James Wilson Murphy


James Wilson Murphy – 8th Generation

Clara Fredericka Klaumann



James Wilson Murphy

  Born:  26 June 1876 near Osceola, Iowa

  Died:  September 1967, at Augusta, Butler County, Kansas (SS record)

  Married:  1st to Clara Fredericka Klaumann 28 June 1904 at Iola, Allen County, Kansas

                         Married 59 years

                  2nd to __ about 1964 at the age of 88.

  Parents:  Riley Hanson Murphy (1853 – 1935) and Amy Vashti Jones (1856 – 1946)

  College graduate:  B.S at Kansas University and Masters at Columbia University


Clara Fredericka Klaumann (Klauman)

  Born:  15 November 1876

  Died:  19 November 1963, at Augusta, Butler County, Kansas

  Parents:  Herman Klaumann, Jr., (1851 – 1914) and Fredericka Steyer (1855 – 1928)

  College graduate:  Kansas University;  Phi Beta Kappa

                  2nd Edition, Morphew/Murphy Story – J.R. Murphy, 4/2001


*See photo of James W. Murphy – photo3.TIF


*See photo of Clara Fredericka Klaumann Murphy – photo4.TIF


     From James W. Murphy:  “My first name, James, was given to me in honor of Dad’s Uncle Jim Alumbaugh, who was his favorite uncle and of course a brother of my Grandmother (Sarah Allumbaugh Morphew) Murphy.  His picture is in the album.  Dad often mentioned him to me in his talks about the family.  I united with the Church when I was 16 years old, and was baptized by D.W. May who had previously baptized my parents.  Mr. J.C. Frazer of Mulvane, Kansas, held a two weeks meeting at our church and I joined at this meeting.  Mr. Frazee had stayed at our house during the time of the meeting and I became a strong friend of him.  He was a fine man and a Christian gentleman.”


     “My earliest schooling began in Wichita, Kansas where I attended first a private school conducted by a Mrs. West.  She helped to get me started in the early days while we lived there.  I think I have the first grade card I received from her.  Later I attended the north Lawrence School which was on what would now be Broadway.  It was a large brick building and enrolled a large number of children from 6 to 16 years of age.  I still have a picture of this school and recall some of those who were present at the time.  After we went to live on the farm south of Wichita near Haysville, I went to the local district school where about 15 boys and girls attended.  I liked this school better for the children were more friendly and easy to know.  My first teacher there told me I was such a good reader she would like to have me get a fourth reader, but the folks thought it might be too hard so they got a third reader instead.  After we moved to West Point, I attended the district school there until I was about 17 years old.  Here was no uniform grading and pupils were classified according to the reader they used.  A teacher in an adjoining district held an Institute the early summer of 1894, if I recall correctly, and I attended this as to get a preview of the Normal Institute which would come later in the summer and with the four weeks session, I was able to get a Third Grade Certificate which entitled me to teach school.”


     “I was hired at the district about 6 miles west of ours (at West Point) and taught a six months term there at a salary of $25 per month.  The school house was a sod structure about 16 by 16 feet square.  It had two windows, one facing north and one south.  They were low and did not allow much light to come in and as a result you could hardly see on cloudy days.  The room had wooden benches, a small stove, a blackboard made of three boards about a foot wide each, and painted black!  A few erasers and chalk were about the equipment except for a chart which had been bought earlier.  I had seven children, three girls and four boys, and their ages ranged from six to sixteen.”


     “When school was out I had $95 for my labor, for I had paid $55 for the six months room and board at a good neighbor’s home.  During the year, I had advanced to a teacher with a second grade certificate after teaching three months.  That one was good for two years.  I taught one year at the Start School near to the first one, and then two years at the home school in West Point where I had previously been a pupil.”


     “After my teaching experience, I began to wish for a college education and with some help from a small patch of wheat and my own earnings, I went to Des Moines, Iowa, and Drake University for my first year of college.  I was a senior preparatory student there due to not having a previous high school course.  This helped me to prepare for Kansas University which I entered in September 1899 and duly graduated in 1903 with a class of 189.”


     “While going to Drake University, I found expenses quite a problem and so asked if there might be some teaching work I could do the next semester.  Dean Hill M. Bell was very encouraging and so decided I could have a class next term but for some reason I do not recall, I did not take it at the time.  If I had taken this work, I might have become a college teacher – who knows?  You will find my name on the program which was printed at the time.”


