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Census Sunday: James Edward Murrell

James Edward Murrell, circa 1860s. (Click to enlarge.)

Roberts Family, Murrell Family (Click for Family Tree)

James Edward Murrell was the fifth of six children born to Wiley Anderson Murrell (1806-1885) and Mary Magdalene (Honts) Murrell (1806-1887). He was the youngest brother of our ancestor Elizabeth Ann (Murrell) Roberts.

James was born on 15 November 1842 in Botetourt County, Virginia, like the rest of his siblings.  We can use the US Federal Census to follow his travels through his lifetime, and those censuses provide us some interesting information.

1850 US Federal Census of District 8, Botetourt County, Virginia, listing the Murrell family. (Click to enlarge.)

James was listed in the 1850 US Federal Census, living with his parents and siblings in District 8, Botetourt County, Virginia. In 1853 at age 11, he most likely made the trip with his family to Warren County, Illinois, walking the 175 miles alongside their covered wagon. Wonder what adventures he imagined or lived, and what treasures- rocks, feathers, broken wagon parts, bone, or ?? ended up in his boy’s pockets?

1860 US Federal Census for Wiley A. and Mary M. (Honts) Murrell in Warren County, Illinois, page 43, including son William Anderson Murrell. (Click to enlarge.)
1860 US Federal Census for Wiley A. and Mary M. (Honts) Murrell in Warren County, Illinois, continued on page 44 with James Murrell and Ann Elisy/Eliza Murrell. (Click to enlarge.)

At the US Federal Census taken on 19 June 1860, James was in Swan Twp., Warren Co., Illinois, as expected, and attending school. He would have been 14 or 17 (depending on birth year which varies), so he may have been in high school- unusual for farm boys in those days.

1860 US Federal Census for William and James Murrell in Wright County, Missouri. (Click to enlarge.)

The 1860 census for Wright County, Missouri, however, also lists a William Murrell, age 16, and a James Murrell, age 14, working for the Starling Casey family as farm laborers. This census was taken on 7 September, later than the Warren County census. These laborers were probably our Murrell uncles, as young men often traveled to find work, and it was harvest time so work would have been plentiful. Adding to the evidence that these two are indeed our uncles is that the two names are the brothers of Elizabeth (although they are common names), the age difference is approximately correct, the person responding to the census taker did not know the birthplace of either young man, and also the fact that James later settled in Missouri.

Here is where a bit of history helps us understand their life choices. The country continued to divide in the early 1860s over the issues of slavery and states’ rights. Missouri was a hotbed for both sides at that time. Wright County is in the southern part of Missouri, which was admitted to the Union as a slave state with the Missouri Compromise of 1820. The “Compromise” was that Maine was admitted as a free state to maintain balance, and a boundary line was drawn across the Louisiana Purchase to divide slave and non-slave areas for the future. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 negated the Compromise, allowing new states to decide whether or not to allow slavery. This Act further increased the tensions, to the extent of raids, murder, lynchings, coercion, gangs, etc. in the midwest, and especially Kansas and Missouri. Then the Dred Scott Decision of 1857, which was handed down at the Old Courthouse in St. Louis, Missouri (where the last slave auction on the courthouse steps took place in 1861) redefined the status of slaves. The decision stated that Africans had no right to citizenship in the United States, and that allowing Dred Scott to have his freedom (and his wife and children theirs) was a legislative overreach of Congress by denying personal property rights to slave owners. (Dred Scott remained a slave until his owners gave him his freedom later that year, but he died the following year, in 1858. He was buried in Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis, where some of our Helbling ancestors are also buried.)

So had William and James gone to Missouri sometime between June and September, when the two censuses were taken, and then been enumerated in both? The census was supposed to include “every person whose usual place of abode on the 1st day of June, 1860, was in this family.” So were they already gone to Missouri and the Murrells listed them at home in Illinois, or did the Casey family or enumerator in Missouri not understand and asked who was living in the home on the day in September that the census was counted? No one should have been counted twice, but people who moved often were, as is likely in this instance.

