Above is Dan Murphy, about 1940.
Right, Collins Settlement marked on a map of Lewis County
Dan raised mostly corn and oats, as well as a little wheat. Like most of the Irish farmers around Orlando, Dan usually kept about thirty to fifty head of sheep, anywhere from two to four hogs, a couple of cows and horses, the usual flock of chickens, a gaggle of geese and a few turkeys. Dan raised nearly everything his family ate.
An interesting feature of the Murphy farm was a small seam of coal, located near the top of the hill on both sides of the Three Lick Road. As the farm was gradually cleared of timber, wood fires were supplemented by coal from the coal bank. Dan would carry the dug coal, bucket by bucket from the top of the hill to the back of the house where it was stored until used.
Agnes (Wanstreet) Doyle was the widow of Floyd Edwin Doyle who had died in 1920. Agnes and her late husband had lived in Clarksburg. Agnes (Wanstreet) Doyle was visiting her Shepherd cousins on Ben’s Run in 1928 when Dannie Murphy happened to pay a visit to the Shepherd home. After formal introductions by the Shepherds, Dan, the confirmed bachelor and the long widowed Agnes, seemed to “hit if off,” and Dan’s bachelor days were numbered. The “I Do’s” were exchanged in August 1928 and Dan and Agnes took up housekeeping at the Murphy farm on Three Lick. Jean Lantz, Dan’s granddaughter, tells us that for the next twenty years of their marriage until Dan’s death in 1948, Agnes prepared Dan’s breakfast every morning at five o’clock a.m.
Lynn Riffle, now aged 93 years and living in Jane Lew, recalls “Danny Murphy” with great affection. Lynn began his school teaching career at the one room Three Lick School in 1932 and taught there for five terms. Among his students were Dan’s step-daughters, Ethel and Virginia Doyle. Lynn recalls that “Danny Murphy took great interest in the success of the Three Lick School, attended PTA meetings and helped everyway he could.” Lynn continued and said that “Danny Murphy and Pid Henline made my job a lot easier with all the help they gave me.” Commenting on Dan Murphy, Lynn stated that “Danny was a very, very nice and upstanding man in the community, a well-liked Irishman.” Lynn, ever a political Democrat, did offer the caveat however that “Danny Murphy, you know, was a Republican.”
With a new wife and two step-daughters, Dan Murphy became a family man, in addition to a farmer. He took a active interest in the raising of his step-daughters and their education.
In a few years, Ethel married but later separated from her husband but not before adding twin daughters, Joan and Jean, to the Murphy household. Many in the community simply referred to Ethel’s daughters as the “Murphy twins.”
Agnes was a good helpmate. In addition to being an excellent cook and a fastidious housekeeper, she was skillful with needle and thread and the making of cloth. Dan’s socks were made by his wife from the wool of his sheep. Agnes also kept her granddaughters, Jean and Joan, well adorned in dresses made from feed sacks. She traded feed sacks with her neighbors in order to make matching outfits for the twin girls. Agnes also was an excellent quilter and always seemed to have a quilt on the quilting frame which was made by her husband. Jean remembers that her grandmother made bread every day and that she made tasty cottage cheese.
Dan was a sensitive and kindhearted man. He formed a strong attachment to his two stepdaughters and his twin step-grandchildren who became as if his own children. The younger of the two step-children, Virginia, was musically talented and Dan bought a Gibson guitar for her which is still in the family today. Dan played the banjo and often joined Virginia on the guitar to entertain the family. Emptying the living room of furniture, they also played for neighborhood square dances held in the Murphy home. When his stepdaughter Virginia died at the young age of 22, Dan was much bereaved. Granddaughter Joan remembers her grandfather sobbing, his head on the fireplace mantel, when Virginia passed away.
Right: the twins Joan and Jean
Another example of Dannie Murphy’s generosity was the gift of an acre of ground to Martin Posey who was in need of someplace to build a much needed home. Posey was without the wherewithal to buy land. Dan felt that a good man in need deserved a helping hand. Such acts of kindness were responsible for the reputation of Dan Murphy in Orlando was a “good man.”
Above: Agnes with the '37 Chevy.
Dan’s oldest step-daughter, Mabel McVaney, who lived near Parkersburg at Vienna , was, her self, a red-hot Democrat, as was her husband. Ethel Doyle recalls that during World War II when Franklin Roosevelt was campaigning for re-election as President, a stop was scheduled by Roosevelt in Clarksburg. Mabel and her husband were visiting with her sister, mother and step father that day at the Murphy home. Mabel was insistent that the family make the journey from Three Lick to Clarksburg to listen to the speech Roosevelt was to make at the train station. Dan, however, was not so keen on making a pilgrimage to Clarksburg to watch the electioneering would-be demigod Roosevelt seek an unprecedented fourth term in the White House. The family was all dressed and ready to go to Clarksburg but Dan kept procrastinating with one excuse after another. Finally, Dan was ready to leave but he had skillfully timed his departure just right. After negotiating the long trip to Clarksburg, the Murphy family finally arrived at the Clarksburg train station long after the Presidential train had left for points farther west. The red-hot Republican Dan Murphy undoubtedly enjoyed the return trip to his Three Lick farm.
Dan Misses the Last Wedding
I also would see Danny Murphy at poker games on Sunday afternoons which were held at the large log barn owned by Johnny Kaden of Goosepen. Danny would walk over Ryan’s Hill with his large dog. Other people I remember at the poker games were Pat Faley and Joe Riffle of Orlando . There were several other people who attended who I have forgotten. Sometimes there would be two tables.
Danny was a nice guy and I liked him. He talked fast and snappy and was just a little fellow.
Give me three grains of corn, mother,
Only three grains of corn,
It will keep this little life of mine
Till the comiug of the morn.
I dreamed of bread in my sleep, mother,
The sight was cheering to me;
I awoke with an eager parched lip;
But you had no bread for me.
O how could I look to you mother
How could I look to you,
For bread to give to your starving boy
When you are starving too.
The men of England care not mother
Whether we live or die.
The bread they give to their dogs tonight
Would give life to you and I.
The famine is seen on your cheeks, mother
And in your eyes so wild;
I felt it in your bony hand
When you laid it on your child.
Come nearer to my side, mother
Come nearer to my side;
Embrace me fondly as you did
My father when he died.
Come quick, I cannot see you, mother
My sight is almost gone;
Mother, dear,’ere I die
Give me three grains of corn.
. . . . . . . . . ~ Author Unknown