Murphy, Texas


Compiled by David Boyd


In August of 2003, the new Murphy Middle School opened for classes. Murphy, Texas has a long history of settlement and education.  This vignette was written in honor of the opening of the school for presentation to Bonnie Manley, its first principal.


Murphy, Texas had several names during early settlement.  Among these are Rowlett and Muddy Creek but McMillan called the town that sprang up closeby “Old Decatur” in honor of his hometown.  Decatur had a gin, a church and a school, three physicians, and the general store,” one historian has observed (Zavitz). 


Martin W. Gentry was a teacher in Old Decatur, Texas.  He was possibly the son of a Baptist Minister who had been involved in a dispute in the “four corners incident” where the counties of Collin, Grayson, Fannin and Hunt join.  The dispute is reportedly to have been concerning Union sympathies versus the followers of a local Confederate officer, and resulted in the death of a participant.  Decatur ’s Gentry arrived at the time of the disturbance and he remained in the area for the rest of his life.


In 1868 this area was referred to as the Decatur Road district, by the Collin County Commissioners Court (2:101) and it was 64 square miles in area; that is, eight miles long by eight miles wide.  “It ran eight miles east from Rowlett creek and eight miles north of the Dallas county line.” 


Families in their own neighborhoods operated early schools in the area.  In about 1880 Collin County started providing money to provide schooling for the whole county.  In that year, the sum of $18,000 had been set aside for the school fund, and it provided financing for a hundred schools in the county.  Among those mentioned is Decatur School , under the instruction of A. J. Berryman “a young man of good attainment holding a first grade certificate is giving general satisfaction.  Fund $134.23.”   Historical Edition McKinney Advocate April 3, 1880 .


The name changed from Decatur to Maxwell Branch to avoid confusion with Decatur , Texas , being the county seat of Wise.  Ben P. McPherson was the first postmaster of Maxwell Branch, which was alternatively called Maxwell School .  McPherson was a settler who came from Kentucky .  It was the home of his daughter, Mrs. D. C. George, which was taken to Old City Park in Dallas and is preserved to this day.


In 1888, the St. Louis and Southwestern Railroad built its right of way through William Murphy’s land and the town got its third name, Murphy, Texas.  Born in Ashville , North Carolina on May 27, 1818 , William Andrew Murphy married Dorothy Hudeberg in North Carolina . They left their home and moved to Indiana near Chicago and moved again to Texas in 1849 accompanied by his brother Eli Murphy and an early Peters Colony Settler, William McCreary.


The Murphys had five daughters, Susan, Mary, Ann, Kate or Dorothy and five sons, James B. (T?), William J., Franklin Pierce, Pleasant W. and John H.


William Murphy’s daughter, Susan, married James Lilburn Moulden in 1866.  He was later to be Collin County Sheriff from 1893 to 1897.


William Murphy founded the Moulden Cemetery in 1872.  The local cemetery at Old Decatur was full and Murphy had to bury his sister, Susan Murphy Emerton on his own land.


On January 30, 1891 , Murphy got its first post office, which was headed by William Murphy’s son, James Murphy, postmaster.  The post office remained in town until February 1954 when local mail delivery service was moved to Plano , Texas .


Murphy’s descendents still live in the area and the town continues to bear the family name.














                         Hall, Capt. Roy F. and Helen Gibbard Hall, Collin County Pioneering in North Texas, Quannah, Texas, 1975.


Plano Texas: The Early Years, Friends of the Plano Public Library, Henington Publishing Company, Wolfe City, Texas, 1985.


Stambaugh & Stambaugh, A History of Collin County Texas , Texas State Historical Association, 1958.


                        Chandler , Elaine Young


Zavitz, Bev, Living in Murphy, Texas , Plano , Texas 1984


Zavitz, Bev, Living in Murphy, Texas , Photographic Folio, Dallas Public Library