north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

     Archibald Debow Murphey’s contributions to North Carolina place him in a category by himself. Elected to the legislature from Orange County in 1812, he sought to awaken North Carolinians to knowledge of the state’s resources and possibilities. His comprehensive plan for the state urged the establishment of a public education system, construction of canals and turnpike roads, as well as a general public welfare system. Although most of his projects did not come to fruition during his lifetime, many served as models for the next generation. Murphey served as a Superior Court judge, 1818-1820, and taught at the University of North Carolina. He planned but never completed a history of the state.

     Murphey’s birthplace in Caswell County was a frame structure with brick underpinning. It no longer stands but references to it can be found in several sources. In 1808 Murphey’s father wrote to him that “your Uncle John Murphey died at your Grandmother Debows in 1770, the next year after I married and settled on Hico (where I still continue). . . .” In 1828 A. D. Murphey, by then a long-term Orange County resident sold the family homeplace reserving a half-acre graveyard. William A. Graham in 1860 wrote that the “residence of (Murphey’s) father was about two miles from Red House in the congregation of the Rev. Mr. M’Aden . . . some seven miles from Milton. . . .” Today Murphy Road (once Murphey’s Lane) dead ends at the site.

William Henry Hoyt, ed., The Papers of Archibald D. Murphey (1914)
William S. Powell, When the Past Refused to Die: A History of Caswell County, 1777-1977 (1977)
Caswell County Deeds and Wills, North Carolina State Archives
Samuel A. Ashe, ed., Biographical History of North Carolina, IV, 340-345
John A. Garraty, ed., Dictionary of American Biography, XIII, 345-346
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north carolina highway historical marker program

Archibald D. Murphey

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources