Historic Civil War, Civil Rights Site Protected (WV)

HARPERS FERRY, WV: At the end of 2002,TPL purchased the 99-acre Murphy Farm in West Virginia, preserving the historic site, known for both a Civil War battle fought there and a historic meeting of African-American leaders, which led to the creation of the NAACP.

The land overlooking the Shenandoah River had been a working farm since being acquired by Alexander Murphy in 1869. The current generation of Murphy heirs had moved to develop the property as a 188-home subdivision, but embraced the idea of the farm becoming parkland when it was presented as a viable option by the Trust for Public Land.

The property is next to the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park will be managed by the National Park Service. Funding was provided by the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

“By preserving this remarkable property and its unique historic values for over a century–and by making it available to the public today—the Murphy family has afforded the American people an unparalleled opportunity to experience the confluence of our nation’s Civil War history and its civil rights heritage,” said Alan Front, Senior Vice President of the Trust for Public Land.

Murphy Farm History

1862 – Civil War Battle
The farm was the scene of the final assault by Confederate Gen. A.P. Hill, ending a Confederate siege of the Union Army and leading to the surrender of 12,000 Union soldiers to Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

1895-1910 – John Brown Fort
Murphy Farm was the site of the relocated fort of abolitionist leader John Brown. Brown had briefly captured the fort in 1859 in his attempt to strike a blow for freedom, but his insurrection was put down by Union troops and he was hanged. The Brown fort was moved to Chicago for the 1893 Columbian Exposition, but was brought back to Harpers Ferry by Kate Field, a newspaper reporter. In 1895, Murphy deeded 5 acres for the fort to be re-built on his farm.

1869 League of Colored Women at the fort.
Photo Courtesy Harpers Ferry Natl. Historic Site

TPL purchased the Murphy Farm from Josephine Murphy-Curtis and Karen Dixon Fuller, the current generation of Alexander Murphy heirs. Many thanks go out to the Murphys and project partners and supporters including Senator Robert C. Byrd, the National Park Service and Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.

Valuable technical assistance was provided by Appalachian Surveys of WV, LLC, which worked overtime in the days preceding the closing to produce a perimeter survey of the farm.