CAPTAIN WILLIAM KINNEY MURPHY.
The roll of those men who have been the builders of Southern Illinois would not be complete without the name of Captain William Kinney Murphy, lately deceased. The men who seize an opportunity when it comes to them are rare and when found are quite certain to' be successful, but the men who make opportunities for themselves are still more uncommon and are certain to be discovered only among the ranks of the great captains of industry. It was to this latter class that Captain Murphy belonged. Although he confined his operations to a comparatively small portion of the country, his genius as a financier and a promoter of successful enterprises, make him compare favorably with some men whose names are blazoned forth upon the front sheets of our daily newspapers. He was chief among the business men, financiers and agriculturists of Perry county throughout the years of his life, and the record which he left behind as a politician was an enviable one. With his remarkable power of foreseeing future events he knew just when a new project should be launched. At various points through Southern Illinois he has left monuments to his memory in the shape of financial institutions, and all of these have met with only the most unvarying success, thanks to his steady hand upon their rudders. While it is
quite natural for a man to desire success and material prosperity for himself and family, yet there was more than this behind the work of Captain Murphy. He had a deep love for the land of his birth, and desired nothing so much as the prosperity of the country and her people. For this, therefore, the people of Perry county and of Southern Illinois owe him a debt of gratitude which they can not repay, except by their endeavors to ,be as public spirited and to give as freely of themselves as did their benefactor.
William Kinney Murphy was born on the 12th of July, 1835, on “Four Mile Prairie,” on a farm now owned by Porter Baird. His father was the Honorable Richard G. Murphy, who came from White county, Tennessee, in 1821, and settled in Perry county. William K. Murphy was brought up on the farm, but his father was determined that he should have an education, so his school days were spent in the private school conducted by the famous Benjamin G. Roots, who later became renowned through his work as a civil engineer and as chief engineer of the construction work of both the Illinois Central and of the Wabash, Chester and Western railroads. When his father considered him old enough to leave school he decided to give him a chance to try his wings in the business world, and to that end sent him to the cattle markets of Minnesota with a drove of fine cattle. Other drivers were along, but the lad had a good opportunity to learn how to take care of himself, and see how business of this type was carried on. He later took up the study of law with William McKee, but the swift pace of events brought about the bombardment of Fort Sumter before he was admitted to the bar, and he forgot that such a man as Blackstone ever existed. He was soon engaged in the attempt to raise a regiment, and after he had succeeded a weary wait followed, while he tried to get it accepted by the war department. At last this end was accomplished and his enlistment took place on the 15th of August, 1862. He was commissioned captain of Company H, of the One Hundred and Tenth Illinois Infantry.
Captain Murphy was forced to resign from the army in April of 1863, on account of ill health. He went reluctantly back to his deserted law books and was admitted to the bar. He formed a partnership with the Honorables John and Thomas Boyd, the firm being known as Murphy and Boyd Brothers. This association was continued for many years, and Captain Murphy became a noted lawyer and one of the most successful in Southern Illinois. He was particularly well known as a criminal lawyer. As a public speaker and effective advocate his fame was widespread. This success at the bar laid the foundations of his later success as a financier and business man. The qualities that brought him the confidence of his clients and the esteem of the brother lawyers, brought him later the trust of those who had money to invest, and the regard of his confreres.
It was an easy step from the law to politics, and he entered this field to become the recognized leader of Democracy in Perry county. The first political office that he held was master-in-chancery in his county. He was presently elected to the lower house of the general assembly and after the expiration of his term in that body was sent to the state senate. He was almost universally a delegate to all of the conventions in which his county participated, showing how unbounded was the confidence in which he was held by the people. In 1882 he was nominated for Congress and was defeated by only two hundred and sixty-one votes in a distriet that normally polls three thousand Republicans. He was a regular delegate at the national Democratic conventions, and was one of the number who brought about the third nomination of Grover Cleveland, The president partially rewarded him by appointing him collector of internal
revenue for his district. This post he accepted in 1893 aiA made his headquarters at Cairo. One year of his service was held under the McKinley administration, five years in all being spent in this capacity. In 1896, when the money question was the leading issue, Captain Murphy became a “sound money” man, and was a delegate to the convention that nominated Palmer for president and Buckner for vice-president upon that platform. He was a warm friend of General Palmer 's and the general was only one of the many prominent politicians and business men of the state of Illinois who were proud to claim Captain Murphy as a friend.
