OUR POSITION: We question if Mr. Murdock is someone we should be naming towns and schools after.
This is not about a Confederate soldier’s statue. Nor is it about honoring a general or statesman who had a hand in leading the South against the North in the Civil War.
What it is about is the name used by everyone to designate Murdock (the area of Charlotte County centered around the Town Center mall) as a pseudo town and Murdock Middle School. And there are other, less obvious, examples.
How should we determine who is worthy of being honored in such a way? Did John Murdock contribute enough to the building and history of Charlotte County to be raised up as a figurehead?
We didn’t know John Murdock. Few alive today did. So to judge someone who is deceased and who we did not know may not seem fair. And to question his credentials for having towns and schools named after him is something we’re sure his descendants would not appreciate, or agree with.
“Century: A People’s History of Charlotte County,” is a new book by James Abraham published to celebrate the county’s 100th birthday. The book goes way back to the founding of the county and among its goals was to familiarize us with some of the people who were instrumental in the county’s successes.
John Murdock was one of those people. There is no doubt about his significance in the county’s progress.
In a previous story in The Daily Sun by Nancy Semon, she described how Abraham portrayed Murdock in the book.
When General Development Corp., which basically built the county with assets from hundreds of homes it sold, filed for bankruptcy, the county government relocated to what is now called Murdock. While no map will likely point out where Murdock begins and ends, it is basically the area around the Town Center mall and Charlotte County Administration Building. It extends north to near the county line with Sarasota and south to around Midway Boulevard (or Quesada Avenue depending on who you talk to).
Murdock Village was to be a crowning achievement after the county bought up land there, between State Road 776 and U.S. 41, with the intent to sell it to developers and create a downtown Murdock — along with thousands of homes, parks and businesses. We all know that did not work out well until the past couple of years when developers did finally take an interest in the land. It’s now on its way to becoming a mecca for new homeowners.
But, it won’t be named Murdock. It will be West Port — and likely other names.
But the name Murdock still persists.
John Murdock was described in Abraham’s book as a land shark who came here before the booming 1920s. He said he wanted a community in “Murdock.”
But, again according to history and the book, he ended up sneaking out of town with his secretary, leaving his family and a lot of disappointment.
Maybe Murdock’s foresight and vision, along with his financial investment, albeit not always the most transparent, are enough to secure his name as one worthy of recognition. But, maybe, looking at all the facts, Murdock was not a person who should be revered with his name on a school — or a town.
What do you think?