Colleen Reynolds of Dickson Realty was part of more than 100 Murphy-Morgan family members gathered for a reunion in August of 2009, at Meeks Bay, Lake Tahoe, where their ancestors arrived 140 years ago.
The barbecue gathering brought together descendants of George Murphy, Jim Murphy and Luke Morgan from throughout California, Nevada, Arizona and Oregon. Although some of the cousins gather regularly in the summer and maintain strong friendships throughout the year, this was the first full reunion since 1999.
The family’s roots were planted in 1872 when the Murphy brothers arrived at Meeks Bay as 16 and 14-year-olds, herding cattle. They started their own cattle and dairy business, operated McKinney’s resort for 27 years and lived on in retirement in Meeks Bay vacation homes now owned by their grandchildren.
Although most of the more than 1,000 acres of land once owned by Murphy Bros. & Morgan was sold many years ago, five cabins remain on property still owned by family members. Those properties are believed to be the oldest privately-owned land, remaining in the same family, in all of the Tahoe Basin.
The Murphy Bros. purchased the 640-acre Meeks Bay parcel for $250 in 1884. They added to their acreage after their sister married Luke Morgan and that couple homesteaded acreage north of the bay, adjoining what is now Sugar Pine Point State Park.
Their first settlement at Meeks Bay included a barn, milk house and other temporary structures on land bordering the beach. It was after the family left McKinney’s (now Chambers Lodge) in 1918 that they started building the current homes across the highway from what became Meeks Bay Resort.
The first, a still-sturdy log cabin built in 1918-1920, by Jim Murphy and Luke Morgan, is now owned by Morgan”s granddaughter, Sue Cherry.
In 1923, George Murphy added a second cabin, now owned by one of his grandsons, George Reynolds, and his wife, Dickson Realty Agent, Colleen Reynolds. The Reynolds call Reno their home now, but have their roots still over the hill in Lake Tahoe.
Marie Morgan Coyle and her husband, Cyril, built on a lot above the original cabin in 1935. That home is now owned by their son, Cyril (Cub) Coyle and his wife, Yvonne.
Jim Murphy joined his daughter Margaret and her husband, Harry Lawson, adding a cabin in 1936. It is now owned by Jim Lawson and his wife, Marie.
The most recent house in the family group was built by Isabel Morgan Liddicoat and her husband, Elmer, in the late 1950‘s. It is now owned by the Liddicoat children.
The third generation of the Murphy-Morgans, the current seniors at the reunion, have only heard and read about those early days. Their memories are of full summers, every year, at a complete Meeks Bay community developed by the Kehlet family.