SMITH, Julia Murdock - I1424
John Murdock, born on July 15, 1792 in Kortwright, New York, was married to Julia Clapp, who was born on February 23, 1792 in Warrensville, Ohio and they moved toEmma Smith, wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith, also gave birth to a set of twins near the same time, but the twins died soon after birth. John Murdock had lived in the Smith household at different times and had served with Joseph Smith doing missionary work. Therefore, Emma was overjoyed to be able to take the little motherless Murdock twins, as she had felt very close to the family. On the night of March 24, 1832, a mob gathered at the home of Joseph Smith and dragged him out of the house and proceeded to tar and feather him. He had been sleeping with the little adopted boy, who was ill with the measles. As the mob broke into the house the sick baby was exposed to the cold night air and five days later, on March 29, the baby Joseph died.
Young Julia was 13 years old when the prophet was killed and was the oldest child in the family. Three and a half years after the death of Joseph Smith, Emma met and married a Major Crum Bidaman, the ceremony being performed by the Reverend William Hana, a Methodist minister in Nauvoo, Illinois. Soon after Major Bidaman left for the gold camps, a young man name Elisha DIXON came to board at the hotel that Emma and Julia ran or the travelers who came through Nauvoo. He is described as a slender, handsome young man, with blue eyes, fair skin, and light hair a very charming, sociable man, a good mixer and friend maker, who looked especially attractive to Julia. He was a magician and an entertainer by profession, a "Most Successful Prestidigitator", who had traveled extensively as a "Gypsy King", entertaining in many of the large cities of the nation. He had become ill and found it necessary to tarry in Nauvoo and convalesce from his illness from his trip down the Mississippi. Julia, now sixteen, was a full grown young lady. She took delight in taking the "Gypsy King" his meals and reading to him as he rested and recovered. In due time she fell in love with him and married him as soon as he recovered from his illness.
After the marriage Emma rented the hotel to them for a year, while she and her four sons moved into the old log house near the river, the house in which the family had lived until the mansion house was built. After one year as proprietor of the hotel, Elisha Dixon was determined to seek more lucrative employment, so Emma and her sons returned to the hotel, while Elisha and Julia moved to Galveston, Texas, where they bought an interest in a river boat and seemed headed for a prosperous future. Dixon and his partner were making a trip up a river when the boiler exploded, killing young Dixon and seriously injuring his partner. After her husband was buried, Julia took his partner with her and returned to Nauvoo.
She had the utmost confidence in Emma, knowing that she and her friends would always be made welcome in Emma's house, so she placed the injured man on a boat and took him to the Mansion House. There she cared for him, doing everything possible to relieve his suffering and restore his health, but after a few weeks in Nauvoo, he died. Julia was now a lonely, young widow in her early twenties. She spent a season in the big hotel, assisting Emma with the work, as she had done for years before her marriage. Later, she married John J. Middleton. His father, a prosperous farmer, gave them a small farm about two miles south of Nauvoo. When the Prophet's estate had been settled, Julia was given forty acres of good farm land and a city lot. Julia was persuaded to sell her property, as Middleton sold his farm, and with $5,000, they moved to St. Louis.
In her half brother Joseph's journal much is said about Julia whom he loved very much, and for whom he expressed the deepest sorrow for her unhappy marriage to John Middleton. Her second husband was a Catholic, strongly opposed to Mormonism. To keep a semblance of peace in the family and to put an end to Middleton's constant tirade against Joseph Smith and his message, Julia eventually joined the Catholic Church and kept silent about the religion she had known in her youth. Her husband became more fond of liquor as time passed, and formed the tavern habit. In St. Louis he sought to make business contacts and prominent friends via the brass rail and mug of foaming ale. In due time he became a chronic alcoholic, unable to keep a job, but able to spend the money they had taken with them from Nauvoo.
Before Julia's death, her brother John Riggs Murdock, was sent as a missionary from Utah to the Southern States Mission. He went to Nauvoo to visit his half sister. He was pleased to see that she had fallen into such loving hands, and remained in Nauvoo for one month, perhaps anticipating Julia's death any day. When he left for the mission field, he gave enough money to the Moffetts for her medical expenses, burial, and for a marker for her grave. Julia died a few days after he left Nauvoo. She was less than fifty years old. Her remains were laid to rest in the Catholic cemetery in Nauvoo.
E. Cecil McGavin, THE FAMILYDescendants of the Prophet Joseph Smith gather for a special commemoration and place a marker with her headstone.