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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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Five Family Photos for Friday- Hannah Melissa (Benjamin) McMurray

Hannah Melissa Benjamin with her great-grandson, Edward A. McMurray, Jr., about 1926.
Hannah Melissa Benjamin with her great-grandson, Edward A. McMurray, Jr., taken about 1926.

The above photo was in with McMurray family pictures that I have seen all my life. My family thought that the youngster was Edward A. McMurray, Jr., but he was not sure who the woman was with him. He always said, “I can’t remember that far back.”

In the last decade of his life, we went through the photos another time. He looked at this one intently, again puzzled as to who the woman was. For years I had been intrigued with his great-grandmother, Hannah Melissa Benjamin- I had never seen a picture of her, but had been born 100 years and two months after her, and just loved her name. Knowing the year that the picture was probably taken due to Ed’s age, I combed through the possibilities of who it could be; Hannah Melissa (Benjamin) McMurray was the best possibility. I asked, “Do you think it could be your great-grandmother, Hannah Melissa (Benjamin) McMurray?” He looked up, surprised, and replied that it was indeed her, and he remembered that she was very, very stern. Melissa, as she was known, died when he was just eight, so that was the only thing he could remember about her.

Hannah Melissa Benjamin, possibly circa 1910? She was 56 in 1910.
Hannah Melissa Benjamin, possibly circa 1910? She was 56 in 1910.

Hannah Melissa Benjamin was born to Sylvanus Rufus Benjamin and Sarah Ann Palmer on 03 Aug 1854 in Burlington, Licking County, Ohio. Licking County was a big transportation center at that time, especially after the Ohio Canal had been completed.

In 1865 or 1866 the family moved to Jasper County, Iowa. They lived on a farm about four miles northeast of Newton. In 1870, her father owned a large amount of land- he had the highest real estate value of any other household listed on the census page.

 

Melissa married Frederick Asbury “F. A.” McMurray in Jasper County, Iowa, on 18 September 1873. FA was an auctioneer who cried sales throughout the area. They had five children: William E. (1874-1957, marr Lynette Payne, had 3 children); Harry James (1876-1962, marr. Emma Tripp, no children); Addie Belle (1879-1958, marr. Forest Gillespie, no children); Roy (1884-1973, marr. Emma Hotger, no children); and Ray (1886-1979, marr. Elizabeth “Bessie” Catherine Blackwell, no children), all born in Jasper County.

Hannah Melissa (Benjamin) McMurray, possibly 1915 or 1920?
Hannah Melissa (Benjamin) McMurray, possibly 1915 or 1920?

F. A. McMurray died on 12 Dec 1929, leaving Melissa alone for almost three years. Melissa may be found in the 1930 US Federal Census, age 76, and living at 310 E. 4th St. N in Newton. She had a housekeeper and two lodgers living with her, and her home was worth $8,000.

Headstone of Hannah Melissa (Benjamin) McMurray in Newton Union Cemetery, Newton, Jasper County, Iowa.
Headstone of Hannah Melissa (Benjamin) McMurray in Newton Union Cemetery, Newton, Jasper County, Iowa.

Melissa (Benjamin) McMurray died on 09 Nov 1932 in Newton. She is buried in Newton Union Cemetery, along with her husband and many other Benjamins.

Benjamin Family Headstone Grouping in Newton Union Cemetery, Newton, Jasper County, Iowa.
Benjamin Family Headstone Grouping in Newton Union Cemetery, Newton, Jasper County, Iowa.

[NOTE: Post edited 3/21/14 to add death dates for William, Roy, and Ray McMurray.]

Notes, Sources, and References:

1) 1870 US Federal Census for Sylvanus R. Benjamin, head of household: Source Citation: Year: 1870; Census Place: Newton, Jasper, Iowa; Roll: M593_398; Page: 370A; Image: 380; Family History Library Film: 545897.

2) John Benjamin Obituary: The Newton Record, Thursday, May 24, 1900 Page 1, Column 2.

3) My Find A Grave Memorial #28154269 for Hannah Melissa (Benjamin) McMurray: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=28154269

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Copyright 2013-2014 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

 
We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post, 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.

 

Workday Wednesday- Dr. Edward A. McMurray

 

Dr. Edward A. McMurray, probably about 1925.
Dr. Edward A. McMurray, about 1925.

