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Mystery Monday: Wiley A. Murrell and the Committee of Vigilance

Botetourt Co. VA Committee of Vigilance. See 2-3 lines down from highlighted area- “Wiley A. Murrell,” and “Jas. A. Murrell.” Richmond Enquirer, 12 March 1840, Botetourt County, Vol. 36, No. 102, Page 4, Col. 2, via VirginiaChronicle.com. (Click to enlarge.)

 

Roberts Family, Murrell Family (Click for Family Tree)

Our new, exciting find of the name of Wiley Anderson Murrell (1805-1885) in a newspaper gives us a bit of interesting information about him even though it is only a list. It also brings a bit of a mystery.

The heading of the paragraph in which we find his name is “Committee of Vigilance.” So what is this committee? And why are there so many- about 143 total- listed on the committee?

A Google search for ‘committee of vigilance’ indicates that these were groups of private citizens who helped maintain law and order, especially in frontier or sparsely populated areas where governmental law enforcement was insufficient.

In 1840, the County of Botetourt (pronounced “Bot-ih-tot” by locals) had a population of 11, 679 persons. The county had actually lost about 28% of its population since the previous census year (1830), but that was because the county of Roanoke was formed out of Botetourt, taking about 30% of the land. So the population likely did not become more sparse during that decade.

Doing some rough calculations for square miles, the population may have been about 15 persons/square mile. That may have been sparse enough that law enforcement would have needed help by the citizens. Since the county is bounded on the northwest by the Appalachian Mountains and on the southeast by the Blue Ridge Mountains, there is some rugged land there despite the majority of the county being in the Roanoke River Valley. Some of the mountains rise over 4,000 ft., so that was a lot of land for law enforcement to control.

Politically, abolition was one of the great divisors of our society even back in 1830-1840. The Nat Turner Rebellion, a Virginia uprising of slaves in which 57 whites were killed, occurred in 1831, and other violence across the country occurred between slave owners and those who were anti-slavery. The Panic of 1837 occurred when New York City banks failed and unemployment levels were high, and climbing higher. (History repeats itself.)

“Aftermath of the Panic of 1837”- caricature by Edward Williams Clay, 1837. Lithograph image in public domain, via Wikipedia.com.

This Botetourt Co. Committee of Vigilance was formed at the Democratic State Convention on 22 Feb 1840. Other counties also had their own committees.

A man’s politics (women could not vote, of course) was important back in those days, and known to all the neighbors. The Democrats had elected Martin Van Buren as President in 1836, and he was to become the candidate again in 1840 at the national convention. The convention was unable to decide on a Vice-Presidential candidate, however, and three men divided that vote within the Electoral College.

The Whigs- there were no Republicans as we know them at that point- for the first time decided to support one candidate instead of several. They chose William Henry Harrison, who, although born in Virginia, was considered a Northerner since Ohio was his residence. Harrison was wealthy and well-educated, born of wealthy planters and himself a slave-owner, and a ‘hero’ of the Indian Wars. Despite all this, he was promoted as a ‘common man’ with a ‘log cabin’ image.

The Harrison campaign painted Van Buren as snobbish and out of touch with his constituents, wealthy, and extravagant with the taxes of the American people. Van Buren, however, was of ‘common’ stock in reality, as his father was a tavern-keeper. As President, he had refused to admit Texas to the Union as it would have upset the balance of slave and free states. (He later ran as an abolitionist.) Van Buren was the first American President who was born an American citizen, not British.

Rather than talk about actual important national issues, in 1840 the Whigs focused on the failed policies of the President’s Democratic administration. This was the first election in which a candidate actually campaigned, and the Whigs did well, utilizing many of our modern ‘obfuscate the important things’ and ‘create the myth the people want to hear’ campaign strategies.

Virginia, which, in 1840, included West Virginia, did vote for Van Buren, but Harrison was more able to convince voters ranging from high-powered bankers to poor western settlers that he was the better choice for the country. He won both the Electoral College and popular vote, although it was much closer in the popular vote than predicted- Harrison won only by 146,000 votes, out of 2.4 million cast. So the citizens of the US remained quite divided over the large issues of the day, such as a national bank and slavery.

So where does this leave us with Wiley Anderson Murrell and the Democratic ‘Committee of Vigilance’? Going into the 1840s and with a change in the national political power, it was important that the Democrats have some control in Botetourt County. Law enforcement concerning runaway slaves,  debts unpaid to a bank, etc. would have been influenced by the local party in control, possibly even after the Presidential election. Although Van Buren won Botetourt County 50.65% to Harrison’s 49.35%, we do not know what changes may have happened after Harrison took office. Having the Democratic Committee of Vigilance in place may have made a difference in how the county was run. (We should check on whether or not there was a Whig Committee of Vigilance.)

