John Murphey can conclusively be tracked back to Jones County, Georgia, prior to migrating with his family to Butler County, Alabama. The clues have been plentiful, but only recently have original documents from Jones County been assembled and organized to demonstrate a clear picture of John’s specific locations and the timing of his movements. In addition, we now know where John lived prior to moving to Jones County.
Chapter 1: Murphey Family Movements along the Fall Line Road
I believe, and this paper supports the idea, that the John Murphey named in the Hancock County, Georgia, 1794 Tax List and then listed in Jones County, Georgia, 1811 Tax List is the same John Murphey who immigrated to Butler County, Alabama, in 1815. It is important to realize that his movements can be tracked by looking at the roads of the time. The road along the Fall Line, so called since this is the first break in slope seen when coming up the rivers from the coast, appears to provide the migration route for several generations of Murfeys. See the map below from Westward Expansion by Ray Allen Billington. Note how the “Old Federal Road” from Georgia into Alabama is an extension of the old Fall Line Road coming south from Virginia and states farther north.
Map of settlement of Gulf Plains 1815-1850 from Westward Expansion by Ray Allen Billington.
According to another paper that is currently under research, I propose that John’s father was William Murfey, who moved his family to Edgefield County, South Carolina, around 1772 from Virginia via the Fall Line Road through Columbia, South Carolina. From the area around Murphy’s Estates, as it is known today in Edgefield County, the road to nearby Augusta provided entrance to the state of Georgia. From Augusta, today’s Highway 278 led to Warrenton in Warren County, Georgia. Many people are recognized in the early deeds of Warren County as being from Edgefield, South Carolina, including William Murfey’s son, Drury.
From Warrenton, today’s Highway 16 goes to Sparta in Hancock County, where the other Murfey sons, William Jr., James and John acquired land. As the youngest son, John (whose lands and timeline are the subject of this paper) never outgrew his wanderlust and continued to move down today’s State Highway 22, which connects Sparta (Hancock County) to Milledgeville (Baldwin County) to the town of Gray (Jones County) and then on to Columbus, Georgia. From there, the “Old Federal Road” is today’s Highway 8 to Montgomery, Alabama, and then Highway 3 to Greenville, Butler County, Alabama. John Murphey’s family grew in size and wealth in Butler County. By tracking groups of affiliated people in Alabama, we can be confident that we are tracking the same John Murphey back to locations in Georgia.
Chapter 2: Tracking John Murphey’s Origins from Butler County, Alabama
As the family of John Murphey of Butler County, Alabama, is well documented, let us look at the historical accounts that tell us of John’s origin. J. B. Little’s book The History of Butler County, Alabama, From 1815 to 1885 was published in 1885 and clearly states that John Murphy came from Georgia. Mr. Little also names a number of other early settlers. Another reference which can be quoted from without copyright permission is the History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography by Thomas McAdory Owen and Marie Bankhead Owen. You may also download that book (without charge as of August 2, 2009) from this archive site.
A methodology which can be employed to determine John Murphy’s particular point of origin is to track other associated families back to their respective origins. Focusing on the early settlers of Butler County, Alabama, we can look for distinctive names that moved to that location at about the same time. And while the account below does not mention the particular year of John’s arrival, he appears by context to be a very early settler of Butler County. (Later in this paper I will lay out clear evidence as to the exact year of his immigration.) I have highlighted three names in the account below which appear near each other in the same year’s Tax List and in the same Militia District of a county in Georgia prior to the earliest known migration to Butler County, Alabama.
From History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography by Thomas McAdory Owen and Marie Bankhead Owen, page 182.
Chapter 3: Finding Alabama Early Settlers in the Jones County Tax List
Several of these people whose names were mentioned in the quoted account above can be tracked to the 1811 Tax List of Jones County, Georgia. The best reference for this 1811 Tax List which provides an ordered transcription from the original documents, including information from the Adjoining Landowners and Watercourse columns, is found in the History of Jones County, Georgia, for one hundred years, specifically 1807-1907 by Carolyn White Williams. Are the John Watts and William Butler (namesake of Butler County, Alabama) that appear in this 1811 Tax List the same people mentioned as early settlers in Alabama? We will now look at a very telling extract from the 1811 Jones County Tax List with which there can be no doubt. Below is the listing of names in the order as they appear on the original documents, 13 names above and below John Murphy’s name in Captain Allen Thompson's District which include two people that are definitely early Butler County settlers.
