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Tuesday’s Tip: Mary (Bliss) Parsons- Which Witch??

Painting that many attribute as Mary Bliss Parsons, but it is not. No known images exist of her. Unknown source.
Painting that many attribute as Mary (Bliss) Parsons, but it is not. No known images exist of her. Unknown source.

McMurray Family, Burnell Family (Click for Family Tree)

Tuesday’s Tip: Be careful with names.

Even when the occupation or another trait seems to “fit,”

do an ‘exhaustive search’ to make sure you have the correct ancestor.

 

Initial research on Mary Parsons as an ancestor provided confusing results.

Two women with the name of Mary Parsons lived in two of the same towns during the same time period. That is challenging enough, but during the early research, I knew that “our” ancestor had been accused as a witch. That was not enough to distinguish one from the other, however- both of these Marys had been accused as witches! WOW!- so were they the same person?

No.

The key to this problem was to find the maiden names of the women- not always easy to do, especially in very early records. For women, looking at their children is also a clue. Well, sometimes children can be a clue, however the same few names were often used, children died young, etc. But the number of children, their birth years, and names, can be tidbits that might also prove helpful to differentiate two people, or prove they are the same.

In our case, the children helped but maiden names were the definitive way to show they were indeed two different women.

Mary (Lewis) Parsons, wife of Hugh Parsons, lived in Springfield, Hamden, Massachusetts at the same time as Mary (Bliss) Parsons, our ancestor. We have posted extensively about both families in our series on Mary (Bliss) Parsons. Once we found the maiden names of “Lewis” and “Bliss” it was fairly easy to distinguish between the two women. Additionally, Mary (Lewis) was older and had fewer children than “our” Mary (Bliss) Parsons.

Interestingly, though, some additional research shows that “Lewis” was NOT the maiden name of the wife of Hugh Parsons. I have never seen this mentioned in any of the scholarship on the two families, however.

How do I know that? It’s that BSOS- “Bright Shiny Object Syndrome,” where one has to look at just one more piece of evidence… though at least this one did not take me far from the original focus.

American Ancestors, the website of the New England Historic & Genealogical Society (NEHGS), has a database with the papers of John Winthrop, Deputy Governor of Massachusetts. In a letter from William Pynchon in Springfield to Winthrop, dated 15 September 1645, Pynchon states:

I wrote to you… about one Mary Lewis the wife of Lewis a papist. [a Catholic- something abhorred by the Puritans.] she hath been aboue [about] 7y[ears] seperated from her husband, and is perswaded by others that she may marry by the lawes of England: she is easely perswaded to that bec[ause] she liues [lives] vnder [under] temptations of desyer [desire] of mariage and I vunderstand [understand] lately that she is falen into a league of amity [a “friendly” relationship] with a bricke maker of our Towne…

This “bricke maker of our Towne” was none other than Hugh Parsons.

Thus “Lewis” was the married name of Mary, from her first marriage. Some researchers do note that she was deserted by her first husband (the “papist”), but none that I have found note her maiden name; I have not found it either.

Gov. Winthrop must have approved the “league of amity,” as the marriage of Mary and Hugh is is recorded in the Springfield, Massachusetts Vol. 1, page 20 of “Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850” on AmericanAncestors.org. It is written as:

Hugh Parsons & mary Lewis joyned in m[torn] 8 mon. 27 day 1645.

Researchers have therefore assumed that Mary’s maiden name was Lewis. But it most likely was not, as can be deduced from Pynchon’s letter stating she had married a man named Lewis. Of course, her maiden name could have been ‘Lewis’ and she married a man named ‘Lewis’- such things did happen, but it was less likely. Either way, technically, her name should be genealogically written as “Mary ( __ ) [Lewis] Parsons.”

So another tip: don’t assume!

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. See resources listed in previous posts about Mary (Bliss) Parsons, Parts 1-4 beginning with:

    No Ghoulies, No Ghosties, But a Witch? Yep. Part 1“–http://heritageramblings.net/2015/10/31/no-ghoulies-no-ghosties-but-a-witch-yep-part-1/

    “Wedding Wednesday: Mary Parsons and Ebenezer Bridgman”http://heritageramblings.net/2015/12/23/wedding-wednesday-mary-parsons-and-ebenezer-bridgman/

  2. Gov. John Winthrop Papers, Vol. 1-5, 1557 to 1649. (Online database. AmericanAncestors.org. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2016.) Originally published as: Winthrop Papers.Boston: Masssachuestts Historical Society, 1929 -. Vol. 5, page 45.

