I had seen a photo of “Uncle Harry,” as my mom identified him, but she didn’t know exactly who he was. His name was Harry Murphy and he appeared in a couple photos with other Murphy family members. I actually assumed that he was a neighbor that shared the same last name.
While visiting family in Youngstown a couple months ago, we were sitting around looking at old photos and obituaries, when I came across Harry’s obituary.
Surprise! This mysterious Harry Murphy is the brother of my 2nd great grandfather. The obituary states his parents were John Murphy and Catherine Asberrie (all of my records use the spelling Katherine Aspery). I believe there are 8 siblings total and 6 have now been identified: William, Harry M, John, James Joseph, May, and Sarah T.
It also gives the location of where the family came from: Mayo County, Ireland. That’s interesting because while the Murphy family always associated themselves to be of Irish descent, on nearly all records I have they put their birthplace as either England or natural born citizen.
Another intriguing detail is that Harry left two sons that happened to have different last names and lived in another state.
I love it when one clue leads to more mystery!
Harry Murphy appears in the 1900 Census in Sharon, Mercer County, Pennsylvania with Celia Murphy and sons Harry and James Murphy. He is living with his wife’s parents and brother-in-law, but Celia indicates her status as divorced.
In the 1910 Census, Celia is remarried to a LaVerne Letson with sons Harry and James last name changed to Letson. In 1920 the Letson family is living in Huntington Beach, California.
Harry Murphy moved to Youngstown in 1909. He was a self-employed handyman, just like his brothers. He occasionally lived with his sister-in-law, Margaret Richards-Murphy. I don’t believe he ever remarried, but I also haven’t been able to find Harry in the 1910-1930 censuses. I look forward to finding out more about Harry Murphy!
I think Nana’s middle name was Celia. I wonder if anyone else can confirm that. I know it wasn’t Margaret, surprisenly.
Harry rented a room at Nana’s house for many years at 554 Ridge Avenue. I remember him very well. Of course he was pretty old to me but when I was at Nana’s I remember eating dinner with him. I remember that he left everyday and walked to where he was going and was alway home for dinner. I think that he went to the bar because he smelled like booze. I remember when he died too.
Also Elizabeth (Nana) her middle name was Anne. Thank you Katie I like ready these stories. Hope you are well.
What an interesting story. You did some wonderful research pulling all of these pieces together.
I’m so glad you found us! Your “intrigue” was my life. I remember my grandfather James Letson very well. I’ve known forever that at our root we were Murphy’s . I’ve done a lot of digging on his mom’s side (Celia) and have found alot about their roots in Sharon, PA. My research on Harry always was cold until you contacted me. I am still buzzing with excitement. Thank you!
I know you are looking for date that Harry died. Have you called the historical societies in Youngstown? I have received quite a few obits that way. A number of them in Sharon. They were very nice and helpfull. Good luck and I hope to hear more from you!