Who Are Those People?

I realized recently that I’d never taken the time on this blog to identify all the people in the photo at the top of the page. For those of you who read my posts in email, just click through to the site (hughdesmurphy.wordpress.com) to see the picture.

My best guess is that the picture was taken between 1938 and 1940 at the Murphy family farm in Middletown, Monmouth County, New Jersey. I have a family home movie that was taken the same day as the photo. Once I’m able to convert the movie into a compatible format, I’ll share it here.

I can identify seven of the 10 people who are in the photo. The man on the far right is my great uncle George Francis Murphy (b. 1895 d. 1971). He is brother to my grandfather Michael Henry Murphy (b. 1893 d. 1951). I’m pretty sure that my grandfather was taking the picture and so does not appear in it. He can be seen briefly in the home movie.

Next to George is his wife, Lillian Christiansen Murphy (b. 1899 d. 1985). In front of aunt Lillian is my father, Henry Neil Murphy (b. 1927 d. 1994). My aunt Helene (b. 1923 d. 1998), dad’s sister, is at his right shoulder.

My great grandfather Martin Murphy (b. 1863 d. 1942) is the distinguished-looking gentleman sitting down at the center of the picture. The Murphy family farm was passed down to Martin after his father, James Murphy, died in 1901. I don’t know the woman standing directly behind Martin and seemingly adjusting her glasses. Next to this first unidentified woman is my great grandmother Jane Manion Murphy (b. 1868 d. 1951). My grandmother Helen Olsen Murphy (b. 1892 d. 1983) is next in line.

I don’t know the two ladies on the far left of the photo. If I had to guess, I’d say that the three unidentified ladies are my great aunts, my grandfather’s sisters, Elizabeth, Jennie and Marion. (If cousins Anne or Tom Murphy happen to read this post, please help identify them if you know who they are. Thanks.)

scan0007I’ll close with this photo taken in early 1964, the year my family moved from New York to Texas. If I remember right, the photo was taken at my grandmother’s apartment in New York City. My uncle George and aunt Lillian are in the photo, surrounded by their grand nieces and nephews.

In the back, from left to right, are my brothers Jim, Terry, Brian and Rob. My sister Mary is on uncle George’s lap and my cousin Anne Murphy is seated right next to aunt Lillian. That’s me next to Anne. Sean is sitting with his hands on my shoulders. Neil is next and cousin Tom Murphy is at the far right. Mike isn’t in the picture because he wasn’t born until late June of that year. The quality of the photo is not very good, but what a handsome group, right?

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Fjord Focus

I’ll start this post by saying we could be related to the Olsen twins. Or intrepid Daily Planet photojournalist Jimmy Olsen. Okay, never mind the Olsen twins. A quick Google search shows they have Danish ancestry and their last name was originally “Olsenboye.” So, a link to Jimmy Olsen is more likely.

Alfred Nils Olsen (b. 1861 d. 1942)

Alfred Nils Olsen (b. 1861 d. 1942)

I spent time this week looking at my great grandfather Alfred Nils Olsen and his parents, grandparents, great grandparents and beyond. You may remember Alfred from a post earlier this year. He was born in Bergen, Norway, on December 15, 1861, the oldest child of Johan Christian Olsen and Seriane Dorothea Magnussen Olsen.

I have information about the Olsen family from my dad’s sister, my aunt Helene Murphy, Alfred’s granddaughter. From baptism and marriage records, I was able to confirm Alfred’s lineage back to his 4th great grandparents (that’d be my 6th great grandparents). Gierke Bille, his 4th great grandmother, was born around 1698 in Bergen. So, before Alfred came to the U.S. in 1883 (according to the 1920 and 1930 U.S. censuses) or in 1886 (according to the 1900 and 1910 U.S. censuses), his family had been in the same area of Norway for at least 180 years, and probably many more. Vikings!