It would be interesting to know how long these two young men were in southern Missouri, which was very pro-slavery in those years. How did they feel coming from a northern community, where the majority was primarily anti-slavery? What did they see or experience themselves in the fields? We have already discussed that the Murrell family may have migrated to Illinois from Virginia to escape the looming Civil War- was it for a belief that abolition was necessary, as well as the safety the family, their land, and possessions? Whatever the case, we have already shown that William Anderson Murrell was motivated to join the Union cause in 1862, and his little brother James Edward Murrell followed in his footsteps and did the same in 1865. It is possible that this time in Missouri led to those choices.

 

More to come about the Civil War service of James Edward Murrell, and where he was in the following census years.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Image kindly shared by cousin Diane.
  2. 1860 census instructions– https://www.census.gov/history/pdf/1860instructions.pdf
  3. “What’s in a Name?- Underground Railroad”–http://kwqc.com/2017/02/09/whats-in-a-name-underground-railroad/
  4. US Federal Census records as described found on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.

 

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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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Military Monday: William Anderson Murrell

Civil War pension papers of William Anderson Murrell, 20 Feb 1899. (Click to enlarge.)

Roberts Family, Murrell Family (Click for Family Tree)

William Anderson Murrell was a younger brother to our ancestor, Elizabeth Ann (Murrell) Roberts. She was the first, and he the fourth, of the children of Wiley Anderson Murrell and Mary Magdalene (Honts) Murrell.

William Anderson Murrell was born 25 May 1841 in Botetourt County, Virginia. We find him with his parents and siblings in the 1850 US Federal Census for District 8, Botetourt County, Virginia; he was just 9 years old. Three years later, William migrated with his family to Warren County, Illinois.

A previous post has mentioned how some of this family’s descendants believe the Murrells may have moved to Illinois as they did not like the pro-slavery stance of most Virginians, and they most likely realized that war would be coming to their own soil if the divisive forces of the slavery and states’ rights issues persisted. We cannot know if states’ rights or slavery was the uppermost issue on their minds, or if just protecting family and assets were of primary importance.  Roseville, in Warren County, Illinois, was a stop on the Underground Railroad for many runaway slaves on their way to freedom in the north or Canada, so the area they chose to settle was anti-slavery. We do know that William took a stand on the issues, as he enlisted in the Union Army on 1 August 1862.

William enlisted with other young men from Warren County at Monmouth, Illinois as the 83rd Infantry Illinois Volunteers was being organized. He became a part of Company H (all from Warren Co.) and was enlisted for three years of service.

The 83rd moved out of Monmouth on 25 August 1862, going to Cairo, Illinois via Burlington, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri. Cairo (pronounced “CARE-o” by the locals) is across the border from Kentucky and at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, so it was important for the unit to protect Union assets. Guard duty of communications lines was one of their primary missions.

Embarkation of General McClernand’s Brigade at Cairo — the Advance of the Great Mississippi Expedition — January 10, 1862, a wood engraving from a sketch by Alexander Simplot, published in Harper’s Weekly, February 1, 1862, via Wikipedia, public domain. (William may have been transported on a similar steamboat.) (Click to enlarge.)
The above scene was from before William arrived in Cairo, and after Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant had taken the southernmost city of Illinois from the Confederates. Grant also took Fort Donelson, along the Cumberland River in Tennessee, in February 1862. As it was just over ten miles from Kentucky, this was a huge strategic win for the Union, and the South was stunned. The Cumberland was a route for men and supplies into Tennessee and the heart of the Confederacy. This battle essentially divided the rebellious states into two sections, making it easier for the Union to attack and control. And that the Union did- Nashville, Tennessee, fell to Grant shortly thereafter. Nashville was an industrial center as well as the capital of Tennessee, and its occupation by the Union also gave them control over much of the Tennessee River. The Union held Nashville throughout the war.

William and his fellow soldiers were moved to Fort Donelson, near Dover, Tennessee, about the 5th of September, 1862.