It has been exciting to finally find Wiley A. Murrell’s name in the newspaper after so many years of searching, and it would be wonderful to maybe find more about his time with this committee or in Virginia.  Having James A. Murrell listed also gives us a clue that he might have had a brother, cousin, or uncle or father living in the area in 1840- that too may open some research doors. And of course, it is always interesting to place our ancestors in the context of their times!

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. “Committee of Vigilance,” Richmond Enquirer, 12 March 1840, Botetourt County, Vol. 36, No. 102, Page 4, Col. 2, via VirginiaChronicle.com.
  2. Virginia County maps by year: http://www.mapofus.org/virginia/
  3. “United States presidential election, 1840” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_1840

 

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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 2013-2017 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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Sorting Saturday: Wiley Anderson Murrell and Genealogy Emails

Richmond Enquirer, 12 March 1840, County Committees, Vol. 36, No. 102, Page 4, Col. 1, via VirginiaChronicle.com. (Click to enlarge.)

 

Roberts Family, Murrell Family (Click for Family Tree)

After decades of research, a printed mention of the elusive Wiley Anderson Murrell (1806-1885) has finally been found!!

It was a serendipitous find, as I was sorting through emails.

We have a marriage bond plus censuses in Botetourt County, VA, Roseville IL, and Prairie City IA for Wiley A. Murrell, but never a mention in a newspaper or other document found online- until now. We do not know the names of his parents nor siblings. We know nothing about his life before he married at age 28, except that he was born 3 February 1805 per the family bible. And we have not found an obituary. So it has been very frustrating. (Genealogists understand.) Until now.

Sometimes I think I get too many genealogy emails, so have been sorting through to determine which ones duplicate information and can be unsubscribed from, and which have been productive enough to want to keep reading. I decided to go ahead and click on some of the links in the Elephind.com newsletter- I have found some information from their site previously, and it is a genealogy/newspaper search engine so more specific than Google. I am so glad I decided to take the time. They had the Virginia Newspaper Project (VNP) featured, so searching for one of my most elusive ancestors seemed the thing to do late in the evening. (Genealogists understand.) It took a bit of clicking on the VirginiaChronicle.com website- not super easy to use overall, but I got 30 hits using “Murrell” as my search term and setting the date filter to 1787 (their earliest paper) to 1850, when I knew he was already in Illinois.

Skimming down the page, the fourth hit included “Wiley A. Murrell”!! Oh my- I was so excited I could hardly breathe, afraid the words on the screen would go away. (Genealogists understand.) Could this be “our” Wiley? There actually are more Murrells than I ever thought there would be, especially in Virginia, and ‘Wiley’ was apparently a common name- probably short for ‘William.’ So I was hoping against hope that it would be the right man, especially since it was a Richmond, Virginia paper, and we know that after 1832, when he married, he lived about 170 miles away, in Botetourt County.

But there it was:

“Wiley A. Murrell.”

The 12 March 1840 Richmond Enquirer included a list of County Committees appointed at the Democratic State Convention on Feb. 22 1840. There was a Botetourt Central Committee with 12 men listed, and then a “Committee of Vigilance” with ~143 members. Down that list was “Wiley A. Murrell.” That had to be him! Right name, right county, right time period.

Richmond Enquirer, 12 March 1840, Botetourt County, Vol. 36, No. 102, Page 4, Col. 2, via VirginiaChronicle.com. (Click to enlarge.)

Trying to be calm and analytical was hard as I was inspired to do the Genealogy Happy Dance. (Genealogists understand.) I won’t, however, describe that here as one could never ‘unsee’ how pathetic that would be with my 3 left feet.

I knew I needed to be looking at the other names on the committee for familiar names- Elizabeth Shown Mills’ FAN (Friends, Associates, Neighbors) Club, to help me make sure I had the right Wiley. Sure enough, there was a name that clicked- Andrew Obenchain/Obernshain. The name sounded familiar, but at first I could not find it in my tree. Looking at the Honts family information compiled by the late George E. Honts, III, however, I realized that Wiley’s wife, Mary Magdalen (Honts) Murrell, was Andrew’s sister-in-law, as he had married Mary’s sister, Elizabeth B. Honts (1809-1881). So maybe we need to add a “C” to the FAN Club- for “Collateral kin.” (Includes in-laws, cousins, etc. who are not a direct ancestor but related. Not as catchy an acronym though.) There are Coffmans listed on this Botetourt committee too- the mother of Mary and Elizabeth was Catharine (Coffman/Kauffman) Honts (1784-1867).

There is also a “Jas. A. Murrell” listed- perhaps a brother, father, uncle, cousin?

So it is very highly likely that this is the correct Wiley A. Murrell.

Wow. Oh wow. (Genealogists understand.)

