Thursday, August 30, 2012

Breaking the Code

Patrick and Elizabeth "Kelso" Murphy were the parents of Elizabeth Murphy who married James Hendry about 1780 in Sampson County, North Carolina. Hendry was a great uncle of my brother-in-law Tom Ryon. The Hendrys migrated to Liberty County Georgia and then some of the family moved down to Taylor County Florida. 

Black River Chapel

Patrick and Elizabeth were from Scotland and arrived in Wilmington, North Carolina around 1774. Patrick Murphy was a Sergeant in the 10th North Carolina Militia Regiment during the Revolutionary War. He received a land grant for his military service and settled in Sampson County. They both died in the late 1700s and were buried in the Black River Chapel Cemetery. 

I was looking at records in Sampson County North Carolina because several of my father's family lines; Blanchard and Ezell came from there.

 A Sampson County history web page had a reference to the Murphy's unusual grave markers and doing some checking I realized there was a family connection. I'm not sure where the practice came from but as you can see the markers have a lot of information on them, if you know the code.

Original Murphy Grave Markers
 They basically carved the first letter of each word and then only a couple numbers. Patrick died first so maybe it was his idea or maybe they got a price break from the local carpenter. In any event I've never seen grave markers like this before.

If you know the code they read:
P(atrick) M(urphy) D(parted) H(is) L(ife) M(onth) T(he) 11(th) 1785 (ag)ed 66

E(lizabeth) M(urphy) De(parted) T(his) L(ife) M(onth) 8(th) 1798 (ag)ed 71

Replacement markers

The original wooden markers have been removed and replaced with one made of marble and another of granite. The originals are now on display at the Sampson County History Museum.  

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