Wednesday, January 29, 2014

John Murdoch or John Murdock?

St. Louis Riverfront, 1858
Within my research about John I have found his last name spelled two different ways: Murdoch and Murdock. The time has come to decide which way I am going to spell it from now on. It is a tough decision because some important documents such as the marriage record (which includes his signature) appear to spell it Murdock. The city directories go back and forth between the two spellings. And yet when John platted his property in 1869, he listed it as Murdoch Farm. All of the death notices and obituaries list it as Murdoch, but Calvary Cemetery records have the burial of John J Murdock. Never before have I come across a person whose name is spelled differently on legal documents.

The vast majority, I would say, are using Murdoch as the spelling. Murdoch Cutoff and Murdoch Ave. are widely recognized streets in the St. Louis area. That being the case, I believe I will use Murdoch as my choice. If John Murdoch wasn't picky about how he spelled his name, I guess I won't be either.

I have wrapped up my active research at this point, following trips to the St. Louis County Library and the Missouri History Museum Library and Research Center. I may do a little more newspaper research down the road, depending on how the writing comes together. And I need to followup with a source that was listed in another book I found online, but I am ready to formulate the outline for the paper/book. My working title is John Murdoch: the Man Behind the Myth.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Preparing for Continued John Murdock Research

1857 St. Louis map indicates Murdock & Dickson land
Over the past several years I have accumulated many articles about John Murdock. Many of them are hard copies placed in several file folders. But a good number are items that I have found on the Internet, clipped into Word or Photoshop files on my computer. I spent today organizing the files in preparation for a trip to the headquarters of the St. Louis County Library system tomorrow. My goal for tomorrow is to determine what brought John Murdock as a young man of 24 to the city of St. Louis in 1838. What was going on here that enticed him to leave his parents in New Jersey and travel alone to a new city? What was St. Louis like at that time? I also want to know what took place in the 1860s that forced Murdock and his partner Charles Dickson into placing an ad in the April 29, 1869 Missouri Democrat to auction Murdock Farm to pay off debt.

One thing that tends to happen with me when I go to research facilities is that I go off in tangents. For a project this size, I think it will help me to have specific questions that I want answered. That way the librarians can direct me to the best resources as well. We'll see how well I stick to the plan tomorrow!