Monday, April 19, 2010

The Murch Family of Maine

The Murch name appears after the Norman Conquest of England, 1066. It derives from the name March, which was believed to be a name given to those born in that month. It was also a name given to English people that lived on the borders of Wales and Scotland, as in "the Marches".

The furthest back I've been able to trace my family's Murch line is to fisherman Walter Murch (1681-1730) and Deborah Cornish of Devon, England, who emigrated to York Maine around 1714.  
There does appear to be an old record of land transactions (according to Virginia Spiller of the Old York Historical Society), whereby a Walter Murch received a grant of 20 acres clear on Mar. 8, 1715. He received a grant of 10 acres of swamp clear on Mar. 13, 1715 (where the recorder could find it clear of all former grants).  Therefore, Virginia Spiller thinks that Walter Murch evidently came to York ca. 1714, which was the third migration to York. This seems to be the same Walter Murch of Devon.

Walter's son William Murch, in 1747, was captured at his farm by local Indians and brought to Canada, where he was kept for a year.

William Murch married Tabitha Young, and had their own son, named Walter Murch (1740-1794) after his father. 

NOTE:  There are a number of trees on Ancestry which show this Walter (born 1740) to be son of Walter Murch (1696-1760) and Rebecca Garland, and that this Walter was also son to Walter Murch (1681-1730) and Deborah Cornish of Devon, and finally that this elder Walter is son to John Murch born 1650.  None of this is backed up with records, however, yet the trees persist.  We may never learn the parentage of Walter Murch of Devon, but we do know that Walter (born 1740) is the son of William and Tabitha of York Maine (not Walter and Rebecca).

In 1757 Walter and his brother John bought property in Gorham, and relocated there (joined later by other family) and that's where Walter married Jerusha Brown of Biddeford Maine, who was a descendant of the Edward III Plantagenet line.  When Walter was 20 years old, around 1760, he got into an accident and had to have his leg amputated.  He was said to have a wooden leg the rest of his life.  He was unable to serve in the Revolutionary War due to his disability, but he reputedly did serve as a Gorham town official.  Walter and Jerusha sold the Gorham property in 1804 and moved to Unity to live with their son Simeon.  They are reportedly buried somewhere in an apple orchard on Albion Road in Unity, behind a brick house built by Simeon.

Walter's son Ephraim (1778-1848) was my 4th great grandfather, and an early settler of Hampden Maine in 1794.  His wife was Rebecca Cobb.  They moved in the early 1800s to Castine.  They are buried at Castine's Town Cemetery.

My third great grandfather, James Murch (1817-before 1860), son to Ephraim, was born in Castine on October 14, 1817.  In 1841, James married Mary Ann Jameson (daughter to cousins Celia Cook and John Jameson of the Cooke Mayflower line, and herself also a descendant of the Taunton Leonards and Edward III Plantagenet) and settled in Rockland (then part of Thomaston) with much of the Jameson clan of Scotch-Irish background.   A notice of their marriage, which was published in the Thomaston Recorder newspaper on January 28, 1841, reads as follows:
Marriages…In St. George by N. Liscomb, Esq., Mr. James Murch to Miss Mary A. Jameson, daughter of Captain John Jameson of S[t. George].  With the above we received a piece of the bride’s cake.  We are glad to record the names of those under this head, in whose minds the good old fashion of remembering the printer, is not entirely oblite [sic].  May their paths through life be strewed with flowers as sweet as their cake.
(Many thanks to Dana Murch for the assistance in digging for this and other records).

By 1860, James had died, leaving Mary Ann a widow at her home on Tea Street, which she acquired in fee as a widow via Knox County Deed 19/502 recorded April 24, 1868.  I have been unable to find a date of death or burial location for James.

James' son was Charles A. Murch, born in Rockland in 1841 (then part of Thomaston).  His middle name is reputed to have been "Arthur", according to family lore, but no records appear to support that.  At the time of his father James's death, Charles went to live and work on the Vickery Farm in Unity, Maine.  He joined the 14th Maine Regiment of the Civil War effort in January of 1862, just as his brothers did (George Washington Murch and Andrew J. Murch).

Charles caught the measles immediately after joining the service, and was discharged three months later.  He battled the side effects of this disease for the rest of his life, losing some of his sight and hearing.

DECEMBER 7, 1894

Charles married Rosa Bell Holland in 1871.  According to oral history of Joyce Fuller Norton, Charles and Rosa were both from wealthy backgrounds. After marriage, they moved to Salem, Massachusetts for several years, where Charles got a job with the railroad. They happened to be living there during the founding of the Christian Scientist movement in 1879, and became avid followers. They relocated to East Hampden in the late 19th Century, and in 1893 they had two children.  The eldest, Almeda F. Murch, died before her second birthday.  The youngest, my great grandmother, Lorena Holland Murch (born Louisa), who, at 16 years of age, married Arthur Fuller.

(ca. 1910)

From oral history of Joyce Fuller Norton, Charles and Rosa Murch were the only family in the Hampden/Bangor area that could afford a horse and buggy.

In his later years, Charles worked as a laborer (1900 Census), and a laborer at odd jobs (1910 Census).  In his 1913 death record he was called a mechanic.  His extensive pension file paints a picture of a man who had a lung disease, weak eyes, and other aliments.  According to my father he was also a "horse trader".

The oral history which paints the family as being of some means conflicts a bit with the pension records and lack of work available for Charles, which would indicate that they struggled to some extent.

In the late autumn of 1913, at the age of 72, Charles was found dead.  Three days after his death, Rosa signed an affidavit as part of her application for a widow's pension, in which she stated that "the soldier was found dead on a lumber wagon in Stearns Lumber Company mill yard in East Hampden Maine."

Another one of Charles Murch's ancestors, Alice Carpenter Southworth, came from England on the ship Anne, in 1623, after her husband died in England. She and her husband were both part of the Puritan movement in Leyden, Holland. Their son, Constant, later moved to Plymouth and is a direct ancestor to Charles Murch. Alice, on the other hand, later in Plymouth, became a second wife to Governor William Bradford of the Mayflower.

Below is grave of Charles, in East Hampden's "Riverview" Cemetery.  Buried with Charles are his wife Rosa Bell, baby daughter Almeda, son-in-law Arthur Fuller (although not named on stone).  Nearby in the same cemetery are buried Rosa Bell's family, The Hollands, including her sister, parents, and uncle Daniel's family (and potentially more unmarked graves)

Below is pedigree chart for Charles.  He was 12.5% Scottish, through the famous Jameson and McLellan lines, and 87.5% colonial English, and descendant of three Mayflower passengers as well.  His ancestor James Cooke was a descendant of Mayflower passengers Francis Cooke, Stephen Hopkins and Elizabeth Fisher.


Royal Descents of the Murch Family by Dana Paul Murch, 2013.

Oral History by Joyce Fuller Norton, Mark Fuller and Joel Fuller

Ancestry Family Trees

East Hampden Town Records

Maine Death Records

U.S. Pension Records


  1. y great grandmother's name was Orillia Brown Murch m. Adelbert Austeen Cookson both of Maine. Her father was Ansel Murch and mother was Lydia Morton.

  2. My father is James Charles Murch. His brother is David Murch of Rochester New York. His parents were Katherine and James h Murch also of Rochester. I am Amy Marie Murch born in Rochester. I was told we are of scottish and irish decent.