biography from Portrait & Biographical Album of Mahaska Co., Iowa, 1887
REV. DENNIS MURPHY, Ph. D, Presiding Elder of the Oskaloosa District of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was born in the county of Limerick, Ireland, on the 24th day of June, 1833, being the son of Robert and Catherine (Barry) Murphy. The Barry family were descendants of one of the families who came over with William the Conqueror. Robert Murphy and wife emigrated to the United States about the year 1841, and settled in Wayne, Mich. They were devout members of the Roman Catholic Church. Their family included seven children, five of whom are living: John B. is a resident of Wayne, Mich.; Maj. E. B. Murphy assisted in raising the 7th Iowa Cavalry, and was elected and commissioned First Lieutenant of one of its companies. This regiment did excellent work in the border service at the time of the Sioux Indian trouble. The Lieutenant was soon promoted to a Captaincy and afterward to Major of the regiment, holding that rank when the regiment was mustered out at the expiration of its term of service. Maj. Murphy was the founder of Arapahoe, Neb., now a busy little city of 1,200 inhabitants; Hon. M. B. Murphy, of Plattamouth, Neb., represented his district in the Legislature of that State: P. B. Murphy, of Omaha, Neb. Rev. Dennis Murphy left his home in Michigan in 1856 for the farther west, stopping at Ottumwa, Iowa, where he engaged in business. He was soon afterward converted and joined the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1858 he joined the Iowa Conference, and began to preach the Gospel. Mr. Murphy was married, Aug. 19, 1861, in Birmingham, Iowa, to Miss Lavanda Gassner, a daughter of the Rev. Joseph and Harriet (Housel) Gassner. Her parents were natives of Virginia and Pennsylvania. She was born in New Haven, Hamilton Co., Ohio, Feb. 4, 1843. Mr. and Mrs. Murphy became the parents of one child, Paul D., who died at the age of ten months. In 1882 Mr. Murphy entered the army as Chaplain of the 19th Iowa Infantry, remaining in the service for over two years, when he resigned and returned to Iowa, taking his place again in his conference. He was stationed as Pastor at various places. In 1869 Mr. and Mrs. Murphy, believing their influence for good would be enhanced by a more liberal education, entered the State University of Iowa, and pursued a thorough classical course, graduating with honors in the class of 1874. Mrs. Murphy was chosen to deliver the valedictory address, and selected for her theme "The Historical Position of Women." It was replete with interesting facts and clothed in the most elegant language. Mr. Murphy also delivered a fine oration upon "The Educational Trinity," which received the highest praise. Mr. Murphy had the honor of being selected to give the Master's oration when the degree of A. M. was conferred upon the class in cursu. Our subject has led an active and busy life. In addition to his regular ministerial work, he has spent much time in the lecture field, delivering addresses upon a wide range of themes. A close student of ancient and modern history, and possessing rare qualities as an orator, he never fails to interest and instruct his hearers. Mrs. Murphy has devoted herself largely to religious and moral work. She has been connected with the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society since its organization in the State, and in 1883 was elected President of the National Executive Committee. She has frequently filled the pulpit of her husband in his absence or illness. Her sermons are logical and delivered with force and persuasive eloquence. Among the lectures given by Mrs. Murphy are, "Mexico, Its Condition and Religion," "Africa," "China," "Women in History," "Our Historical Position," and others, all of which have received the highest praise. In 1879 Mr. Murphy received the degree or Doctor of Philosophy pro merito, from the Iowa Wesleyan University at Mt. Pleasant. In 1883 he represented his conference in the General Conference at Philadelphia, Pa. The same autumn he was appointed by Bishop Simpson Presiding Elder of the Oskaloosa District, which position he now holds. Dr. Murphy is a man of fine physique, in the prime of life, and more capable now than ever, of doing work which will be productive of great good in his chosen field.
Portrait & Biographical Album of Mahaska Co., Iowa, 1887
Mahaska County, Iowa Genealogy