Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Family History Writing Challenge Day 18

John Murdoch died on Wednesday, June 17, 1880, leaving behind his wife Julia and six children ranging in age from ten to twenty-one. Because his illness lasted for thirteen weeks, perhaps his death was not too surprising for his family and friends. Murdoch's funeral took place on June 20th. An extensive write-up about the proceedings appeared in the Globe-Democrat on June 21st.

                                                               DUST TO DUST.
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                                   The Remains of John J. Murdoch Returned to Mother Earth.
    The remains of John J. Murdoch, who died on last Wednesday in the 66th year of his age, an old and much esteemed citizen of St. Louis, were consigned to the grave yesterday in Calvary Cemetery. The funeral took place from St. John's Church, corner of Sixteenth and Chestnut streets at 2 p.m., and was attended by a large number of the friends of the deceased. In the absence of Bishop Ryan, whom duty had called elsewhere, Rev. Father Michael McFaul recited the funeral services. At the conclusion he made a short address, saying that the deceased was well known to most persons present. They had read in the gospel of a certain merchant who had gone out to purchase pearls, and when he had found that which he desired, he bought it in exchange for all he possessed. This pearl was the Kingdom of God for which they had all been created, made better than mere animals, and with the higher object in view of possessing an inheritance in that kingdom. All things in this world had been created in order to assist man in working out his salvation. Their dear friend, whose body reposed in their presence, had purchased this pearl, the Kingdom of God. He served God faithfully, that God who was pleased to call him to His true worship many years ago, when as a convert he embraced the Catholic faith, and he showed his appreciation of God's goodness to him, for he made it his daily practice for years to go long distances in order to be present and participate in the offering of the holy sacrifice at the altar, in the old Cathedral on Walnut street. Although business cares of the world absorbed his attention to a great extent, yet he did not forget his duty to God and he won the pearl, and was then, it is to be hoped, enjoying his reward in heaven. They should profit by his example by imitating it; and they should pray for him, in accordance with the principle of the Catholic faith that it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead; they should pray for him lest he might be temporarily debarred from entering heaven until he shall have satisfied the divine justice; pray for him in pity, as the psalmist says, "Have pity on me, have pity on me, at least you, my friends, for the hand of the Lord has touched me." Mr. Murdoch was besides a charitable man. They should take example of him - the example of the good man breathed an aroma of blessedness - and they might hope to be like him among the elect of God in the house of eternity.
    The choir, which chanted the Gregorian requiem Libra as the coffin was taken into the church, again resumed the chant as it was borne out and placed in the hearse.
    The pall-bearers were J.S. Walsh, Thomas Richeson, Geo. W. Lewis, Geo. R. Robinson, H. W. Leffingwell, Judge Charles Speck, Falk Levy and W. H. Haggerty.
    Among the numerous persons who called at the late residence of the deceased, and afterward attended the services at the church, were W. A. Hargadine, John S. Cavender, John J. McCann, W. F. Crow, Peter A. O'Neil, A. B. Ewing, Willis J. Powell, Benj. E. Walker, W. O. Buchanan, H. Van Studdiford, T. S. Rutherford, W. H. Cozens, J. Baumgardner, T. T. Gantt, Francis Chenot and Charles Chenot.
    Rev. Father Tobyn, pastor of the old Cathedral on Walnut street, a personal friend of the departed, was present in the sanctuary of the church, wearing his surplice as a mark of respect.
    The funeral arrangements were under the management of Mr. Louis Bohle, undertaker, and were efficiently carried out.

The men listed above were attorneys, dry goods merchants and manufacturers, real estate brokers, railroad executives, auctioneers, men involved in mining in St. Louis and Colorado, and several who were instrumental in the founding of the Mercantile Library in St. Louis. Both Murdoch and Dickson played a part in the 1846 founding of the first library west of the Mississippi River. The mourners represented a cross-section of the multitude of interests Murdoch was involved in during his lifetime.

John Murdoch was buried at Calvary Cemetery, the second oldest cemetery of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Established in 1854, it is the final resting place of many of the founding settlers of St. Louis.
Dred Scott, William Tecumseh Sherman, and Tennessee Williams are all buried in Calvary. The grave for Murdoch is in Lot 24 at the cemetery - a lot which contains 20 graves. The lot was owned by Charles K. Dickson, who is also buried there along with members of his family. While there is a large marker and individual headstones for the Dickson graves, there is nothing marking the grave of Murdoch or his six family members who are buried beside him. There would have been no extra money for Julia to erect a monument to honor her husband. It was probably through the benevolence of the Dickson family that she even had a place to bury him. Julia was going to have to find a way to survive the loss of her husband and his income. How would she keep a roof over the heads of her six children?

Dickson monument

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