James Henry Murray passed his entire life in Kenosha County and concentrated his energies upon farming, being one of the most successful and most practical agriculturists of his locality. He was a representative of one of the pioneer families of this section of the state and his birth occurred in Paris Township, Kenosha County, October 21, 1852.
His father, Patrick Murray, was born in County Mayo, Ireland, and grew to manhood in his native country. He worked there as a laborer until 1835, when he came to America in order to take advantage of the unusually good opportunities offered here to the poor man. After working for a time on the Erie Canal, he removed to Lockport, Illinois, whence he came to Kenosha County, being one of the first settlers here. He at once purchased forty acres of land and later bought an additional ten acres, and there he resided for many years, passing away in 1879, when he had reached the advanced age of eighty years. He engaged in farming and by energy and thrift accumulated a competence. Both he and his wife were members of the Catholic church and guided their lives by its teachings.
She was born in County Down, Ireland, and also lived beyond the Psalmist's three score years and ten, as she was seventy-four years old when her death occurred in Kenosha County in 1901. Her father removed with his family from Ireland to Kenosha County at an early day in its history and after living for a time at Paris located in Pleasant Prairie Township, where he died when almost a hundred years of age. His wife reached the age of ninety-four years. They were the parents of two sons and three daughters: James, a resident of Neenah, Wisconsin; Patrick of Kenosha; Ann the wife of J.P. Callahan of Kenosha; Mrs. Bridget Murray; and Catherine who married a Mr. McDonald and is now deceased.
To Mrs. and Mrs. Patrick Murray were born eleven children, namely: Sarah now Mrs. George Shanley, Jr. of Brighton Township, Kenosha County; Mary the wife of Frank Farrell of Sioux City, Iowa; Rose the deceased wife of James McCarthy of Fargo, North Dakota; Margaret the wife of John McCann of Osage, Mitchell County, Iowa; James Henry of Somers Township; Dominick of Woodstock, Illinois; Catherine the wife of James Leonard of Albion, Nebraska; Alice who married William E. Heidersdorf of Paris and Somers Township; Frank of Ogema, Price County, Wisconsin; Ellen who married Frank Garland of Waukegan, Illinois; and William, deceased.
James Henry Murray grew to manhood upon the home farm in Paris Township and in the acquirement of his early education attended the district schools. Subsequently he became a student in a seminary at Osage, Iowa, and after residing in that town for two years and eight months he began teaching. For fourteen years he devoted his winters to educational work, while during the summer seasons he followed agricultural pursuits. He stood high among the teachers of the county, proving successful in imparting knowledge and also in training his pupils in habits of industry and concentration. Following his marriage, he rented a fine farm of two hundred and nine-seven acres of Section 30, and a year later he purchased the place, which he cultivated until called by death. He made many substantial improvements upon the farm and as the years passed his well directed labors enabled him to gain financial independence. He raised both grain and stock and in his methods was at once practical and progressive. He passed away on the 16th of November, 1907.
On the 28th of September 1880, occurred the marriage of Mr. Murray and Sarah A. Craney, a daughter of John and Johanna (O'Leary) Craney, both natives of Ireland, the father of County Down and the mother of County Cork. The paternal grandfather, James Craney, was a linen manufacturer of Ireland and passed away in that country in middle life. He and his wife had five sons and two daughters: John, James, William, Michael, Bernard, Margaret, and Mary. The O'Leary family emigrated to Canada many years ago, giving up a large property in Ireland rather than surrender their religious faith. Mr. and Mrs. John Craney both emigrated to Canada from Ireland and were married in the Dominion, where they continued to reside for some time. At length, however, they came to the United States and settled in Kenosha County when it was still a frontier region. Mr. Craney engaged in farming and was very successful in that connection, at one time owning six hundred acres of land in Paris Township, Kenosha County. He died on the 9th of January 1881 when sixty-seven years old and was survived by his wife until August 24, 1901, her death occurring when she was eighty-four years old. They were the parents of four sons and six daughters, seven of whom survive, namely: James, who is living near Independence, Iowa; Jeremiah of Los Angeles, California; Rose the wife of George Magill of Kenosha; Mary the wife of Michael Kelley of Bristol Township; Margaret the wife of William J. Ryan; Mrs. Sarah Murray; and William J. of Kenosha. Mrs. Murray is a graduate of St. Clara's Seminary at Sinsinawa Mound, Wisconsin and taught school in Kenosha County for several years previous to her marriage. She is the mother of five children, namely: John C who married Agnes McKenna and is a machinist in Kenosha; James P.; Irene, who is teaching school; Alice who was valedictorian of her class when she was graduated from the College of Commerce at Kenosha in 1905; and Arthur Jerome.
Mr. Murray was a Democrat and took the interest of a good citizen in political affairs, although never an office seeker. He however served for several years as school treasurer of district No. 8 and during that time did all in his power to further educational advancement. He was connected with Camp No. 828 Modern Woodmen of America at Somers Township and in religious faith he was a Roman Catholic.
(Source: City and County of Kenosha Record of Settlement by Frank H. Lyman, Vol. II, Chicago, S.J. Clarke Publishing Co. 1916)
|1887 Partial map of Somers Township, Kenosha County|
Section 30, J.H. Murray owned two parcels: 80 acres and 140 acres
1900 U.S. Census listed James H. and Sarah home was Somers Township, Kenosha County
1905 Wisconsin State Census listed James H. and Sarah home was Somers Township, Kenosha County
1910 U.S. Census listed James H. and Sarah home was Somers Township, Kenosha County and also a brother, Arthur J., lived with James and Sarah in 1910.