Part of the lower river battery, overlooking the Cumberland River. Photographed by Hal Jespersen at Fort Donelson, February 2006, via Wikipedia; public domain.

On 20 September 1863, the right wing of the regiment moved on to Clarksville, Tennessee, but we have not been able to determine if William was a part of this group.

To be continued…

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. 83rd Illinois Infantry Regiment–
    https://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/archives/databases/reghist.pdf https://civilwar.illinoisgenweb.org/reg_html/083_reg.html
  2. 83rd Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment–https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/83rd_Illinois_Volunteer_Infantry_Regiment
  3. Interestingly, there was a young man named Ransom Roberts in Co. H with William- could he have been a cousin through William’s sister Elizabeth’s marriage to John Roberts? There was a Joseph H. Saylor, also from Roseville- John Roberts’ mother’s maiden name was Saylor/Salyers, so he too may have been a cousin through marriage (or a marriage to be.) More research needed here as neither of these names are known to the author.
  4. Civil War Archive- 83rd regiment Infantry– http://www.civilwararchive.com/Unreghst/unilinf7.htm#83rd
  5. Fort Donelson Battlefield- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Donelson_National_Battlefield
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Donelson
    https://www.nps.gov/fodo/index.htm

 

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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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Mappy Monday: The Murrell, Roberts, and Daniel Families

Map of Illinois showing Roseville, the county seat of Warren County, Illinois, via Wikipedia, public domain.

 

Murrell Family, Roberts Family, Daniel Family (Click for Family Tree)

After about 15 years in Illinois, the fertile lands of Iowa (and possibly adventure?) called to our Roberts, Murrell, and Daniel ancestors who had migrated from Virginia originally and were living in Warren County, Illinois in the late 1860s. A possible migration would have been a discussion around a fire or the supper table for many nights. Each of the families had done such a migration once or even twice before, so it may not have been quite as daunting to plan as their first trips. By 1868, the railroad was well established in Iowa and Iowa had been a state for over 20 years, so it was not as if they were moving to a new frontier.

In 1868, John Roberts & Elizabeth Ann (Murrell) Roberts sold off what they could or gave away items, and packed up the rest of their household into a covered wagon. John was 36 years old, Elizabeth 33, and their three sons and one daughter ranged from 5-10 years old; the father of Edith (Roberts) [McMurray] Luck, George Anthony Roberts, was just 7 years old- what an adventure that must have been for a young boy!

Covered wagon pulled by oxen. Wikimedia Commons.
Covered wagon pulled by oxen. Wikimedia Commons.

Elizabeth Ann’s parents, Wiley Anderson Murrell and Mary Magdalene (Honts) Murrell were both 62 in 1868, and all their children were grown. Two of their sons (John Henry Murrell and James Murrell) had moved to Missouri; one, William Anderson Murrell, was married and living in Roseville. Their daughter Ann Elisy Murrell chose to stay in Roseville, and married the next year, in 1869. So Wiley and Mary packed up their household as well, and made the trip of about 175 miles to Iowa with their daughter Elizabeth Ann, her husband John Roberts, and the four grandchildren.

Map showing Jasper County, Iowa, via Wikipedia, public domain.

Edith often told the story (and wrote it down!) that the Daniel family also packed up their worldly goods and family and headed to Iowa that same year, in 1868. She did not know which family arrived in Iowa first, but it is highly likely that they came together in their covered wagons, or one soon after the other. (A big Conestoga wagon could hold the goods of 4-5 families.) Charles M. Daniel was 50 years old, & his wife Elizabeth (Thomas) Daniel was 52. Although they had only been in Illinois for 4-8 years, they too decided to head west. They brought their four youngest children with them, ranging in age from 19-12: John T. Daniel, Mary Daniel, George Wesley Daniel, and Susan Syrena Daniel.  Their oldest son, James W. Daniel, (abt 1842-aft 1910), had stayed in Missouri when they migrated to Illinois in the early 1860s. Another son, Charles M. Daniel (Jr.) (1844-1915) stayed in Warren Co., Illinois and married, then moved to Story County, Iowa (needs to be confirmed) and thence to Madison County, Iowa by 1870. Daughter Nancy J. Daniel (1846-1922) had already married, in 1867, but she and her husband moved to Jasper County, Iowa by 1870, so both Charles and Nancy and their spouses may have travelled with the family group. (Nancy and her husband migrated further west by 1880, to Nebraska.)

