Maine & Maritime Canada Genealogy

Researching Downeast Maine and Maritime Canada Families Together

Elsa (wife of James Murphy of New Brunswick) and her sons, James D and Robert Murphy

The following is part of an email sent by Carol Sisson McLeod to a Murphy cousin. It examines the theory that the maiden name of Elsa (wife of James Murphy of New Brunswick) was Davis. It also examines the likely birthplace of her first two sons, James D Murphy (1785-1856) and Robert Murphy (c.1786-1829).



From: Sent: April-26-13 10:19 AM To: Subject: Elsa




Thank you so much for calling last night.


Before I continue, I will set out the line of descent for the people I am about to mention.


Generation 1  -  James Murphy born about 1760 (probably in NY) died in NB date unknown. His wife was Elsa


Generation  2  - James D Murphy (1785-1856)  Robert Murphy (c.1786-1829) – both sons of James and Elsa


Generation 3  -  Sarah Jane Murphy (1816-1901) daughter of James D Murphy and wife of Elijah Sisson


I spent some time last evening and more this morning reviewing my files on James and Elsa Murphy. There is nothing to suggest, let alone prove, that  her maiden name was Davis. Still and all, I have a feeling it could be correct. If it is, it shows the disservice people do when they do not document their finds.


The reason I think it could be Davis is that the middle initial of our James Murphy (Elsa’s first son) was  said  by one source to have been D. Although there is no proof for it that I have found, I use the D to help differentiate him from other James Murphys. There was a tradition that  the middle name of a couple’s  first child was the mother’s maiden name. Thus, one wonders if the name was actually James Davis Murphy.


Moving on, I do not believe for one second that Elsa, mother of James D and wife of James was born in Andover, New Brunswick, as some trees are showing. She would have been born in about 1760 and at that time, Victoria  County was a wilderness.


In fact, the record shows that it was Elsa’s granddaughter, Sarah Jane Murphy (later the wife of Elijah Sisson),  who was the first while child born in  Andover, Victoria County. The woman below is Sarah Jane, daughter of  James D Murphy and Martha (Patty) Couillard.  She was also the granddaughter of James and Elsa Murphy.



The Carleton Sentinel, Woodstock, N.B.

February 1, 1901


An old and respected citizen, Mrs. E. Sisson, died at Andover last Friday, at the home of her son Elijah Sisson.  She was 85 years of age and was one of the members of the large family of Murphys, which consisted of seven boys and seven girls.  Mrs. Sisson was the oldest girl of the family and is claimed to be the first white child born at Andover, which was at that time called Tobique, and accordingly dates back 85 years. 



The Dispatch, Woodstock, N.B.,

January 30, 1901

Andover: Mrs. Sarah Sisson, widow of the late Rev. Elijah Sisson, died on the 25th. inst., in the 85th year of her age.  Her remains were interred in the Baptist Cemetery, Reverends Demings and Ervine officiating.

Mrs. Sisson was the first white child born in Andover, and in her death the last of a large family of Murphys has passed away.  She leaves five sons and two daughters.




What’s more, the tombstone of  James D, son of Elsa and James Murphy, (and father of Sarah Jane)  is inscribed as follows:



James Murphy


Jan. 25, 1856,

Ae 70 yrs, 4 months.

One of the first

settlers of Tobique




To clarify, Andover was originally called Tobique.


Thus, you can see that Elsa was not born in Andover. I think she was probably from New York. I have been through the IGI and the rest of Family Search for a record of a marriage between  James Murphy and a woman named Elsa and have found not a single entry.


By the way, I believe that James D and his brother, Robert, were born in New Brunswick and not New York as some people have suggested . James D only appears in one census – 1851. In that he is listed as native, meaning having been born in NB. Robert died in 1829 and didn’t live long enough to make the first census, which was taken in 1851.


When Leatha Sisson (the meticulous researcher I have mentioned to you before) did her research decades ago, she found the New Brunswick christening records for six of  James and Elsa’s children. The first was for Thomas, born 7 Sept 1791. Why the records for James D and Robert weren’t there is anyone’s guess.


As I said, some people have suggested they were born in New York. However, their land grant application reads as follows:


New Brunswick Land Grant Application 22 February, 1813


    Memorial of James and Robert Murphy of the Parish of Woodstock.


    That your Memorialists are young men who were born in the Province and are desirous of establishing themselves in it as farmers- your Memorialists James Murphy has a family and has received from government one hundred acres of land of upon which he was cleared about 30 acres, but as this land is not very favorable for tillage and too small a quantity for a permanent establishment for himself and family, he asks for four hundred acres on the west side of the River Saint John on a point of land about a half mile below the River Tobique.

    Robert Murphy, a young man unmarried has never received any land from government, asked for two hundred acres of land below James- and they beg further to state that they are of ability sufficient to improve and cultivate the land and are prepared to immediately make improvements.




The bottom line for me in all this is that I have no proof at this moment that Elsa’s maiden name was Davis. Something tells me it may have been. But feelings are not proof.

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