Sentimental Sunday: Three Generations of McMurray Dads

Three generations of McMurray Dads: Dr. Edward A. McMurray, Sr. on left, his mother Lynette (Payne) McMurray holding his son Edward A. McMurray, Jr., and her husband and Dr. McMurray’s father, Will McMurray, on right. circa 1924-5.

McMurray Family (Click for Family Tree)

Today, Father’s Day, is a great day to get sentimental about the dads in our family- we wouldn’t be US without them!

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Family treasure chest of photos.

 

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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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National Doctor’s Day- Is there a Doctor in the House- er, Tree?

Dr. Edward A. McMurray, probably about 1925 after finishing college.
Dr. Edward A. McMurray, probably about 1925 after finishing college.  (Click to enlarge.)

 

McMurray Family, Helbling Family (Click for Family Tree)

Our Congress really does get important things done… and they really can work together if they try.  Think back to 1990 when, with overwhelming approval, both Congress and the House passed S.J. #366 to declare ‘National Doctor’s Day.’ The bill had just been introduced that year, and Pres. George H.W. Bush signed it in October- less than 10 months from start to finish! Public Law 101-473 thus took effect on March 30, 1991, proclaiming March 30 as a national day to celebrate the contributions of physicians throughout our history.

We do have at least two ancestors who were physicians, and one uncle.

Dr. Edward A. McMurray and his wife Elna Mae Kenner McMurray in the 1939 Newton, Iowa City Directory.
Dr. Edward A. McMurray and his wife Elna Mae Kenner McMurray in the 1939 Newton, Iowa City Directory. His office was in the bank building at that time, and his home was on S 8th Ave. W. (Click to enlarge.)

Dr. Edward A. McMurray

Both of the sons born to William Elmer McMurray and Lynette (Payne) McMurray, Edward A. McMurray (1900-1992) and his brother Herbert C. McMurray (1911-1989), became doctors.

Herbert McMurray, Newton (Iowa) High School Yearbook, 1929.
Herbert McMurray, Newton (Iowa) High School Yearbook, 1929. Herbert was one of only six young men at Newton High to be inducted into the National Athletic Honorary Society. The Society required high academic achievement as well as outstanding athletic work. (Click to enlarge.)

Within the family, Edward was lovingly called, “The Doctor.” He specialized in Ear, Eye, Nose, and Throat problems, after a residency in New York City around 1940. (His son Edward A. McMurray, Jr., remembered going to the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City with him one summer during that residency.) Back then, ‘The Doctor’s’ specialty was known as “EENT.” Now that specialty has split- we have opthamologists- doctors who specialize in eyes only, and other doctors called ‘otorhinolaryngologists’ or ENTs, who cover the ear, nose, and throat areas. But Dr. McMurray could do it all, and his out-of-state grandchildren got their annual eye (and ENT) check when visiting him in Iowa!

I have already written a detailed post about the medical career of Dr. E. A. McMurray (1900-1992) in Newton, Iowa- see “Workday Wednesday- Dr. Edward A. McMurray.” His brother Herbert C. McMurray (1911-1989) practiced in the Ballwin, Missouri area.

Dr. John H. O’Brien

If you are a descendant of Gerard William/William Gerard “G. W.” Helbling (1882-1971), then you are also descended from Dr. John H. O’Brien (1808-1887), who was G.W.’s maternal (mother’s) grandfather. Dr. O’Brien was born in Ireland and attended the University of Dublin. A letter to the University has not provided any specific information about him as a student, although there was a Dr. John O’Brien working there as the Librarian of the King and Queen’s College of Physicians in 1841. This cannot be the same Dr. John O’Brien, as our known ancestor had immigrated to America in 1831. (Perhaps it was his father or an uncle? O’Brien is a common name in Ireland though so the Librarian may not have been related at all.)

Dr. O’Brien immigrated in 1831, and was in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania by 1832. It was a tough time to be a doctor in western Pennsylvania- a cholera epidemic, spread by contaminated water, was taking place on the frontier.

The inscription on his headstone was very appropriate for a physician:

Blessed is he that understandeth concerning

the needy and the poor, the Lord will deliver

him in the evil day.       -XL Psalm 

Dr. John H. O’Brien- headstone detail (Click to enlarge.)

Dr. O’Brien and his wife Jane (Neel) O’Brien were early settlers of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania suburbs, and he was a successful doctor in the Pittsburgh area. (He is often listed as “J. H. O’Brien” in directories.) A previous post tells a bit more about Dr. O’Brien and his family: “Tombstone Tuesday- Dr. John H. O’Brien.” We will tell more of the family story in upcoming posts.

