Robert Calvert Murphy (11 Nov 1842 – 16 Feb 1936)

Written by Gene Barron

Robert Calvert Murphy was born in Arkansas to George West and Mary Elizabeth Clardy Murphy on November 11, 1842, the first of ten children. The family came to Union Parish and settled in the Oakland Community in about 1855.

During the Civil War Robert served as a Corporal in Company “C”, the Pelican Grays, in the 2nd Louisiana infantry. His unit fought at Lee’s Mill, the Seven Days Battles near Richmond, Malvern Hill, Cedar Mountain, at the 2nd Manassas where nearly 130 men were killed, in the capture of Harper’s Ferry, Battle of Sharpsburg, with General Stonewall Jackson at Chancellorsville where they lost over 100 men,  Battle of Winchester where along with the 10th Louisiana they captured about 1000 prisoners and participated in the attach on Culps Hill during the Battle of Gettysburg on July 4, 1863.

It was at this battle that Robert was hit by a cannon ball and lay with other wounded in the hot mid-day sun. When orderlies began moving the wounded into a local stable, Robert pleaded with them not to move him. They obliged. The others that were moved into the stable died of tetanus and Robert alone survived.

Later that day he was taken prisoner and his wounds treated. He was sent to City Point, Virginia on September 5, 1863. He was later exchanged from De Camp Hospital on David’s Island, New York. Instead of returning to his unit, Robert walked back to Louisiana. After arriving back home in Union Parish, Robert’s father sent him to Texas where he would have a better chance of escaping further military service. His father always considered the war a lost cause from the start.

At wars end Robert returned to Louisiana and on August 17, 1865 Robert married Martha W. Gulley, the daughter of James Haywood and Mary Ellen Purifoy Gulley, in Union Parish. During the nest twenty years of reconstruction life was traumatic for everyone in Union Parish, but the summer of 1881 the couple had ten children and owned a big farm near Cherry Ridge.

At some point in the late 1800’s Edwin Wilkes Booth, a Shakespearean actor and brother of the infamous John Wilkes Booth, visited the Murphy family on the farm. Robert had met Booth in New Orleans where the latter was performing. The two became friends after finding they had mutual friends and family. Robert invited him home with him and Booth accepted. They came home on the Governor Allen, a plush river boat that traveled up to the Alabama landing.

Robert and Martha’s third child was Charles Haywood Murphy born on November 2, 1870. He along with his son, Charles Haywood, Jr. better known as Charlie Murphy, founded Murphy Oil Corporation based in El Dorado, Arkansas. This corporation has reached international status and amassed considerable wealth, especially under Charlie Murphy, Jr. The corporation’s Spur Stations can be seen at most Wal-Mart store throughout the United State today.

A few years ago Murphy Corporation started giving back to the El Dorado community by funding what is know as the Promise. The Promise provides graduates of El Dorado High School with a scholarship covering tuition and mandatory fees that can be used at any accredited two or four year, public or private educational institution in the US. The maximum amount payable is up to the highest annual resident tuition at an Arkansas public university. Thirty nine graduates received scholarships in 2013.

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Gene BarronGene Barron is a native of Spearsville, Union Parish, Louisiana. He has a genealogy database of 182,000 names, who are all connected to his family.

Gene has also written two historical books on Union Parish. I highly recommend both.

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