  3. Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016).

  4. Newer usage in genealogy includes using brackets around previous married names, in addition to the convention of parentheses around maiden names.
  5. Reading colonial writing is not as hard as it seems- if stumped, say the words out loud, as they were often spelled as they were said, and with whatever accent was used. Also note that sometimes “v” and “u” were used interchangeably as in ‘vnderstand.’ Additionally, an “f” was often used as an “s,” especially if it was a double “s” in the word, as in “difmifsed” for “dismissed.”

 

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Original content copyright 2013-2016 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted. 
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A Very Special Day

05 June 1948- Wedding picture of Edward A. McMurray and Mary T. Helbling
05 June 1948- Wedding picture of Edward A. McMurray and Mary T. Helbling

McMurray Family,  Helbling Family, Cooper Family, Broida Family, (Click for Family Trees)

Today is a very special day in our family- there will be a wedding!

Young brides and grooms think that their wedding is a celebration of their love, and it definitely is that. It is their most special day, to long be remembered by themselves and all the loving family and friends who share the joyful event.

But…

♥ Every wedding is a reaffirmation of love and how it endures through the years.

♥ Every wedding is the start of something- a new chapter in the book of life, in which one builds a career, maybe a business, a set of new relationships, and (hopefully) a lifetime of love and support.

And…

♥ Every wedding is a reinforcement of the new family as a small unit within a much larger set of families.

So it is also a time to think about all those marriages that came before and helped to make us who we are, with our random inheritance of DNA.

Today, let us take a bit of a walk through the past, remembering the marriages of our ancestors and the happiness they must have felt on their own special day, or that of their children. Joy fills our hearts as we think of the life these couples built together, and the legacy they have left us.

Abraham Green and Rose Braef/Brave- Wedding Picture? About 1884.
Abraham Green and Rose Braef/Brave- Wedding Picture? About 1884.

The above is the oldest wedding picture we have.

Wedding Photo of Joseph and Helen Cooper
Wedding Photo of Joseph and Helen Cooper, about 1901.

Cooper was Helen’s maiden name- they were second cousins- so that made things easy name-wise.

Some folks eloped so we have no actual wedding picture of them:

1974_02_40th Wedding Anniversary of Gertrude Belle (Broida) Cooper and Irving Israel Cooper.
1974_02_40th Wedding Anniversary of Gertrude Belle (Broida) Cooper and Irving Israel Cooper.

Sure seems like there would be wedding pictures somewhere within the Payne-McMurray family, but don’t have any for this couple either:

Wedding announcement for Lynette Payne-William McMurray wedding in The Oakland Tribune, 22 June 1899.
Wedding announcement for Lynette Payne-William Elmer McMurray wedding in The Oakland Tribune, 22 June 1899.

Lynette was just nineteen, and had been living with her maternal uncle, Court K. Burnell, after she moved from California to Iowa. C.K. travelled quite a lot, and that may be why A. S. Burnell gave permission for Lynette’s marriage.

Marriage license of Will and Lynette Payne, 6 June 1899.
Marriage license of Will and Lynette Payne, 6 June 1899, Newton, Jasper, Iowa.

A.S. Burnell was most likely another maternal uncle, Arthur Strong Burnell, who was living in Newton, Jasper, Iowa, in the 1900 US Federal Census. Both uncles had daughters around Lynette’s age (and C.K. also had sons) so Lynette had quite a bit of family in Newton, where she and Will McMurray spent the rest of their lives.

1960s? Will and Lynette (Payne) McMurray in Iowa.
1960s? Will and Lynette (Payne) McMurray in Iowa.

These were all long marriages.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Today’s wedding ceremony fills our hearts to bursting, and it surely will overflow into tears- but they will be (mostly) happy tears.  Today, it is our child- a product of our love- who marries, and who continues the legacy of love through time.

Oh, Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!!

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Family treasure chest of photos.

 

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Original content copyright 2013-2016 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted. 
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Workday Wednesday: Frederick McMurray Crying a Farm Sale

Frederick A. McMurray, "crying" a farm sale prior to 1929. From an article in the Newton Daily News, Centennial Edition, August 10, 1957, page 27.
Frederick A. McMurray, “crying” a farm sale prior to 1929. From an article in the Newton Daily News, Centennial Edition, August 10, 1957, page 27.