A doctor in the family is always nice- we got our eye checkups every summer when we went to visit our grandfather in Newton, Iowa. He was very well known in town- when a person heard our last name, they would always ask, “Are you related to ‘The Doctor’?” Then they would speak of what a wonderful doctor he was, and how he had helped their family so much. It sure made us proud of our grandfather.

Dr. Edward A. McMurray attended Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, for his undergraduate work. He then was accepted to St. Louis University School of Medicine, in St. Louis, Missouri, where he received his medical degree in 1925. The picture above was taken soon after he completed medical school. His dear daughter said, “He grew a mustache so he would look older and people would believe he was a doctor.”

Dr. McMurray returned to Newton, Iowa to open a General Practice. Around 1939-1940, he moved to Queens in New York to train  in eye, ear, nose, and throat medicine. Once that residency was completed, he again returned to Newton,  practicing there for the rest of his career.

Iowa GenWeb has recently added some information about Jasper County physicians which verifies some of the above information, and adds a bit more about Dr. McMurray’s career. The Newton Daily News of Tuesday, April 27, 1937 included “E. A. McMurray now of ___”- it was in an area of the fold of the newspaper, so more could not be read. Two days later, on April 29, 1937, the paper included, “Edward A. McMurray, born Newton, Ia., Nov. 10, 1900. Graduated St. Louis University, 1925. Practiced Newton, Ia., 1926. Offices: city health physician, 1935, coroner, 1923; president Jasper County Med. Soc. 2 years.”

Either the transcription or the original newspaper was probably in error in the year Dr. McMurray was County Coroner. In 1923, Dr. McMurray was still in college, either in Ames, Iowa, or, more likely, St. Louis, Missouri, and did not yet have his medical degree. He is listed in the Iowa Register as being elected as County Coroner from 1933-1938.

Dr. McMurray is mentioned in some newspaper articles in his capacity of County Coroner. In the September 24, 1936 Jasper County Record, the paper reports that Dr. McMurray conducted an inquest to determine the cause(s) of death of Mrs. Harry Evans. Mrs. Evans was expecting her ninth child, and she and her husband had had a quarrel just two hours before her death. The autopsy and inquest conducted by Dr. McMurray led to a manslaughter conviction for Mr. Harry Evans.

In the information about Jasper Co. physicians on US GenWeb, Dr. McMurray was noted as a member of the Jasper Co. Medical Society in the ‘present’ roster, meaning 1937. (Note: This section bears close reading- it looks as if it is a listing of members below the headline, “25 Members in 1912.” Dr. McMurray was only 12 years old in 1912, however, so 1912 is not the year being referred to- smart as he was.) He was listed as  a member of the Jasper Co. Medical Society in the Thursday, May 6, 1937 edition. It also lists him as a Doctor born in Jasper Co., in Newton.

Dr. E. A. McMurray and his wife Elna Mae (Kenner) McMurray in the 1939 Newton [Iowa] City Dorectory.

Above: Listing for Dr. E. A. McMurray and his wife Elna Mae (Kenner) McMurray in the 1939 Newton [Iowa] City. The same listing is in the 1941 Newton City Directory.

 

Using a variety of sources can help us understand more about the workday world of our ancestors.

 

 

Notes, Sources, and References:

1) Jasper County Physicians newspaper articles, Newton Daily News, Apr 3, 1937-May 13, 1937, excerpted at  http://iagenweb.org/jasper/physicians/.

2) Hold Inquest in Death of Woman (Mrs. Harry Evans): http://iagenweb.org/jasper/cemeteries/sugargrove/evans/evans2.html

3) Elected Officials of Jasper County 1882-1940: http://iagenweb.org/jasper/history/elected-officials/index.htm. Transcribed from the Iowa Official Register, 1933-1934, page 122; 1935-1936, page 166; and 1937-1938, page 347.

Note that Dr. McMurray’s uncle, Ray McMurray, served as the County Engineer for many years.

4) 1939 City Directory- Source Information: Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

5) 1941 City Directory- Source Information: Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

6) 1940 US Federal census for Edward A. McMurray, head of household: Source Citation: Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, Queens, New York; Roll: T627_2731; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 41-586. This entry notes he had 4 years of college education.

 

 

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Copyright 2013-2014 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

 
We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post, 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.