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All of these doctors would be amazed at today’s healthcare. Dr. E. A. McMurray, who died in 1992 but had been retired for a number of years, saw the beginnings of this incredible age of medicine.  Dr. O’Brien, however, may have been paid in farm products, especially in his early years in America and while on the frontier, where hard cash was hard to come by. (If memory serves, Dr. McMurray was sometimes paid with goods as well, especially in his early years as a general practitioner in a small town with surrounding rural areas.) The ‘germ theory of disease’ was not fully understood or accepted until at least the 1850s, and really into the 1880s. John Snow wrote his theory of the transmission of cholera in 1849, and mapped cholera epidemics in London in the early 1850s. Not fully accepted even when he stopped the epidemic, it was too late for our Dr. O’Brien to use this information to help stem the disease in Western Pennsylvania. Viruses were discovered in the 1890s, after Dr. O’Brien’s death and just 10 years before Dr. E. A. McMurray was born. Some arsenic-based synthetic antibacterials had been used after 1907 for some diseases, but Dr. McMurray was already through medical school when penicillin was described in 1928; antibiotics were not widely available, however, until after World War II.

From using genetics to determine treatment, to the incredibly complex machines we have available for diagnosis and treatment, to how medical care is paid for (and how insurance companies think they know more about appropriate patient care than a personal doctor), today’s medicine would be astounding to all these learned doctors!

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. “Dublin Almanac and General Register of Ireland for the Year of Our Lord 1841,” p. 151, Ancestry.com.
  2. Tombstone Tuesday- Dr. John H. O’Brien” may be found at http://heritageramblings.net/2014/01/14/tombstone-tuesday-dr-john-h-obrien/
  3. More mentions of these men can be found on our blog by searching for the names “McMurray” or “O’Brien.”
  4. For our younger readers, a brief explanation of our title is probably warranted. In earlier times, if someone got sick in a theater or hotel, the cry, “Is there a doctor in the house??” would go through the audience and hallways in order to get fast medical assistance to the victim. (It became a great comedy routine, too.) There were no cell phones, and even no phones at all, of course, depending on how far back one goes. In fact, calling 9-1-1 for emergency assistance was not instituted in the United States until 1968, and many communities did not have this resource available for its citizens even into the 1980s. (Probably before you were born.)

 

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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 2013-2015 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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1) For a blast from the past, watch Schoolhouse Rock: America “I’m Just a Bill.”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFroMQlKiag




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.



Sorting Saturday: Armed Forces Day

Edward A. McMurray, Jr., 1943, likely taken in boot camp at Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri.
Edward A. McMurray, Jr., 1943, likely taken in boot camp at Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri.

McMurray Family (Click for Family Tree)

Today, the third Saturday in May, is Armed Forces Day in the United States. It is a day to honor our military service members in all five branches of the service: Navy, Air Force, Marines, Army, and Coast Guard. So it was somewhat serendipitous that while sorting through and organizing computer files today, this image surfaced.

Edward A. McMurray, Jr., (1924-2010) served his country proudly in World War II in the Army-Air Corps. He was an aircraft mechanic in the South Pacific.  He told his family that the Marines would go in and take a little Pacific Island from the Japanese, the Army would secure it, the Navy Seebees would bulldoze a landing strip, and the Air Corps pilots landed their airships and mechanics were brought in to service the planes. Barracks, hangars, and supply areas were quickly built, all with a wide strip bulldozed between them and the jungle. They knew the Japanese were often still out in the jungle, as they could hear them at night rustling through the vegetation. If the men had not worked so hard during the hot, stiflingly-humid days with frequent rain showers, sleep might have been a problem with knowing the enemy was just outside the compound, waiting for a chance to attack.

Although they were not in combat, their work itself was inherently dangerous. A pit was dug for scrapping used oil, rags, engine parts, and sometimes the airmen had to get down in there to try to find a needed part or push things closer together so they could continue to add to the pile. One day Ed was taking a break, and the pit caught on fire, possibly from a lit cigarette. He said that he was supposed to have been working in the pit at that time, but was ‘goofing off’ – hard to imagine as he was SUCH a hard worker his whole life, even as a young boy per his mother! Sadly, it was impossible to rescue all the men in the pit, and Ed said the screams and the smell of burning flesh would always remain with him. It must have been horrific for all concerned. Ed may have been just barely 20 when it happened, and although he was a stoic individual, this incident affected him even into his later years.

As Ed was stationed in the South Pacific, they were frequently on board ship, heading to the next small island that had been laboriously taken by our combat troops. Ed said they frequently lost men overboard when it was rough, or sometimes even in calm seas from a misstep on the deck. At night it would have been almost impossible to find a man treading water in the ocean. It was challenging during the day, too, as it often was some time before it was realized that a man was missing. Ed also spoke of the sharks that followed the ships (partly because they threw their waste overboard). It was especially frightening around the Great Barrier Reef of Australia- he said a man did not have much of a chance of survival flailing around in the water there. That being said, they did all go swimming at times off the aft deck of their ship. Ah, the joys of youth and a feeling of immortality, even in wartime.

