MURPHY, JAMES A. 1891 THROUGH 1935 ARCHIVE: THE PERSONAL HANDWRITTEN MANUSCRIPT DIARIES OF A PROMINENT DETROIT BUSINESSMAN, ACTIVE ROMAN CATHOLIC AND HEAD OF THE MURPHY CHAIR CO.,
DETROIT SARNIA 1891 Good Manuscript
On offer are 38 diaries/daily planners dating from 1891 to 1935 (the years of the diaries are 1891, 92, 94, 89, 1902 through 1935), that belonged to and were written by James F. Murphy, who also signed himself as 'Jas. F. Murphy', has written his name in nearly all of them save one or 2 that weren't his but probably a family member. Murphy was a very busy socialite and important business man in Detroit at the turn of the 20th century and would certainly be considered one of the leading men of the City of Detroit. Born in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, September 14, 1866, son of James and Catherine Murphy, he married at Detroit, June 20, 1894 to Helen M. Ross. He is identified with the Murphy Chair Co, manufacturing of chairs since Jan 1883, working his way up form office boy to Vice President and Secretary & Treasurer. He was also Vice-President and Trustee of St. Joseph's Home for Boys, VP Particular Council of Detroit for St. Vincent de Paul Society, Secretary for St. Francis Home for Orphan Boys, Member of Detroit Board of Commerce. He was a republican, enjoyed golf, fishing, "automobiling", bowling and fishing. Our research finds a wealth of information on his activities and the goings-on of social Detroit throughout the years present as he detailed his activities, thoughts and appointments and meeting almost daily for all those years. Included in this archive are the ephemera from his wallet; a check from the Murphy Chair Co. for $5.00, a newspaper clipping where one of his female employees had a nervous breakdown, went to Oak Grove Sanitarium and hung herself. There are Murphy Chair Co. cards, newspaper clippings, tickets, Murphy Chair Co Financial Statements from 1916 to 1919, Sales records, advertising cards from a varnishing company, business cards and calling cards, a letter asking to set up a meeting to discuss "the mysteries of varnish", a letter and envelope from a home messenger service and lots of other paper items including a Contract for sale at $1,250,000. (A massive sum for those days!) It is to be paid in 12 annual payments of $100,000 each and 1 payment of $50,000 - with interest at 6%. There is a wealth of historical detail for the future researcher into this interesting man in a very interesting time in Detroit's history. Most every day has an entry and he tells about the weather and his meetings; he wrote about meeting with Hudson several times, (J.L. Hudson [?]), meetings at the Cadillac Hotel and Turkish baths, whether he was home or away. He did a lot of traveling to Sarnia, New York, Chicago, Duluth and several other cities due to his business, told of ground breaking day, laying of concrete, when the factory was partially functioning after building, going to the office, taking his wife out. They went to the Barnum's Circus, the Opera House, shopping, bought a car, had a baby, found a house, theatre, parties, etc. He was a devout Catholic and attended church very often. He has illnesses, one that kept him homebound for almost a year; he made special note when he was able to go downstairs after months of illness and then the first day he was able to go outside. Deaths in the family was also noted, funerals, church functions, parties, playing poker and cards. Remarkable amount of history covered given these diaries traverse the World War I years, the Roaring 20's and the Great Depression. In the backs of the planners he makes quite a bit of notes, moneys paid, owed, what he won in cards, what he lost, how much money he had given Helen and how frequently. Sometimes it looked like he was grumpy and wrote some funny but nasty little things in the backs. One day he got drunk and was happy and was not going to call his wife. There are some other books mixed in, one interesting little black book that is not like the diaries but had notes inside. There are entries such as a Millionaires Party, meeting with the Pope and the Pope asked them to pray for the Untied Nations and a mention of J Edgar Hoover, lists of people and gifts they received, there is a Catholic manual from 1919 filled with religious cards, funeral memorials and other things. The diaries/daily planners are for the most part in good condition, all legible, although they have signs of old damp-staining and some of the covers are very warped, particularly a couple of the earliest ones. Insides pages are all good.