The story begins with Simon Murphy. Born in Maine, Simon’s family was so poor he never had a chance to go to school. He inherited an aptitude for the lumber business from his grandfather and went to work in his sawmill at an early age. Simon learned every detail of the business and as he grew, he acquired mills and timberland in Maine, Michigan, Wisconsin and California. Until he died, there were few men in America who new more about lumber. Later in life, he became a real estate investor in Detroit and in several banks, insurance companies and the Edison Electric Company.
Simon had 5 sons who survived him. Each became successful in their own way.
Charles & Albert Murphy
Worked family businesses in Maine and Michigan. Charles eventually moved to California and became a successful stock breeder.
William H. Murphy
The only college graduate (University of Michigan) of Simon’s sons, William helped Simon Sr. organize the Pacific Lumber Company in California. The Pacific Lumber Company was one of the family’s great ventures. The family bought over 300,000 acres of redwood forests from the Santa Fe Railroad, built a company lumber town, called Scotia, and harvested and sold redwood and redwood byproducts for almost 60 years. The company employed over 1,000 people. The Pacific Lumber Company was to redwood what the Yankees are to baseball and the Packers are to football… simply the best.
Simon Murphy Junior
Simon Jr. ran the family lumber business in Green Bay. We was a 3 term mayor of Green Bay. He eventually moved to Pasadena, California and built a large and fully equipped hospital for the city of Whittier, California.
Frank Emory Murphy
Frank E. Murphy was one of Green Bay’s most prominent citizens – an influential factor in the development of the fox river valley. When his father erected a sawmill in Green Bay in 1886, he was sent as Secretary/Treasurer. In 1894, he bought the distressed Green Bay Electric Railway, turning it around and eventually selling it to Wisconsin Public Service in 1912. He was VP of the Morley Murphy Company and President of the Murphy Supply Company until 1912.
Frank was 4 times a city alderman and gave generously of his funds to the community. He donated the building that housed the Salvation Army, and started Bay Beach Park, convincing his friend Fred Rahr to donate the land.
By 1914, he turned his attention to the United Fruit Growers venture.
Frank Murphy had one daughter, Emily. When he died in 1934, his entire estate transferred to her. She was married to Dr. Robert Cowles, a prominent Green Bay Obstetrician. They moved into the large family estate (Braeburne) on the banks of the fox river in Green Bay, and continued to run Horseshoe Bay Farms through a farm manager and series of full-time employees.
Dr. Robert and Emily Cowles had 3 children: Emily, Bob and Frank.
Dr. Robert Cowles preceded Emily in death and when she passed in 1969, the estate was divided roughly as follows:
- Emily: received the Braeburne estate in Green Bay and several lots along the Green Bay shore across from the Farm.
- Bob: received the family summer home property including Frank E. Murphy’s summer home built in 1914; all the shore front property north of the summer home (several thousand shore feet); and @ 185 acres of pasture land.
- Frank: received the farm buildings and houses; the shorefront and pastureland property south of the houses; and the orchard property (over 400 acres) on the bluff.
The property on the bluff passed from Frank and Sally to their son Murphy Cowles who worked to realize Frank E. Murphy’s dream of creating a development and world class golf course.
The developed property is in the hands of individual home owners and the Golf Club is currently owned by 33 golf members.
With the passing of Bob and Margaret Cowles, the shorefront and pastureland property they held for decades transferred largely in tact to two of their sons, Rob and Jim Cowles.
Glenn & Barbara Timmerman bought property on the shorefront from descendants of the Ray Huston family to build their summer home, and subsequently bought the land and structures associated with Farm I.
Selections From The Cowles Family Album