About the Collection

Castle Murphy

by Jeffrey S. Hardy

See Diary

Castle Hadlock Murphy was born on 1 October 1886 in Ogden, Weber County, Utah, to Emanuel Mark Murphy and Eliza Miranda Hadlock.  Due to his father’s tragic death in 1887, Castle and his seven siblings were forced at an early age to help provide for the family; Castle delivered newspapers, raised chickens, and worked in a bricklayer’s yard.  During his Ogden High School years, Castle devoted his energies to athletics, playing on the football team and running for the track and field team.  He graduated cum laude from Ogden High in 1905 and found employment at a hardware store.  The next year, however, he became a mason’s apprentice, and in 1908 was inducted into the Brick and Stone Mason’s Union.  In 1909 two important events occurred in Castle’s life: he proposed to his long-time girlfriend, Verna Ann Fowler, and he received a Church mission call to Samoa.  When Church officials found out about his engagement they also issued a mission call to Verna, changed the location of their mission to Hawaii, and instructed the couple to leave soon after their wedding.

Castle responded to his call: “I am ready and willing to give my all to assist in the great and glorious work of the Lord.”1  According to the direction received, Castle and Verna were married on 29 September 1909 and departed for Hawaii two weeks later.  Upon reaching mission headquarters in Laie, Hawaii, the newlyweds were assigned to different islands, Castle to Kauai, and Verna to Oahu.  Castle’s companion on Kauai was also fairly new to Hawaii and the two struggled much with the native language; Castle wrote on one occasion: “Visited a number of saints and strangers and preached the Gospel as best we could with our understanding of the language.”2  After six months Castle and Verna were reunited in Laie and served on the same island together for most of the remainder of their mission, which lasted until their release in 1913.  Of their joyous meeting in Laie, Castle wrote: “Found Verna waiting in our room for me.  Oh!  But she does look dear to me, more so than ever before….Was anyone ever as contented and happy with a wife as I am with her.”3  Verna delivered the first two of their five children during their stay in Hawaii.   

After returning home from Hawaii in 1913, Castle resumed his labor as a brick mason, and also became involved in civic affairs.  From 1922 to 1926 he served as clerk of the Weber County District Court, and in 1925 he managed a successful mayoral campaign for George E. Browning.  In 1927 Browning rewarded Castle with a civil service commission which supplemented his income from laying bricks.  Two years later he himself ran for mayor of Ogden, but was defeated by a slim margin.  In the Church organization Castle served as high councilman for the Weber Stake and in 1928 was appointed bishop of the Ogden 2nd Ward.

A second mission for the Murphy’s came in May 1930 when they were called to serve as president and matron of the Hawaiian Mission and Hawaiian Temple.  Of this call Castle later recorded: “What a very great honor had come to us!  Never did we accept an assignment with greater humility and with more fervent prayers.”4  They served for almost six years, during which Castle set up the first congregations in Hawaii designed specifically for Japanese, Chinese, and Samoan saints.  He also oversaw the organization of the first stake in Hawaii in 1935 and hosted President Heber J. Grant as he toured the church in Hawaii.  Afterwards President Grant, in a letter to Castle, remarked: “I congratulate you on the splendid condition of your mission and on the fine impression that you and your wife have made upon the natives.”5  Following their release in 1936 they spent two years in Ogden, but in 1938 Castle and Verna returned once again to Hawaii to preside over the Hawaiian Temple.  Before their release in 1941 from this position they oversaw the complete remodeling of the temple and of the Temple Bureau of Information. 

After this third mission, Castle engaged in various business pursuits, and also worked for the U.S. Army Engineers in Ogden.  From 1942 to 1943 he served as manager for the State School for the Deaf and Blind.  In January 1944, however, Castle was called for the fourth time to Hawaii, this time as mission president of the Hawaiian and Central Pacific Missions.  He and Verna also became temple president and matron in June 1944, and Castle was appointed as Coordinator for the LDS Servicemen in the Pacific Area.  The Murphy’s received their release from their final mission to Hawaii in May 1947. 

Castle continued his business ventures after returning home and served as City Treasurer of Ogden, and President of the Ogden City Employees Association.  He also published a book about his nearly forty years of experiences in Hawaii called Castle of Zion: Hawaii.  After the death of his wife, Verna, in 1959 he moved to Orem to live with his daughter and in 1985 received a Distinguished Service Award from BYU-Hawaii for his service to the Hawaiian people.  Castle Hadlock Murphy died on 20 December 1985, at the age of ninety-nine. 


1 Castle H. Murphy to Joseph F. Smith, 1 September 1909. MSS 1476, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.

2 Castle H. Murphy, “Diary, 1909-1910,” 21 January 1910. MSS 1476, LTPSC.

3 Ibid., 30 March 1910.

4 Castle H. Murphy, Castle of Zion: Hawaii (Salt Lake City:  Deseret Book, 1963), 9.

5 Heber J. Grant to Castle H. Murphy, 13 July 1935. MSS 663, LTPSC.


Andrus, Hyrum L. and R. Neil Broadhurst. Register to the Castle Hadlock Murphy Papers: MSS 1476. Provo, Utah:  Division of Archives and Manuscripts, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, [2002].

Bitton, Davis. Guide to Mormon Diaries & Autobiographies. Provo, Utah:  Brigham Young University Press, 1977.

Hartshorn, Leon R. Powerful Stories from the Lives of Latter-day Saint Men. Salt Lake City:  Deseret Book Company, 1974.

Jenson, Andrew. Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia: A Compilation of Biographical Sketches of Prominent Men and Women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Vol. 4. Salt Lake City:  Andrew Jenson Historical Co., 1901-1934.

Murphy, Castle H. Castle of Zion: Hawaii. Salt Lake City:  Deseret Book, 1963.

________. “Correspondence, 1934-1935.” MSS 663, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.

________. First stake-Hawaii. Chinese-Japanese Missions. n.p., n.d. [BX 8656.969 .M952f in Americana Collection, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University]

________. Mission of Love. n.p., n.d. [BX 8679.69 .M952 1983 in American Quarto Collection, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University]

________. “Papers, 1909-1980.” MSS 1476, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.

________. “Papers, 1962-1985.” MSS 1812, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.