Above / Robert Nelson “Ned” Murray (Photo courtesy Tim Ory)
Robert Nelson “Ned” Murray was born July 26, 1815, in Argyle, Washington County, New York, the son of John J. Murray and Amy Ann Naper. His family moved to Ashtabula, Ohio, in 1817, and then to Naperville in 1831.
Robert received his education principally from his father who was a teacher.
On July 19, 1832, at the age of 17, he enlisted in Captain Joseph Naper’s company of Illinois Mounted Volunteers and participated in the Blackhawk War, serving as wagon master and then as a Corporal.
Robert was a natural mechanic and helped build the first docks in Chicago and the first sawmill in Boone County, Illinois. He served as a Constable and then Deputy Sheriff of Cook County prior to 1839.
On January 4, 1842, Robert was married to Louisa C. Sargent in Naperville. From this union, three children were born: son John W. who died in infancy, son Isaac Nelson, and daughter Irene Amy. Irene Amy married Louis Karcher.
Robert served on the Naperville School Committee in 1843. He later became Sheriff of DuPage County in 1844 and 1845.
He was active in Illinois politics, serving as a Democratic delegate to the convention held at Joliet in 1843, and running unsuccessfully for State Representative in 1848.
He read law with Patrick Ballingal and was admitted to the bar in 1851. Robert was a friend and political advisor of Stephen Douglas and entertained him at his home in 1856 during Douglas’s Presidential campaign.
In 1857, Robert and his family moved to Kankakee, Illinois. He served two terms as the first Mayor there while working as a lawyer.
In 1860, Robert was one of the solicitors for the famous Burch Divorce Trial.
He returned to Naperville in 1864 where he continued his practice of law and was elected Naperville Village President in 1868. Robert completed his work career by serving as DuPage County Judge from 1877 to 1882.
Robert Nelson “Ned” Murray was a member of Euclid Lodge No. 65, A.F. & A.M. He died Sept. 13, 1891, at his son’s home in Naperville, DuPage County, Illinois, and was buried in the Naperville Cemetery.