As genealogist/family historian we always think of our eldest relative and what questions do we want to ask them. Well my father’s sister is our eldest relative on the Murphy side of the family. Aunt Lillian was born 20 December 1920 in Ft. Wayne, Indiana and now enjoys her time living with her daughter Jackie and granddaughter Allison. Yes, she has celebrated her 97th birthday. What a blessing! I did not get to know her well, since she moved away from Michigan. I am in contact with her via Jackie and asked about some more details about her Mom. Jackie shared that Aunt Lillian was sort of secretive about her life, which is just like her father, Granddad (William Columbus Murphy). She is the first born and only surviving of her family. Here parents are William and Viola (Cureton) known as Mother Vi. I am named after Mother Vi (my middle name is Viola). She has one sister Evelyn and five brothers (William “Bud”, Calvin (my father), Harold, Ralph and Donald.
Lillian’s parents and my grandparents: Viola (Cureton) & William Columbus Murphy
Lillian’s brothers (L to R) Harold, Donald, William “Bud” Jr, Ralph, and Calvin (my father). These are some good looking men!
Aunt Lillian with her brother -Uncle Donnie
Brothers Calvin (my dad with the shades on) and Uncle Donnie (on Right) in MI:
The Murphy’s are a quiet and we don’t know much about them except for the evidence we can find. William and Viola married in Ft. Wayne in 20 June 1920. My grandfather got his calling to be a minister while in Ft. Wayne working at a hotel shoveling coal. According to oral history there was a lynching (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynching_of_Thomas_Shipp_and_Abram_Smith)close to Ft. Wayne, Allen County and my father said he remembers his mother (Mother Vi) frying chicken and baking biscuits. The children where woken in the night, they, all 7 of them hopped on a train in Ft. Wayne and they were put off in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The train porter -Mr. Harmon took the family and housed them until Granddad got a job. He got a job with the WPA and helped to build a water tower in Franklin Park in Grand Rapids. Granddad also became and Associate Pastor at Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church
The “Murphy Sisters” Aunt Evelyn and Aunt Lillian
Photo of Aunt Lillian playing the organ
The Murphy children are very talented. The boys all sang, Aunt Lillian played the piano and organ and Aunt Evelyn did readings of bible versus. Her one brother Harold sang with the famous Wings Over Jordan Black Gospel group during the Korea War:
Aunt Lillian has become set in her mind and her ways as all our elders do. Jackie says she won’t let us take pictures of her. Aunt Lillian hates Trump, she thinks he is crazy. I have to agree with her on this one! But she loves Obama and his family. She also loves Oprah and always wanted to meet her. They tired to get tickets to her show. She enjoys her soaps- General Hospital and One Life to live. Also watching the OWN Channel and likes Iyanla, Sweetie Pie’s and sometimes Dr. Phil. Jackie shares that the TV watches her more than Aunt Lillian watching it. The Maury and other court shows, such as, Mathis, Hot Bench, Peoples Court and loves Judge Judy. The View is another favorite that she watches everyday and thinks a lot like Whoopi.
She married George Leon Johnson on December 1, 1941, in Grand Rapids, Michigan and they had 5 children (Jackie and her 4 brothers).
Photo of George Johnson
Lillian and Junie, the oldest son.
Over the years she worked for Michigan Bell Telephone and transferred to NJ Bell in 1959 as an Information Operator. She retired from the company. She likes to travel and after retirement lived in Michigan, Ft. Wayne a bit in San Francisco and returned to New Jersey in 1979 where she still resides. She also worked for the Montessori school for several years. My mother (Verna) and Lillian have wrote letters over the years, can you believe it, my mother has all of the letters that Lillian has ever wrote.
Aunt Lillian is a lover of traveling. It doesn’t matter if by boat, train, or plane. One of Aunt Lillian’s hobbies is a bit of Crewel, stitchery and hook rugs, which she made many and gave them as gifts. She also loves doing Word search puzzles. She was known for her potato salad-yum!
“Traveling Aunt Lillian”
Aunt Lillian (on left) at Bear Lake Michigan at my brother Todd’s house, sister Evelyn and granddaughter Allison. Second photo, Todd and Allison.
Aunt Lillian is living her life, fragile but doing well for 97! She has survived both her parents and all her brothers. She is well taken care of and loved by family. I hope to make it to 97 when I grow up and sit back and let the TV watch me…
52Ancestors 52Weeks, Week #3
Know your Roots they are long and strong!