Deciding that the world of business was more interesting than that of the law courts, Captain Murphy resolved to abandon the practice of law. He had previous to this time been a factor in the development of the coal mining interests in this section, along the route of the Illinois Central Railroad. He had organized the Beaucoup Coal Mining Company, and opened up a mine on the old Cairo Short Line Railroad, two miles north of Pinckneyville. He was the president and maager of this plant until the resources of the mine were exhausted, and then, although he continued to acquire and maintain other mining interests, he never went into the industry again as an operator. Instead he decided to take up banking, and he immediately took the initial steps towards the organization of a string of banks across Southern Illinois. His maiden venture in this direction was the organization of the private bank of the Murphy-Wall Company, which in recent years has been converted into the Murphy-Wall Bank and Trust Company. Until the end of his life he was always president and leading stockholder in this reliable old institution. He next organized the First National Bank of Murphysboro, Illinois, and after several years' service as president of this bank resigned to take charge of newer ventures. The First State Bank of Thebes, Illinois, owes its existence to this man, and he became its first president. He was also the organizer and first president of the First State Bank of Illmo, Illinois. For a time he was president of the City National Bank of Murphysboro, and he was one of the leaders in the establishment of the Citizens State and Savings Bank of Murphysboro, as well as of the Savings Bank of the same city. In all of these institutions he was a director and the leading spirit up to the time of his death.
Banking alone did not engage his attention through these years. He was active in numerous business enterprises. He organized the Murphysboro Electric Light and the Gas Light Companies, and was chosen first president of both concerns. In these enterprises he showed the true pioneer spirit, and how urgently he felt the need of progress. He was one of the organizers of the Southern Illinois Milling Company, of Murphysboro, and was a heavy stockholder in the company. He aided in the organization of the Pinckneyville Milling Company and was a chief stockholder. In both of these firms he was a prominent member of the board of directors. In the launching of the Hinke, Ismery Milling Company of Kansas City, Kansas, he was one of the most conspicuous, and later as treasurer and one of the directors of the company had a large share in its success. In all of these industries Captain Murphy held large interests until he passed away. His wide experience an a sterling common sense made him a man to whom to defer in any gathering. He possessed the necessary initiative ability and the power to influence others through the force of his own enthusiasm. A remarkable man, in his death the county suffered a loss which can scarcely be estimated.
Captain Murphy was married to a girl with whom he had grown up on “Four Mile Prairie.” This was Penina Ozburn, a daughter of Hawkins Ozburn. Mrs. Murphy was born on the 16th of December, 1836, and
she became the mother of two children: Hawkins 0. and Sarah V., the latter of whom married Joseph Crawford, of Pinckneyville, and died at the age of thirty-six years. Captain Murphy died in December, 1911. He was a member of Mitchell Lodge, No. 85, of the Masonic order.
Hawkins 0. Murphy, the only son of Captain Murphy, was born in Pinckneyville, Illinois, on the 6th of December, 1862. He first attended the public schools, and after the completion of his preparatory work he was sent to Washington University, St. Louis, and later to Georgetown College at Washington, D. C. After the completion of his education came his introduction to the business through the medium of the firm of C. H. Glister & Company. He was a member of this firm of merchants for eight years and then he embarked in business for himself as a men furnisher and. clothier. He ran this business for five years and then leaving Pinckneyville went to Murphysboro, where he opened the Murphy Shoe Store. After conducting this business for three years he turned to banking. He became assistant cashier of the First State Bank of Thebes, and two years later took the position of cashier of the First state Bank of Illino, Illinois. He remained here for three years, and then his father and business associates having acquired large timber interests in Louisiana Mr. Murphy was sent to that state to take them in charge. He made his headquarters at Maryville, Louisiana, and stayed there for several years, overseeing the sawmill and the cutting and hauling of the timber. When the industry was abandoned he returned to Pinckneyville and took up the management of Captain Murphy's farming interests, which were extensive. Captain Murphy had purchased large quantities of farming land throughout Southern Illinois, and had been operating it on the tenant system. He had taken especial pride in the fine horses and mules with which he had stocked some of his places, and his importations of stock from time to time had done much to raise the standard of horses and mules in the county. Mr. Murphy is now continuing his father's policy and since his death, being one of the three beneficiaries under the will, has had a great deal to do in the settling and managing of the estate.
Unlike his father, Mr. Murphy is a Republican in politics. He was a member of the city council of Thebes and during his short residence at Illino, Illinois, was elected mayor of the town.
On the 12th of September, 1900, Mr. Murphy was married to May Roberts, a daughter of A. H. Roberts, one of the oldest and most prominent merchants of Murphysboro, where the ceremony took place. Mr. Murphy is prominent in the fraternal world. He is a Mason, being a member of the Blue Lodge. He organized the Knights of Pythias lodge at Pinckneyville and was its first chancellor commander. He also organized the Elks lodge in Murphysboro, was its first exalted ruler and represented the order in the national convention. The universal opinion is that Mr. Murphy is a worthy son of his father, and when one stops to consider what this means one is certain that no higher compliment could be paid him.