Looking Back: Murphy School Road
by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
As another school year begins, I wonder about all the “school” roads in and around Grain Valley: Oakland School Road, Owens School Road, Morland School Road, Oak Hill School Road and Murphy School Road, just to name a few.
Were the roads named before the schools or did the schools name the roads. Good question and one for which we may never know the true answer. I am not certain as to when or how Murphy School Road got its name. But, allow me to tell you what I do know.
John Camelin Murphy was born in Chillicothe, Ohio on July 13, 1837. It is not recorded if he came to Missouri alone or with his family. I did learn that in 1871 he married Agnus Hanna who was living with her family in Napoleon (Lafayette County) according to the 1860 United States Census. While their marriage was recorded in Jackson County, March 5, 1871, the birthplace of their older children and the 1880 United States Census still has them living in Lafayette County. The 1900 US census places the Murphy family in Sni-A-Bar Township, Jackson County, Missouri. We can only assume they lived on what is now Murphy School Road. They had five children. Daughter Eva died at age three. They had three other daughters and one son.
But here is the twist to the story. According to a history compiled by members of the Fort Osage DAR more than 30 years ago, Murphy School was originally Latimer School. It was built on land donated by John B. Campbell in the late 1880s.
The Murphy’s oldest daughter, Maggie Bell, was a teacher. Perhaps she taught there. Perhaps I’ll never know. “Bell,” as she was called, went on to teach in the Philippines, where she died in 1934. One daughter, Laura, moved with her family to Oklahoma. James moved to Jefferson County, just south of the St. Louis Metro. Rose Alpha Murphy married John William Kirby and remained in the area. Rose and John Kirby are buried at the Oak Grove (Missouri) Cemetery.
John, Agnus, and their son James are buried at Greens Chapel cemetery on Steinhauser Road, just north of Murphy School Road. John Campbell is also buried there.
So once again, I’m left with many more questions than answers. Who were the Latimers? When did the school’s name change? Why did the name change? When did the road become Murphy School Road? What was it called when the Latimer school was located there? If you are reading this article and have any information, PLEASE reach out to me. Meanwhile, I’ll keep trying to learn more about “the rest of the story.”
Personal note: I think Paul Harvey must have had many more researchers and lots more time to do the research!
The Murphy School. Photo credit: Grain Valley Historical Society
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