John R. Murdock
John Riggs Murdock was one of the rescuers of the Latter-day Saint handcart companies, including the 1856 rescue of two handcart companies from the deep snow of Wyoming, and the leader of the most Mormon pioneer down-and-back companies in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The term means that he lead ox-drawn wagon trains that carried both merchandise and passengers “down and back” from Missouri to Utah. He built a carriage house in Beaver and the structure was relocated in 2000 to the This Is the Place Heritage Park.
Murdock was born on September 13, 1826, in Orange, Ohio. His mother died when he was five years old so he was raised in the home of Philo Judd. He lived in Nauvoo with the Cornelius Lott family and married Lott’s daughter Almira after their arrival in the Salt Lake Valley. After their marriage, they settled in Lehi, Utah Territory. He served as mayor from 1861 to 1863. In 1864 he went to Beaver where he was the first president of the Beaver Stake (1869–1891), was ordained a patriarch, and essentially ran Beaver County.
In 1846 he joined the Mormon Battalion and arrived in Salt Lake City in 1847. He also served several missions in the eastern United States for the Church. He was also a member of the Council of Fifty.
He served eight terms in the Utah Territorial Legislature, was a member of the Utah Constitutional Convention, and served one term as a member of the Utah State House of Representatives.
Murdock assisted the movement to start a secondary school in Southern Utah and when it began in Beaver, it was called the Murdock Academy. It was a branch of Brigham Young Academy.
He died on November 12, 1913, in Milford, Utah. He lived the law of plural marriage and also married Mary Ellen Wolfenden and May Bain.