Travels with Jeremy & Rexanna in the Maritimes

John Adams

At left, John Adams from the collection of Famous Clip Art.

This page is an online exploration of the life and work of Ellen Murray, whose family was intimately connected with the Chandler family. This page is an extension of the Chandler family story, found on this Web site at

Penn Center is the only Black Historical land mark on the National Register in the State of South Carolina.

The sign in front of Penn Center, shown at, reads as follows:

St. Helena's Penn School was one of the first institutions to educate former slaves. Abolitionists in Pennsylvania sent the two founders, Laura M. Towne and Ellen Murray, who served the people of the Islands for some 40 years.

Laura Matilda Towne was born on May 3, 1825, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She died three-quarters of a century later on Feb. 22, 1901, on Frogmore plantation, St. Helena Island, South Carolina.

In an excerpt from A Ruined Land: The End of the Civil War by Michael Golay (See:, he describes how Laura Towne and Ellen Murray came to find themselves in South Carolina:

According to PBS' Only a Teacher series (See:, “She and Ellen Murray eventually adopted several African American children and raised them as their own.“ One of the children that Laura Towne and Ellen Murray raised is referred to in Laura's diary entry of May 29, 1870, available at

From Laura Towne's diary entry of June 13, 1865, we know that Ellen Murray taught compositions:

A picture that was taken of Laura Towne the following year is available on many sites on the WWW. The most prominent of these sites is America's Reconstruction: People and Politics After the Civil War at

The photograph entitled "Laura M. Towne and her Pupils in South Carolina, 1866," in R.A. Holland, ed., Letters and Diary of Laura M. Towne, may be seen at

Another picture, taken 4 years earlier, entitled Penn School students, (1862), illustrates Laura M. Towne was a primetime educator!, an African American Registry, is available at

It would appear that Ellen Murray outlived Laura Towne by eight years.

Thomas Murray's Tombstone

At left, Thomas Murray's tombstone in the Botsford family plot at Fernhill cemetery.

Ellen Murray's grandfather is buried in Fernhill Cemetery. A simple tombstone propped up against a much larger one marks the hallowed spot. Thomas Murray's story is a poignant one.

Thomas Murray was born in 1776. He died at the tender age of 21 years on May 3, 1797, 4 months and 2 days after he married Sarah Lowell Hazen (born 1775), daughter of William Hazen, on January 1, 1997. Thomas was the son of John Murray and Deborah Brinley, his third wife.

Prior to the American Revolution, John Murray made a fortune in land speculation and finance. He was elected a Rutland, Massachusetts, town selectman in 1747 and a representative to the General Court of Massachusetts in 1751. In 1755, he became a colonel in the militia and a judge of the Court of Common Pleas. In 1774, John Murray was appointed as a member of the Council of Massachusetts by Governor Thomas Gage. The appointment nullified the popular election and he was driven out of town by angry townsmen. His exile in Boston ended when the British evacuated in 1776, at which time Murray moved to Halifax, and then London and Wales.

There are portraits of John Murray and Deborah Brinley by John Singleton Copley on-line at Early American Paintings at the Worcester Art Museum. "Because John Murray had accepted the honour [(his appointment as a member of the Council of Massachusetts)] a crowd of 1,500 mobbed his house to force him to resihn. He had gone to Boston eight days after taking the Oath of ofice. The crowd searched his office to find him, in vain, and they left a letter demanding his resignation. One citizen, to emphasize their determination, thrust a knife o bayonet though his portrait. (The hole is still visible, above the ear, although repaired.)" (Souce: Some Loyalists and Others by Isabel Louise Hill.)

As an aside, John Singleton Copley painted Watson and Shark, a famous painting of another famous New Brunswick resident, Brook Watson."

Thomas Murray was conceived and born during those tumultuous times and a period of exile for his parent.

I found the story behind Thomas Murray's tombstone online in the Memoir of LeBaron Botsford, M.D.. Thomas Murray took cold while driving down the river on the ice. Consumption set in and he died after a short illness. Notice of his death was published in the St. John Gazette on Friday, May 5th, 1797. In a letter from Elizabeth Upham to her cousin William Botsford, dated Feb. 19, 1797, two months prior to Thomas Murray's death, she wrote of Thomas Murray that she thought him at present rather too boyish and brusque in his manner.

Sarah Lowell Botsford's Tombstone

At left, Sarah Lowell Botsford's tombstone in the Botsford family plot at Fernhill cemetery.

Sarah, Thomas Murray's widow, went to live with her sister, Mrs. Chipman, in the Chipman House, and there her baby boy was born several months after his father's death. Two years later, she met her next husband, William Botsford, the lawyer, when for the first time she took her seat in the family pew after two years that were passed "in the strictest seclusion."