Tuesday’s Tip- Let your computer create a timeline!

ROTC Camp Training Certificate- Edward A. McMurray, Sr.
ROTC Camp Training Certificate- Edward A. McMurray, Sr.(Click to enlarge.)

Timelines can help in analysis of family migrations, locations, family size, occupations, and developing an understanding of what your ancestor’s lives were like. Who has time, though, for making up a separate timeline when you barely have a few minutes to just do the research???

The quick and easy way to have your computer create a pseudo-timeline for you is to title all your genealogy files- birth, marriage, death certificates, censuses, newspaper articles, etc., so that they automagically are ordered chronologically as you place them into your computer folders. Of course, you may need to add details if you don’t have a document or image for in-between dates. An example of this is seeing a big gap with no births for 6 years in a family that otherwise had a child every 2 years. I create a note using a text file (I use a Mac and like Text Wrangler), add an estimated date for my hypothesis and a few notes, such as “See Journal Name, Article Name on genealogy bookshelf.” In the birth-gap instance, I would include a note to search local cemeteries for an infant death in that gap period. (Don’t forget to add it to your To-Do list too.)

Here is my method for file names to automagically appear in chronological order, using the above certificate for Dr. Edward A. McMurray as an example:

1. Start your file name with the date-  July 25, 1923 would be written as:

1923_0725_

If the month and/or or day is unknown, use double zeros instead of the two digit month or date: 1923_0300 or 1923_0000. Also, always use a leading zero for single digit months or days so the computer will order properly- if you don’t, the computer will think the 12th of the month comes before the 3rd. 

Another option for the above document would be to put the date range that it pertains to in Dr. McMurray’s life:

1923_0614-0725_

2. Add the last name of the main person you want to link to the file in capital letters- this helps when skimming files. Follow with an underscore and then the first name and initial, including descriptive abbreviations such as Sr. or Jr.:

1923_0725_McMURRAY_Edward A_Sr_

Or use a birth-death date range to differentiate two persons with the same name:

1923_0725__McMURRAY_Edward A_1900-1992_

3. I then give a brief description of the item:

1923_0725__McMURRAY_Edward A_Sr_ROTC Camp Trng Cert_

4. If it is a newspaper or magazine article, book, website, etc., add the details such as volume, page, date.

_Journal name_v1_n2_p3-5_

5. Follow with the repository or website and date accessed if applicable:

_ancestry_20140318

or:

_FAG90601933_2014_0318

(with the memorial number on Find A Grave listed for easy reference.)

6. For an item that requires permission to reproduce, or a courtesy attribution, I add whatever is appropriate, such as:

_permission

to signify the photographer has given me permission to reuse the image.

 

The above certificate is a scan of the actual copy in my possession, so my file name would be as follows:

1923_0725_McMURRAY_Edward A_Sr_ROTC Camp Trng Cert_pmm.png

 

When you place the file into your folder structure, all those files will be ordered by date and voila!- a timeline without a lot of extra time spent. Another benefit is that all those in the family folder will be a part of the timeline, so it will be easy to see how an event in a child’s life relates to a parent’s.

I am planning to add my photos into the folders as well, so any one person will have their information together. I scan the back of the photos and use exactly the same file name, but add

_rev

so the two files hang out together in my folders.

You can create text files for more information, such as metadata, who owns the photo, when you did the research, etc., about a document or image. Just cut and paste the file name for the document you are referencing, and the new file will have a .txt extension, so will always stay next to the .docx, .png, etc. file. If it is already a .txt file, you can just add

_notes

or something similar to differentiate.

I use a Mac so can use ridiculously long file names, thankfully.

Since I am one of those uppity women and a feminist, and it is still Women’s History Month (ahhh, the horrible irony of a Women’s “HIStory” Month…), I use their maiden names throughout their lives. That helps me tell “HERstory.”

Images and documents with multiple persons can be challenging to file- which name should be used as the file name? I tend to use the oldest or most prominent or most important-to-me persons in the photo or document, and one can then create a note to go into other folders referencing where the document or image has been placed.

I hope this has given you some ideas for file names that can help you to access your genealogy treasure quickly. Check back next week for more information on how I structure my file folders for fast access to information.

 

Notes, Sources, and References:

1) ROTC certificate from our family treasure chest of photos and documents. (Lucky us.)