Roseman Covered bridge, Madison County, Iowa.
Roseman Covered Bridge, Madison County, Iowa. Wikimedia Commons.

 

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Family stories, Murrell Family Bible, and vital records as 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. 
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Sentimental Sunday: Elizabeth Ann Murrell and John S. Roberts

1892- John S. Roberts and Elizabeth Ann (Murrell) Roberts, cropped from larger family photo with their descendants. Taken in Jasper County, Iowa. Owned by author.

Roberts Family, Murrell Family (Click for Family Tree)

Once the Wiley Anderson Murrell-Mary Magdalene Honts family settled in Roseville/Warren County, Illinois, their daughter and our ancestor Elizabeth Ann Murrell met a young farmhand named John S. Roberts. He had moved from the family farm of his parents, John Roberts (1805-1875) and Jane Saylor/Salyers (1806-1880), in Indiana, looking for work in the productive grain fields of Illinois. The convergence was fate, as John and Elizabeth married on 8 March 1857 in Roseville, where they set up housekeeping. Elizabeth’s brother John Henry Murrell was living with them in 1860 and working as a farm laborer. Elizabeth had already borne two sons, William Edward Roberts, born in 1858, and Jason Lee Roberts, born in 1859, so it would have been a busy farm household. Their son George Anthony Roberts (the father of Edith Roberts McMurray Luck) was then born in 1861, and finally a daughter, May Jane Roberts, joined the family in 1863, and was also born in Illinois.

We know that the Roberts family had a friendship with a Daniel family in Warren County. Charles M. Daniel (1819-1875) and his wife Elizabeth Thomas (1817-1885) had both been born in Virginia. Elizabeth and then their son, Robert Woodson “R. W.” Daniel (1843-1922), were born specifically in Rockbridge County, Virginia, just north of Botetourt. This family may have known the Murrell or Honts families even as far back as the early 1800s in Virginia, as suggested by some research that still needs more work. The Daniel family, however, decided to migrate to Missouri about 1845 (R.W. was just 2 years old), and then on to Illinois around 1864-1865. Their second migration is understandable, too, by considering the Civil War, as we did for the Murrell family. Being a border state, Missouri was a very dangerous place to live during that conflict. A farmstead could be raided by the Rebs in the morning, and then have Union troops descend that evening, also looking for food, supplies, and “spoils of war.” And then there were the border gangs that took no heed of any allegiance and were themselves committed to violence… It was challenging for a family to survive in Missouri, no matter the side they championed or who was beating on their door.

“R. W.” Daniel  enlisted in the Missouri State Military Cavalry in 1862, and served until 1865. (More on R.W. in the future.) Some sources state that he was in Warren County, Illinois in 1865, but he did marry Margaret Ann Hemphill (1839-1915) on 18 January 1866 in Pike County, Missouri. (He likely knew her from when he lived there, and may have gone to Warren Co. to recuperate from the war after his discharge.) The couple moved about 150 miles north to Young America, Warren County, Illinois, where their first child, Ella Viola Daniel, was born on 29 October 1866.

The John and Elizabeth Roberts family went to visit and congratulate the Daniel family on the birth of their child. John and Elizabeth took their sons and daughters with them for the visit, per their granddaughter, Edith (Roberts) [McMurray] Luck. It was the first time that little George A. Roberts, about to turn five years old, saw his future wife for the very first time.

And that is why this is a “Sentimental Sunday” post!

 

To be continued…

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Vital records such as birth, marriage, and census that can be found on Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, etc.
  2. Family stories written and told by Edith (Roberts) [McMurray] Luck.