Five years after the death of her young husband, Sarah Lowell Hazen Murray married Judge William Botsford, and it is in the Botsford plot, to the right of the tombstone of Sarah's famous son, Amos Edwin Botsford, that Thomas Murray's tombstone may be found.

The following passage in Dr. Botsford's memoir was written about Ellen Murray's father and mother:

The three little girles were Ellen, Frances Elizabeth, and Harriwt W.

In addition to the memorials to John Murray and his grandson, John Thomas Murray, at Fernhill Cemetery, there is a memorial to them in Trinity Church. In Dr. Botsford's memoir, Frances Elizabeth Murray wrote:

In Trinity Church , Saint John, New Bunswick, and Its Memorials, a booklet published in 1926, the date of the death of John Thomas Murray is given:

William Botsford's Tombstone

At left, William Botsford's tombstone in the Botsford family plot at Fernhill cemetery.

Dr. Botsford's memoir provides a clue as to Ellen Murray's upbringing after her father's death. After the death of Ellen Murray's grandmother, Judge William Botsford “...longed for the quiet of his country home. He returned to Westcock almost immediately, accompanied by one of his grand-daughters (the eldest child of his stepson Murray), who had just returned from Europe, where the widow had resided near her mother since Mr. Murray's death.“ Throughout the memoir the step-granddaughter, Frances Elizabeth Murray, is named as "Miss M-----.”

"After the Judge's death, Dr. and Mrs. Botsford invited Miss M----- to make their house her home. The constant intercourse, the interchange of thought thus afforded, ripened into a warm and lasting friendship. Miss M-----'s eyes were never very strong, and at one time it was feared that she would become blind. Her uncle bestowed much care and attention upon her, and mainly, through his skill, her eyesight, after a cessation from all work for two years, was restored. During that time Mrs. Botsford devoted hour after hour to reading aloud, and the doctor, even in the height of his busy practice, always contrived to reserve one hour daily to read to her some book on science, history or metaphysics, which formed the basis afterwards of many interesting “talks.” Such kindness could not fail to call forth warm feelings of gratitude and affection. The niece became almost, if not altogether, a daughter to the childless pair. Mrs. Botsford, in declining years and feeble health, leaned more and more upon her. Dr. Botsford looked to her for sympathy in his intellectual pursuits. She became his companion in travel; she superintended his household after Mr. Botsford's death, and when he, too, passed away, she has endeavoured to perpetuate his memory by becoming his biographer.“

Margaret Botsford's Tombstone

At left, The tombstone of Margaret Botsford, the wife of Dr. LeBaron Botsford, in the Botsford family plot at Fernhill cemetery.

In 1875, Dr. Botsford became very ill. During his convalescence in 1876, “...From Rothesay he went to Milton, six miles out of Boston, where Miss M----- was spending the summer with her sister, Mrs. R-----. The journal says: “The doctor very much enjoyed his visit to Milton; all so kind. Mr. R----- drove him out frequently, and he took lovely country walks.“...”

Mrs. R----- was Harriet W. (Murray) Ruggles, the wife of Thomas Edwin.

Frances Elizabeth, in her memoir of Dr. Botsford, described Mrs. Ruggle's youngest boy as "...a bright, curly-headed little fellow of eight years old, called LeBaron after the doctor...," but it would be another child of Mrs. Ruggle that would become well-known as a nephew of Dr. Botsford by following in his foot-prints.

Edwin Pakenham Ruggles was a practicing physician of Dorchester and a founder of homœopathy.

I have yet to confirm this, but it would appear that Dr. Ruggles was Edwin Pakenham Ruggles (Born: Jan. 5, 1873; Died: June 19, 1940), a Basketball Hall of Famer. Dr. James Naismith, a Canadian who hailed from Almonte, Ontario, founded basketball when he drew up the original 13 playing rules and Edwin Ruggles was one of 18 Springfield College students who made history when they participated in the first basketball game ever played. Edwin Muggles is the first player from the left in the bottom row of the photo entitled "Basketball Pioneers." There is another picture of him at a Web page of the World Alliance of YWCAs. Edwin Ruggles was a member of the 1895 Springfield College graduating class.

Modern sports historians do not paint a pretty picture of Edwin Ruggles.

The Canadian Sports Tribune describes his class, as follows:

"Naismith was a teacher in an all-boys school, and he taught one of the most rebellious gym classes in the school. His belief that a healthy body and mind are directly connected was challenged not only by the lazy attitude of the students, but also by the winter season which limited their outdoor activity. The teacher needed something new to keep his sluggish pupils occupied."

