Search for the Earliest Morphews

Chapter 2F

Confusion of this Murphy with our Morphews





Rev. Joseph Murphy, Sr.

      Born: 1 April 1734 at Spotsylvania County, Virginia

      Died:  ~1816 in Surry County, North Carolina

      Married: 1st Valentine Haley?

                     2nd Catherine Thompson on 11 November 1802 in Surry County, N.C. 

      Occupation:  Baptist Minister

      Parents:  William Murphy and __

2nd edition, Morphew/Murphy Story – J.R. Murphy, 3 December 2001


So far our search for Morphews has covered half of Virginia and North Carolina.  It was inevitable that we would locate a non-related Murphy whose dossier paralleled our Morphews.  Names like Joseph and James Murphy were simply too common.  It happened in Surry County and it has been hard to keep them separate.  His name was simply Joseph Murphy and he was a Baptist Minister in Surry County, North Carolina.  He, like our Joseph Morphew, signed almost no documents that could be found until after the 1790’s.


Joseph Murphy was ordained at Deep River, North Carolina in 1766 and served first as a missionary to Southwestern Virginia.  Next, he settled on the Little River of the Pee Dee (Montgomery County), North Carolina from 1759 to 1768 years.  The Pee Dee is just the down-river extension of the Yadkin River.  He later served at Shallow Ford in 1769 to 1780, and then Deep Creek from 1790 to 1803.   Joseph Murphy died in Surry County after 1803.  (From “Colonial Clergy of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina,” by Rev. Frederick Lewis Weis, 1955.)


Information on this Joseph Murphey was reviewed so that he could be separated from our Joseph Morphew.   Lunenburg County, Virginia was briefly checked for clues many years ago.  William, William, Jr., James, John, Benjamin, and Joseph Murphey are listed, with James and William from 1748 through 1764.  Joseph Murphy is listed just once on a 1750 tithable, but Rev. Joseph would be only 16 years old if his birth date is correct.  The spelling of Morphew does not appear which would be necessary here.  Spotsylvania and Halifax Counties in Virginia were not checked.  


The Colonial Clergy data states Rev. Joseph Murphey lived on a branch of the Pee Dee River in Montgomery County, N.C. during the years 1759 – 1768.  Anson County would have the records since Montgomery County was formed from Anson in 1779. 


1764:  Joseph Murphey buys 100 acres on the SW side of the Pee Dee beginning at Young’s Island.  Later Joseph and Valentine Murphy sell this land.

1771:  Joseph Murphey sells more land

1779:  Joseph Murphey, Sr. signs a petition to build a courthouse in Anson County.  Notice that this does not match the Colonial Clergy data, but this entry may belong to someone else.


The best records of Joseph Murphy as a Baptist minister are found in the diaries of a group of German Moravians who had settled about Salem and kept accounts of their activities.  In particular, a certain Brother Soelle had struck up an acquaintance with Murphey and wrote:


1771, Deep Creek:  “Baptist were very active in seeking members in this neighborhood.  ...Soelle’s first series of visits leads west from Salem to plantations along and near Deep Creek” (This is at the eastern end of the present-day county of Yadkin.)


February 6, 1771:  “Brother Soelle returned, coming by way of Bethania.  Last Saturday, he preached beyond the Yadkin River at a place where an English minister had announced a meeting but did not come.  He preached at the personal request of Mr. Murphy.  On Sunday, he did the like at Robert Ellroth’s house on this side of the river, and had an audience of about 200 persons.  On both occasions he was followed by the aforesaid Murphy, who declared that what the first preacher had said was the true ground of salvation.  Brother Soelle was invited to return in fourteen days and preach at five different places on this side of the Yadkin and beyond it.”


“While he (Soelle) lamented over the ignorance and lack of spiritual experience of these other preachers, mostly Baptists, he recognized and commended their earnestness of purpose, and his personal relations with them were pleasant.  Mr. Murphee, who had a meetinghouse west of the Yadkin, made him welcome there whenever he chose to preach.”


April 1771 trip:  “Crossed the Yadkin and preached in Mr. Morphee’s meeting house, some miles beyond.  Morphee (or Murphee) lived in the neighborhood, and sometime entertained Soelle in his home.”


1771/73:  “He might go by Murphee’s and return by Dorthits, or he might go and come by the Shallow Ford.    “...The next night Soelle spent with William (Billy) Bryant whose land lay along the Yadkin, on the south side, at the western curve of what is locally called the Bend.  His wife had been baptized by Murphee.  ...It is possible to go from William Bryant’s up the right bank (here the west bank) of the Yadkin to the Shallow ford.”


1773:  “On March 5, 1773, Soelle records that Murphee is planning to move elsewhere.”


