Charles M. Murphy by John B. Stevens

We live in days when the success of men apparently born to lives of grinding toil is a pregnant sign of the times. Such opportunities are now open to him who has a good order of ability, with high health and spirits, who has all his wits about him, and feels the circulation of his blood and the motions of his heart, that the lack of early advantages forms no barrier to success. A striking illustration of the truth of these statements is exhibited in the following sketch.

Charles M. Murphy, son of John and Mary M. (Meader) Murphy, was born in Alton, Belknap county, N. H., November 3, 1835. In 1842 his parents moved to Barnstead, N. H., and settled upon the Tasker farm at the south end of the town. Here the child grew in stature, and filled out and braced his frame by hard manual labor.

Scanty record is left of these years of severe work and continuous struggle; but there is little doubt that the discipline developed an indomitable will and sturdy self-reliance—which alone enable poor men's children to grapple with the world—that under more favorable circumstances might never have shown their full capacity of force and tenacity.

Again, it is widely believed—and nowhere more strongly than in opulent cities and busy marts—that a boy is better bred on a farm, in close contact with the ground, than elsewhere. He is quite as likely to be generous, brave, humane, honest, and straightforward, as his city-born contemporary; while, as to self-dependence, strength, and stamina, he ordinarily has a great advantage over his rival.

He attended the district school, during the winter terms, until of an age suitable to leave the parental care, when he enjoyed for two terms the advantages of the academy at Norwich, Vt. At school it appears that he was diligent and ambitious, and, from his great physical strength and natural cheerfulness of temperament, very active in all athletic exercises. Then began the severe and practical duties of life; and, being the oldest of four boys, for some years he assisted his father in educating and advancing the interests of his brothers. John E. Murphy became a prominent dentist, practicing in Pittsfield, N. H., and Marblehead, Mass., and died at the early age of thirty-five. Frank Murphy, M. D., a graduate of Dartmouth College, practiced his profession in Strafford and Northwood; but died in the very flush and promise of life, at the age of twenty-nine. Albert Warren Murphy, D. D. S., a graduate of the Philadelphia Dental College, after one year's practice in Boston, removed, in 1872, to Paris, France, where his professional labors brought him both credit and profit. At the expiration of two years, an active interest in Spanish affairs and a desire to test the business advantages of the country led him to Spain. He soon settled in Madrid, and in 1879 was appointed dentist to the royal court.

Relieved from his generous labors at home, the subject of our sketch was married, at the age of twenty-two, to Sabrina T. Clark, daughter of Isaac Clark, Esq., of Barnstead, N. H., and for six months tried independent farming; but, though fully aware what a life full of joy and beauty and inspiration is that of the country, and not destitute of a natural taste for rural pursuits, at the expiration of the time named he surrendered his acres to his father, and with less than one hundred and fifty dollars moved to Dover and began the study of dentistry with Dr. Jefferson Smith. To this business he brought the same will power and ability to prolong the hours of labor which marked his early life, and in two years was pronounced competent to practice in his new calling. Dr. Smith soon died, and the recently emancipated student not only succeeded very largely to his practice, but enlarged and built upon it till a reputation and an income were secured which made travel and study easy and profitable. For eighteen years this patient, hopeful man labored and experimented, adding each season to his knowledge and skill, losing hardly a day except while studying for his degree at the Boston Dental College. In 1878, as the result of long and careful study of the business interests of the country, he withdrew entirely from his profession and embarked his all in the precarious occupation of a broker. Here his coolness, sagacity, and equableness of temper found their proper field, and such a measure of success has followed as falls to the lot of few men not bred from youth amid the fluctuations of the stock market. In his new occupation he is indefatigable in procuring information, and alike keen in discerning new traits in men and shrewd in contrasting them with those which are more common and better known.

Very naturally the subject of our sketch took a lively interest in political affairs upon becoming of age. A strong and devoted Republican, in his adopted city his influence in local politics has been felt for years. He was a member of the state house of representatives in 1871 and 1873; attached to the staff of Gov. Straw; appointed and confirmed as consul to Moscow—honor declined; a member of the Chicago convention in 1880, where he stoutly supported Blaine so long as a ray of hope remained; president of the Dover Five Cent Savings Bank—from a state of torpor and weakness it has grown under his guiding hand into activity and strength; elected mayor of the city of Dover in 1880, and recently chosen for another term; recipient of the honorary degree of A. B. from Lewis College in 1881. Through all his mature life, Col. Murphy has been a busy man.

But the energetic and successful are not exempt from the sorrows common to humanity. Three children, who, if spared, might put off to a distant day the weariness that inevitably comes with advancing years, died while young; and finally the partner of all his vicissitudes bade him a final adieu. His second wife, Mrs. Eliza T. Hanson, widow of the late John T. Hanson, of Dover, dispenses a gracious hospitality in the spacious and richly furnished Cushing-street mansion.

In closing we may add, Col. Murphy combines qualities which are generally found apart,—a love for work amounting to dedication, and a readiness to assist the unfortunate which seems ingrained. His abode is full of cheerfulness. No one comes there who does not receive a hearty welcome; no one departs without feeling as if leaving a home.