 

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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.
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Friday’s Faces from the Past: Elizabeth Ann Murrell and John S. Roberts

 

John S. Roberts and Elizabeth Ann (Murrell) Roberts, possibly in the 1870s or 1880s? Posted with kind permission of the Harlan Family Blog. (Click to enlarge.)

Roberts Family, Murrell Family (Click for Family Tree)

Elizabeth Ann Murrell was the first born child of Wiley Anderson Murrell (1806-1885) and Mary Magdalene Honts (1806-1887). Her birth was 1 February 1835 in Botetourt County, Virginia, where Mary’s family had lived for a while- we still don’t know where Wiley was living before the marriage in 1834.

[BTW, Botetourt is pronounced in a uniquely Virginian way: “BOT-a-tot.”]

Elizabeth was just five years old when the 1840 US Federal Census was taken. Her father was enumerated in District 8, Botetourt County, Virginia, and she likely was there too. (The 1840 census only lists the head of household.) She was specifically listed with the family in the 1850 US Federal Census, however, again in District 8 of Botetourt; she was 15. As her father was a farmer, she most likely lived the hard-working life of a farm family- she would have helped her mother with milking the cows, caring for and slaughtering the chickens, slopping the pigs, bringing water to the house for cooking, drinking, and bathing, and she would have stayed busy working in the family garden. And that was just the outside work! Inside, she would have watched over her siblings, made the beds and done housework, mended and possibly made family clothing and bedding including quilts, and cooked meals for the family and anyone who was visiting or helping to work the fields. Hopefully she was able to attend school, and maybe have fun at dances and neighborhood get-togethers.

Just a few years later, when Elizabeth was 18, she migrated with her family to Warren County, Illinois. Her father continued to farm, so Elizabeth would have continued her own hard work as a farmer’s daughter.

The Murrells and many of their neighbors were probably too poor to have had any slaves while in Virginia (none are noted in the census), but they would have been surrounded by an economic and social environment that depended on slavery, as did the rest of the south. They may have been isolated enough by the mountains- the Blue Ridge Mountains are on the eastern borders of the county, and the Appalachians on the west- that they did not see the horrors of human bondage on a daily basis, but it was still pervasive.  There was an incident in August of 1835 (Elizabeth was just 6 months old) concerning the lynching of an Englishman in Lynchburg, Virginia. (The irony of the place name is not lost.) It was said the man was an abolitionist who was circulating pamphlets that were anti-slavery, thus a mob hunted him down and “inhumanly [sic] executed” him. This was picked up by many papers, but thankfully turned out to be “fake news.” (History repeats itself.) The case was entirely plausible, however, and believed by many initially, adding to the tension in our country due to the vigorously opposing sides in the slavery question.

Elizabeth and her siblings would have grown up in this divisive climate. It is a question to ponder as to how the family felt about slavery. Some descendants feel that their move to northern Illinois, plus the fact that two of three sons enlisted in the Union Army, suggests that they too believed in abolition, and wanted to leave the South before a war exploded. They were probably smart enough to see that if there was to be a civil war, Virginia’s lands would be one of the places it would be fought. Residents of a place are generally caught between armies, and lose their food, animals, family treasures, and sometimes their lives, so a migration before the tipping point was a good choice,  though surely daunting. Of course, we will never know for sure about the family’s political beliefs, unless a diary or letters are found from the family. (Do you have any in a shoebox in the back of a closet??) But the family did all survive the Civil War, and that would have been much more challenging to do had they stayed in Virginia.

 

 

The story of Elizabeth Ann Murrell and John S. Roberts continues…

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. “How to Talk Virginian” at cohp.org/va/notes/placenames_pronunciation.html
  2. “Virginia Mob,” New-York Spectator, 20 August 1835: http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Virginia_Mob_New-York_Spectator_August_20_1835
  3. Vital records such as birth, marriage, and census that can be found on Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, etc.
  4. Family stories written and told by Edith (Roberts) [McMurray] Luck.

 

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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.