1775:  The Moravian records continue with this comment by Bishop Graff on February 27, 1775:  “In Timber Ridge, there was a large congregation, about 200 being present, among them the Baptist preacher Murphy....”


1776:  The Salem Diary of the Moravians continues.  January 11, 1776:  “Again there was rain.  Brother Fritz returned this evening; he has preached five times, English and German, that is to our friends in the English Settlements, as Christopher Elrods, in Timber Ridge Meeting-House (Shallow Ford), and twice on Deep Creek.  He had much difficulty on account of high water.  There were good congregations everywhere especially a;mso-padding-alt:1.0pt 4.0pt 0in 4.0pt'> 

The State of North Carolina Grant #539 entered on 28 August 1779 and issued 13 October 1783 to Joseph Murphy 640 acres on Forbis’s Creek with boundaries to a line agreed upon by Murphy and John Benton, to Davenport’s line, and lines agreed on by Murphy and Moses Baker.  Survey was 4 November 1779.  Signed: James Baker and _ Speer. (James Baker became the son-in-law of Joseph Murphy when he married daughter Sarah Murphy. 


State of North Carolina Grant #1815 entered _ May 1782 and issued 9 March 1784 for Joseph Murphey, 450 acres on Joseph Creek, adjoining James Bruce and Robert Forbus.  ...beginning at Hugh Branch.


11 May 1790:  Joseph Murphy acted as lawful attorney for Jesse Samford to sell Samford’s land to Stephen Hide, of Surry County, on the waters of Fall Creek.  Signed Jseoph (“j” Murphy.  Here the “j” is the same as on the 1797 deed, given next.


19 October 1797:  Joseph Murphy, of Surry County, deeded to Francis Lakey 102 acres on the waters of Joseph’s Creek on Stow’s line.


5 October 1803 (K-220), Joseph Murphy, Senior, of Surry County, deeded to John North, of same county, land on the west side of Forbis Creek.


21 February 1812 (M-475):  Joseph Murphy, of Surry County, deeded to Francis Lakey, of Surry County, 105 acres of land granted to Joseph Murphy bearing the date 13 October 1783.


24 March 1812  (M-49):  Joseph Murphy, of Surry County, sold to Jonathan Miller, of Stokes County, 164 acres of land on Forbis’ Creek, with boundaries on Hardy’s line and Culvard’s and Johnsons line.


25 July 1818 (O-102):  Joseph Murphey, of Surry County, deeds to Joshua Creson, of the same county, 91 acres of land on Forbushes Creek.  Willed to said Joseph Murphy by his father.  Witnesses:  William Glen, Wm. Thornton.  Signed: Joseph (x) Murphy, with seal.  



Surry County taxables, which included property owners and taxable property:


     1784 – Joseph Murphy with 1140 acres, 1 white poll, in Captain Mosby’s District.

     1786 – Joseph Murphy, with 100 acres, 1 white poll, in Captain Mosby’s District. 

     1789 – Joseph Murphy, with 940 acres.

     1812 -  Joseph S. Murphey, with 342 acres

     1813 -  Joseph Murphey, Sr. with 340 acres.    


On 7 September 1814, Joseph Murphy, Sr. records a will in Surry County naming his wife Catherine, sons - Joseph and Richard, with daughter Sarah. The will is probated August 1816.


Children of Rev. Joseph Murphy and __ wife:


1.  Richard Murphy, born ~1774 in Surry County, N.C. and died after 1810 in Lincoln County, Kentucky

2.  Joseph Murphy, Jr., born ~1774 in Surry County, N.C.

3.  Sarah Murphy.  Married James Baker as mentioned in 1814 will of Joseph Murphy, Sr.   

4. other female names are recorded in the will, but the will is unclear if they are daughters: Valentine Rutledge, Susanna Pilcher, Elender Wishon, Martha Murphy, Sarah Groce (wife of William Groce), Elizabeth Speers (wife of Andrew Speers).  Entered in August court 1816.    


Brothers of Rev. Joseph Murphy:


1.  Rev. William Murphy, born 1732 Spotsylvania, Virginia, was a missionary to southwest Virginia and Holston River area, Washington County, North Carolina (now Tennessee) and died in eastern Tennessee about 1800.  He probably did not come to North Carolina.  Married 1st Martha Hodge and had six children.   Married 2nd Sarah Barton.


2.  Captain Richard Murphy, born about 1730 in Virginia and died after 1810 in Adair County, Kentucky.  He married Keziah Terry, daughter of Benjamin Terry and Elizabeth Irby, on 1762/1764 in Halifax County, Virginia.  Richard settled in Surry County, North Carolina and became a Tory Captain during the Revolution.  Children are (a) Joseph Murphy, (b) Peter Murphy, (c) Mary Murphy.