Sunday, September 21, 2008

Irish Pat's walk through history


Common people walk through history. History, however, is a recording of uncommon deeds.
And speaking of walks though history — one of my favorite historic characters lived and walked all over this part of Colorado for many years. Patrick Murphy actually homesteaded near Highway 83, about 6 miles east of Monument, but was known to take off hiking just about anywhere. One of his favorite strolls, was reportedly a stage route from Monument to Florissant.
Born the day before St. Paddy’s Day, 1821, County Cork, Ireland, Murphy hit New York on the east coast of United States in 1864 after 14 days on a steamer named the “Kangaroo.” Once on dry land again, he took off walking, according to Lucille Lavelett, author of “Through the Years at Monument, Colorado.” From New York he walked to Nashville, Tennessee, then on to St. Louis, Missouri, then up the Mississippi River and on to Fort Lewis.
A small wiry man of maybe 100 pounds when soaking wet, Murphy was kept out of the regular army by his citizen status but served Union troops as a cook in the civil war.
“When he passed away at age 105, he was the oldest member of the Knights of Columbus in the world, the oldest man in the state of Colorado, and the oldest rancher in the state of Colorado,.. he lived on his ranch until he was 101,” wrote Lavelett.
“At 101 he ran a race in the main street of Monument with a man many years his junior and won, and danced at a dinner given in his honor that night. At 102, Mr. Murphy climbed halfway to the summit of Pike Peak and was only dissuaded from completing the trip through the intercession of a younger man who was accompanying him who told Murphy he was giving out.”
Uncommon deeds indeed. Murphy was a practicing Catholic and parishioner of St. Peter Catholic Church in Monument, and is buried (near his ranch) in Spring Valley Cemetery in southern Douglas County.
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