ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


Straw & Goodrow

J. B. Murphy Co


James B. Murphy


Nicholos Murphy

118 and 120 West Main Street

Straw & Murphy 107 N Water, paint    WHS_PC_235.jpg



118 West Main     WHS_005_698

James B. Murphy and his brother Nicholas Murphy both lived in Watertown.  James owned a Painting and Decorating Store and Nicholas was a Stone Cutter.  James was married to Emma Charboneau and Nicholas was married to Mary Alice Casey.   James died: May 9, 1915, in Watertown, WI.  Nicolas died: December 30, 1936, in Watertown.



      Memorial for Simeon P. Straw and wife, Martha, 1841.  Straw, a painter for J B Murphy died 7-30-1843.  Wife died 6-27-1841.


Date?             Crayon point illustration of woman by J. B. Murphy




A New and Beautiful Style of Graining.  Mr. Drew Straw, an experienced and skillful painter in this city, has just introduced an entirely new and superior system of graining.  With the exception of the Village of Fort Atkinson, he has obtained the exclusive right of using in Jefferson and Columbia counties Adam’s Painting and Graining Patterns, which enable the operator to produce the most perfect and beautiful imitations of Rosewood, Oak, Black Walnut, or any other wood that may be preferred.  The rapidity and accuracy with which the work is done, combined with the finish and fineness and durability of the imitations, will make this method supersede all others heretofore in use . . . Fine specimens of Mr. Straw’s work with his new patterns may now be seen at the Robinson House, the painting of which has been done by him.  There is no failure or humbug about this new and useful invention and we strongly commend Mr. Straw to the favor of all who wish to unite taste and economy in adorning the interior of their dwellings.   WD




Messrs. Straw & Goodrow, both skillful and experienced in their business, are now prepared to do all kinds of house and sign painting.  In graining and beautifying dwellings they use Adams’ Patent Grainer, which gives them the means of imitating with astonishing accuracy our choicest woods, such as mahogany, oak, maple, black walnut, or any other variety that may be preferred.  This method is far superior to any other heretofore used and for beauty, durability and cheapness, will be preferred wherever its merits are known.  We cheerfully commend this firm to the favor of the public as gentlemen who thoroughly understand every department of their business.   WD


10 13       MOVED

Messrs. Straw & Goodrow have changed their place of business to the west side of the river, one door north of Howell’s and nearly opposite the Lindon House, where they may be found in the future, ready, as in the past, to execute all orders with neatness and dispatch.   WD



Having associated ourselves together for the purpose of carrying on the painting business, we are prepared to receive orders for any work in our line, such as house painting, glazing, paper hanging, etc.  Special attention paid to graining with Adam’s Patent Graining Machines.  We have the controlling right to use them in the county.  Call and examine our specimens of graining produced by this new, beautiful, cheap and unsurpassed style.  Our shop is in the Democrat block, on Main Street, just west of W. C. Fountain’s drug store.  D. Straw, J. Goodrow.   WD




similar to previous 1865 ad, but new address here


Having associated ourselves together for the purpose of carrying on the painting business, we are prepared to receive orders for any work in our line, such as house painting, glazing and paper hanging, etc.  Special attention paid to graining with Adams’ Patent Graining Machines.


As we have the controlling right to use them in this county, call and examine our specimens of graining, produced by this new, beautiful, cheap and unsurpassed style.


Our shop is one door north of R. & H. S. Howell’s store, West Water Street.







The opening and reception by the members of the Phoenix Fire Company last Saturday evening was a pleasant affair . . .  The Company’s meeting room was a surprise to everyone; its fine tasty appearance, its floor nicely carpeted and the walls decorated with handsome pictures, principally representing scenes in the life of an American Fireman not forgetting, however, the excellent crayon of Chief Marshal Schulte from the pencil of J. B. Murphy, and a present to the company from Straw & Murphy. 



Beynon & Murphy, milling devices, ad, James B. Murphy



     Weltburger, 1891 drawing


1904       Murphy and Dobratz, Joseph Wolfram obit, 118-120 W Main St, Painters and Wallpapers




A picture containing text, grass, mammal

Description automatically generated 

By J. B. Murphy, Watertown artist and merchant



09 25       Received contract for frescoing St. John's Lutheran Church at Mayville   WG


                1908 Ad for J B Murphy  [gives 111 W Main; should be 118?]


1909       118-120 W Main, painters-house & sign

04 02       Chi-Namel demonstration   WG


09 17       Decorate Burnett Lutheran Church   WG


10 01       Color Guessing Contest at the Inter-County Fair   WG



J B Murphy ad




The development and perfection of social tastes and refinement are nowhere displayed to better advantage than in the aims and desires of society to beautify and decorate the home, and the demand for attractive designs and superior taste in artistic painting, frescoing and house decorating generally has enlisted the intelligent and clever handiwork of men possessed of superior facilities for decorative art.


