How I Found my Elusive John Murphy

The Deadly Trail that Finally Revealed a Phantom Branch of My Family Tree

Megan Smolenyak
11 min readMar 8, 2024

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AI is convinced that John Murphy was handsome. Seriously, I made a concerted effort to get a more average-looking fellow, but ChatGPT wasn’t having it. Also, skyscrapers came on the scene in the 1860s so I’m letting that slide.

My earliest American-born ancestor was my great-great-grandfather, Edward Murphy. It took a while to figure this out as the skimpy traces he left claimed both New York and Ireland as his birth place, but then I stumbled across his baptism. To my delight, he was christened in…

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Megan Smolenyak

Genealogical adventurer & storyteller who loves solving mysteries! You may not know me, but chances are you’ve seen my work. (www.MeganSmolenyak.com)