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Peter Murphy, Vermilion County

Peter Murphy was another boy brought to Vermilion County by Rev. Enoch Kingsbury in November of 1855. I wonder how he felt about life on the prairie in Illinois. He had been born in Georgia, a place that is not usually cold or snowy.

Peter was just 10 years old when he was indentured first to Caleb Bennett and then 13 when he was indentured to John Copeland in 1858. He continued to call the Copeland his family even after they moved to Bethany, Missouri. I like to think that Peter and the Copelands continued to write and visit each other the rest of their lives. The Copelands has a large family, which included a second family of five children named Liggett whose care had apparently been taken over by the Copelands.

During the Civil War Peter enlisted at Danville with the 35th Illinois Infantry in 1861 and again in 1865 with the 150th, where he served at the rank of sergeant. He served throughout the war and received an injury to his shoulder and suffered disease as well. He was admitted to soldier's hospitals in Kansas, Indiana and Ohio in connection to his injuries.

Peter Murphy never married and worked all his life as a laborer. He may have been the son of a carpenter, John Murphy, in Taliaferro in Georgia. John Murphy never appeared in a census after 1850, nor did any of his children, except Peter, who appeared in just the 1860 census with the Copeland family.

Like so many of the orphans, only a little can be known about Peter, but it is heartening to know that he felt he had a lasting connection to the people who took him in in Vermilion County.


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