Sunday, November 18, 2012

House History and Murdock Farm

SWT Design, Shrewsbury, MO
Thursday I met with a man from the Shrewsbury Historical Society to talk about house research in Shrewsbury, and to see what he might know about John J. Murdock and Murdock Farm. The Society is just getting up and running again following a few years of dormancy. The impetus is the fact that Shrewsbury will be celebrating its Centennial in 2013. As it turns out the Society doesn't have any information about Murdock Farm (which is the land upon which Shrewsbury was originally platted in 1889), and they are focusing their current efforts on history from 1913 to the present.

I shared what I have found about John Murdock - including the fact that I believe he was NOT a general in the Civil War - as well as the various maps I have been collecting of the area. I guess I am on somewhat of a Myth Busters mission at this point. The City of Shrewsbury website states that Murdock was a general in the Civil War, as do all the other resources I have come across including Wikipedia (though I realize Wiki is not a reliable source). A book that was written about the town also states that he was a general. If so, where is the proof? A neighbor lady down the street is a subscriber to Fold 3, an online database consisting mostly of military records. She is going to look Murdock up for me, as that website is working in conjunction with the National Archives. She says that if the record is not in Fold 3, then he wasn't in the Civil War. I don't think she will find any surprises.

I may not win any friends in going forward with this. After all, it sounds pretty cool to say that your city was established on land once owned by a Civil War general. But John J. Murdock was a very interesting man in his own right, and he has quite a story to tell. I may just become the vehicle to make that happen. He certainly has me hooked!

With the centennial celebration, I mentioned that I would be happy to give a presentation on researching house history if that fits into what they are doing. Since we own a business in the area that was once a home, it would be a fun talk for me to give. In the meantime, I'll continue to dig into the Murdock Mystery.

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