Biography - Thomas Murray

THOMAS J. MURRAY, Judge of the Probate Court, Johnson County, has already attained prominence in his profession, although a comparatively young man. A native of Saline County, this State, coming of one of its oldest pioneer families, he was born January 1, 1858. His father, James Murray, was born in Tennessee, December 22, 1806. The grandfather of our subject, also James Murray, was a native of Scotland, who, after coming to America, resided for a while in North Carolina and in Tennessee, and from the latter State came to the Territory of Illinois in 1812, and was one of the first settlers of Saline County. He was also one of the pioneer educators of the Territory, having himself been well educated. He became interested in agriculture, secured a tract of Government land and improved a farm, which was his home until his death at a ripe age. He was the father of seven children: Abner, Mark, Anise, Peggy, Sally, James and William. The latter is the only one living, and is eighty-two years of age. The others lived to an average of about seventy years.
The father of our subject was six years old when he came to Illinois with his parents. He was reared and educated in Saline County, and became one of its successful teachers, devoting himself to his profession in the winter seasons, and the remainder of the year engaging in agricultural pursuits. He secured a tract of Government land, on which he located at the time of his first marriage, which united him with Elizabeth Newman, by whom he had nine children, of whom there are five living: Abner, James W., Mark; Nancy L., now Mrs. Samuel Elder; and Sarah, widow of Pleasant Stradley. After her death he married the mother of our subject. He improved a fine farm, and resided upon it until 1876, when he came to Johnson County and bought a farm in Simpson Township, and there his death occurred August 29, 1882. The maiden name of his second wife was Susan J. Fletcher. She was born in Saline County, and was a daughter of Wesley Fletcher, and widow of Benjamin Bush. She died in 1872, having been the mother of these children: Thomas J., George W., Riley E., Amanda C., Frances E. and Eddie L. In 1876 he was again married, this time to Miss Mariah Brill, of Johnson County, who is still living.
Judge Murray received his early education in the public schools of his native county. The first school that he attended was taught in a typical pioneer schoolhouse, that was furnished in the most primitive manner, the seats being made of small logs split and hewn smooth on one side, with wooden pins for legs. A board resting on pins against the side of the house served as a desk for the large scholars to write on. The chimney was made of earth and sticks, and a rude fireplace heated the schoolroom. Our subject also went to the public schools in this county, after coming here. He determined to enter the legal profession, studied law with the Hon. P. T. Chapman, and was admitted to the Bar in 1886. He has risen rapidly to the front, earning first a sound reputation as a keen, clear-headed lawyer, well grounded in law, and in 1890 winning the honor of election to his present responsible position as Probate Judge for a period of four years. He is admirably fitted for the office, performing the functions devolving upon him with dignity, discretion and unwavering probity, and his decisions are marked by a careful study of the merits of the case, and a profound understanding of the laws bearing upon it. The Judge was formerly a Republican, but finding himself in full sympathy with the aims of the People's party, he has identified himself with it, and is one of its ablest supporters in this vicinity.
In 1884 Judge Murray was united in marriage with Miss Rhoda E., daughter of Joseph E. and Enda A. Modglin, who is a native of Johnson County. She possesses many fine traits of character, and the Baptist Church finds in her an earnest member. She presides well over her home, and unites with her husband in making it the seat of a genial, open-handed hospitality. Their little son Roy completes their household.

Extracted 22 Apr 2016 from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 190-191.

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