So thank a Veteran today, and think about those who came before, those who are serving us today, and those who will serve in the future to protect our freedoms. Think about those who did not come back home too, whether they were serving overseas, or on our own land in the French-Indian Wars, the American Revolution, the War of 1812, or our bloodiest war, the Civil War. We need to honor them all, every day- and especially today, on Armed Forces Day.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Portrait from our family treasure chest of photos.
  2. See also “Veteran’s Day: Honoring Edward A. McMurray, Jr.“, “Military Monday: Edward A. McMurray, Jr. in the Pacific Theater of WWII“, and “Edward A. McMurray, Jr. at the Surrender of Japan, 02 Sep 1945“.

Please contact us if you would like higher resolution images. Click to enlarge images.

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.



Treasure Chest Thursday: Family Scrapbooks, Photo Albums, and Shoe Boxes

Section of page 2  in Edith Roberts' college scrapbook with sorority invitations. (Apologies for the poor copy- it was a photocopy in the days before scanners.)
Section of page 2 in Edith Roberts’ college scrapbook with sorority invitations. Edith was attending college about 1919- very few women were enrolled at the University of Iowa (in Iowa City) in those days. (Apologies for the poor copy- it was a photocopy back in the days before scanners.)

I recently read a great post that was linked on the Oct. 12, 2014 GeneaBloggers Daily by Gordon Belt: Scrapbooks: the Original Social Media. The article is by Katherine Hoarn, and her premise is intriguing:

“As a means of creating and communicating self, … scrapbooks operate in much the same way that popular forms of social media do for students today.”

Ms. Hoarn continues in her article to discuss how scrapbooks served the same purpose years ago as Facebook does now- to allow communication between family and friends and give a sense of who the person was at a certain point in their life.

Scrapbooking- and by extension the paper ephemera passed down that we family historians so cherish- is also an act of curation, Ms. Hoarn explains.

12 June 1892- Will McMurray's Graduation program from Newton High School, Newton, Iowa.
12 June 1892- Will McMurray’s Graduation program from Newton High School, Newton, Iowa.

She compares this collecting of text and images to Pinterest and Tumblr sites that showcase interests, passions, and events. Whether neatly organized onto boards on Pinterest or into a scrapbook, autograph book, photo album, diary, or even a shoebox, most of what we have inherited has been culled through generations to be the most important ephemera of a life. If we are lucky, we may even have commentary attached to give us more insight into a life.

"Heap good shot. Ketch plenty fish." Probably William Hanford Aiken.
“Heap good shot. Ketch plenty fish.” Probably William Hanford Aiken about 1910, when he was living in Florence, Colorado with his family.

Instagram, of course, is today’s electronic version of the photo album and if we are REALLY lucky, our old images will also be “tagged” with names, dates, and places.

Mabel Mulhollen is written on the back, Nov. '28 [1928] on the front.
Mabel Mulhollen is written on the back, Nov. ’28 [1928] on the front. Sadly no place clues for this photo.
A caption can touch our hearts or give us a giggle- sometimes both at the same time.

About 1929? Edward A. McMurray, from his own photo album in which he wrote the captions, created  in the late 1940s.
About 1929? Edward A. McMurray, from his own photo album in which he wrote the captions, created in the late 1940s as he was preparing to get married.

As one who laments the passing of paper and worries what treasures will be left for the next generations to cherish in their even more ephemeral electronic world,  I truly treasure the scrapbook, photo albums, and shoe boxes of photos and papers left by our ancestors. I am so glad that we do have ways of sharing the old-timey via new technology, though, so all can gain a bit more insight into those who have gone before.

 

Notes, Sources, and References:

1)  Geneabloggers Daily: http://paper.li/geneabloggers/1306385546

2) In the near long ago, boys graduated to long pants as they matured- a rite of passage that was longed for by many, much as our generation cannot wait until we can drive.

3) While searching for appropriate pictures for this post, I found the above image of Mabel- we have a younger picture of her that until this moment we thought was the only one- see Mystery Monday: Mabel Mulhollen. She may be more important in our family than we realized since there is more than one photo of her. We can also use this photo of her at an older age to compare to other family images from the same time period that include people we do not know. Is she family or part of the FAN Club? More research needed.

4) FAN Club= Friends, Associates, Neighbors; researching these folks can help us learn more about our ancestors.

5) The Newton (Iowa) High School Class of 1892 included Lillie Brown, Ella Clarkson, Marie Hass, Henry Jasper, Fred Kennedy, Belle Lambert, Artie McKinley, Willie McMurray, Hettie McCord, Fred Meredith, and Lillian Patten.