Names on 1811 Jones Co. Tax List listed in order around the listing for John Murphy:
From History of Jones County, Georgia, for one hundred years, specifically 1807-1907 by Carolyn White Williams.
Chapter 4: The Marriage of John Murphey’s Daughter
Another important piece of information came from Murphy family researcher Wilda Murphy (who also provided valuable service in the proofreading of this paper). She found and analyzed a quitclaim deed filed in Butler County, Alabama, by John Murphey’s wife, Sarah, to a son of her deceased daughter, also named Sarah. Reprinted below with the permission of Wilda Murphy is her transcription of the Sarah Murphy quitclaim deed:
Wilda’s analysis led her to the conclusion that John’s daughter had originally married a Mullins groom before becoming the wife of a Rhodes male. Wilda then began a search to find a record of a (first name unknown) Mullins to Sarah Murphy marriage. Ancestry.com had a listing for such a marriage having taken place in Jones County, Georgia and therefore pointed to Jones County as the likely place of origin for John Murphey. However, there was a possibility that original documents could reveal corroborating information in terms of associated people or location. Later, I was able to find online this original document image from the Brides’ Marriage Index of Jones County as shown below:
This led to the page number 177 from the actual Marriage Book of Jones County:
Chapter 5: People Associated with Sarah Murphy’s Marriage
And where do we find the minister, Henry Hooten, who conducted the marriage ceremony? Henry Hooten is named in the Jones County 1811 Tax List just 12 listings down from John Murphy in Captain Allen Thompson’s District and living on Wolf Creek, like John. (Please find Henry Hooten’s listing in the names on 1811 Jones Co. Tax List listed in order around the listing for John Murphy in Chapter 3 of this paper.) To further prove that we are looking at the right John Murphey in Georgia, in the 1814 Tax List of Jones County, Georgia (Capt. Ebenezer Moore’s District, p.18), we actually have his son-in-law Job Mullins listed directly above John Murphey’s name in this image that I made from film of the original document.
1814 Jones Co, Ga, tax list showing John Murphey adjacent to Job Mullins
To completely cement and remove any doubt that this John Murphey of Jones County, Georgia is the same person as the John Murphey of Butler County, Alabama, is the fact that Murphy family researcher Woody F. Murphy found an 1820 Butler County, Alabama, list of voters with John Murphey and his son-in-law Job Mullins living in the same militia district. This document is reproduced below from the Butler County, Alabama, USGenWeb website. Additionally, Daniel Lary is listed just 2 names above Job Mullins on the 1814 Jones County, Georgia, Tax List shown above and 5 names below Job on the 1820 Butler County, Alabama, Voter List shown below.
Another connection with the 1815 marriage document to the John Murphey of Butler County is found in the name of the Jones County official, Absalom Carter. Again referring to the book, The History of Butler County, Alabama, From 1815 to 1885 by John B. Little, the Carters are listed as having migrated from Georgia to Alabama along with John Murphey. (John B. Little erroneously named Alph. (Alfred) Carter as moving with John Murphy, whereas it was really Alfred’s father, John Carter Senior. John Carter was a close friend to John Murphey, which we know from the fact that they settled together near Butler Springs and are listed near each other in the 1830 and 1840 Census.) So while Absalom Carter was listed on the wedding documentation for official purposes, he did know John Murphey’s family. According to a number of Family Trees on Ancestry.com, Absalom’s father was the same John Carter who moved with John Murphey at the same time and to the same area of Butler County, Alabama.
Absalom Carter also migrated to Alabama and filed land patents in Butler County and in adjoining Dallas County, Alabama. Below is an extract of the history of John Carter from Rebecca Drummond from the posting on the Butler County, Alabama, USGenWeb site. In it we can see how John Carter would have been instrumental in getting John Murphey to go to Alabama, as he had already explored the Louisiana Territory and had most likely identified good land to settle.
The next steps taken were to make a detailed study of the original Jones County, Georgia, Deed Books to ascertain the location of John Murphey in that county and to establish a timeline. Below are the deed abstracts transcribed by me, Charles Murphey. These are all of the deeds under the name of John Murphey (and its variants) through at least 1830 as identified in the Direct and Indirect General Index to Realty – Jones County, Georgia. The first Jones County deed with John Murphey is a deed of purchase and explicitly names his origin prior to moving to Jones County in 1807. It refers to the land purchaser as “John Murphey, farmer of Hancock County”. I believe that all of the John Murphey/Murphy deeds relate to the same man, as after the first deed of purchase all subsequent deeds refer to John as being “of the County of Jones and the State of Georgia”.