McMurray Family (Click for Family Tree)

“Crying a farm sale” was a term used for what an auctioneer did to drum up interest in an item at an auction to get a good sale price. It took very careful listening to understand the words as a sale was ‘cried,’ since the auctioneer spoke so fast.

Frederick Asbury McMurray (1850-1929) was initially a farmer, but became an auctioneer in 1880, in Newton, Jasper County, Iowa. Farm sales and auctions were common in rural areas back in those days. When a farmer lost the land due to taxes and bad crop years, or when death took the person who worked the land, often parts or all of the land, barns and other buildings, farm equipment, tools, horses, buggies, and even the house and household goods would be sold at a public gathering. Even the kitchen sink could be offered at an auction!

Of course, stores and homes could also be the subject of auction, not just farms.

Apparently Fred had quite a following as he was a very good auctioneer. His job was to command the highest prices for his employer, or the person who contracted with him to cry the sale. “There frequently being a rivalry as to who can first command his services,” Fred kept his calendar filled with auction dates. His headquarters were at the grocery in Newton owned by his son, William Elmer McMurray (1874-1957), and farmers and store owners would come into the store to talk with Fred to engage him for their sale.

Of course, the higher the price that Fred could get for an auction item, the better for him as well as the farmer, as auctioneers generally receive a percentage of the total sales to pay them for their work. “Buyer’s premium” as it is called today, is usually 15% of the sale price, though it can vary. (Could not find out how much the  premium was in the late 1800s.)

Most auctioneers stayed pretty local, but Fred was so popular that he travelled to many other counties in central Iowa, and was well known for his abilities. Around 1903, Fred even cried a sale in Dexter, Dallas County, Iowa. Dexter was about 70 miles west of Newton, but evidently the income from the sale was worth paying him for the time and travel.

In 1902, Fred cried 128 sales, with his average sale being worth $2,100- that would be about $55,000 in today’s money!  [See Note 2.] That was a significant total, and he was at the top of the auctioneer ranks because of it.

Of course, his descendants- Fred was the grandfather of Edward A. McMurray, Sr. (1900-1992)- would like to think his personality made him popular as well as his skill at generating income for  someone hosting an auction. The newspapers of the day did mention that “The secret of Fred’s success is his attention to business, his fairness, and strict fidelity to the interests of his employer…” Fred would “…leave both buyer and seller in good humor and satisfied.”

“His work speaks for itself.”

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Family treasure chest article, “Fred A. McMurray” from The Daily Herald, [Newton, Iowa], January 1, 1903, page 9.
  2. The inflation calculator at http://www.in2013dollars.com/1902-dollars-in-2016?amount=2100 was used to determine Fred’s sales. If he received a 15% buyer’s premium, $8,250 in today’s money would have been his average income from a sale in 1902, with his income equivalent for the year 1902 over a million dollars. Fred may have done very well that year, but not likely that well. So it is important to really look at such calculators and use common sense with the math.

 

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We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2016 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted. 
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Sunday’s Obituary: Frederick Asbury McMurray

Frederick Asbury McMurray, circa 1890?
Frederick Asbury McMurray, circa 1890?

McMurray Family (Click for Family Tree)

This obituary was posted on Iowa GenWeb by the late Donna Sloan Rempp. Her family was kind enough to give us permission to post it on the blog.

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Well known Auctioneer Dies From Stroke Thursday

Funeral services were held Sunday afternoon for Frederick A. McMurray, well known Jasper county auctioneer and one of the leading Democrats of the county, who died last Thursday evening at his home in Newton at 7:15, following a stroke of paralysis, which he received the previous Sunday afternoon as he was returning from the funeral of a friend, Mrs. C. L. Good.

Frederick A. McMurray was born Aug. 28, 1859 in Bedford county, Penn., son of Henderson and Mary Ann (Horn) McMurray, the third child in a family of 12 children. At the age of two years he came west with his parents and three children crossing the Mississippi river at Muscatine. The family settled on a farm south of Tipton in Cedar county, where they remained until 1869.

The McMurray family then moved on west again, this time settling in Jasper county on a farm about two and one half miles north west of Newton. Fred McMurray here continued his education, which was started while he was living in Cedar county, finishing at the age of 18 years and starting out for himself.

At first he spent his time breaking the raw prairies of the rich corn belt through Jasper county, later in 1872 taking up grading work in the Rock Island right of way between Newton and Reasnor.