The Heritage Foundation's Heritage Minute which presents this story to Canadiens is available on-line.

In 1878, Dr. LeBaron Botsford, Ellen Murray's uncle, and Ellen's sister made a trip South to the Penn School and Frogmore Manor.

Ellen met them at Beaufort and they crossed the Beaufort River in an open boat, rowed by blacks. The carriage was waiting, and Ellen drove the ten miles to Frogmore, where Miss Towne gave them a warm welcome. According to the Memoir, Ellen and Mrs. Towne had been carrying on their work for sixteen years.

The following is a brief history of Penn School's formation, taken from an annual report, printed by the scholars themselves on their school press, and reprinted in Memoir of LeBaron Botsford, M.D. by Ellen Murray's sister, Frances Elizabeth Murray:

At left, John Chandler sailed to Saint John, and was shipwrecked, on a ship, not unlike the Jeanie Johnston shown in front of a cruise ship in Saint John harbour.

Dr. Botsford's name is listed at the end of the report as a benefactor. A poem, written by Whittier, for the first Chritmas in the Penn School, also appears at the end of the report.

Whittier is John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892).

In an online article In Teaching Tolerance MAGAZINE entitled “Let the Mainlands Hear the Word: Coastal Carolina educators work to preserve Gullah culture“ by Brad Swope (See:, and a couple dozen schoolchildren, ages 5 to 12, line up inside Faith Brown's classroom at the Penn Center school to ”rehearse what Brown calls the theme song for the Penn Center's Program for Academic and Cultural Enhancement, or PACE. "St. Helena Hymn," by John Greenleaf Whittier, a 19th-century abolitionist-poet, was written for Charlotte Forten, the first African American teacher hired at the school.“ ”St. Helena Hymn“ is the the same poem, written by Whittier, for the first Chritmas in the Penn School, that appeared at the end of the report.

Charlotte Forten is also featured in PBS' Only a Teacher series (See: On theirWeb page about her, you will find a portrait of her. “She stayed on St. Helena Island for two years, then succumbed to ill health and had to return north. In 1864, she published "Life on the Sea Islands" in The Atlantic Monthly, which brought the work of the Port Royal Experiment to the attention of Northern readers.“

From an on-line paper at, we learn that “...“...Thomas Wentworth Higinson [(A prolific writer frequently published in the Atlantic Monthly, most famous for his correspondence with Dickinson.)] wrote that “Miss Towne says she is the pet and belle of the island.“...”

As an aside, Thomas Wentworth Higginson has a Maritime connection. His “...grandmother lived from childhood in the house of her grandfather, Judge Wentworth; her great-grandfather was the first of the three royal governors of that name, and the two others were her near[I]t was a soldier...whom she married; and when she went to England fortunately under the proper escort of a kins woman - she was apparently received, both by her husband's relatives and her own, with all the warmth that might have been expected that is, with none at all. Yet she had sweet and winning qualities which finally triumphed over all obstacles; and her married life, though full of vicissitudes, was, on the whole, happy. They dwelt in England, in Jamaica, in St. Andrews, in Campobello, then in Jamaica again, Captain Storrow having in the meantime re signed his commission, and having died at sea on his passage to Boston, in 1795. [Thomas Wentworth Higginson's] mother, Louisa Storrow, had been born, meanwhile, at St. Andrews, in 1786....“ We have another date for the death of Thomas Sorrow on another Web page (See: Thomas Sorrow “died from ill health in December of 1794.” “...Nancy, his widow, went on to open a boarding school in Vermont but her youngest daughter died six months after Thomas and that just did her in, so to speak and she fell ill and died in 1795. But their children went on to become quite famous and well travelled and of course their descendants were responsible for the development of Boston and the American railroad as well as being mayors of Boston. There is a route through Boston named in honour of James Jackson Storrow, Storrow Drive.“

Louisa Storrow would reside for a spell in The Colonial Society's House at 87 Mount Vernon Street, Boston, completed by Charles Bulfinch for Stephen Higginson, Jr., her husband.

Playing Music on the Esplanade

At left, Jeremy plays his organ on the Esplanade in front of Berkeley Bridge, minus 1/2 a million July 4th revellers.

The following is from “Bay State Bridges, Tunnels Honor Politicians: Critics Say Liberty Tunnel Should Get New Name“ at

James Jackson Storrow of Back Bay was the wealthy scion of one of Boston's finest families. From “Love That Dirty Water” by Mark Leccese, published in the March 2000 issue of Boston Magazine Online at, we learn that:

Henry Barlow Brown, Thomas Sorrow's brother-in-law (See:, a Loyalist, was for many years registrar of deeds for Charlotte County. His son, Thomas Storrow Brown, born in St. Andrews, was an author of some note.

