Murphy, Oregon History
by Michael Oaks
Barney O.R. Murphy, a native of Brooklyn, New York, was born in 1830. In 1854 at the age of 24, he had filed a 160-acre L-shaped land claim on the lower Applegate River. The larger share of the claim lay south of the river taking in the mouth of Gray's Creek and the land where the Water Hole Restaurant is now located.
After purchasing the Barney Murphy claim in 1875, Jacob Wimer and Sons built the second hotel stopping place on adjoining property to the Murphy claim, and by 1876, this store also had a post office with Jacob Wimer as the first postmaster. This site is now located on a bench of land across the present South Side Road and across from the present Murphy Creek Sawmill. Jacob's sons followed that up with additional purchases of property and built a saw and grist mill to provide lumber and flour for the valley.
The earliest stopping place was the Lewis Hayes' place down the North Side Road. This is one of the well documented routes for packing from the coast since 1853 when Crescent City was established with its new harbor. By the spring of 1855, there were from 50 to 200 mules daily traveling the inland trails from the mines to the coast. Murphy became a major stopping point to rest the animals and feed the packers.
In 1901, James William Gilmore opened a store and post office in his home across the street from the present store building. The small community post offices were discontinued around 1907 when the rural route service was established out of Murphy.
Lewis Mitchell was one of the most popular mailmen in the Murphy area. Beginning in 1907 he carried the mail on a bicycle until he could afford a team and wagon, then by Model T. When he finally retired in 1941, Lewis was affectionately called the "Mayor of Murphy."
Josephine County: The Golden Beginnings
Josephine County Historical Society