 

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Copyright 2013-2015 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

 
We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post, 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.

 

Sentimental Sunday: Mary Theresa (Helbling) McMurray

Mary T. Helbling and "Honeychow," the family's beloved cocker spaniel, c early 1940s.
Mary T. Helbling and “Honeychow,” the family’s beloved cocker spaniel, c early 1940s.

This is really a ‘Sentimental Sunday’- a day that causes memories, regrets, happy thoughts, and a whole mix of emotions to weave through my consciousness throughout the day. It is the birthday of Mary Theresa (Helbling) McMurray.

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, to G. W. Helbling and Anna May Beerbower Helbing, Mary never knew that she was named for her paternal great-grandmother, Mary Theresa (Knipshield) Helbling. She always thought her family was of poor German and Irish origins, but it turns out that they were early pioneers, upstanding community members, and good, hardworking people. (See previous Helbling posts.)

Mary Theresa Helbling as a baby, 1925.
Mary Theresa Helbling as a baby, 1925.

Mary was the last of the seven children born in the family, with her nearest sibling eight years older. So she was the ‘baby’ of the family, and often felt like she had a number of mothers and fathers, since her oldest sibling was 17 years older. Her father was stern with her, but her mother doted on her, and she loved her mother so intensely that it was very hard for her to leave home even when she fell in love and married.

Mary T. Helbling playing chess as a child, c1930s.
Mary T. Helbling playing chess as a child, c1930s.

Mary’s father, G. W. Helbing, was extremely intelligent, even though he had not completed more than the eighth grade; her mother completed two years of high school. Her older brothers and sisters were very intelligent too- she sometimes had the same nuns for teachers as they had at St. Mark’s Catholic School, and the nuns would expect so much of her, because her older siblings had done so well. She was very good at spelling and loved to play chess, which her father and siblings taught her when young, and was a whiz at schedules and plain old arithmetic. She never really liked school though.

Mary T. Helbling as a young teen with one of the family's cocker spaniels, c late 1930s.
Mary T. Helbling as a young teen with one of the family’s cocker spaniels, c late 1930s.

Mary loved to play with paper dolls and read movie magazines, though the magazines were considered scandalous back then. She would sometimes cut out the pictures of the movie stars, and use them as paper dolls. She loved the ‘glamour girls’ of the 1940s and wanted to look like them- there are many pictures of her in similar poses. She loved singing- even sang on the radio once as a child or young teen. Her mother’s cousin was Elsie Janis- a famed comedienne/singer/actress  of the early 1900s and “The Sweetheart of the A.E.F.”  (more on Elsie in upcoming posts) – and Mary wanted to be like her. The family had cocker spaniels which Mary dearly loved. One died in a fire in the family home, and Mary was always so sad about that, even 50 years later.

"The Merry Macs" as she labeled this photo. Mary T. Helbling and her husband, Edward A. McMurray, September 1948.
Mary T. Helbling and her husband, Edward A. McMurray, September 1948. “The Merry Macs” as she labeled this photo in her album. 

 Mary was a very fast typist and knew shorthand. She worked at Gardner’s Advertising and then a government group (maybe AFEES?) during the war. Mary met US Army/Air Corp veteran Edward A. McMurray on a blind date at a picnic in a park in 1946. The two fell madly in love, but did not want to marry, as Ed was in pharmacy school. Love won out, however, and they married on June 5, 1948. They lived with her parents until Ed graduated, found a job, and they purchased a house in north St. Louis County, in a new subdivision during the booming 1950s.

Mary (Helbling) McMurray holding their first child, 1954.
Mary (Helbling) McMurray holding her first child, 1954.

Although Mary would have loved to have the glamorous life of a singing star, as her mother’s cousin Elsie Janis had, she mostly just wanted to be a wife and mother. She did both, and always said that was her greatest accomplishment.

Mary Theresa (Helbling) McMurray passed away April 3, 2008, of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Happy Birthday, Mary Theresa. We love you and miss you.

 

Notes, Sources, and References:

1) G.W. Helbling, head of household, 1940 US Federal Census- Source Citation: Year: 1940; Census Place: St Louis, St Louis City, Missouri; Roll: T627_2208; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 96-670.

2) Family photos and oral history.

 

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Copyright 2013-2014 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

 
We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post, 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.