Biography - John D. Murdock

Judge John D. Murdock, of Murdock, is a descendant of Scotch-Irish ancestry. His grandfather, William Murdock, left the north of Ireland and came to this country previous, to the war of the Revolution, in which he took an active part. As far as is known, he was the first of the name in direct line who came to the new world. He settled in Monmouth county, New Jersey. (Charles Uhlera, nephew of Judge Murdock, has a complete genealogy of the Murdocks in America.) John Murdock's father was born in Monmouth county, New Jersey, about the year 1775, and followed farming, as did his father. At the age of about twenty-one he emigrated to Butler county, Ohio. This was in the early part of the last century, and he was among the earliest settlers of that section. Here he married Rebecca Little, who was also descended from an old New Jersey family. She was the mother of John D. Murdock, of Murdock, who was born on June 15, 1816. Three years after his birth she was drowned. The sad incident occurred in fording a small stream swollen by recent rains, while returning in a wagon to her home from Cincinnati.
John D. Murdock received his education in a subscription school, the first taught by a Dr. Johnson, in the little town of Washington, Wayne county, Indiana. It was here by close attention to his studies he laid the foundation for the education which afterward served as a means of raising him to a position of influence in the community. After a residence of about six years in Wayne county he, with his father, in 1827, removed to Tippecanoe county, then a wild and unsettled region. He was eleven years old at this time and grew to manhood in this county. The life of the family was that of pioneers. Here he developed those qualities of self-reliance which subsequently entered into his success in life. In March succeeding his twenty-first birthday, he wedded Miss Martha Morgan, whose ancestors were of the early settlers of Tennessee. Her father, Venzant Morgan, removed from Tennessee to Ohio, and from Ohio to Tippecanoe county. Mr. Murdock after his marriage removed to a rented farm, his cash capital at this time consisting of $12, he owning one horse and buying his farming implements on time. .A good crop crowned his labors of the first year and he was put on a better footing for the second year. In four years he had accumulated money enough to purchase eighty acres of land, which he did in Fountain county, Indiana, where he removed with his wife. He gained a prominent position in the county and was chosen county commissioner.
In January, 1854, he visited Illinois in search of land. He first came to Georgetown, Vermilion county, thence by the way of Hickory Grove to Camargo. He bought three hundred and thirty acres of land at eleven dollars an acre, and removed his family from Indiana the following April. A split-log house, too small for the accommodation of his family, stood on the tract at the time of the purchase, so he prepared a frame house in Indiana, hauled it to Douglas county and put it upon the premises ready for the reception of his family. He has owned over one thousand five hundred acres of land since his residence in Douglas county. Among his neighbors in the Murdock settlement were James Brewer, Denis Daniels, Ephraim Drago, Anderson Campbell, and Isaac and Robert Carmack, John Jordon, and Uncle Billy Timbrook, who came later. On the organization of Douglas county, Judge Murdock took an active interest in the project, devoting both time and money. He was associate judge of the county for six years, and has held various township offices. He is a present trustee and steward of the Methodist Episcopal church. In 1837 he married Martha Morgan, of Indiana. She died February 8, 1891. Their children living are: Watson, a farmer and grain buyer; Nancy Jane, the widow of Sinclair Helm; Wilbur, residing on a farm adjoining Murdock; Mrs. Martha Helm, of Tuscola, and Mrs. Lida Dewees, of Terre Haute. In 1892 he married for a second wife Mrs. Sarah M. Bentley, nee Campbell, the former wife of Dr. Morgan A. Bentley, who died in Kankakee, May 3, 1890. He was a graduate of Jefferson Medical College, of Philadelphia. Mrs. Murdock has two children, now living, by her first husband: Nellie, wife of Mr. Van Morgan, and Rev. L. C. Bentley, who was born in 1864, and was graduated from the DePauw University, at Greencastle, Indiana, in 1894, and from the Theological Seminary of Boston, in 1895, and is now pastor of the First M. E. church in Brazil, Indiana.

Extracted 12 Apr 2017 by Norma Hass from the Historical and Biographical Record of Douglas County, Illinois, published in 1900, pages 145-147.

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