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Mrs. Murphy freezes to death in a ditch

May 8, 2011

Occasionally, you run across a story that sticks with you.  I’m not sure why I thought of Mrs. Murphy today; perhaps it’s because she was a mother and it’s almost Mother’s Day.   I read about her over a decade ago, but I’m not even sure which decade she died, although it seems as though it happened before 1900.   The story is something like this:

Mrs. Murphy was found frozen to death in a ditch.  She’d last been seen alive staggering out of one of the local saloons, and perhaps in her drunken state, when she fell in the ditch, she was unable to get out and too drunk to know the difference, and so she fell asleep and died.    She was married to Patrick Murphy, a miner, had five children, and was to be buried in Carbondale’s Marion Cemetery

Who knows which of those details are accurate?  I certainly don’t.  I wasn’t searching for Mrs. Murphy when I read the paper on microfilm–it was chance that led me to read her story.

I’ve searched for the story again in Colorado’s online newspapers, but without success.  Why do I remember the story?  It’s the details.  She was falling-down drunk, but no one took care to see that she made it safely home.  She had five children, but she’d left them alone while she went to the saloon.   Also, the article didn’t bother to mention her name.  It wasn’t Mrs. Bertha Murphy or Mrs. Margaret Murphy–she was only Mrs. Patrick Murphy–just a drunk, dead, first-nameless, negligent mother found frozen in a ditch, apparently buried in an unmarked grave.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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