Murphy Farm Added To Harpers Ferry National Park
The historic Murphy Farm, site of both a Civil War battle and a landmark meeting of African-American leaders which led to the creation of the NAACP, will be purchased and protected rather than developed into a housing subdivision.
“By preserving this remarkable property and its unique historic values for over a century–and by making it available to the public today–the Murphy family has afforded the American people an unparalleled opportunity to experience the confluence of our nation’s Civil War history and its civil rights heritage”, said Alan Front, senior vice president of the Trust for Public Land, a nationwide non-profit which works to preserve open space.
“With the farm’s anticipated transfer in the coming weeks to the Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, this opportunity will last for all time,” Front added.
The 99 acre property is located in the eastern tip of West Virginia, adjacent to the Harpers Ferry Park. Protection of the farm means it will not be developed into a proposed 188 home subdivision known as Murphys Landing.
In 1862, the farm was the scene of the final assault by Confederate General A.P. Hill, ending a Confederate siege of the Union Army and leading to the surrender of 12,000 Union soldiers to Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
From 1895-1910, the Murphy Farm was the site of the relocated fort of abolitionist leader John Brown. Brown had captured the fort in 1859 in his attempt to strike a blow for freedom, but his insurrection was put down by Union troops and he was hanged.
The Brown fort was moved to Chicago for the 1893 Columbian Exposition, but was brought back to Harpers Ferry by Kate Field, a newspaper reporter. In 1895, Murphy deeded five acres for the fort to be rebuilt on his farm.
In 1906, W.E.B. DuBois and other leaders of the Niagara Movement, an organization of African-American leaders, made a pilgrimage across the Murphy Farm to the restored Brown fort. The Niagara Movement later grew into the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
“The NAACP is proud to support the preservation of the Murphy Farm. Its recognition should serve as a reminder to all of us its extraordinary legacy in our nation’s history,” said Kweisi Mfume, president of the NAACP. “It should be preserved, revered to the benefit of all.”
TPL is purchasing the Murphy Farm from Josephine Murphy-Curtis and Karen Dixon Fuller, the current generation of Alexander Murphy heirs. The 99 acres overlooking the Shenandoah River has been a working farm since Alexander Murphy acquired the property in 1869, and will be conveyed to the National Park Service.
“This is a dream that every generation of the Murphy family has shared,” said the family in a statement. “We’re extremely gratified that the National Park Service recognizes the farm’s significance to both Civil War and Civil Rights history, and that by working with the Trust for Public Land, the property will finally be added to the park.”
Jim Kuhn, Murphy’s descendent, added, “I am glad that the farm will be protected for future generations. After over 15 years of painstaking historic research and restoration on the Murphy Farm, I am overjoyed that the public will be the ultimate beneficiary of our family’s stewardship. Inclusive history was always my goal.”
Provided by theEnvironmental News Service.