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 Julia Murdock <I>Smith</I> Middleton

Julia Murdock Smith Middleton

Kirtland, Lake County, Ohio, USA
Death 12 Sep 1880 (aged 49)
Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, USA
Burial Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, USA
Memorial ID 44469626 · View Source
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Daughter of John Murdock and Julia Clapp

Adopted daughter of Joseph Smith and Emma Hale

Married Elisha Dixon, 1848, Nauvoo, Hancock, Illnois

Married John J. Middleton, 1858, Nauvoo, Hancock, Illnois

History - Her birth mother died giving birth to Julia and her twin brother Joseph, so their birth father, John Murdock, offered them to Smith and his wife, who themselves had lost prematurely born twins the same day. After Joseph and Emma Smith had taken custody of the children, in late March 1832, the infant Joseph became ill. Consequently Emma decided to have the babies sleep separately to prevent a spread of the disease. Joseph Smith had taken baby Joseph to bed with him and Emma was in the other room with Julia. That night a mob came and stormed the Smith home. In the midst of the panic, baby Joseph was exposed to the cold air and died several days later.

Julia was only thirteen when her father returned home that final night of June 23, 1844 before heading to the Carthage Jail. There, he was killed at a quarter past five on the afternoon of the 27th. Julia "would never be a beauty," according to Tippets & Avery, "but her brown eyes and thick hair were assets. She was a sensitive girl with a streak of daring and a sense of humor that endeared her to her father."

In the summer of 1849, a "slender, fair-skinned, blue-eyed man of thirty-six named Elisha Dixon came to Nauvoo as an entertainer . . ." Julia married him that same season, after which he took off to St. Louis on some business, only to retreat when cholera hit the city. Julia and her new husband then began to operate the Mansion house, relieving Emma's financial condition to the point that Emma gained weight.

In the spring of 1852, she and her husband moved to Galveston, Texas, where Elisha took a job as a steamboat's bookkeeper. The following year the boiler exploded on the steamship on which her husband worked, throwing him into the ash pan. Badly burned, Elisha Dixon died after suffering three weeks. The young widow returned to Emma in 1853.

She married John Middleton. Middleton was a Catholic, and Julia joined his church, November 9, 1857. The couple bought a small farm in the vicinity of Nauvoo. They later moved to St. Louis. Educated to become a priest, he failed to take his orders because of excessive drinking. He failed as a lawyer, and then as a farmer, before securing a position as a clerk in St. Louis. John Middleton's alcoholism eventually lost him his property, then his job, and finally his self-respect. Julia lived a sad and lonely life with him.

In 1876, Julia permanently left her husband and moved back to Nauvoo. She lived with her mother at the Riverside Mansion, the brick home Emma's second husband Major Bidamon had built. Emma's health failed early in 1879, and Julia was with her, as were Joseph III and Alexander, when she died on 30 April 1879. After Emma's death, Julia went home with Alexander to Andover, Missouri. She died of breast cancer, while visiting friends in Nauvoo, at age forty-nine on September 12, 1880.

DIED. MIDDLETON--At the residence of Jas. Moffitt Jr. in township, Set. 10th 1880, Mrs. Julia, wife of John Middleton, in her 50th year, of cancer.

The deceased was born at Warrensville, O., in May, 1831, and many phases of her life from almost the day of her birth have borne as near the sembalance of romance as facts could well admit of, which, it will not be a miss to mention here.

She was a twin, and the daughter of a Mr. and Mrs. Murdock of the above named place, who were neighbors of Joseph and Emma Smith of subsequent Mormon fame. Within a few hours of the birth of the Murdock twins Mrs. Smith also became the mother of a pair of twins, which shortly died. Mrs. Murdock also died, when Mr. and Mrs. Smith took and adopted her twins. Some time after that one of the adopted children died. Julia continued to live in the Smith family and came here with them at the time of the Mormon immigration. She was kindly cared for and educated by the Smiths and at the age of seventeen engaged to marry a man named Dixon, which met the objection of her foster-mother--Mr. Smith having been killed before that time. But as in most of other cases, where love yields not to dictation, she left home and married the man of her choice. But after a few years she was compelled to wear the weeds of widowhood--her husband died--when she returned home where she remained till her marriage with Mr. John Middleton in 1856.

Mrs. Middleton was a woman of the most exemplary character--an advocate of all the graces and virtues and had a strong loving disposition for her friends which firmly endeared her to them. She was considerably above the medium of intelligence and of an indomitable spirit which fully manifested itself in the trying ordeal of sickness through which she passed before the severance of the link which bound her to this earthly sphere. Although she knew that death was fast approaching she remained cheerful and resigned. She leaves many friends who deeply regret her death." Nauvoo Independent, September 17, 1880.

See The Photograph Album of Julia Murdock Smith

On Being Adopted, Julia Murdock Smith

Family Members





  • Created by: SMSmith
  • Added: 17 Nov 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 44469626
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Julia Murdock Smith Middleton (30 Apr 1831–12 Sep 1880), Find A Grave Memorial no. 44469626, citing Saints Peter and Paul Cemetery, Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by SMSmith (contributor 46491005) .