From A Biographical History of Central
Kansas, Vol. I, p. 199
published by The Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago & New York, 1902
Alonzo McMurphy, a prominent farmer of section 31, Sterling township, Rice County, claims Indiana as the state of his nativity, his birth having occurred there in Porter county, on the 20th of November, 1846. His father, Moses McMurphy, was born in Vermont, in 1810, and died in Kankakee County, Illinois, in 1858, at the age of forty-seven years and six months. He wedded Ruth Hulinger, of Ohio, the wedding being celebrated in Norwalk, that state, August 1, 1833. His bride was born in Perry county, in 1811, and was a daughter of Jacob and Sarah (Stronsnider) Hulinger, representatives of high Dutch farmers of Pennsylvania. They were numbered among the pioneers of the Buckeye state, and there reared four of their ten children. The mother of our subject was first married in 1828, to Jesse Cain, who died in 1832, leaving two children, but one passed away soon afterward. In 1833 Mrs. Cain became the wife of Mr. McMurphy. His death occurred in 1857, and in 1862, in Lake county, Indiana, she was married to David Weed, of New York, who was then engaged in farming in Lake county, where he had located at an early day. His death there occurred in 1875, when he had reached the ripe old age of eighty-two years. Mrs. Weed has been the mother of ten children and with the exception of one all reached years of maturity and were married. They are: James, who died in infancy; Eliza, who became the wife of Robert Ingram and died at the age of twenty-five years, leaving an infant son, who soon afterward passed away; Polly, who became the wife of Walker Ross and died in November, 1899, at the age of sixty-five years, after becoming the mother of ten children; Harriet, who became the wife of Azariah Weed, a son of David Weed, and after his death in the service of the Union army she married Sherman Drury and is now living in Tennessee; Helen, who became the wife of Fred Westerman, who was her second husband, and died in Lake county, Indiana, leaving three children; Melissa, who became the wife of Robert Ingram and died in 1893, being survived by three of her four children; Amy, who died at the age of nine years; Alonzo, of this review; Martha, who died in August, 1866, at the age of sixteen years; and Emma, who became the wife of Morgan Kelly and died in Sterling, in 1884, while their two children have also passed away. Mrs. Weed has had fifty-four great-grandchildren and has one great-great-grandson, Clarke Hayden. She has been three times married and has now been a widow for twenty-six years. From Indiana she removed to Kansas in 1884 and resided in Sterling until 1893, when she came to the home of her son Alonzo.
Mr. McMurphy of this review was an only son and his father died when he was twelve years of age. He received but a meager education, owing to the fact that it was necessary for him to provide for his own living. He worked as a farm hand for five dollars a month and in the winter he remained with his mother, assisting her in the work of the farm. In July, 1863, in Lake county, Indiana, he enlisted for three years’ service in the Seventh Indiana Cavalry, remaining at the front until March, 1866, when he returned home. He was in the quartermaster’s department much of the time and was wagon-master under General Custer. He was never wounded, but was largely broken down in health when he left the army, and is now a pensioner, receiving eight dollars a month.
On the 11th of February, 1867, Mr. McMurphy was united in marriage to Ruth Mitchell, who was born in Montgomery county, Indiana, a daughter of Daniel and Asenath (Mullin) Mitchell, the former a native of Kentucky and the latter of Ohio. His birth occurred in 1821, his wife’s in 1823, and they were married in Indiana in 1846. Subsequently they became farming people of Will county, Illinois, and Mr. Mitchell died in Kankakee county, that state, April 20, 1886, leaving his widow and three of their five children to survive him. Their children were: Ruth, now Mrs. McMurphy; Mary, who became the wife of Lorenzo Smith and died in Illinois, at the age of twenty-four years, leaving one child; Rebecca, who became the wife of John Reed, of Buchanan county, Iowa, by whom she has seven children; Samuel, who died at the age of seven years; and William, a farmer of Waterloo, Iowa, and he has two children. Unto Mr. and Mrs. McMurphy has been born but one child, Pearl Ethel, now the wife of James J Leatherman, of Iowa.
For one year Mr. McMurphy engaged in farming in Will county, Illinois, on land belonging to his father-in-law, and then rented a tract on Grand Prairie, after which he settled on a forty-acre farm in Kankakee county, Illinois, making it his home for two years. In 1871 he sold that property and took up his abode in the northern part of Rice County, Kansas, upon a homestead farm of one hundred and sixty acres, which he cultivated for three years, after which he returned to the Mitchell farm for the winter. In 1876 he again came to Sterling, Kansas, where he engaged in the livery business as a member of the firm of McMurphy & Hughes, and the also owned a stage route from Sterling to Ellsworth. They did a large business in staging, in renting teams and vehicles and in shipping horses and mules from Missouri to Kansas. Their operations annually brought in many thousand dollars, but the business was terminated in 1881 and Mr. McMurphy became a ranchman in Reno county, Kansas, where he remained for two years. In 1883, he purchased one thousand acres of railroad land in Rice County, for which he paid from two dollars and eighty cents to nine dollars and sixty cents per acre. Subsequently he added to this and was the owner of fourteen hundred acres, but he sold a portion to his son-in-law. He is one of the leading stock-farmers of the township, keeping on his ranch as high as fifteen hundred head of cattle at a time for himself and others. He has fattened as many as found hundred head a year, and as he never places his stock upon the market unless it is in excellent condition he has secured therefrom a good return on his investments. When he came to his present farm it was a tract of wild and unimproved prairie and when he located in the county buffaloes, antelopes and wild horses were still seen, Indians also being numerous in the locality. Upon his place he has a splendid farm residence, large barns, excellent corn cribs, and cattle sheds, all of which he has erected and which are therefore a monument to his enterprise and thrift. He also has a fine orchard and groves of shade trees, which were planted by him. He has grown seventeen thousand bushels of corn in a single year and his granaries will contain fifteen thousand bushels of wheat.
Mr. McMurphy is a Chapter Mason and is an exemplary representative of the craft. He votes with the Republican party and has served as road master. His wife is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, in which Mr. McMurphy has served as one of the officers. Both his mother and wife are veteran members of the church. Mr. and Mrs. McMurphy have reared two adopted sons, - Luther, who came to them when four years of age and is now eighteen, and Edward Herman, who came to them when ten years of age. Our subject and his wife are people of sterling worth, of broad humanitarian principles, of deep human sympathy, and of genuine kindness and wherever they go they win friends. Mr. McMurphy well deserves the splendid prosperity which has come to him, for his life has been one of unfailing industry and in all his dealings he has been straightforward and honorable, so that his record will bear the closest investigation.