The records identified the places of baptisms/marriages as Korskirken, Bergen, Hordaland, Norway, or Nykirken, Bergen, Hordaland, Norway. Korskirken means The Cross Church, which is located near the center of Bergen and was built around the year 1150. Nykirken means The New Church. It was built around the year 1622. There were several other churches in Bergen that were already several hundred years old at the time, so this church was nicknamed “the new church,” a name which has stuck for centuries.

Bergen_CollageBergen is known as the city of The Seven Mountains. The city was established before 1070 AD. Most of the urban area is located on or close to a fjord or bay, although there are several mountains located within the urban area. From the pictures I’ve seen, it looks like a beautiful city. It’s a tourist destination and some say Norway’s largest port of call for cruise ships.

Olsen family tree002Here’s a look at Alfred’s family tree. There’s still a lot of missing info, especially death dates. All information I hope to uncover with more research.

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Memories of “Corny”

My dad, Henry Neil Murphy, died of a heart attack in January of 1994. A few months after his death, his older sister, my Aunt Helene, sent a couple of pages worth of memories from when they were young, growing up in New York City.

One of the memories was about his church confirmation name.

Harry had a problem when he was about to be confirmed. As you know, the chosen name was “Neil;” his teacher was a not-very-bright Irish nun who insisted that “Neil” was not a saint’s name, and said it had to be “Cornelius.” The other boys teased him and called him “Corny,” which infuriated him. We were never sure whether the Bishop accepted “Neil” from him, or “Cornelius” from the written list, but he stuck with the former.

To read the rest of the memories, just click on the images to view the pages.









By the way, dad and Aunt Helene are in the picture at the top of this blog. Dad is the young man in the foreground on the right. Aunt Helene is the young beauty at his right shoulder. My guess is that the picture is from around 1940.

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Passbook Savings in 1934

Earl Morrison Passbook004An interesting keepsake from Peggy’s family is pictured here. This is a passbook savings register that belonged to her grandfather, Earl Leo Morrison.

Earl Morrison Passbook001At first glance, it’s pretty unremarkable. But, then, check out the dates inside. The account was opened in the middle of the Great Depression, a time when families were struggling to make ends meet and banks were failing left and right.

Earl Morrison Passbook003Earl opened his account on April 25, 1934, at the State Bank & Trust Co. of Wellston (St. Louis, Missouri) with a deposit of $56.75. It looks like the account was active for less than a year. The last entry in the register shows a balance of $13.00 on January 4 (probably 1935).

Earl Morrison family on the 1940 U.S. Census

Earl Morrison family on the 1940 U.S. Census

In 1934, Earl, his wife, Margaret, and daughter, Mary Lou (Peggy’s mom), lived at 1107 Etzel Terrace in St. Louis. The 1940 U.S. Census shows Earl working as a mechanical draftsman for a wholesale pneumatic machinery company.

To give you an idea of the cost of goods and services in the early 1930s, click this link. Average annual income was between $1700 and $1900. Check out more 1930s financial stats at this link.

It looks like the bank still exists as a Regions Bank, but not in the same location. You can see a history of the institution from the National Information Center, a repository of financial data and institution characteristics collected by the Federal Reserve System, at this link.

Earl Leo Morrison (b. 1907 d. 1980)

Earl Leo Morrison (b. 1907 d. 1980)


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In Memory of John Colombo

Peggy’s Uncle John passed away last Friday. We are blessed to have seen John earlier this year at Amanda and Clint’s wedding. Below is John’s obituary, published in this morning’s Raleigh News & Observer. I’ve added an image of the 1940 U.S. Census that shows John’s family living on Botanical Avenue in The Hill neighborhood of St. Louis. Some pictures of John are included below, as well. Our most sincere sympathy and love go out to Mary and Eddie and family.

John Louis Colombo
January 21, 1937 – October 24, 2014

John Louis Colombo, 77, was born and raised in the great baseball city of St. Louis, Missouri. His early claim to fame was attending St. Ambrose “on the Hill” with Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola. John died at Rex Hospital on Friday, Oct. 24, due to complications following a heart attack.

