her children and went on to lead a productive life.

Grandma had great devotion to the saints, especially the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph and St. Francis. To this day, special requests are placed under St. Joseph’s statue. I have kept many of them. Most are requests for a good husband for a friend, improved health or a job for someone out of work.

The parish priest incorporated some of Mary’s remembrances into his homily.

DSCN1374While Mary was visiting us the past few weeks, she related another anecdote about Grandma Reinhardt and a priest.

During a hospital stay near the end of Grandma’s life, she was visited by a hospital chaplain. The chaplain was a fairly new priest and had just recently been assigned the position. Grandma had celebrated her 101st birthday and was well past the age of watching what she said. As a St. Louis native, she took great joy in drinking a cold Budweiser beer. She also was fond of Kentucky Fried Chicken. When the chaplain asked Grandma if he could do anything for her, she responded, “If you haven’t got a Budweiser or some Kentucky Fried Chicken, then you can’t do a damn thing for me.”

The beer pictured here is a special “Katie’s Brew” that the Reinhardt family in St. Louis had created in celebration of Katherine’s 101st birthday.

Katherine Antoinette Singler Reinhardt died on October 5, 1996, just a few days short of her 102nd birthday.

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St. Louis Sports and Sportsmen

Peggy’s Aunt Mary Reinhardt Colombo, visiting us for the holidays, brought with her some interesting family mementos.

DSCN1240 DSCN1241Pictured here is a St. Louis Browns commemorative scarf. The Browns were an American League baseball team in St. Louis from 1902 to 1953, before the franchise moved to Baltimore to become the Orioles. They shared Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis with their more successful crosstown rivals, the National League Cardinals. Mary’s father, Clarence Reinhardt (b. 1892 d. 1949), was a huge Browns fan, so his children, Charles (Peggy’s dad), Hubert, Joseph and Mary, followed the Browns as well. The Browns were notorious for their losing ways, but Mary recalls the excitement in 1944 when they won the AL pennant and faced the Cardinals in the World Series. Mary says her dad was so excited that he treated the family to a night out, a very rare event for the family. The Browns lost “The Trolley Series” to the Cards in six games.

Picture of Athletes at Charles Colombo's Hotel001This next picture is from the family archives of Mary’s late husband, John Lewis Colombo (b. 1937 d. 2014). John was born and raised in St. Louis. John’s dad, Charles Colombo, worked for many years as the banquet manager for the Mark Twain Hotel in St. Louis. It was a pretty fancy place.

Charles took this picture of the hotel assistant manager with a few famous St. Louis sports dignitaries. Most of them were known outside of the city, as well. I’ll give you a minute to see how many of these guys you can name. As a hint, I’ll tell you that among the group there are four baseball players, one boxer and one professional wrestler. The assistant hotel manager is the guy in the dark suit in the front. Like you didn’t know.

From left to right, the athletes are: Cardinals catcher and well-known announcer/TV personality Joe Garagiola, 6-time World Champion professional wrestler Lou Thesz, World Heavyweight Champion boxer Joe “The Brown Bomber” Louis, Baseball Hall of Famer Stan “The Man” Musial, Baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, and Baseball Hall of Famer Albert Fred “Red” Schoendienst. How many did you get?

Thanks, Mary, for sharing the memories. Merry Christmas to all!

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Some Pictures from Henry Neil Murphy’s Youth

As the year draws to a close, the posts you’ll see here will be mostly based on old pictures.

My brother Mike last week passed along some old family pictures. Many of them I had never seen before.

Old Murphy Photos003Here’s a picture of my dad, Henry Neil Murphy (b. 1927 d. 1994), with his dad, Michael Henry Murphy (b. 1893 d. 1951). I’m guessing that dad is around 20 years old, so this would be around 1947. Note that they’re both smoking. My dad smoked a pipe for most of his life. I can only remember a couple of times seeing him smoke a cigarette. My grandfather was a lifelong smoker. My mother recalled that my grandfather smoked unfiltered cigarettes and had a permanent tobacco stain between the first two fingers of his right hand. My grandfather Murphy died just two months after my oldest brother, Brian, was born.