Chapter 6: John Murphey in Hancock County prior to Jones County
Several Murphy family researchers, including myself, have already been working under the premise that John Murphey of Hancock County was the son of William Murfey of Edgefield County, South Carolina, and by examining the documentary evidence in Hancock County, I hope to prove this relationship (subject of another paper currently under research). I have previously posited in Chapter 1 that John Murphey was documented as living in Hancock County in 1794 according to the Tax List. I believe that he lived in what I call the “Creek Area” of Hancock County from at least 1794 until at least early 1807.
The 1807 end-date comes from research by Murphy family researcher Vickie Stockham, where the January 5, 1807, Road Orders from the Inferior Court in Hancock County are the last to mention John Murphey as having responsibility for maintaining named roads located in the “Creek Area” on the Oconee River opposite Milledgeville. Furthermore, I have reviewed the microfilmed copies of the 1807 and 1810 Baldwin County Tax Lists and have not found an entry for a John Murphey even though the Creek Area was moved to that jurisdiction as explained below.
In order to describe the Creek Area of Hancock County, Georgia, below is a map of the southwestern part of Hancock County showing the modern boundary between Hancock and Baldwin Counties. Hancock was created on December 17, 1793, from Greene and Washington Counties. The Creek Area was previously part of Greene County. From 1793 until 1807, the boundary between Baldwin County and Hancock County was the Oconee River. Then on December 10, 1807, the boundary was redrawn along Town Creek. This placed Buck, Derriso, and much of the Rocky Creek lands in Baldwin County. The map scale at the bottom shows that we are looking at an area of about 12 miles (N-S) by 10 miles (E-W).
Map of Creek Area of Hancock County and
Baldwin County, Georgia
I am defining the Creek Area as the area containing the following creeks which flow into the Oconee River and listed from NW to SE: Sandy Run (not shown on map, but located just to the north)
Little Island Creek
Below are the listings for the two landholdings of John Murphey in the 1794 Hancock County GA Tax List, which I believe refer to the same person:
Chapter 7: John Murphey’s Documents in Jones County, Georgia
Now that it has been conclusively proven that John Murphey of Butler County, Alabama, came from Jones County, Georgia, let us now focus on the documents from Jones County to establish the location of John Murphey within a timeline. Again, I have created these new deed abstracts based upon careful transcriptions from microfilm images of the original Jones County Deed Books. So that it is easier to understand the locations of the various Districts, please refer to the map below that can be found on the Jones County, Georgia, GAGenWeb.
The map shows how the county boundaries changed, but the Districts and Lots surveyed in the early 1800’s have not changed and are still referenced in deeds today. An excellent treatment of land descriptions, deeds and a history of land granted in various Georgia lotteries can be found at the link given above. John Murphey’s deeds pertained to land located in Districts 9, 10 and 12. While the map below shows the locations of the Districts, you may drill down to view the locations of the specific Lots by going to “Georgia’s Virtual Vault”, administered by the Georgia Secretary of State.
Early Jones Co., Ga., county boundary changes and land districts, from: Jones County, Georgia, GAGenWeb site.
In order to get a clear picture of the timing of John Murphey’s land acquisitions and divestitures, the following deed abstracts are placed in their chronological order of execution instead of being ordered by Recording dates. In addition, the Jones County Tax Lists which have any identified John Murphey listings are also shown to establish that there was only one John Murphey in Jones County, Georgia, during the years described.
Abstract for buying land in Lot 114 of District 10 (from film image of original document):
Jones County, Georgia, Deed Book A, pages 111 and 112 November 3, 1807 - From Samuel Kitchens, yeoman of Wilkinson County, Georgia, to John Murphey, farmer of Hancock County, Georgia, for $100 sells 202.5 acres known as lot 114 in District 10 of Baldwin County, now Jones County, Georgia, originally granted to said Kitchens in 1807, lying on the waters of Cedar Creek, adjoining lots 115, 107, 113 and 129.Signed: Samuel Kitchen
The next deed does not provide a complete picture as do the other John Murphey deeds. The location of the lot is not close to the others, and I have not yet found the corresponding sale of this particular property. Arguing that we are looking at our same John Murphey, Drewery Spain is listed only five names above John Murphy in the 1811 Tax List and is most likely related to Mathew Spain, a witness in the deed below. I believe that the deed of sale for this property is simply not listed in the Realty Index, and so while that deed of sale most likely exists, more research will be required to find it. The sale most likely occurred before 1811 as there was only one John Murphey listed in the 1811 and 1814 Tax Lists with only one property delineated each time. In both tax lists, John is listed as living on the properties described in the deeds presented in this paper.
