Samuel Murray Sr. and Family, Part One

by Bruce Whitaker

Samuel Murray Sr. was born in Swatara (near Harrisburg) in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, on June 1, 1739. He was the son of William Murray Sr. (1689–1773) and Isabella Lindley. Samuel Murray’s father, William Murray Sr., and grandfather John Murray (1660–1732) both moved to Pennsylvania from Scotland around 1723.

Samuel served in the Continental Army, where he became a skilled wagon master. Later, he purchased land in Buncombe County, from Lake Julian to Fletcher, and started a community and opened an inn.

Samuel Murray Sr. and his older brother William Murray Jr. moved to the Ninety-Six District of what is now Newberry County, South Carolina, around 1760. They settled in the Lone Lane Community. Samuel Murray Sr. married Elizabeth Rees on October 27, 1763. The Ninety-Six District was an area of constant conflict. The two Murray brothers not only had to deal with raids from nearby Native American tribes but also with their neighbors.

Many of the locals were Tories who held a sentimental attachment to England. They still had relatives there. Many had business connections with Britain and were afraid of gaining independence. They feared it might result in anarchy and loss of their land. They did not know what type of government would take the place of British rule. The Patriots, or Whigs, hated England. They wanted their own country. Patriots resented what they considered a foreign power telling them what to do. They believed England only did what was best for England and did not care about what was best for the colonies. These opposing beliefs resulted in constant conflict between the Tories and Patriots beginning in 1770. The Murray brothers backed the Patriots.

Both sides committed numerous atrocities against each other. Men from the Tory Cunningham and Elmore families captured two Dugan boys who were related to the Murray family by marriage and “hewed them to pieces.” The next morning the boys’ mother picked up the pieces of their bodies, wrapped them in a sheet, and buried the pieces without a casket.

Samuel Murray Sr. volunteered as a soldier with the 2nd South Carolina Regiment under Lt. Colonel Francis Marion on November 4, 1775. He also served as a wagon master under General Sumter and Colonel Silas Casey.

Samuel Murray and his brother William both owned large cotton plantations on Indian Creek in Newberry County. William Murray married Margaret Johnston. Her father, John Johnston, moved to the Mills River section of what is now Henderson County in the late 1780s. William sold off all his land in Newberry County. With this money and a daring spirit he moved to the mountains of WNC as his father-in-law had done. He proved to be successful at his farm in Mills River, and he sent word to his brother Samuel about how happy and prosperous he was in the mountains.

Samuel Murray moved his family to WNC around 1795. He had lived in Newberry County for 20 years and had done well. It was a major undertaking to sell his land and pack up to move to the mountains.

Samuel and his family arrived near the present site of Fletcher. He built his home on what is now Cane Creek Road. Samuel’s first land grant from North Carolina was dated July 22, 1797 for 110 acres on Cane Creek. He paid the state 105 shillings for the land. On September 25, Samuel bought a 150-acre tract of land on Cane Creek and a 640-acre tract on Cane and Hooper’s Creek, both from John Bradley.

Samuel built the Murray Inn around 1800. He owned the land from where Cane Creek enters the French Broad River to Hooper’s Creek. The area where Fletcher is now located became known as Murrayville.

Local historian Bruce Whitaker documents genealogy in the Fairview area.

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