Murdoch embraced Mormonism and set out for the Utah Territory in 1852 with his wife, Ann, and their family. En route they suffered the deaths of their two young children. Two years later, John’s mother, Wee Granny, and Ann’s brother, James Steele, both perished, along with many others of the ill-fated Martin handcart company, as they attempted to immigrate to Salt Lake City.
Murdoch was a respected member of the community and participated in the military preparations and maneuvers against the U.S. Army in the 1857 Utah War. Eventually the family moved to the Heber valley as early settlers there. Murdoch later became one of Wasatch county’s first elected officials and helped establish the sheep-ranching industry in Utah.
The 'everyman' aspect of John Murdoch’s life makes his a compelling story. It will fascinate anyone interested in the individuals who helped create Utah's history.
Praise and Reviews:
"Very solid work...A good example of how a ‘family’ history can be written and produced for public consumption."—Evans Handcart Award Selection Committee
"In reading this account even a person unacquainted with Scottish and Mormon history will receive an excellent introduction to the larger context of John Murdoch’s ‘life and times,’ while at the same time gaining an appreciation of his personal values as a committed member of the Mormon community."— Frederick S. Buchanan, University of Utah
"The book is more than a biography; it is a case study of all Murdoch's activities...Scottish Shepherd will be enjoyed by the many descendants of John Murray Murdoch and by Mormons of Scottish ancestry who want to understand more about Scots in Utah."—Utah Historical Quarterly
A solid piece of scholarship."—Journal of the West