Thursday, January 10, 2008

Elder Samuel Murray - Part 1

On Saturday evening, March 31, 1906, Elder Samuel Murray closed his earthly pilgrimage at the home of his son in Indianapolis. The next day was to have been a celebration of his 100th birthday. He had hoped to live to see that day and to preach a sermon, short though it would be.

Samuel Murray was born in Huntington County, Pennsylvania. At the age of 12 he moved with his parents to Southern Ohio, traveling by wagon to Pittsburgh and then by flat boat to Cincinnati, and again by wagon to their new home. Six years later his father died, leaving Samuel to provide for his mother and siblings. He learned and carpenter trade and the milling business. He was married 5 times, four of his wives died after only a couple of years.

While living in Ohio, Murray was elected a deacon, and three years later was called to the ministry. In 1851 he moved to Miami County, Indiana. There was no church there but under his leadership a church was organized and it is said that wherever he went his missionary zeal led a great increase in the church, his appeals to sinners were strong and effective.

From his autobiography, quoted in Otho Winger's History of the Church of the Brethren in Indiana, Murray describes some information from his first work in the ministry in Indiana: "I soon had a circuit of about thirty miles square. The country was new, much more wild and uncleared land than cleared. The woods were very thick with brush and undergrowth; many places the roads were very bad ... Our travelling all had to be done afoot or on horseback. I had seven different points to preach at."

Elder Samuel Murray was but one of many who brought the Gospel and the Church of the Brethren into Indiana in its early days. Tomorrow we will learn a bit more of the experience of this early Indiana minister.