It had been a long time goal of the author to explore his Irish heritage and discover a little more about these roots, especially as it related to Canada and where the family came from in Ireland. As kids growing up in Rossburn, Manitoba where dad was the school principal we would usually make a summer trip by car to visit our grandparents in Souris. These were mother’s father, Ambrose Deverell and step-mother Theresa, her birth mother having died in 1938 before I was born, although the realization of that didn’t really come till much later. It never occurred as a child that there should be another set of grandparents somewhere. Dad used to talk periodically about things from St. Thomas Ontario where he grew up and that he was born in Detroit, but there were no other Murphy’s around and Ontario was a long way away.
Father was proud of his Irish heritage and while he didn’t wear it, we always knew when it was St. Patrick’s day and it was time to wear something green. Similarly with songs like” Irish Eyes are Smiling” and the Irish lullaby” Too ra loo ra loo ra” which he would hum every now and then.
So while curious and generally proud to be Irish, a people who were always portrayed as tough and manly in books and movies, there really wasn’t much follow up that could be done as a teenager, or even later during University. Dad never talked about his Irish roots in any detail as to how or when they came to Canada, although when asked where we came from he would say from County Wexford. This pride, but yet silence may be at least partly understandable as we shall see as events unfold is this research. Then at age eighteen I left home to go to University in Winnipeg so some continuity with my parents was broken as the Authors life took on a different context career wise and away from home.
After graduating from Engineering in 1962, life kind of took over as career, marriage, children, many jobs, living in four cities and three provinces filled all the time available. I thought about my roots from time to time as we all do, more so in my later work years, but there was no time really and my ongoing vow to myself was to pursue it for sure when I retired. So from 1962 to 1995 I wore green ties on March 17th St. Patrick’s day and kept the idea alive.
Finally after retiring in late 1995, there was an opportunity to pursue this new goal and so after first taking care of a few other priorities I made a beginning in late1997, starting with Michael and Annie, my mysterious far away paternal grandparents in St. Thomas, and the oddness of my fathers birth in Detroit. This beginning was greatly helped by information found in my mothers old family documents which I received after her death in late 1992. These consisted of a written notation on an otherwise blank piece of paper in my fathers handwriting of the dates of two Murphy-Kilgallin marriages, two different copies of Annie Kilgallin’s 1925 obituary/death notice, a picture of her grave marker stone and an affidavit dated 1917 regarding my father Joseph’s birth and baptism in Detroit in 1897.
This family history chronicles the research, the methods, sources, contacts and travels over a nine year period starting first with a guide to the research journey in Chapter I. This is followed by the details of each ancestral family starting with the Murphy’s. More Irish ancestors were found on my mothers side and eventually the research included eight sets of great great grandparents, all having come to Canada in the early to mid 1800’s. Of these six were Irish, one was Scottish and one was German. The story of each family is told in the context of history, events and people of the time, that they were a part of or involved in.
Throughout this research many surprising, even shocking and certainly tragic events unfolded themselves and many discoveries were made.This applies particularly to grandfather Michael and his d aughter Aunt Margaret Murphy, both of whom took many years of searching and much challenging genealogical detective work to locate. My research work soon turned into a major hobby requiring detective like skills, and much expertise was gained in the fascinating field of Genealogy. The Internet played a major role in this work allowing searches of on-line genealogical databases, the ability to search out sources through the magic of Google, and instant communication access via email with literally dozens of helpful people in receiving information or requesting help.
During the nine years that this research was undertaken five trips were made to Ontario, Quebec and Michigan to visit cemeteries, churches and museums and gather information, take pictures and meet researchers, and even a newly discovered cousin or two. All of this is recorded in this family history along with many photographs and documents. This history can also be viewed on the website donjmurphy.ca.
The Author dedicates this book to the memory of his parents Joseph Murphy and Mary Deverell who instilled his Irish heritage and the curiosity to pursue it.
Murphy was a common Irish name meaning “descendant of Murchadh (sea; warrior)” according to the World Book of Murphys published by Halbert’s Family Heritage of Toronto. It’s origins date back to the middle ages and evolved through many spellings, many of which exist today. Of these Murphy is the most common and is the name of our family as it first appeared in recorded history in Canada.
Below is a copy of the Murphy Coat of Arms or Crest that hangs on the Author’s (Don) wall and which was brought back to Canada in the mid sixties by my parents Joseph and Mary Murphy during a trip to the Republic of Ireland