Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thomas Murphy

If Aunt Cathie was a mystery than her real life husband was an oversight - sort of.  

One of John's challenges in telling the story of the "miners, and the mormons" came in naming the characters.  Because the family history he had written before the books is no longer available, it's hard to see the challenge as an outsider.  John, however, saw the problem immediately and worked hard to carry over the purposefullness of the names and yet not confuse the reader.  Such was the case of Thomas.   In the Fitzgerald family there exist at least 4 Thomas'.  Thomas Fitzgerald of Pennsylvania, Papa's dad.  Thomas Fitzgerald of Adenville, Papa to T.D. and J.D. Fitzgerald, and Uncle Thomas Murphy, brother-in-law and business partner of Papa.

As I mentioned in the Aunt Cathie post, Mr. and Mrs. Murphy, had moved to Price for Thomas consumption. Consumption is really tuberculosis.  Treatment of the time was to look for fresher air, dryer climates and hope for a successful outcome.  For a few years the treatment appears successful (note the photograph in Aunt Cathie post).  The Advocate wrote

Thomas P. Murphy is making some substantial improvements to his already comfortable home.

Throughout the years they lived in Price, the Murphy's were just as social as the Fitzgeralds.  When they weren't hosting parties, they were attending parties. 

But in 1903, Thomas Murphy passed away.  His death was not merely the private passing one might assume.  The headline to the article announcing his passing reads, "Thomas P. Murphy Plunges to Death from Four-Story Window"   The fourteen paragraph article sheds some light on the man we barely know.  Following this post I will rewrite the entire article for you to read. 

John Dennis used Thomas Murphy and others to create the character of Uncle Will.  It is interesting to note, though, that Thomas Murphy passed away three years prior to John's birth.  Any "useage" of Thomas Murphy was based upon the tales his family must have told him, because John would have no personal recollection of the man. 

I don't know the exact time frame, but sometime after Mr. Murphys passing, Isabelle and Josephine returned to Pennsylvania. 

For me finding Thomas P. Murphy and knowing his story helps me allow both historians and John Dennis Fitzgerald to be correct in their claims.  John states that he "the story would be of the people who made Utah history and not history per se." ( from the forward to Papa Married a Mormon).

Thomas P. Murphy was part of this history of Utah, and the people that helped it grow.  In the next post, please enjoy meeting Thomas P. Murphy.

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