Joseph T. Murray

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Joseph Thomas Murray
picture of Joseph Thomas Murray
Joseph Thomas Murray
Born (1834-05-12)May 12, 1834
Salem, Massachusetts
Died January 27, 1907(1907-01-27) (aged 72) (death date then birth date)
Springfield, Massachusetts
Cause of death pneumonia
Citizenship United States

Joseph Thomas Murray (12 May 1834 in Salem, Massachusetts – 27 January 1907 in Springfield, Massachusetts) was an American abolitionist, manufacturer, and inventor. He was an early business associate of Thomas Edison.

Early life

Joseph Thomas Murray was a son of James Murray (1787-1880), an English immigrant who was a mathematician[citation needed] and a reporter for the United States Senate during the War of 1812.[1] His family moved in 1844 to Newark, New Jersey. At age eleven, he wanted to be sailor and he sailed with his uncle to Africa. Due to the harassment by his uncle, the young Murray jumped ship at the first opportunity and lived for six months among the locals in Benin. There he first witnessed the effects of slavery.[citation needed]

After returning to Massachusetts, Murray began his training at the age of 14 at Everett Mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts, where he learned the mechanics trade and became a machinist.[citation needed] For two years he worked as postmaster in Danvers, Massachusetts.[1]


Murray became an abolitionist in 1848 and, working with John Greenleaf Whittier and the mayor of Lynn, Massachusetts, James Needham Buffum, became a connection for the Underground Railroad and helped slaves to escape from the South to the North.[1][2] He also had associations with William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips.[citation needed] The US Marshal Charles Devens once arrested Murray as he was smuggling a fugitive slave into Boston. During the American Civil War, Murray served in the 35th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.[1]

Association with Thomas Edison

In October 1870, Murray was hired by Thomas Alva Edison and George Harrington to work at American Telegraph Works, which manufactured telegraphic equipment.[citation needed] Together with Edison, he founded in February 1872, the small company J.T. Murray and Company, also producing telegraph equipment. In the third quarter of 1873, they reorganized as Edison and Murray and also assumed the operations of the recently defunct Edison and Unger company. Edison, Murray and the inventor Jarvis B. Edson incorporated the Domestic Telegraph Company in 1874. Although Edison and Murray formally dissolved in their partnership in July 1875, Edison continued to use and improve products manufactured by Murray.[3]

Later life and death

Murry continued his work as an inventor. At one point, his patents may have been worth $1,500,000 in the currency of the time. However, Murray’s finances fluctuated drastically during the rest of his life.[1][2]

In 1907, Joseph T. Murray died of pneumonia at the home of his daughter, May Murray, in Springfield, Massachusetts.[2]



  1. ^ a b c d e "Obituary. Mr. J. T. Murray", Electrical World, New York, NY, USA: McGraw-Hill, 49 (5), p. 283, 1907-02-02, ISSN 0013-4457, OCLC 755013781, retrieved 2012-12-25. Also Obituary. Mr. J. T. Murray, p. 283, at Google Books
  2. ^ a b c "Joseph T. Murray Dead. Noted Inventor Was Once a Partner of Thomas A. Edison" (PDF). The New York Times. New York, NY, USA: The New York Times Company. 1907-01-28. p. 7. Retrieved 2012-12-25.
  3. ^ "Chronology: 1847-1878". The Thomas Edison Papers at Rutgers University. New Brunswick, NJ, USA: Rutgers University. February 20, 2012. Retrieved December 23, 2012. External link in |work= (help)

Further reading

  • Paul Israel, Edison: A Life of Invention. Wiley, 1998, ISBN 978-0-471-52942-2, pp. 77, 100-101, 107, 118, 135
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