So sort your data, emails, papers, etc. on a regular basis, and stay up to date with what is newly available online and in archives. You never know what you will find.

 

Coming up: more about Wiley A. Murrell and the Committee of Vigilance.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Richmond Enquirer, March 12, 1840, Volume 36, Number 102, Page 4, Column 2 @ Virginia Newspaper Project, Virginia Chronicle, http://virginiachronicle.com/cgi-bin/virginia?a=d&d=RE18400312.1.4&srpos=4&e=–1787—1850–en-20–1–txt-txIN-Murrell——#
  2. Murrell Family Bible- see our series beginning at http://heritageramblings.net/2014/02/09/sentimental-sunday-murrell-family-bible-part-1/. Wiley’s birth record is shown in Part 2.
  3. The Descendants of Jacob Hons/John by George E. Honts III, Fincastle, Virginia, 1999. Available only from the Botetourt (VA) Historical Society, https://bothistsoc.wordpress.com.

 

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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 2013-2017 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.

Tombstone Tuesday: Ann Elisy (Murrell) Brown

Mound Prairie Pioneer Cemetery sign, Mound Prairie Township, Jasper County, Iowa. Used with kind permission of the FAG photographer.

 

Murrell Family, Roberts Family (Click for Family Tree)

Ann Elisy (Murrell) Brown, also known as Anneliza, passed away on 2 May 1892 at the relatively young age of 46.

Anneliza (Murrell) Brown- headstone in Mound Prairie Pioneer Cemetery, Mound Prairie Township, Jasper County, Iowa. Used with kind permission of the FAG photographer. (Click to enlarge.)

Her youngest child was just seven years old; the oldest, 22.

Anneliza (Murrell) Brown- headstone closeup in Mound Prairie Pioneer Cemetery, Mound Prairie Township, Jasper County, Iowa. Used with kind permission of the FAG photographer. (Click to enlarge.)

Her husband Aaron Brown followed her in death just two years later, on 19 March 1894. Their little daughter Edith Brown would have been just nine when she was left without parents. We do not know who the children lived with- we have only been able to find Mary in the 1900 census, and she had married in 1892, the year her mother died. None of her siblings are listed that year with Mary, her husband George Underwood, and their son on the census. (Years later, however, Edith was single and living with them as an adult in Grant County, Minnesota at the 1920 and 1930 census.)

Aaron Brown- headstone in Mound Prairie Pioneer Cemetery, Mound Prairie Township, Jasper County, Iowa. Used with kind permission of the FAG photographer. (Click to enlarge.)

Both Anneliza and Aaron are buried in Mound Prairie Pioneer Cemetery in Jasper County, Iowa, adjacent to the Roberts family’s homeplace settled by Anneliza’s sister Elizabeth Ann (Murrell) Roberts and her husband John Roberts. (Interestingly, Elizabeth and John are not buried there, but in Waveland Cemetery in Prairie City.)

Aaron Brown- headstone closeup in Mound Prairie Pioneer Cemetery, Mound Prairie Township, Jasper County, Iowa. Used with kind permission of the FAG photographer. (Click to enlarge.)

Anneliza’s parents, Wiley Anderson Murrell and Mary M. (Honts) Murrell are also buried in Mound Prairie Pioneer Cemetery.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Anneliza (Murrell) Brown– Find A Grave Memorial# 39599402, https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=39599402
  2. Aaron Brown– Find A Grave Memorial# 39599324, https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=39599324
  3. The bios on Find A Grave for this couple were a collaboration between this author and the creator of the memorials. We appreciate his work, and his permission to share his photos with family.

 

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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.

Census Sunday: Ann Elisy Murrell and Aaron Brown

Ann Elisy Murrell, age 5, with her parents in the 1850 US Federal Census taken in Botetourt County, Virginia. (Click to enlarge.)

Roberts Family, Murrell Family (Click for Family Tree)

Ann Elisy Murrell, sometimes called Eliza or Anneliza, was the youngest child of Wiley Anderson Murrell (1806-1885) and Mary Magdalene Honts (1806-1887). Like her older siblings, she was born in Botetourt County, Virginia, with her ‘natal day’ (an old-timey way of saying ‘birthday’) being 21 December 1845.

Birth record of Ann Elisy Murrell, from Murrell Family Bible. (See previous posts on the Bible.) (Click to enlarge.)

Eliza was just five years old on 4 October 1850 when the census taker was to stopped by their home in District 8, Botetourt County, Virginia to count the inhabitants. He listed her father,Wiley A. Murrell, first, as the head of household, then her mother. Next came the children in order of birth with their sex and ages. The ditto marks on the census extract above indicate Virginia was the birthplace for all the family members. Wiley was listed as a farmer, but no value of real estate was given, so he may have been renting their farm. The mark to the far right indicates that Wiley could not read nor write.