     “All the time I was a student at Kansas University, we had poor crops and the constant problem of how to meet the expenses of going to college.  Crops were mostly poor in these years.  To meet this problem took about all the ingenuity I possessed.  In the first year, I spent $221, and second year $29, and the third year was one of the worst financially, so I got a job as waiter at the Breese Club and earned my board that way.  I got a loan of $100 from the Student Loan Fund through the courtesy of Dean F.O. Marvin of the Engineering School who was the custodian of the fund.   I later paid this back and he would not take any interest.  He said they had never lost a cent on any loan.  It was certainly a life saver for me.  The senior year, I borrowed $300 from Uncle Enoch Cotton and did not have to work this year.  This helped my to get the most value from my school work, and I really enjoyed school life.  The few friends I made that year have been among my best even up to this time.  And of course, the young lady in the chase helped to make the year memorable in many ways!”


     “Clara Fredericka Klaumann and I were united in marriage on June 28, 1904 in the home of Mr. And Mrs. H. Klaumann, 210 South Cottonwood, Iola, Kansas.  Of those present at the wedding, only Charles and Louie Klaumann, Earl Steyer, and my brother Harold remain.  June 28, 1954 was our golden anniversary.  During the senior year we had been engaged to be married; both our parents becoming good friends in the junior year while we were at Kansas University.  Clara is a Phi Bata Kappa of the Kansas University Chapter.”



                 Letter from James W. Murphy on his Wedding in 1904                     


    On Sunday, June 28, 1964, J.W. Murphy wrote.  “ Dear Sons and Daughters:  Well do I remember this evening sixty years ago!  It was the day we were married.  Clara Fredericka Klaumann and James Wilson Murphy were united in marriage for life.  We both were devoted to each other for all that time and never failed in our efforts to keep the vows.  Life was good to both of us and the memories of it shall never be lost.”


     “Those present for the wedding were:  Mr. and Mrs. Klaumann, Charles Klaumann, L.H. Klaumann and wife, R.H. Murphy (with his) wife and Harold, Henry Steyer, Earl and Mrs. Steyer, Bertha Swigert, a neighbor girl who helped serve the refreshments, and the minister, Rev. Harnish and wife.   ...The wedding hour was 8:30 that evening in the parlor of the home at 2105 Cottonwood, Iola, Kansas.  Refreshments followed the ceremony and then a general good will talk all around.  We had planned to leave that evening for a honeymoon trip to Denver, Colorado, but a severe rain storm came up about ten o’clock and we finally decided to wait until the next morning when we went to Ottawa, and then to Colorado where we spent a month with friends whom we had known in Iola.  This was a very happy time and we both enjoyed the new scenery and mountain country, usually taking a lunch along in the morning and then taking the rest of the day as suited in either seeing new places or picnics with some of the friends.  Often we went to Elitch’s Gardens which then were quite attractive and ready for enjoyment with various things to see and enjoy.”


     “The time went fast and soon we were returning to the home state to begin life anew.  I was chosen to be Superintendent of City Schools in Lecompton, Kansas, a small village about 12 miles west of Lawrence.  We rented a house of five rooms and started out with a minimum of furniture and other belongings.  My salary, if you wish to dignify it, as such, $75.00 per month!  Rented house was $8.00 per month and milk was 5 cents per quart.”


     “We attended the United Brethren Church and S.S. with the folks and enjoyed the services in the auditorium of the old Lane University which had disbanded some years previously.  This building was near the school house and not far from our home.  We spent three years at this place and then attended the University of Kansas summer school and went to Arkansas City where I became Principal of the High School under Mr. J.F. Bender who now lives in Oklahoma City, having retired from teaching some years ago.”


     “Son, James, came to live with us on July 10, 1905.  While living at Lecompton, he was awarded a prize at the local fair and we have this picture showing him at the time.  Best looking baby, you see!  This is about the log of that important time in both our lives.  Hope you have enjoyed the story.  Love to all. Dad.”



        J.W. Murphy continues with his history: “Our home was blessed with the birth of two stalwart sons, James Frederick, born July 10, 1905 and Charles Harold born November 1, 1913.”


     “I first attended Columbia University in 1913 and received the Master Degree in 1924, doing all the work in summer school there.  In all, I taught school 41 years, the last 25 as follows:  Eleven in El Dorado, Kansas from 1915 to 1926, six in Great Bend from 1926 to 1932, and eight in Augusta from 1932 to 1940.  My happiest school work was done in El Dorado where I was able to do constructive work in the rapidly developing community due to oil development in the surrounding territory.  The school there was extended from 26 teachers and 550 pupils in 1915 to 90 teachers and 2800 pupils in 1926.  New building were erected and I was able to forge ahead with good resources and the enthusiasm I gained from constant association with the educational resources of Columbia, perhaps the greatest teachers college of its time.”


