Obituaries - NJ - 1901 - Holmes W. Murphy

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Obituaries - NJ - 1901 - Holmes W. Murphy

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Holmes W. Murphy of Freehold Passes Away

He was a Brother-in-Law of James S. Yard and was One of the Coterie of Democrats who Ruled Monmouth County for Many Years.

Holmes W. Murphy, who for many years was a prominent figure in the political affairs of Monmouth county, died at Freehold on Tuesday of last week of paralysis. He had been an invalid for several years and for some time before his death he had been entirely helpless in body. He retained his mental faculties to the last. He was 79 years old.

Mr. Murphy was born at Freehold. His father, Joseph Murphy, was well known as a merchant and farmer and later as judge of the common pleas court. Joseph Murphy's father, Timothy Murphy, came from Ireland about 1750 and located in Monmouth county. He served against the British in this county during the Revolutionary war. He was a school teacher, a justice of the peace and a judge of the common pleas court. He married Mary Garrison, a granddaughter of Richard Hartshorne, the original owner of Sandy Hook. Joseph Murphy, Holmes Murphy's father, was born at Bethany, near Keyport. He married Alice Holmes, daughter of Stout Holmes of Middletown township.

Holmes W. Murphy received his early education in small private schools at Freehold before the public school system was adopted. He afterward entered Wesleyan university at Middletown, Connecticut and in 1842 he graduated from Princeton college. He was one of the speakers at the commencement exercises and the college conferred on him the degree of master of arts. After graduation he began the study of law with Judge Dikeman of Brooklyn. He was admitted to the bar of New York state in 1845 and practiced there for ten years. Part of that time he was searcher of titles in the office of the county clerk of Kings county.

In 1855 Mr. Murphy returned to Freehold, his native town, and upon the election of Jehu Patterson as county clerk in 1856 he became an assistant in the clerk's office. Jehu Patterson died during his term of office and John W. Bartleson was appointed his successor. At the end of Mr. Bartleson's term Mr. Murphy was elected county clerk. He held the office for ten years, being elected the second time without opposition. This was during the period of the civil war and Mr. Murphy, by reason of his position, was active in assisting the county to raise money by the sale of bonds and furnishing its quota of volunteers. He was appointed to pay the state bounty to the wives and families of the volunteers from Freehold township. For a time during the war Mr. Murphy edited the Freehold Democrat, while his brother-in-law, Major James S. Yard, was at the front with the New Jersey volunteers.

Mr. Murphy remained in the county clerk's office during the term of his successor, Thomas V. Arrowsmith. He then formed a law partnership with George C. Beekman. In 1880 he was elected to the assembly. In 1884 the law partnership was dissolved and Mr. Murphy was appointed deputy county clerk by Dr. James H. Patterson. He remained in the clerk's office as deputy from that time until 1896, when he retired on account of physical infirmities. He had been in the county clerk's office as clerk and assistant for thirty years. He was the first chief commissioner of Freehold and served for three years; he had been an official of the Freehold Methodist church since its organization and he was a member of the Ocean Grove camp meeting association. Other positions which he had filled at various times in his career were president of the Monmouth county fire insurance company, director of the First national bank of Freehold, director of the Atlantic Highlands association and clerk of the board of freeholders. He had also been prominent in the Masonic and Odd Fellows lodges. He was a man of unquestioned honesty and integrity in both public and private life.

In 1861 Mr. Murphy married Lavinia C. Swift, daughter of Daniel D. Swift of Lancaster, Pa. She survives him. Eight children were born to the couple, only three of whom are living. The living children are Misses Louise, Lavinia and Adeline Murphy, all of whom live at home. He leaves two sisters, Mrs. Katharine Walters and Mrs. Louisa Wheeler, both of Freehold.

Mr. Murphy was one of a coterie who for a number of years ruled Monmouth county politically with a rod of iron. Their word was law and whoever opposed them was swept from their path. Their greatest power was from the years 1853 to 1866, or thereabouts. They not only had absolute power in the county , but they had great influence in the state. ... James S. Yard owned the Freehold Democrat, which is still owned in the family. The Democrat at that time was one of the very best newspapers in the state, and being the mouthpiece of the controlling power in Monmouth county it had a great influence in shaping the political opinion of the state. Newspapers were few in those dys, and such of them as had ability could wield a great influence. ...

When the civil war was about closing new political factors began to appear on the scene and in a few years the scepter of power in Monmouth county had changed hands. ... How thoroughly a political clique can lose power is shown by the fact that Holmes W. Murphy, whose word was at one time absolute law in Monmouth county, ran for the assembly in 1895 and was defeated.

Source: Red Bank Register, Wednesday, Apr 10, 1901

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