Among the accredited leaders in this city in this branch of business is the J. B. Murphy Co., who are the pioneers, having been established in 1864.  J. B. Murphy, the senior member of the firm, is thoroughly experienced in all branches of the business.  He was born in the old state of Massachusetts and came to Wisconsin in 1860.  In 1864 he commenced the painting and decorating business in Watertown, as an apprentice, and afterwards, in 1869 he became a partner in the same establishment and the firm was Straw & Murphy, which continued successfully for twenty-four years.


In 1908 the company was incorporated with J. B. Murphy as president and treasurer and A. E. Schebstadt [Albert] superintendent of painters.  They occupy two stores, 118 and 120 West Main Street, of which we present in this issue one illustration.  In the salesroom the elegant stock of wall paper is very handsomely arranged.  They are the exclusive agents for the best makers of wall paper in the United States, and also carry a fine line of imported paper.  Here can be found a large stock of paints, oils, glass, brushes, picture frames, window shades, machine oil and homemade boiled linseed oil.  They are also wholesale dealers and jobbers in illuminating and lubricating oils.


The number of our churches, public buildings and fine residences that are so much admired by visitors to the city are the artistic work and decorations of the J. B. Murphy Co., and we can also add that some of our most successful painters learned their trade with this company.   WG



In its write-up of the Master Painters' Convention at Wausau last week, the Wausau Daily Record-Herald of August 1st says of James B. Murphy of this city:


"James B. Murphy, a delegate from Watertown, and the oldest master painter in this state in point of service, as the first business of the morning session today gave a very interesting lecture on relief ornamentation and frieze work [a broad horizontal band of sculpted or painted decoration, esp. on a wall near the ceiling].  He demonstated the different methods and principles upon a blackboard. 


"This lecture," as one of the delegates expressed it, "is one of the most valuable and instructive yet presented before the organization, and its influence will be felt in the painting fraternity for years to come.”  When the speaker concluded his address with an example of harmonious lettering in the words, "Hurrah for Wausau," an enthusiastic audience accorded him a rising vote of thanks, three cheers, and a "tiger" in appreciation of his learning."   WG




Monday evening James B. Murphy and wife gave a banquet to the members of the Corby Club at their home in Church Street.  Their guests had been invited to come to their home attired in old-time costumes, and the arrival of each lady in grotesque finery brought forth much laughter.  The host and hostess had particularly fine old-time costumes.  The banquet was a delicious one, at which many fine toasts were responded to, including Miss Marie Killian's history of the club and Mr. Murphy's humorous views of an outsider.  At the conclusion of the banquet Miss Ruth Duffy gave a splendid reading and all present joined in singing old-time songs, ending up with "Auld Lang Syne.”  The entire evening’s program was interesting, amusing and most joyful and the guests were unanimous in their expressions that Mr. and Mrs. Murphy were adept at giving old-time entertainments, with a bounteous share of old-time hospitality.  WG



The store buildings owned by Charles E. Straw, located at northeast corner of West Main and North Water streets and occupied by J. B. Murphy Co.  Inquire of Skinner & Thauer.   WG


09 27       NEW STORE AT 111 W. MAIN ST

The J. B. Murphy Co. is now located in their new store at 111 W. Main St., west of Stapleton's drug store.  The senior member of the J. B. Murphy Co., James B. Murphy, was located in the former quarters for nearly half a century, and around the old place much sentiment hovers, and though it was with much reluctance Mr. Murphy removed to new quarters, he is now so comfortably located and everything looks so neat, new and up-to-date in his present stand that we are sure he will feel well repaid for a change of base.


Our citizens will find the Murphy Co., in their present stand, in a better position than ever to cater to their wants in anything in their line.    WG



02 26       MOVED TO 111 E. MAIN

The J. B. Murphy Co has removed across the street to No. 111 Main Street, next to Stapleton’s drug store.  Special bargains at present time.   WG



   Ad, painters, decorators, artists’ supp, 111 W Main  



In its write-up of the Master Painters' Convention at Wausau last week, the Wausau Daily Record-Herald of August 1st says of James B. Murphy of this city:   WG



One of Watertown’s Oldest and Most Esteemed Businessmen.