Abstract for land in Lot 75 of District 12 (from film image of original document):
Jones County, Georgia, Deed Book A, pages 109 and 110 February 22, 1808 - From Richard Wynn of Burke County, Georgia, to John Murphey of Jones County, Georgia, for $300 sells 202.5 acres known as lot 75 adjoining lots 74, 54, 76 and 86 in an undefined District (CFM note: according to the adjoining lot numbers, it would be in the 12th District, along Allison’s Creek) of Jones County, Georgia, originally granted to said Richard Wynn on January 9, 1808.Signed: Richard (his “@” mark) Wynn
Abstract for buying land in Lot 113 of District 10 (from film image of original document):
Jones County, Georgia, Deed Book B, page 485 February 12, 1810 - From Elisha Whatley of Jones County, Georgia, to John Murphey of same for $300 sells the residual (CFM note: 152.5 acres) of lot 113 (CFM note: bounding on lot 114 according to the Deed of Sale dated May 15, 1810), less the 50 acres previously conveyed by said Whatley to John Rose, located in District 10 of Baldwin County, now Jones County, Georgia, originally granted to Coleman Lennard.Signed: Elisha Whatley
Abstract for selling land in Lot 113 of District 10 (from film image of original document):
Jones County, Georgia, Deed Book B, page 346 May 15, 1810 - From John Murphey of Jones County, Georgia to Lewis Saunders for $500 sells 151.5 acres of lot 113, being the original 202.5 acres less 50 acres previously conveyed to John Rose by Elisha Whatley and 1 acre conveyed by John Murphey to the Methodist Society for a meeting house, located in District 10 of Baldwin County, now Jones County, Georgia, and bounded by lot 114 and by the 51 acres of lot 113.Signed: John (his “C” mark) Murphey
Abstract for selling land in Lot 114 of District 10 (from film image of original document):
Jones County, Georgia, Deed Book B, page 344 & 345 May 15, 1810 - From John Murphey of Jones County, Georgia, to Lewis Saunders of Baldwin County, Georgia, for $5000 (CFM note: verified as “five thousand dollars”) sells 202.5 acres known as lot 114, originally granted to Samuel Kitchen, located in District 10 of Baldwin County, now Jones County, Georgia, lying on the waters of Big Cedar Creek, and adjoining lots 115, 113 and 129.Signed: John (his “C” mark) Murphey
Abstract for buying land in Lot 69 on Wolf Creek (from film image of original document):
Jones County, Georgia, Deed Book C, page 98 April 23, 1811 - From Charles Warren of Randolph County, Georgia, to John Murphey of Jones County, Georgia, for $225 sells 202.5 acres known as lot 69 in District 9 of Baldwin County, now Jones County, Georgia, originally granted to James Landrum of Franklin County, Georgia.Signed: Charles Warren
1811 Jones County Tax List (from film image of original document):
John Murphy | 4| 202.5| 2&3| Jones | Landrum| May| Wolf Creek| $1.93 ¾|
It is obvious that this listing is John Murphy living on the land purchased in the Deed above, as it is 202.5 acres originally granted to Landrum, and located on Wolf Creek as shown on the Deed below selling the property. It also shows that John has 4 slaves and that his land was ranked as 2nd and 3rd quality, leading to a tax assessment of $1.93 ¾. A copy of the rather light film image is shown below.
Jones Co, Ga, 1811 tax list showing John Murphy living on 202.5 acres on Wolf Creek
Abstract for selling land in Lot 69 (from film image of original document):
Jones County, Georgia, Deed Book D, page 134 April 14, 1812 - From John Murphy of Jones County, Georgia, to William Mitchell of Oglethorpe County, Georgia, for $1000 sells 202.5 acres known as lot 69 located in District 9 of Baldwin County, now Jones County, Georgia, being on the waters of Wolf Creek, bound on the northeast by lot number 70 and on the southwest by lot number 68.Signed: John (his “c” mark) Murphey
Abstract for buying Land in Lot 76 on Hog Creek (from film image of original document):
Jones County, Georgia, Deed Book F, page 121 & 122 January 22, 1814 - From John Powers of Greene County, Georgia, to John Murphey of Jones County, Georgia, for $525 sells 101.25 acres in lot 76 in District 9 of Jones County, Georgia, lying on Hog Creek, originally conveyed to William Dunn of Jackson County, Georgia, and adjoining lots 75 and 69.