     “At the class 50 year reunion last June 1953, of the 189 graduates, only 89 were eligible for roll call.  Of that number about 30 were present, I understand.  Due to some sickness at the time, I was not able to be at the reunion of the class.  I learn they had a good time recalling old days ‘on the hill.’  You will find quite a number of pictures taken at various times in my educational career, first at Drake and later at Kansas University.  These will serve to show how time has made changes in the facial features.  And to some extent the changes due to maturity and increasing age from early to later years.”


     “Of the sons, James and Bernice Eckart were married in 1927.  James is a graduate of Kansas State College and Charles had two years at Chicago University and the last two years at Kansas University in Lawrence.  James Frederick was born in Lecompton, Kansas, July 10, 1905.  Charles Harold was born in Washington, Kansas, on November 1, 1913.  James gets his two names from his father and his mother.  Charles was named for his two uncles, Charles Klaumann and Harold Murphy.”


                             Memories of Washington, Kansas and Hot Water


     From James F. Murphy:  “About 1910, Dad moved to the superintendency in Washington, a town of about 1500 population. ...Dad and Mother purchased a five room two-bedroom, square, one-story house about four blocks from the new high school where Dad had his office.  In the little house, Dad had electric lights and telephone installed.  The water was pumped at the well, usually by myself, and I also had the job of keeping the wood and kindling wood box on the back porch filled with stove wood which Dad split by hand.  In cold weather, coal was the fuel, and the heat came from the kitchen range and stove in the living and dining area.  If you wanted to heat the bedrooms, you left the doors open.


     “Mother cooked on the wood burning range in the kitchen.  On one end of this amazing device, edged with ornate nickel trim, was what was called ‘the reservoir.’  It held several gallons of water and when the fire was ‘up’ the water was steaming hot.  This was the sole source, other than teakettles, of our hot water.  Dad dipped out his early morning quota for washing and shaving, Mother used it all day for cooking, washing dishes, and laundry, and at night the fire was banked so we could, at 5 a.m. start another day with hot water!  On Saturday nights, or before special occasions, I had my bath in a round, galvanized iron washtub, near the kitchen stove for warmth, in water from the reservoir.  Mother placed the towels over a kitchen chair and left me to splash!  I vividly remember how easy it was to spill bath water on the linoleum covered kitchen floor when filling or dipping out the water.   This, no doubt, led to keeping a mop and pail in one corner of the kitchen for just such emergencies.”


                              How We Struck Oil, But.....


     From J.F. Murphy:  “About 1919, oil was discovered about four miles west of El Dorado, and the town grew to a population of about 20,000 in a few months.  Housing could not be built fast enough to accommodate the workers and new residents and many of them built wooden floors under canvas tents and lived in the tents with stoves for heat until permanent housing could be built.”


      “Everyone in the region (El Dorado) acquired ‘oil fever.’  There was a feeling about town akin to that in a gold mining camp.  Dad, with several of the local business men, invested in an oil lease a few miles west of town (El Dorado).  The land was several miles from a producing oil well, so when they had the opportunity, they sold it and acquired a lease immediately adjoining producing wells near Potwin, Kansas, some eighteen miles away.”


     “About a year later, an oil well on the original lease, now owned by others, ‘came in’ as a gusher, blowing oil over the top of the rig and flooding the landscape with the thousands of barrels of oil.  The drillers channeled the rivers of oil into small lakes so it would not be lost.  This, the famous “trapshooters’ lease, became the base for at least half a dozen oil fortunes in town, but not for my parents, who felt most dejected over this turn of events.”


     “A well was put down on the Potwin lease, and I can remember the chief of the project stopping at our house one evening with a bucket full of oil sand which they had baled from the well that day.  Oil could be squeezed from the sand!  He told my parents he expected to ‘drill in’ the well the following day and oil was sure to be discovered.  He was right -  they did strike oil – but the well did not flow and when it was put on a pump, the yield was never above 30 barrels a day, so it did not pay to pump the oil.   Crude oil was, at that time, selling for about 90 cents a barrel!  So our dreams of fortunes in oil disappeared, this time for good.  It wasn’t a ‘dry hole’ but it might as well have been!”