By 1870, William Murphy and William J. Quealy, each about 57 years old, were well established in Hannibal’s growing business community. Both born on Irish soil, they each left their homeland in County Kilkenny the 1840s, started their respective families in New England and moved west across the continent as the hostilities of the Civil War waned.

By 1870, William Murphy and William J. Quealy, each about 57 years old, were well established in Hannibal’s growing business community. Both born on Irish soil, they each left their homeland in County Kilkenny the 1840s, started their respective families in New England and moved west across the continent as the hostilities of the Civil War waned.

They fit right in to the community built upon the business finesse of immigrants such as themselves. They saw the growth potential and development opportunities the Mississippi River valley had to offer, and each, independent of the other, settled in Hannibal.

According to his biography published in “History of Marion County 1884,” Quealy was born in 1813 in Kilkenny County, Ireland, and emigrated in 1840. He started his work career at a cotton factory in Dover, New Hampshire, later moving to Andover, Mass., where he obtained a job that would influence the rest of his life: working in a foundry. After learning the trade, he rose in the ranks of contracting work for developing railroads. He left the East Coast to help build the Sheboygan and Fon du Lack railroad in Wisconsin, and then came to Hannibal in 1858. He assisted in building the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroads, and circa 1860, he purchased the Cleaver and Mitchell foundry in Hannibal. The W.J. Quealy foundry was located on Collier street, near South Eighth.

Not as much is known about Michael Murphy. It is believed that like Quealy, Murphy was born circa 1813, in Gowran, a town on the eastern side of County Kilkenny, Ireland, and arrived at port in New York in May 1840. He may have been naturalized in June 1846 at New Bedford, Bristol County, Mass.

Murphy’s wife, Catharine Quealy Murphy, is possibly the sister of William J. Quealy.

For a time, Murphy and Quealy were business partners in the foundry at Hannibal. But by 1871, Murphy and his son-in-law were operating a competing foundry, Murphy, Garvin and Co., located on Front Street.

The two Irish men from County Kilkenny, Ireland, each had a keen eye for business investments. Real estate transactions involving one or both of the Irishmen dot the pages of the record books located in the Marion County Recorder’s office in Palmyra. Some of those transactions were lucrative, others not.

One particular transaction of interest involved both gentlemen and their wives: The donation of land for the Immaculate Conception Catholic Cemetery west of Hannibal in 1869.

At the time, Murphy and Quealy were co-owners of a vast amount of land known as the Scipio Tract, which had been platted in 1842.

Cemetery land

On the first day of February 1869, Quealy and his wife, Catharine Quealy, and Murphy and his wife, Catharine Murphy, signed a deed transferring ownership of 1.91 (more or less) acres of land in Lot 3 of the Scipio tract to The Right Rev. Peter R. Kenrick, Archbishop of St. Louis. The land was to be used as a cemetery.

The terms of the sale stipulated the payment of $1 to the sellers, and included the agreement that the Murphy family and the Quealy family would each receive a dedicated space, 32-foot-square, reserved for their family burials.

The cemetery had been platted in 1864, and the transaction was recorded with the county in 1871.

The Murphy and Quealy plots are side-by-side on the cemetery’s original site, on the eastern edge of the cemetery.

The transfer of property couldn’t come soon enough. It wouldn’t be long before the two families would require the services of the undertaker.

Quealy deaths

1871: William D. Quealy, son of Wm. J. and Catharine, was born Feb. 1848 in Andover, Mass., and died Jan. 6, 1871. Buried at Holy Family Cemetery in Hannibal.

1871: Carrie B. Quealy, born in 1849, widow of Wm. D. Quealy, born Northhampton, Mass. Died June 1, 1871. Buried at Holy Family Cemetery in Hannibal.

1871: Lucy Blanding Quealy, born May 27, 1871, died July 3, 1871. Buried at Holy Family Cemetery in Hannibal.

1872: William J. Quealy, born 1813, Newton Parish, Freshford, County Kilkenny, Ireland, died July 16, 1872. Buried at Holy Family Cemetery in Hannibal.

1875: John J.A. Quealy, son of Wm. J. and Catharine, born Andover, Mass., Sept. 26, 1844, died in 1875. Buried at Holy Family Cemetery in Hannibal.

1903: Catharine Quealy, widow of Wm. J. Quealy, buried at Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles, Calif.

1908: William J. Quealy, son of Frank and Rose Quealy, grandson of Wm. J. and Catharine Quealy, buried at Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles, Calif.

1926: Rose Quealy, widow of Frank Quealy, grandson of Wm. J. and Catharine Quealy, buried at Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles, Calif.

1934: Frank Quealy, son of W.J. and Catharine Quealy, buried in Calvary Cemetery, Los Angeles, Calif.

1975: Adah Quealy Holt, granddaughter of Wm. J. and Catharine Quealy.

Murphy deaths

1874: Michael Murphy, husband of Catharine Murphy, buried at Holy Family Cemetery in Hannibal.

1901: John Murphy, son of Michael and Catharine Murphy, buried at Holy Family Cemetery in Hannibal.

1902: Catharine Murphy, widow of Michael Murphy, buried at Holy Family Cemetery in Hannibal.

1912: Col. Edward D. Murphy, son of Michael and Catharine Murphy, buried at Holy Family Cemetery in Hannibal.

1915: Frank Garvin, grandson of Michael and Catharine Murphy, buried at Holy Family Cemetery in Hannibal.

1938: Mary Murphy Garvin, daughter of Michael and Catharine Murphy, buried at Holy Family Cemetery in Hannibal. Also her husband, John, and son, C. Frank Garvin.

Where they lived

It is established that Wm. J. Quealy and his family lived on Palmyra Road, in the house where the Fettes of orchard fame one lived, and where Scott and Jean Meyers now live.

There is a distinct possibility that the Murphy family lived directly to the west, in the house which Roy Hamlin owned for many years, and where Mary Lynne and Paul Richards now live.

As evidence to support that theory, William J. Quealy and his wife, Catharine Quealy, deeded to Catharine Murphy in April 1870: “All of the west half of lot five of the subdivision of the South East quarter of Section 18, Township Fifty seven north, Range 4 west in the Scipio tract … containing 10 acres.” The sales price for that land, plus 81 acres in the Scipio tract, were sold to Mrs. Murphy (believed to be W.J. Quealy’s sister) for $500. The Sunny Side Subdivision, platted in 1871, was originally named the Murphy Subdivision, and shows the house now owned by Mary Lynne and Paul Richards, plus the barn that was converted into a residence in the 1970s.

The Quealys had purchased Lot 5 of the subdivision of SE ¼, Section 18, Township 57, Range 4, from Selleck Scofield on Jan. 1, 1860.

Mary Lou Montgomery is a writer, speaker and researcher with a specialty in history. She is the former editor of the Courier-Post.