1814 Jones County Tax List (from film image of original document):
John Murphey | 1| 5| 101.25| 3| Jones| - | Rowell | Hog Creek| $2.00|
Please see an image of the original 1814 Tax List document below (shown previously in this paper to point out Job Mullins, John Murphey’s son-in-law). It is obvious that this listing is John Murphey living on the land purchased in the deed above as it was 101.25 acres (originally granted to Dunn, but the tax list does not name the Original Grantee, only that John is adjoining “Rowell”) and lying on Hog Creek as shown in the deeds buying and selling the property. After a review of the numbers in the columns on the original document, it appears that the 5 refers to the number of slaves that John owns at this time in 1814, up from 4 in 1811, and that his land is ranked as 3rd quality, leading to a tax assessment of $2.00.
1814 Jones Co, Ga, tax list showing John Murphey living on 101.25 acres on Hog Creek
Abstract for selling Property on Hog Creek (from film image of original document):
Jones County, Georgia, Deed Book F, page 128 & 129, February 6, 1815 - From John Murphy of Jones County, Georgia, to William Mitchell of Jones County, Georgia, for $525 sells 101.25 acres in lot 76 located in District 9 of Jones County, originally conveyed to William Dunn of Jackson County, Georgia, lying on the waters of Hog Creek, and adjoining lots 75 and 69.Signed: John (his “o” mark) Murphy
The above deed is the last listed in the Index to Realty – Jones County, Georgia for John Murphey (or any variation of the name “John Murphy”) in Jones County through at least 1830. When taken along with the obituary shown below for Wilson Murphey, John Murphey’s only known son, it appears that John most likely moved to Butler County, Alabama, sometime in 1815. Since Wilson Murphey shows consistently in all Federal Census to have been born in 1801, he would have been age 14 in the year 1815.
Butler County Alabama Obituaries compiled by Marilyn Davis Barefield 1985, p. 70 and The Greenville Advocate, Vol. XIII, Number 39, Greenville, Butler County, Alabama, Thursday. August 8, 1878. (only a partial quote of the full article follows)
“Died at his home in Butler county, on the 28th of July last, Mr. Wilson Murphy, in his 78th year. Mr. Murphy was a native of Georgia, but emigrated with his father to this State and county when but 14 years of age, when Butler county was still in the hands of the Indians.”
1816 Jones County Tax List (from film image of original document): I have not found John Murphey in this tax list, adding further evidence that he had left Georgia in 1815.
Chapter 8: Timeline of John Murphey in Jones County, Georgia
To summarize the information in this paper, here is a timeline of the documented events for John Murphey in Jones County, Georgia, as bracketed by known events from other locations:
January 5, 1807 – Last Hancock County Road Order to name John Murphey in “Creek Area” (research by Vickie Stockham)
Chapter 9: Conclusion
Although the Treaty of Fort Jackson on August 9, 1814 ceded Creek Indian lands in Alabama to the United States of America in general, it is worthy to note that 1815 was previous to the area of Butler County, Alabama, being officially open for white settlement, which did not occur until about 1817. It was in March 1818 that the Ogly Massacre took place, followed within a few weeks by the ambush and brutal killing of Captain William Butler, the namesake of Butler County. That this killing took place near Butler Springs is important, as this was the very area where John Murphey settled. So when Wilson Murphey moved in 1815, “Butler County was still in the hands of the Indians” as truly described in his obituary and he would have been only one of a handful of whites in the area. Wilson was the person who in 1858 was able to point out the hasty grave of Capt. Butler so that his remains could be exhumed for a proper burial at a cemetery within the county seat of Greenville. For John Murphey to have taken this chance of moving his family into Indian Country I believe demonstrates that he had a high comfort level and familiarity with the Creeks. Perhaps this came from years of living on the “edge of civilization” as he lived on the border of white settlements in Georgia in Hancock County and then in Jones County, and as I also believe, by growing up previously along the Savannah River in early Edgefield County, South Carolina.
In conclusion, this paper has clearly established that the John Murphey that moved to Butler County, Alabama, came from Jones County, Georgia. It has provided a timeline, along with his specific locations, within Jones County from about 1807 to 1815, at which time he moved to Butler County, Alabama. Furthermore, it has now been conclusively shown from evidence in John Murphey’s first deed of purchase in Jones County that he was previously located in Hancock County, Georgia.