Old Murphy Photos002This next picture is from June 1945, probably dad’s high school graduation picture. He was 17. Dad graduated from Power Memorial Academy on West 61st Street in  New York. Some other alumni of Power Memorial: basketball hall of famer Lew Alcindor (a.k.a. Kareem Abdul Jabbar), late actor Bruno Kirby, former NHL hockey player Joe Mullen, and former NBA players Mario Elie and Chris Mullin.

It’s kind of funny reading about the athletes that attended Power Memorial. I don’t remember dad being much of an athlete, but then he was in his early forties when I was in my early teens, and he had a bad back by then.

Old Murphy Photos018Well, here’s a picture of dad at bat in a game of stickball. Kind of reinforces what I was saying about dad as an athlete, right? Maybe back then the normal stickball attire was slacks and a dress shirt?

This was probably taken in dad’s high school years. The family lived at 600 West 174th Street in 1940.

Stay tuned. I’ll share a few more pictures from dad’s youth in some upcoming blogs. and some from his days in the Navy.

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The French Connection

Regina Wundel, Peggy’s third great grandmother, was born on June 30, 1821, in Rosenwiller, Alsace, France. The town is located not far from the Rhein River that separates France from Germany. A long-disputed region, the Alsace territory was ceded by France to Germany in 1871 after the Franco-German War, then retroceded to France in 1919 after World War I. It was ceded again to Germany in 1940 during World War II, but was again retroceded to France at the end of the war in 1945. At the time of Regina’s birth, the town of Rosenwiller had a population of about 784. In 2011, Rosenwiller’s population was 670.

On January 29, 1842, at the age of 20, Regina married Lorenz Marxer, a 29-year-old carpenter from Altenheim, about 35 kilometers north of Rosenwiller. Later that year, the couple welcomed their first child, a son, Joseph Marxer. In 1844, a daughter, Mary, was born.

New Orleans Passenger List for Regina Wondel June 1845New Orleans Passenger List - Regina Wundel (Lorenz Marxer's wife) arrives June 2, 1845In June of 1845, Lorenz, Regina, their two children and Regina’s brother Joseph departed for their new life in America aboard the ship Columbia from the port of La Havre in the Haute-Normandie region of northwestern France. The first passenger list pictured here shows the five listed in sequence, Lorenz (Laurent), Regina (note that she is listed using her maiden name), son Joseph, daughter Maria (Mary) and Regina’s brother, Joseph Wundel. They landed in the port of New Orleans, Louisiana. The second list shows brother Joseph and Regina listed at the top. Lorenz and the children are probably listed on a separate page.

Interestingly, Gary Beaumont, in his history of the Marxer family, has this to say about the voyage:

They came across the ocean in a sailboat headed for Galveston, Texas, because the French had told them to go there. However, when they reached New Orleans, they decided to continue up the Mississippi River.

1850 US Census for Lorenz and Regina MarxerThe Marxers made their way up the Mississippi River and settled in Centerville, St. Clair County, Illinois. The 1850 U.S. Census shows Lorenz (Lawrence), Regina (listed as Rachel), Joseph, Mary and another daughter, Regina (listed as Rachel, as well).

1860 US Census for Lorenz and Regina MarxerBy the 1860 U.S. Census, the family had grown considerably. Lorenz is listed as a brickmaker. The 39-year-old Regina was raising seven children: 17-year-old Joseph, 15-year-old Maria, 11-year-old Regina, 8-year-old Catherine, 6-year-old Magdalene, 3-year-old Alois and 6-month-old John. Another daughter, Rosa, was born in 1862. Two years later, Regina’s oldest daughter Mary would marry the widow Leo Reinhardt.

Headstone of Regina Marxer (June 1821 - June 1864)

Headstone of Regina Marxer (June 1821 – June 1864)

Regina Wundel Marxer died June 7, 1864, at the age of just 42. She is buried in the St. James Cemetery just outside of Millstadt, Illinois.




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