At 7 o’clock on Sunday morning, May 9, 1915, James B. Murphy died at his home, 301 Church Street, of paralysis, with which he had been a sufferer since February last.  Since then, however, he was able to be downtown on several occasions and it was hoped that he would be restored to health, but about a week previous to his death, it became apparent that he was gradually becoming weaker, and his wife, relatives and intimate friends fully realized that his death was only a matter of a short time. 


Mr. Murphy was born in Richmond, Massachusetts, on December 25, 1844, being a son of the late Bartholomew Murphy and wife.  He removed to Ohio with his parents when a small child and later the family came to Wisconsin and settled on a farm in the town of Shields, Dodge county.  In 1861 Mr. Murphy entered the employ of Straw & Goodrow, painters and decorators of this city and three years later he went to Chicago and was employed at the same line of work. 


When Mr. Goodrow retired from the firm of Straw & Goodrow, Mr. Straw induced Mr. Murphy to return here and go into partnership with him, and for the past half century he has been engaged here as a master painter and decorator, and dealer in all kinds of painting and decorating supplies.


On the death of Mr. Straw, Mr. Murphy continued the business with different partners, and a few years ago incorporated the business under the firm name of the James B. Murphy Co., in which name it was conducted up to the time of his death.


Aside from his busy business life, he found time to assist and take an interest in other lines of work that was of benefit to our city in a social and business way.  He was a charter member of Watertown Council No. 1478, Knights of Columbus, and served three years as its Deputy Grand Knight.  He was well known to members of the fraternity throughout the state and was a highly honored member of that patriotic and magnificent benevolent organization.  He was also a charter member of the Master Painters’ Association of the state and was its president in 1906.  At their annual meetings he usually had an address to deliver and what he had to say always was of great interest to the members of that craft. 


When the Wisconsin State Catholic Total Abstinence Association was a powerful temperance organization in the state, Mr. Murphy was president for many years of St. Bernard’s Total Abstinence society, and for many years was leader of St. Bernard’s brass band. 


He was well versed in music and took great interest in it up to the time of his death.  He was also a charter member of the Out Door Art Association and took a very active part in the efforts of this organization to beautify our city. He was a public-spirited man in every sense of the word and did much to advance the interest of our city, both in a material and moral way.


On February 5, 1879, he was married to Miss Emma Charboneau, who survives him.  Five brothers and one sister also survive him, being John Murphy, Tacoma, Wash.; Mrs. Thomas McCoy, Fond du Lac; Nicholas Murphy, Watertown; Patrick Murphy, Milwaukee; Matthew Murphy, Three Rivers and Joseph Murphy, Portland, Oregon.


Funeral services were held Wednesday morning at 9:30 o’clock at St. Bernard’s church.  Interment was made in St. Bernard’s cemetery.  A delegation of the Knights of Columbus attended in a body, and the following members of the order were pallbearers.  Edward Sipp, grand knight; James W. Moore, past grand knight; Otto C. Hahn, advocate; James J. Prendergast of the Madison council K. of C., and Neil Boyle of the Portage council K. of C., and Edward J. O’Byrne of Watertown council.


In the death of Mr. Murphy his devoted wife has lost one of the very best of husbands and our city a citizen whom we will all greatly miss, for Mr. Murphy was of that class of intelligent business men that is of great benefit to any community, not only in a material manner, but in a moral sense, to an eminent degree.  His good example was always an inspiration to young and old to lead better lives, and many there are who were induced to lead better and purer lives by his kind words of advice and his own good example.  In his chosen profession he ranked with the very best in the whole country.  In art, he was an idealist, and he took greater pleasure in advancing in his profession than he did in accumulating this world’s goods and seeking honors that so many people run after nowadays.


He was a man who made friends and invited confidence without intensively seeking either—-a modest, winning, earnest man of real worth, you were drawn to him intuitively.  The quick look of sympathy and innate good will that on occasion sprang to and suffused his thoughtful face, in a most kindly, cordial manner, was an inspiration for many of us — he has gone, but he will live in the memory of his friends for many a day. His noble character, his influence for good, will long survive him.