Thomas Storrow Brown “...came to Montréal in 1818. In 1832 he was one of the founders of the Montreal Vindicator. He allied himself with the French-Canadian patriots and took part in the Rebellion of 1837. Brown was in command of the defeated rebel forces at the Battle of St-Charles. He subsequently escaped to the U.S. where he worked as a journalist in Florida until 1842. In 1844 he returned to Montréal under amnesty. He occupied minor administrative posts here from 1862 until 1876.'

We digress. Let's get back to Laura Towne and Ellen Murray.

According to “A lively past dating back to the 1700s at Frogmore Manor” By CATHY CARTER HARLEY, Beaufort Gazette assistant Lifestyles editor, Published Thu, Mar 18, 2004, “The plantation's history begins with a connection to Penn Center during the Civil War, when missionaries Laura Towne and Ellen Murray from Philadelphia bought the 1 1/2-story tabby foundation house and added a full second story around 1869.”

“While Frogmore Manor plantation's history goes back to the 1700s, visitors may feel a connection to the house, which was the model for Mrs. Gump's house in "Forrest Gump," the 1994 Academy Award-winning film.”

In my case, I would feel a very strong connection to the house. In 1994, I travelled from my home in Saint John to Moncton to have a pre-arranged Cesarean section. My family physician advised me to do something nice for myself the night before the surgery. My mother and I went to Crystal Palace to see Forrest Gump, a movie I would highly recommend for any for single parents. In the course of my research for this page, I discovered where the scenes of the floating feather were shot and I discovered the location of the beautiful, ancient oak tree in the movie. Recall Jenny's grave under the tree and the voice-over where Forresy says, "From that day on, we was always together. Jenny and me was like peas and carrots." "That photogenic tree is located at the entrance to Carolina Shores at the end of Carolina Avenue, off Bruce K. Smalls Drive (intersecting with U. S. Highway 21 in the Gray's Hill area, past the Marine Corps Air Station)." (See: For some more Forrest Gump trivia, see Quotes & Trivia: Forrest Gump (1994) at Did you know that "Sinise, Gary's lower legs were wrapped in a special blue fabric that allowed them to be optically removed from the film by computer later?" I always wondered how they did that!!

While Ellen Murray lived at Frogmore Manor, “...beautiful pictures of Miss Towne's well-known artist sister, Mrs. Darrah, of Boston, adorned the walls....” “Built in 1903, Darrah Hall it is the oldest building on the grounds [of Penn Center]. The original buildings of the same name dated from 1882; it was a memorial to Sophia Towne Darrah, the sister of Laura Towne, and stood on "The Green," at the intersection of U.S. 21 and Martin Luther King Drive....”

In Dr. LeBaron's memoir. there is a sketch of the school-house from a pencil drawing by Mrs. Murray, the widow of Dr. Botsford's step-brother. After her mother's death, Mrs. Murray and her daughters came out to Boston. In 1861 she accompanied her daughter to St. Helena, South Carolina. She took an active part in work among the colored people, and died of malarial fever, August, 1867. According to the Canadian Dctionary of Biography Online (See:, Ellen Murray’s mother died in Newport, R.I., in 1867. The The Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries Transcription Project Index at records the burial of “MURRAY HARRIET LETITIA (DESPARD) - 4 AUG 1867 NT500.” NT500 is WILLOW CEMETERY in NEWPORT, Rhode Island, at FAREWELL STREET and WARNER STREET (5/1/74). The Common Burying Ground and Island Cemetery, as it is also known, is on the National Register of historical properties.

Dr. Botsford enjoyed his trip so much that he repeated it the next year, accompanied by his brother, the Senator. His memoir relates their visit along with Ellen to the Brick Church, the largest coloured church on the Island.

We know that Laura and Ellen were active in the church from Laura's diary. On July 20, 1862, she wrote:

“This morning there was no white preacher. After church Father Tom and his bench of elders examined candidates for baptism and asked Ellen to record their names. We stayed.... “

John Murray's Tombstone

At left, John Murray's tombstone in the Botsford family plot at Fernhill cemetery.

The memoir of Dr. Botsford closes with a poem written by Ellen Murray on the anniversary of Dr. Botsford's death. It was sent as a memorial to relatives and friends.