In 1853 the family moved to Warren County, Illinois. So we find Eliza with her parents and brothers William and James in the 1860 census there. All three children had been in attendance at school and her father, Wiley, was listed with $718 in personal estate value- still no real estate, so he was likely renting the land there too.

The quest for land they could own possibly drove Wiley and Mary to migrate further west, to Iowa, in 1868. Eliza’s sister Elizabeth Ann Murrell had married John Roberts, and they all migrated together. We don’t know if Eliza went with them or not, but it appears she may have chosen to stay, or else she took the train back to Roseville. She married on 15 September 1869 in Warren County, Illinois. Her husband, Aaron Brown (1846-1894), had been born in Indiana, but his family moved to Fulton County, Illinois, and then Warren County, where the couple probably met.

Eliza was 24, Aaron 23, when the next census taker found them in Greenbush, Warren County, Illinois, on 3 June 1870. Aaron was noted as a farmer, but with no real estate value listed; his ‘personal estate’ was listed as being worth $300. So Aaron may have been renting the land too. Eliza had gone from being a farmer’s daughter to a farmer’s wife. She had also just become a mother the week before- their son James Brown was enumerated as being “7/365” days old.

Interestingly, Eliza was listed as being born in Kentucky on the 1870 census, although most other records note her birth as Virginia, plus she was found in the 1850 census there. We do know there are errors in the census, and they can be caused by a number of situations, such as the enumerator not speaking directly to the person they are listing, errors in copying, ‘misremembering,’ etc.

James was apparently used to migration since his family had moved a number of times, and Eliza may have missed her parents, especially once she became a parent herself. Perhaps the Murrell and Roberts families had sent back glowing reports of the fertility of the soil, and the cheap land to be had in the west? For whatever reason, James and Eliza decided to move to Iowa. Their move came sometime after the birth of their daughter Mary R. Brown in 1872 and son William A. Brown (possibly named William Anderson after his uncle and grandfather?), born about 1875. They were in Iowa by about 1878, when their son George L. Brown was born in Jasper County, Iowa. Their last child, Edith M. Brown, was born in 1885, in Jasper County as well.

Edith was born just before the 1885 Iowa State Census was taken, as there was no age recorded for her but she was listed. Her mother was listed as “Ann Eliza,” and Aaron, Mary R., William A., and George L. Brown were also listed. They were farming property listed as Twp. 79, Range 20, Section 25, NW ¼ NW ¼.

More to come about the Murrell-Brown family.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. We do need to check land records in the various counties to determine if the Murrells actually owned land in Virginia or Illinois.
  2. Census records as described which can be found on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.

 

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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 2013-2017 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.

Friday’s Faces from the Past: Descendants of William A. Murrell and Cordelia Talley

Ivan MURRELL, possibly circa 1901, Galesburg, Illinois. (Click to enlarge.)

Roberts Family, Murrell Family (Click for Family Tree)

The week of February 20, 2017, we posted about the brother of our Elizabeth Ann (Murrell) Roberts, William Anderson Murrell, and his wife Cordelia Talley. Following are some images of their descendants, but how we got those images is very interesting. An Ancestry.com member found them at a flea market in California, and since we have public trees on Ancestry, she was able to send a message to a cousin. Of course the cousin wanted them, so the kind finder sent them on. What great info on the back, too. What a wonderful RAOGK! (Random Act of Genealogical Kindness)

We are hoping that closer family members will find this post so that they can enlighten us with more information on these people.

Ivan MURRELL, possibly circa 1901, reverse.

Ivan Murrell (1899-1982) was the son of Elizabeth’s nephew George Overton Murrell (1872-1951) and Nora B. Cunningham (1875-1958).

William and Cordelia’s daughter Permelia Jane Murrell (1870-1950) married John Calvin Manuel (1865-1950) on 5 June 1889 in Warren County, Illinois. Here are the recently found photos related to that family:

Thomas Manuel and his wife, ‘Aunt’ Molly. (Click to enlarge.)
Thomas Manuel and his wife, ‘Aunt’ Molly, reverse. (Click to enlarge.)

Apparently Thomas would have been Permelia’s brother-in-law? (Please leave us a note if we have this wrong.) The Eva noted is Eva Angeline (Manuel) Mitchell (1906-1990), daughter of John C. and Permelia Jane (Murrell) Manuel.

Ethel Manuel, later Burkett. Possibly taken circa 1910.  (Click to enlarge.)

Ethel Manuel was the second child of Permelia Jane and John Calvin Manuel.

Ethel Manuel, later Burkett- reverse. (Click to enlarge.)

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Family photos kindly provided by a cousin, and a wonderful person who found them in a flea market in California.

 

Click to enlarge any image. Please contact us if you would like an image in higher resolution.

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 2013-2017 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.