Among those from out of town at the funeral were a delegation of master painters from Milwaukee; Patrick Murphy, Miss Murphy, Mrs. Mallaney, Thos. J. Fleming and wife, Miss M. Finnegan and Frank Lothamer of Milwaukee; Mrs. Celina Carriveau Fritzinger of Grand Rapids, Wis.; Dr. W. F. Whyte, James and Miss Mary Prendergast of Madison; Otto J. Kirschensteiner and County Clerk John Welch of Jefferson; George Charboneau of Rockford, Ills.; Mrs. Sarah Flanagan and Miss Annie Quigley of Chicago; Neal Boyle and wife of Portage; Richard Quentmeyerof Columbus; Theo. P. Hemmy of Juneau.   WG


05 14       JAMES MURPHY ANSWERS CALL          Watertown Mourns Death of One of Best Known Businessmen

The many personal friends and acquaintances of J. B. Murphy were much grieved to hear of his death which occurred at his home in Watertown last Sunday, May 9, 1915.


For the past fifty years Mr. Murphy has been a well known figure in the business activity of Watertown commercially and socially.  The following extracts are taken from an extensive obituary notice which appeared in the Watertown papers:


“Mr. James B. Murphy, engaged in business in Watertown for more than half a century, passed away in the family home, 301 Church Street, Sunday morning, following an illness of three months.  Mr. Murphy suffered a stroke of paralysis in February, and gradually failed.


“Born in Richmond, Mass., December 25, 1844, Mr. Murphy was a son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Bartholomew Murphy, who removed with their family to Ohio a few years after the birth of the son James and came to this vicinity about 1860, settling on a farm in the town of Shields.  In 1861, Mr. Murphy came to Watertown and entered the employ of the painting and decorating firm of Straw & Goodrow.


“His natural artistic talents assured Mr. Murphy an early success in this line of business and it was only about three years later that he went to Chicago in response to flattering offers.  Mr. Goodrow retired from the Watertown firm, and Mr. Straw, needing a partner, made Mr. Murphy an offer which induced him to return to Watertown, where he rounded out a half century as a master painter and decorator and dealer in painting and decorating supplies.  Following the death of Mr. Straw, Mr. Murphy became the head of the firm, which was later incorporated under the name of the J. B. Murphy Company.”


Mr. Murphy was a prominent member of the Knights of Columbus and was identified with the Catholic Total Abstinence Union of America since its organization over forty years ago.


He was prominent in the Master Painters Association of Wisconsin and he, himself, was conceded to be one of the best artists, with the brush, in the northwest.  As a portrait painter he had few equals and no superiors.  Church decorations in Watertown and all over this vicinity testify to his skill in that line.


“Mr. Murphy’s marriage to Miss Emma Charboneau took place in Watertown, February 5, 1879.  Their marriage was not blessed with children, but resulted in a beautiful home life, about which Mr. Murphy’s interests were largely centered.  Though his talents as a speaker and organizer made his services in much demand, he preferred to spend quiet evenings and Sundays at home, giving vent to his talents as painter, draughtsman and musician.


-- --           1915 DEATH OF MR. MURPHY

OBITUARY - James B. Murphy, past president of the Wisconsin State Association of Master House Painters and Decorators, died last month at his home 301 Church Street.  He was born in Richmond, Mass, December 25, 1844.  In 1861 Mr. Murphy came to Watertown and entered the employ of the painting and decorating firm of Straw & Goodrow.  His natural artistic talents assured Mr. Murphy an early success in this line of business and it was only about three years later that he went to Chicago in response to flattering offers.  Mr. Goodrow retired from the Watertown firm and Mr. Straw, needing a partner, made Mr. Murphy an offer which induced him to return to Watertown where he rounded out a half century as a master painter and decorator and dealer in painting and decorating supplies.  Following the death of Mr. Straw Mr. Murphy became the head of the firm which was later incorporated under the name of the J. B. Murphy Company.  It is stated of Mr. Murphy that he educated more Workmen in the art of painting and decorating and turned them out as first class mechanics than any other paint shop in Wisconsin.   [ Source ]




Robert Goeldner and son Alfred, Julius Goeldner and Frank Enders of Milwaukee, were in Watertown Sunday visiting relatives and renewing old acquaintances.  This is Mr. Enders first visit to Watertown in 30 years and at that time when he was here he and the late J. B. Murphy painted several pictures in St. Henry’s church. He claims Watertown sure has changed some.  Watertown Weekly Leader, 06 27 1916


1935       J. B. Murphy Co., 111 W Main, decorators



Cross References:

William C. Raue & Sons

Charles Straw, obit, Straw & Murphy Painting firm

                Brandt house, J B Murphy, family friend of E J Brandt, did work on house

Murphy Home, J B, Charboneau, Louis, Architect





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History of Watertown, Wisconsin