John Louis Colombo on the 1940 U.S. Census

John Louis Colombo on the 1940 U.S. Census

John was the son of the late Angeline and Charles Colombo and the brother of the late Charles Colombo, Jr. He is survived by his loving wife of 42 years, Mary Reinhardt Colombo; his son John Edward Colombo and fiancee Dolores Meier of Godfrey, Ill.; granddaughters Samantha and Amber Colombo of Fargo, N.D.; sisters-in law Carol, Ann and Jean Reinhardt; and many nieces and nephews.

John attended Christian Brothers College High School, Cardinal Glennon Seminary and St. Louis University. John was a member of the Army Reserves for six years. He was the owner of Colombo Dental Laboratory in St. Louis before moving to NC where he was Production Supervisor at both Borg Warner and Champion Products. Later in life he worked as a dental technician at UNC and taught several dental courses at the UNC School of Dentistry, Wake Tech, and the Women’s Prison in Raleigh. John greatly loved teaching and regretted not having followed that path earlier in his career.

John developed many friendships over the years, maintaining membership in The Knights of Columbus (Sir Knight, 4th Degree, Council 9709 at St Francis and Assembly 2446, Cary/Apex), the Italian Club, the Raleigh Sports Club and the Crabtree breakfast group. He was exceedingly generous, giving to many organizations that provided food for the less fortunate. He loved shopping for the children at the Oxford Home each Christmas, and one winter donated 100 pairs of gloves to the Raleigh Rescue Mission. Having rescued an abused dog in childhood, he contributed throughout his life to various animal welfare organizations. He had a special love for his ’61 T-bird convertible and for all things Halloween. He was forever on the hunt for the newest and most unique Halloween decorations and animated mannequins, welcoming the neighborhood into his home to enjoy his seasonal handiwork.

Services will be held at St. Francis of Assisi Church on Friday, Oct. 31.(How appropriate!) Visitation will be at 9:30 with Mass at 10 AM. Mary requests that those in attendance wear joyful and bright colors to celebrate a life well lived. Internment will immediately follow the service in the St. Francis Columbarium.

The family would like to thank the staff of the Cardiac Critical Care Unit at Rex with gratitude for exceptional care by the nursing staff. In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy and appreciation for John’s life may be made to Catholic Parish Outreach, the Raleigh Rescue Mission or a charity of your choice.

John Colombo and Mary Reinhardt Wedding

John Colombo and Mary Reinhardt wedding

John, Mary, Karen, Liam and Hugh

John, Mary, Karen, Liam and Hugh at Amanda and Clint’s wedding

John and Mary Colombo at Amanda and Clint's rehearsal dinner

John and Mary Colombo at Amanda and Clint’s rehearsal dinner

John Colombo at Amanda and Clint's wedding

Peggy with John at Amanda and Clint’s wedding reception

Reinhardt Family at Wedding of Hugh and Peggy - August 8, 1981. John Colombo is on the far right.

Reinhardt Family at wedding of Hugh and Peggy – August 8, 1981. John Colombo is on the far right.

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The Civil War Service of Michael Foerstel

In 1860, Michael Foerstel, Peggy’s 2nd great grandfather, was a 34-year-old married father of three young children. He had settled in St. Louis, Missouri, after fleeing political upheaval and unrest in the German Confederation territory of Baden around 1849.

1860 U.S. Census - Michael Foerstel Family

1860 U.S. Census – Michael Foerstel Family

Michael worked in local industry as a cooper. Coopering required skill, intelligence and strength. Coopers crafted casks which held flour, gunpowder, tobacco, and other commodities; served as shipping containers; stored liquids from wine to milk.

