Davis, NC Community Leaders

Lorenzo Murphy

Bishop Thomas Harris, pastor of a church in Baltimore, Maryland, has written of his reunion with the family of Mr. And Mrs. Lorenzo (Bub) Murphy of Davis, NC. Mr. And Mrs. Murphy and all were born at Davis, but moved to Washington, D.C. Bishop Harris, a Negro, lived with the family for fourteen years at their home at Davis. Bishop Harris has passed away since he wrote this tribute.

This mother and father from humble beginnings, grew into an atmosphere of great success. Mr. Murphy became Captain of a boat named the "Weldon," and raised a large family, in which I became as one of them.
I am a Negro-not a Mulatto,-but a dark-skinned Negro, and I had gotten lost from my mother and father In Norfolk, Virginia. When I told Captain Murphy my story, he carried me home with him to Davis, NC, and gave me a home with his family.

He could have made me a servant, if he had been so inclined, for I was twenty five or thirty miles from any colored people. Instead, I was treated just as one of the family. Mr. Murphy was a true humanitarian, for he loved all people whether they were black, white, red, brown or yellow. He made such an impression on my life in the fourteen years I lived with him, that I wanted to go back after fifty years to see the man , woman and children who had treated me so well. I did not see Mr. And Mrs. Murphy, for they had passed away, but I visited their graves.
I found two of Mr. Murphy's sisters, Mrs. Betty Murphy Paul and Mrs. Lina Murphy Styron, who gave me the addresses of the children. I went to see them one by one, and they were as good to me as they had been fifty years before.

Annie Laura Murphy, "Mrs. Herries," was the first one I went to see but I did not find her. Next I went to see Miss Madeline, "Mrs. Dunmore." She told me that Aunt Laura worked for the telephone company and lived in Washington, DC. Miss Madeline treated me just as she did when she was a little girl and I received the same courtesy from her husband, Dr. Dunmore. I spent the night and enjoyed sharing memories.

Mr. Arnold Murphy also lived in Washington, DC. And treated me just like his dad. He is businessman and owns several service stations and auto parts stores.

Mr. Milburn Murphy lived in Washington also, and is owner of several stores that sell automobile accessories. He said to me, "Tom, my Dad did not give you very much." I said, he shared with me whatever he had, made me one of the family, was a father to me and give me his love and I consider that a lot.

I found Mr. Ivy Murphy at Williamston, NC. He hugged me and said he was so glad to see me. He is a retired policeman from Washington and now has a 300-acre farm which is doing very well.

I also saw Mr. Otis Murphy, a successful real estate dealer in Washington, and Mr. Fillmore Murphy who has a department store in Richmond, and was received with the same warmth.

Finally, I went down to Miami, Florida to see Mr. Alton Murphy. When I arrived, he said,

"Thomas, do you mean to tell me you came all the way to Florida to see me?" I said, "Yes sir, I don't know anyone else here." His wife prepared a feast and sat me at the head of the table. Alton is successful in Miami real estate.
These people I am talking about are "Southerners," in the South. There are many good families in the South and I say to my people, "take it easy and don't try to go too fast. You will get where you are going, no by killing, but through love and prayer. Go to school and get all the learning you can."

I am so grateful for this wonderful family. They taught me to go to church, to go clean, and treat everybody right. Take care of what you have, and don't let your car, home or anything you may possess be your God. Make your possessions your servants. I have a car, a home the pastorate of a Church and am also a Bishop, but my car is to me what the old cart or buggy used to be. It only takes me where I want to go.

God Bless our America, and may we all be more like this wonderful family, whether they be black, white, red or yellow. I love all people, and I also know that prayer can change things.

Source: Once Upon A Time: Stories of Davis, North Carolina by Mabel Murphy Piner, 1979; pp. 53-54.

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