Born in South Carolina of French Hugenot parents, Stephens
spent some years as a fur trapper, probably on the upper
Missouri. He was working as a blacksmith at the Indian
agency in Council Bluffs when the party was organized
and he was elected its captain.
safely leading the party to its destination, Stephens
wandered around California, possibly serving as a blacksmith
during the Mexican war. He settled on a farm in what
is now Cupertino, where "Stevens Creek Park"
and "Stevens Creek Blvd." bear his misspelled
name. Eventually he moved to the site of present-day
Bakersfield, faded into obscurity, and died a pauper
Born in Ireland, Martin Murphy Sr. emigrated first to
Quebec in the 1820s, then to Missouri in the early
1840s. After his wife and three grandchildren
died of malaria on the Missouri frontier, he was anxious
to move again. From an itinerant Jesuit priest, he heard
about the land to the West called California, where
not only was there a more healthful climate but at least
nominally, a Catholic government.
arrival in California, Martin Sr. founded a ranch near
Gilroy, which he named after his patron Saint, San Martin.
The town by that name sits astride Highway 101 South
of San Jose.
Martin Jr., the oldest of three Murphy sons on the trek,
brought his wife and three sons.
established a ranch in the Santa Clara Valley which
became the City of Sunnyvale. He prospered, supported
many area churches and schools, and was an original
benefactor of Santa Clara University. One of his sons,
who was four at the time of the crossing, became a four-term
mayor of San Jose. His brothers John and Daniel struck
it rich in the early days of the Gold Rush where the
town of Murphys still bears their name.
Born in Pennsylvania of English descent, John Townsend
was the most educated member of the party. He was the
appointed secretary for the trip, but his logs and notes,
if they ever existed, have never been found.
was the first licensed physician to practice medicine
in California. He was alcalde of San Francisco, where
he also served on the town council and the first school
board, and where Townsend Street bears his name. He
and his wife Elizabeth died within days of each other
while treating patients in a cholera epidemic in San
Jose in 1850.
Johns wife, before the trip, was
reputed to be a frail woman, whos health was one
factor in her husbands desire to find a more healthful
climate. Elizabethlike many of the women on this
and other wagon trainsturned out to be a rugged
Townsends son, John Henry, was born after their
arrival in California.
Elizabeth Townsends younger brother was six when
his parents died and he was entrusted to his married
sister. He was 17 when the journey began. His survival
of the winter alone in the Sierras is one of the most
dramatic aspects of the Stephens-Townsend-Murphy saga.
clerking in Monterey during the Gold Rush, Schallenberger
moved to San Jose upon the death of the Townsends, adopted
their infant son, and farmed there until he died in
1909. Schallenberger Road, the site of his home, is
now the home of the San Jose Mercury News and KTEH-TV.
A former fur trapper who had roamed the Rockies during
the 1820s and 30s, Greenwood was hired
a pilot or guide by the Stephens-Townsend Murphy party.
He brought his two sons by a Crow Indian wife. He was
reputed to be 80 years old at the time of the trip.
in 1845 to find more work guiding parties to California,
the Greenwoods pioneered the Dog Valley bypass around
the Truckee River Canyon which became the main route
of the California Trail.