|Courtesy Jack Cavanaugh - Kent, WA|
His parents were Arthur Douglas Francis and Etta May (Travis) Murphy. According to Laurence's WWI draft record, he was born on August 12, 1892, in Sidney, Fremont County, Iowa. In the 1910 Federal Census, he is living in Pierce, Page, Iowa with his parents and little brother Maurice. On June 5, 1917, when he filled out his draft card, he was single and still living in Iowa. He was described as tall, medium build, blue eyes and light hair. He was working as a drug clerk for C.A. Hill in Ottumwa. Interestingly, it is noted that he had "2 years of university training".
In the 1920 Federal Census, there is a Reverend Laurence Murphy working as an assistant pastor at St. Anthony's Church in Davenport, Iowa. The age is correct, but both parents are listed as being born in Ireland and "my" Laurence's parents were born in Iowa. The only other one who looks possible is a Lawrence Murphy in Chicago. He was born in Iowa and so were both of his parents, but he is listed as 31 which would mean he was born in about 1889. Since I am not satisfied with either of these, I can't be sure where he was in 1920, which is probably about the time this photo was taken.
The sign behind Laurence reads, "Sargent's". There was a Sargent's Jewelry Store in Mt. Pleasant, Henry County, Iowa. According to the Daily Reporter from October 27, 1879, the proprieter was J(ames) F(ranklin) Sargent, Jeweler, Watch and Clock Repairer. He was also a "dealer in school books, stationery, blank books of every description and a thousand other items". The store was located on the "North side of the Park, Mt. Pleasant". After James' death in 1899, his family continued to run the store, so it may have still been there in the teens and twenties. I don't know if the storefront in this photo is the same one, but I think it is possible.
[Update- I did some more research on Laurence's employer C.A. Hill listed on his June 1917 WWI draft card. Finally some luck! It turns out that C.A. Hill bought out W.L. Sargent's drug business in Ottumwa in 1917! According to the Bulletin of Pharmacy (Volume 31, part 1, page 45), Mr. Sargent sold Mr. Hill his business and gave him a long term lease on the building located on the corner of Main and Market Streets in Ottumwa. The article also noted, "The business will be continued under the name of 'Sargent's.'" So, we now know exactly where this photo was taken! Based on this new info, I will place the date of the photo a bit earlier - c.1917. Like I always say, persistence does pay off!]
By June 11, 1924, when Laurence married Ruth Hulda Jones, he was in Burlington Junction, Nodaway, Missouri. In 1930 he was still there, farming with his wife and two children - Bill and Patricia. A couple of trees on Ancestry have his death listed as occuring on Feb 20, 1954 in Maryville, Nodaway, Missouri, however I can't find anything in the Missouri death records to support this.
I spent a couple of hours researching Laurence and, unfortunately, didn't come up with much. Notably, I am missing his 1900 and 1920 Census records. I checked Ancestry, Family Search Beta, Iowa Old Press and Google without a lot of luck. Some people are just more difficult to research and I guess Laurence is one of them. Oh well, better luck next time!
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