The 1860 United States Census, taken in early June of that year, records Michael living in St. Louis’s First Ward with wife Theresa, 8-year-old Joseph, 4-year-old Sophia and 1-year-old Henry. Sophia would later become Mrs. Jacob Singler, mother of Peggy’s grandmother, Katherine Singler Reinhardt.

In the spring of 1861, some 850 miles away from Michael’s home in St. Louis, the American civil war began. On April 12, 1861, Confederate forces bombarded the Union controlled Fort Sumter in South Carolina.

Events closer to home were of more concern to Michael and his First Ward neighbors. According to historian Adam Goodheart, St. Louis and the state of Missouri “stood at a crossroads between the cultures of the North and the South, between slavery and freedom, between an older America and a new one.” There was civil warfare in the streets as “German immigrants in St. Louis flocked to the Union cause and in bloody confrontations overthrew the local secessionists.” Goodheart writes:

These men were part of a wave of German and other Central European immigrants that had poured into St. Louis over the previous couple of decades.

Politically, too, the newcomers were a class apart. Many had fled the aftermath of the failed liberal revolutions that had swept across Europe in 1848.

For such men, and even for their less radical compatriots, Missouri’s slaveholding class represented exactly what they had detested in the old country, exactly what they had wanted to escape: a swaggering clique of landed oligarchs.

You can read Goodheart’s essay on the subject in The American Scholar here.

Michael Foerstel's Civil War Registration.

Michael Foerstel’s Civil War Registration.

In the National Park Service U.S. Civil War Soldiers database, 1861-1865, Michael is listed as a private in Company M of the 1st United States Reserve Corps (U.S.R.C.) Infantry (film number M390, roll 15). The Wikipedia entry on the unit says it evolved from one of several unofficial pro-Unionist militia units formed semi-secretly in St. Louis in the early months of 1861. Shown here is an image of the registration page for the unit that includes Michael Foerstel’s name and personal information. Records indicate that the unit was formed on May 7, 1861, served for three months, and mustered out on August 20, 1861.

Michael Foerstel Civil War Pension Index Card - July 18, 1890

Michael Foerstel Civil War Pension Index Card – July 18, 1890

In 1890, around the age of 64, Michael Foerstel applied for his Civil War pension in the state of Missouri. He died of emphysema on September 13, 1899, at the age of 74.

Death Certificate of Michael Foerstel

Death Certificate of Michael Foerstel



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The Search for Dad

We found dad. Well, he wasn’t exactly lost. We just didn’t know where he was buried. Now we do.

My dad died in January 1994. His wife, Margaret, had his body cremated, but, at the time, she had no place arranged to inter his ashes. My mom offered to allow the use of space in a crypt that she had purchased at Calvary Hill Cemetery when my brother Rob died.

A few years later, Margaret had dad’s ashes transferred from Calvary Hill to a permanent resting place. We weren’t close with dad’s new family, so, after that, we didn’t do a very good job of keeping up with Margaret. We knew she had dad’s ashes buried in a cemetery somewhere in Rockwall . . . or Rowlett . . . or Royse City. Well, some city east of Dallas that started with an “R.”

Margaret died in 2010. Her obituary didn’t include funeral home or cemetery information. Over the past few years, we made some halfhearted attempts to locate where dad and Margaret were buried. No luck.

Well, this past Saturday morning, a search for dad on the Find A Grave website, as in the past, was unsuccessful. But when I searched for Margaret Murphy and narrowed the search to the Dallas area, eureka! The listing was added to the site in June 2014.

DSCN1036DSCN1039My dad, Henry N. Murphy, and his wife, Margaret J. Murphy, are buried at Rest Haven Memorial Park in Rockwall, Texas.

Peggy and I took a trip out there on Saturday to visit the gravesite. It’s about 20 miles from our house. The site is in the cemetery’s Inspirational Urn Garden (Section 1295, Sites C7 & C8) just to the right of a large statue of Jesus. We picked up a nice autumn bouquet of silk flowers to place at the grave.



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