Another poem written by Ellen Murray was published by J. & A. McMillan in Saint John, New Brunswick, in 1891. "Angel Watchers" was "Written in Aid of Lady Tilley’s Hospital Work." "...After taking possession of Government House, Fredericton, for the second time, in 1885, Lady Tilley gave herself up almost wholly to benevolent work, with the result that, since that time, she has been instrumental in giving to her native Province several institutions which will be of lasting benefit to its people. Chief among these are the Victoria Cottage Hospital at Fredericton, and the Industrial School for Boys, the Nurses' Home, the Seamen's Mission, and the Home for Consumptives at St. John...."

A third poem by Ellen Murray was written for Progress, a literary newspaper published in the 1890's. It is available on-line in the May 2004 edition of Trinity Church's Weather-Vane, a newsletter published by Trinity Church, the very same church that Ellen Murray's sister wrote about in Dr. Botsford's memoir..

At the Brick Baptist Church, there are memorials to Miss Towne, 1901, and Ellen, 1908. A Savannah Morning News file photo of the memorials may be viewed at “Penn Center celebrates Heritage Days,” an on-line article by Margaret Bailey on the Savannah Morning News Web site at

Miss LAURA M. TOWNE, and Miss ELLEN MURRAY are also memorialized in Slave Songs of the United States by William Francis Allen, Charles Pickard Ware, and Lucy McKim Garrison in which they are credited as having contributed to.

Laura Towne was the daughter of John Henry Towne.

Through a man named Henry Towne, Linus Yale, inventor of the widely used pin-tumbler lock, met John Henry Towne and his son Henry Robinson Towne. All of them as partners brought about the establishment of the Yale Lock Manufacturing Company in October 1868.

As an aside, Penn Center was the site of a number of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s meetings. “...From 1949 to 1968, [Elizabeth Siceloff] and her husband, Courtney, directed the work of the Penn Center on St. Helena Island in South Carolina. This Quaker retreat center was one of the few places in the South during the volatile days of the Civil Rights movement where blacks and whites could stay together overnight. From 1964 to 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. came there to lead annual retreats of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.... Many of the Civil Rights campaigns, including the Poor Peoples? Campaign, were developed at the Penn Center....“ Some of the planning for the 1963 March on Washington was carried out at Penn Center (Krull 25). There is a great photo of Elizabeth Siceloff, her son, and Martin Luther King, Jr., at an annual retreats of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the online article entitled A TRIBUTE TO ELIZABETH SICELOFF by Joe Parko at the the Web site of the Atlanta Independent Media Center at

Today the school continues its commitment to education. For a number of years, beginning in 1968, it was used by the Peace Corps as an agricultural training facility.

In "Brick Baptist parishioner is leader in church, community" by Cathy Carter Harley, there is a picture of Leroy E. Browne Sr. posing in front of the Brick Baptist Church on St. Helena Island. The online article was published March 27, 2004 in the Beaufort Gazette (See: Brown, a former Penn School student (Browne's father was a basket weaving instructor at Penn.), is the oldest active parishioner of the Brick Baptist congregation. "For 75 years, Browne has been a member of Brick Baptist Church on St. Helena Island. He's served as treasurer for 15 years and also as a trustee." He worked as maintenance supervisor at Penn School for 23 years. "...He knew Martin Luther King Jr. In fact, it was Browne who built a cottage near the river specifically for King to stay in, but King was assassinated before he returned to Penn." "In 1960, Browne was the first African-American elected to public office in South Carolina since Reconstruction when he was first elected to Beaufort County Council. Re-elected for nine terms, Browne served a total of 20 years as chairman of the Health Committee."

It has been said that some of our best living is done by those we leave behind. Laura Towne and Ellen Murray live on.

To celebrate the lives of Laura Towne and Ellen Murray or Black History Month, serve up a menu from FROGMORE STEW and Other Lowcountry Recipes at “According to the Penn School & Sea Islands Heritage Cookbook (1978), the traditional New Year’s menu on the Sea Islands "is a simple one: Hoppin’ John, collard greens with hog jowls, and ribs for a side dish. Hoppin’ John, or brown field peas cooked with rice, is eaten for good luck throughout the year. The collard greens represent dollar bills. It is said the more one eats, the more money one will have."”

See also:

  • Pathfinders Travel Magazine - The Travel Magazine for People of Color
  • The Other Civil War: American Women in the Nineteenth Century by Catherine Clinton; Reviewed by Abby Arnold
  • Penn Center founders included Unitarian woman from Pennsylvania
  • Inventory of the Penn School Papers, 1862-1976: Collection Number 3615 in the Manuscripts Department, Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    There are several photographs of Ellen Murray in the collection.

    Send an e-mail Send Jeremy or Rexanna an e-mail!

    Optimized for Netscape 2.0 or better. Last Updated June 10, 2003.

    Copyright Rexanna M. Keats 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003. All Rights Reserved.

    Hosted by

    1 1