Louise Welles Murray 1854 - 1931
Louise Welles Murray. This is the one page that I should have started when I first began building this site. The simple truth is that even now I am fearful that I cannot do this woman or her works justice. That is true even though information gathered from some area of her works can be found in most of my pages.
The following commemoration was written in the first pages of "The Selected Manuscripts Of General John S. Clark, (1931)" which was Louise's last great work she completed before her death.
"The death of Mrs. Louise Welles Murray on April 22, 1931, just as this monograph, under her editorship, was about to issue from press, removed from the Society of Pennsylvania Archeology, and from the field of Pennsylvania archeology and history generally, one of its most valuable and forceful characters.
Louise Shipman Welles was born at Athens, Pennsylvania, on January 2, 1854, a descendant of Thomas Welles, first Governor of Connecticut, and also of Bartholomew Laporte, a French emigre at Asylum, Pennsylvania. At the age of twelve her interest of archeology was aroused when Ralphael Pumpelly, a cousin, spent some time in her father's house writing his first volume on explorations in Asia.
Her best known works are Azilum, (1903), a work which has long been out of print and which was in such demand that a second edition was issued in 1917; Old Tioga Point (1908), which for its wide investigation of the sources and scholarly accuracy is one of the outstanding volumes of its kind in Pennsylvania history; and Notes on the Sullivan Expedition (1930). Besides these volumes, she was the author of several articles published in the American Anthropologist and other Journals. Her writings on local history and archeology are distinguished by careful attention to accuracy and to scholarly organization and analysis of facts."
Louise Shipman Welles married Millard Page Murray of Athens in 1876. She had three daughters, Jessie, Elsie, and Louise.
Louise Welles Murray was the founder and the first curator of the Tioga Point Museum, in Athens, PA. After her death in 1931, two of her daughters (Jessie then Elsie) were the curators consecutively after that.
Louise was both well-educated and strong-willed. She was someone who was not going to be told, or back down when she believed in something. Fortunately for us, one of those things that she believed in was that Spanish Hill was where Brule visited Carantouan.
Some of the young people that look at her books might might be amazed that Louise did not have the luxury of the use of the internet but was still very well respected for her "scholarly accuracy" and reporting from a long list of sources. It must seem amazing to some today that when she wanted to find out about Carantouan, she had to first get the volumes of Voyages, and then read the original French text of Samuel Champlain. (Luckily she was skilled in the French language!)
I should also point out that Louise didn't even have the right to vote until 1920, when she was 66 years old. At any rate, I believe what she did have was a passion for our local history, and the preservation of it. She didn't let the "brick walls" of the day hinder her pursuits, she just did what she needed to do, and did them well. Her standards were high, and they say that she was always writing notes to herself, always continuing with her work. I have seen many of these notes in the Tioga Point Museum on everything from backs of envelopes to other scraps of paper. I smile when I think of them, somehow thinking I can understand her feeling of always finding more unanswered questions than answers, finding more that needs to be researched and reported, overall, having a passion for our history and the need to secure it with the whatever skills you have been given...knowing that time makes history of us all one day.
I hope Louise found a sense of peace in the end of her life for all that she gave the generations that followed her. And as I think of her life, and her accomplishments, I am both impressed and humbled. It makes me hope that each one of us has the chance to do something in our lifetime that gives us peace in knowing what we would be remembered for tomorrow...something that is greater than our "yuppie mentalities" and what we own...something that I believe is much greater than what we might ever hope to gain materially today.
Let me try to explain just how significant Louise Welles Murray was in what we currently know about Spanish Hill.
She was here when General John S, Clark and David Craft visited Spanish Hill in 1878. And when General Clark was not able to write a book to share all his knowledge before his death, Louise took it upon herself to take on the cumbersome job of going through all of his actual letters and papers to create the Selected Manuscripts of General John S. Clark (1931) in order to preserve his work for future generations.
Honestly, I can tell you that as I sit here typing this page, Louise Welles Murray is still here today, inspiring those that seek the truth surrounding Spanish Hill. Because without her, there wouldn't have been the information available that we have today.
I stopped down to the Tioga Point Museum in Athens, PA today, as they are open from 10 - 1pm on Saturdays, and 1-8 on Tuesdays and Thursdays (570-888-7225.) Whenever I go down there, I see what Louise built for our community and wonder why the place isn't packed with people trying to learn more about this historically rich area. The sad truth is that we should learn from what has happened with our own Spanish Hill. Don't wait to realize what we have until it is gone. Take a trip and spend a couple of hours and even donate a dollar two if you can. It's our history, don't let it fade away.
To learn more about the Tioga Point Museum, go to : http://home.stny.rr.com/tpointmuseum/