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As It Was: Brooklyn Native Lends His Name to Murphy, Ore.

Brooklyn native Barney Murphy filed a 160-acre land claim on the lower Applegate River in 1854.  Most of the land lay south of the river and included the mouth of Gray’s Creek.  That is how Murphy, Ore., got its name.

 In 1875, Jacob Wimer bought Murphy’s claim and built a hotel on adjoining land.  By 1876, there was a store and post office with Wimer as the first postmaster.  Jacob’s sons then purchased additional property and built a sawmill and gristmill to provide lumber and flour for the valley.

The town of Murphy soon became a stopping place on the packing route connecting the area with the new Pacific Coast harbor at Crescent City.  Some 50-200 mules were on the trails daily.  Murphy offered packers board and room and a place to rest and feed their animals. 

In 1901, another store and post office opened, but by 1907 rural route services had displaced small post offices.  Lewis Mitchell known affectionally as the “Mayor of Murphy,” began delivering the mail first by bicycle, then by team and wagon, and finally by Model T Ford. 

Murphy is unincorporated but has a post office today.

Sources: Oaks, Michael. "Murphy, Oregon History." Webtrail Josephine County, Golden Beginnings, 22 June 2011, www.webtrail.com/history/murphy.shtml; “Murphy, Oregon." Wikipedia, 6 Nov. 2018,

Luana (Loffer) Corbin graduated from Southern Oregon College, majoring in Elementary Education.  The summer after graduation she was hired to teach at Ruch Elementary, where she taught for 32 years. After retiring, Corbin worked for Lifetouch School Photography and then returned to Ruch as an aide helping with reading instruction and at the library.  More recently, she has volunteered at South Medford High.