Monday, March 22, 2010

New Murfee Family Images, Part One

I have recently begun corresponding with Madelon Murfee David of Destin, Florida. She is the great granddaughter of James Thomas Murfee, founder and first president of MMI, and the granddaughter of Hopson Owen Murfee, son of James T. and Laura (Owen), and the second president of MMI. Madelon has provided some wonderful Murfee Family data to the MMI Archives - including images - and she is placing me in contact with Murfee-related folks in Prattville, Alabama, where she grew up and where the H. O. Murfee Family lived in retirement, and where H. O. and his wife, Queenie (Mary McQueen Smith), are buried along with other family members.

Madelon and I also agree that the uniformed officer in the back of our image, “Company B., Howard Cadet Corps,” is probably James T. Murfee, then president of Howard College (MMI’s predecessor) and former commandant of the Alabama Corps of Cadets at the University of Alabama during the Civil War. If correct, this would be the youngest-looking image of J. T. we have, plus the only one of him in uniform. J. T. Murfee began the military program at Howard College in the early 1870s (again, there was no cadet corps at the college during the Civil War), emulating his alma mater, Virginia Military Institute, and the Alabama Corps of Cadets at Alabama.

“Company B., Howard Cadet Corps,” c. late 1870s or early 1880s. (Credit: MMI Archives)

A detail of the officer who is probably James T. Murfee, president of Howard College and creator of its Corps of Cadets. (Credit: MMI Archives)

Mrs. David also sent a copy of a Murfee Family image taken on J. T. and Laura’s 50th Wedding Anniversary on the steps of their retirement home in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. They were married in the parlor of that house (the Judge Hopson Owen home, Laura’s father) on July 11, 1861. Thus, the date of this image is probably July 11, 1911, the year before J. T. died. A remarkable image, J. T. and Laura are sitting together at the top of the stairs, H. O. is in the immediate left foreground holding the boy, and Walter Lee (W. L.) Murfee, younger son of J. T. and Laura, and the third president of MMI, sits at the right holding another child.

The 50th Anniversary of James T. and Laura O. Murfee in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in 1911. They are surrounded by some of their children and grandchildren. This house is still standing in Tuscaloosa. (Credit: Madelon Murfee David, Destin, Florida)

J. T. and Laura Murfee are buried in the Marion City Cemetery along with several of their infant children who died in the 1860s and 1870s. Of their eight children, only four lived to maturity.

The graves of James T. and Laura O. Murfee in the Marion (AL) City Cemetery. (Credit: MMI Archives)

Finally, I am also indebted to LTC Walter (Lee) Murfee, II, MMI H ’63, USMA ’67, who teaches physics at the United States Military Academy at West Point.