He purchased his first piece of real estate in 1874, when he negotiated for an 80 acre tract of land about three miles northeast of Newton on old No. 14, which he owned at the time of his death. He lived on this farm until 1922, farming for himself, putting on many improvements.

In addition to being one of the leading auctioneers of his time, Mr. McMurray was connected with the Jasper County Agricultural Society for many years as marshal, and even in the last years he was considered as an advisory part of the governing organization.

Mr. McMurray is survived by his wife, and eight brothers and sisters: Joseph of Fort Madison; Mary, Mrs. Ella Aillaud, and Henry of Newton; Mrs. Sam Raugh of Exeter, Calif.; James T. of Rodondo Beach, Calif.; David of Valley Junction; and Mrs. Margaret Maytag of Marshalltown. One brother John and two sisters Mrs. Newt Edge and Emma, preceded him in death.

He is also survived by one daughter, Mrs. Forrest Gillespie of Oak Park, Ill., and four sons, William, Harry J., Roy and Ray of Newton; three grandchildren, Dr. E. A., Mrs. Maude Cook, and Herbert of Newton; and two great grandchildren, Edward A. Jr., and Mona Lynette Cook of Newton.

Source: Newspaper Unknown; __ December 1929 (Newton Union records say he d. 12 December 1929)

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Fred’s wife was Hannah Melissa (Benjamin) McMurray, but she was not actually named in his obituary.

Family records do state his death was 12 December 1929; his headstone lists only his birth and death years.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. IA US GenWeb– http://iagenweb.org/jasper/

 

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We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2016 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted. 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
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Thankful Thursday: #My Colorful Ancestry

Birthplace Excel Chart, inspired by J. Paul Hawthorne.
Birthplace Excel Chart, inspired by J. Paul Hawthorne. (Click to enlarge.)

McMurray Family, Helbling Family (Click for Family Trees)

Sometimes it seems I am ‘wasting’ time by reading so much on the internet, but one can learn fantastic things. There are also fantastic people who share their fantastic ideas with the world via the internet, and for that I am so thankful- not only on Thankful Thursday.

Today, gratitude goes to J. Paul Hawthorne, who posted “A Little Thing That Went Viral… #MyColorfulAncestry” on his blog, “GeneaSpy.”  Of course, I am behind the times as it went viral last March, but that is what happens when one lives with one foot in the present, and the other back in the 1700s, 1800s, etc.

The above chart is for the children of Edward A. McMurray, Jr. and Mary Theresa (Helbling) McMurray.

Note how color-coding the Excel cells helps to show migration of a family.

Grayed cells are unknown birthplaces, although they most likely were in the same country as where the more recent generation was born, such as Germany or Ireland.

Follow the links on J. Paul’s blog for templates to use, as a number of other genealogy bloggers have added generations. I do recommend that one clear the cells of text, or use all caps when inputting your own ancestor’s birthplaces. When all the words are in the cells, then go back and change colors so that each state and country are different.

The chart also follows the genealogical convention of an Ahnentafel chart, with the father’s name on top, mother’s below. So the largest bright green box for Iowa is for Edward A. McMurray, Jr., and the largest rose-colored box for Missouri would be the birthplace of Mary (Helbling) McMurray. Mary’s father, William Gerard Helbling, was born in Missouri, so is represented to the right, with the lower box being for her mother, Anna May (Beerbower) Helbling, who was born in Indiana. Take a look at the associated family trees for names and details.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. A Little Thing That Went Viral… #MyColorfulAncestry” by J. Paul Hawthorne in his blog, “GeneaSpy.” http://www.geneaspy.com/2016/03/a-little-thing-that-went-viral.html. Thanks to J. Paul for sharing such a cool idea!
  2. There are many excellent versions of this chart found throughout genea-blogland.
  3. Excel is an excellent tool for timelines, one-name or one-place study, data analysis, etc. Many videos and webinars are available online and information is available on FaceBook and genealogy blogs as to how to use Excel as more than just a numbers-cruncher.
  4. Make sure that you note the problem with dates in Excel- it only recognizes those that go back to 1900! So all my dates are in three columns in Excel- one each for day, month, and four-digit year. The months can be listed as numbers for easy sorting, or Excel has a function that allows you to tell it to sort by month order. See Teresa Keogh’s Excel videos, especially, “Example 7 – The Date Issue in Excel” at   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hj6FS2QViI

 

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We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2016 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted. 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
 Please contact us if you have any questions about copyright or use of our blog material.