John Henry Murray, 1870 - 1891

by Brian Stevenson
last updated August, 2020

During his short life, J.H. Murray wrote articles on microscopy for The Observer, a popular science magazine, and shared specimens with other enthusiasts. Known slides have custom-printed labels and attractively-colored ringing (Figure 1).

John Henry Murray was born on September 11, 1870, in Andes, New York, a small town in central New York state. He was the first of two children, both of whom were boys. His father, Henry, was a tinsmith. Little else is known about John’s personal life.

John died on November 6, 1891, just two months past his 21st birthday. The Observer wrote on his untimely death, “Our readers will learn with regret of the death of one of ‘The Observer's’ correspondents, Mr. John H. Murray, of Andes, N.Y. Although but little past 21 years of age, the contributions from Mr. Murray's pen, and the specimens of his work in many a cabinet bear witness to his microscopical enthusiasm. A touching thing in connection with Mr. Murray's last brief, severe illness, was his remembrance of ‘The Observer’ and his request that a letter expressive of his thanks for all that it had been to him be written to it after his death. In this time of so general affliction we can all extend to Mr. Murray's parents and their only remaining son a more tender sympathy”.


Figure 1. A circa 1890 microscope slide from J.H. Murray. It is a strew of diatoms collected near his home in Andes, New York.

 

Resources

Gravestone of John Henry Murray (accessed August, 2020) https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/96350297

The Observer (1892) Note on the death of John H. Murray, Vol. 3, pages 2-2

US census and other records, accessed through ancestry.com