About Henry S. Murray

Henry Scott Murray (1836-1905) was the son of John Murray (1798-1877) and Jennet (“Jennie”) Scott (1801-1884) of Bovina, Delaware county, New York. His parents were natives of Scotland — were married there in June 1821 — and came to New York state with at least three children in the early 1830’s. Henry was the second of several more Murray children born in the United States.

According to the History of Delaware county (1880), Henry “early learned the tinsmith trade, and in 1857 entered into business with C. B. Shafer. Nothing was said of his education but his letters suggest that his command of the English language was reasonably good for a tradesman; he perhaps benefitted from instruction by his Scottish parents who typically excelled academically at the time.

Henry’s muster roll abstract indicates that he was 25 when he enlisted in the 8th New York Independent Light Artillery on 26 September 1861 for a period of three years. He was described as a 5′ 9” tinsmith with blue eyes, light hair, and a florid complexion. He mustered in on 30 October with the rank of Corporal. By the time he re-enlisted in January 1864 as a veteran, he had risen to the rank of Sergeant. The History of Delaware county claims Henry was “with the 8th N. Y. Battery in all its engagements” though these were few in number. He mustered out with his regiment at Norfolk, Virginia, on 30 June 1865.

Though he does not mention him in any of his Civil War letters, Henry’s younger brother, John Murray, Jr. (1838-1863) also served his country and is listed as one of eleven Bovina natives to die in the war. In September 1862, he enlisted in Co. E, 144th New York Infantry and died of typhoid fever at Folly Island, South Carolina. He was buried in the Beaufort Cemetery. Henry’s brother John may have been the recipient of Henry’s 1862 letters written during the Peninsula Campaign.

After the war, Henry returned to Bovina and re-entered the tinsmith business. In 1868, he served as the Town Clerk. On 26 October of the following year, he married Elizabeth (“Lizzie”) A. Coulter (1839-1907) of Bovina — an enterprising young woman who delayed her aspirations for a family of her own to teach in a Presbyterian-sponsored Freedman’s school in Virginia after the war. Lizzie’s brother, Walter Coulter, recorded the nuptials in his diary entry on Monday, 26 October 1869: “At the residence of the bride’s father by Rev. J. B. Lee, Mr. Henry S. Murray to Miss Elizabeth Coulter, all of Bovina. They go to Niagra tomorrow.”

In 1875, Henry secured a patent on the Delaware county milk pan. Marketed as the “Dairymen’s Best Friend,” this invention enabled the dairy farmer to keep his milk at a more uniform temperature thereby guaranteeing a better quality of butter. The invention was sufficiently successful for Henry to relocate from Bovina to Andes where he went into production of the pan — an occupation that lasted for the remainder of his lifetime. He died there in 1905.



History of Delaware County, New York (1880)
Lizzie Coulter Goes South, Part I — a blog by Bovina Town Historian Ray LaFever
Lizzie Coulter Goes South, Part II — a blog by Bovina Town Historian Ray LaFeverLizzie Coulter’s 1868 Travel Diary and Walter J. Coulter’s 1869 Diary are archived at the Delaware County Historical Association at Delhi, New York