Joseph Ramsey McMurray was the son of Russell and Sarah McMurray and was married to Mary Margaret Mahaffey.
Joseph’s father, Russell, was born in Lycoming County in 1804, and in 1834, he moved to Clearfield County settling upon and clearing out a farm near New Washington.
At the age of 17, he became a member of the Methodist Church. “Few have performed more hard labor or lived as void of offense toward God and man.
“In those days when settlers were few, the itinerant found a welcome at his hearth-stone and enjoyed many a repast prepared by his frugal, faithful, now sainted wife, who preceded him just seven years ago.
“The writer frequently heard the preachers in charge remark, when the circuit extended from Karthaus to the Cherry Tree, that brother McMurray kept one of the best Methodist hotels in the county – the living is good and never anything to pay.
“I imagine that it was a fortunate thing for the preacher, who was assigned a horse and a $200 salary spoken of as a reward.” (Russell McMurray Esq. obituary, 1886) Russell also had a store in New Washington for many years.
Joseph R. McMurray, our subject, was born in 1839. He was a member of the Methodist Church and for a great many years taught Sabbath School.
“What man has done more for the cause of education in our village? We do not think there is one. As a business man he had no superiors in this part of the county.” (J.R McMurray obituary 1888)
Mr. McMurray owned a general store at New Washington, where everything from needles to Conklin wagons was sold. His covered wagons were constantly on the road, hauling goods from Indiana, Ebensburg and Tyrone.
According to Aldrich’s History of Clearfield County, 1887, Joseph “does the most extensive business merchandising in the upper end of the county.”
He was 48 years old when he suddenly died at his brother-in-law’s home in New Jersey.
Joseph was married to Mary Margaret Mahaffey, who also has an interesting story to tell. She was born in one of the first log houses built in New Washington on April 1, 1846, the daughter of Thomas and Margaret Mitchell Mahaffey.
As a child, she walked through the woods of tall pines to the log schoolhouse and spent all of her youth in the village, except two winters, when she went to school at Slabtown.
In 1869, she was married to Joseph R. McMurray by the Rev. Barnhart at Newton Hamilton camp meeting. The wedding journey was made with a horse and buggy instead of riding on horse-back as was customary.
When her husband died young, he left her and seven small children.
Mrs. McMurray was a member of the Methodist Church from girlhood and joined the Trinity Methodist Church when she moved to Clearfield with her family in 1913. One person who had known her for about 40 years said, “Mrs. McMurray was in many respects an unusual woman.
Her personality attracted the attention of all who met her. She had learned the art of living. She knew how to deal with all sorts of characters, had a keen sense of humor and therefore lived a joyous and triumphant life.
The power of appreciation of every kindness shown to her a strong religious faith which manifested itself in her intense devotion to the church and all it stands for.
Mrs. McMurray left a sweet fragrance on every path she trod.” (McMurray obituary, 1937)