Tuesday’s Tip: Who was “General Proctor”?

Officers by the name of Proctor listed in, "The Battles of Trenton and Princeton" by William S. Stryker, 1898.
Officers by the name of Proctor listed in, “The Battles of Trenton and Princeton” by William S. Stryker, 1898.

McMurray Family (Click for Family Tree)

Tuesday’s Tip:

Do the math.

Review the timeline.

The family story that has been passed down is that “General Proctor” and his daughter Mary Proctor came to America from England at “the close of the war.” (See “Mystery Monday- The McMurrays in America“) For years we had thought that they were speaking of the Revolutionary War, so these index listings, found when researching Henry Horn, another McMurray ancestor, were intriguing. Could General Proctor have fought in the American Revolution? If so, which side was he on?

And what was his first name?? Since these officers are from Pennsylvania, and Mary Proctor and her husband settled in Pennsylvania, could one of them be her father, ‘our’ General Proctor?

Looking at this mystery again, though, makes a few lightbulbs go on- sometimes a bit more information or even time will help data make sense. We do know that Mary Proctor and her husband William McMurray were living in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, by 22 May 1819 when their son and our direct ancestor, Henderson McMurray, was born. Mary was 26 years old, and William 30.

Oops- we need to do the math. Since Mary was born in 1793 and William in 1789, “the close of the war” would have to be the War of 1812 if the letter from Aunt Ibe Raugh was speaking of an American war. Mary and William were not even born when the American Revolution was happening.

Doing the math and then looking at the timeline makes us realize that these officers are most likely not ‘our’ General Proctor.

The rambling mind of a genealogist, of course, wonders if any of these officers could be the brothers or cousins of Mary’s father, who induced them to immigrate…

The 1850 US Federal Census for Allegheny Twp., Blair County, Pennsylvania, states that William was born in Ireland, and Mary in Pennsylvania- NOT England, as in the family letter. The 1860 census for the same place states again that William was born in Ireland. Unfortunately Mary passed away in 1851, so we have no other census to note her birthplace. Was she born in England or Pennsylvania? Or in Ireland, as some unsourced trees and her Find A Grave memorial state? This will need more research, though we have already looked for many years.

Keeping the math in mind and a timeline in view, it makes us realize that possibly we need to be looking at the War of 1812 records just in case General Proctor served in it, at the very end. If so, which side would he have been on? As an Englishman, did he come over to fight for the king and then decide to stay and become an American? Or did he fight in the war for the Brits and then, returning home, decide to bring his daughter back to America with him and start a new life? And was he really a General??

If we could find a marriage record for Mary and William, or names of any of her siblings, that might help us find out just who ‘General Proctor’ was, and we can go from there. Any other ideas?


Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Mystery Monday- The McMurrays in America at
  2. The Battles of Trenton and Princeton by William S. Stryker, Houghton, Mifflin, and Company, The Riverside Press, Cambridge, 1898.
  3. 1850 US Federal Census for William and Mary (Proctor) McMurray- Year: 1850; Census Place: Allegheny, Blair, Pennsylvania; Roll: M432_755; Page: 259; Image: 520.
  4. 1850 US Federal Census for William McMurray- Year: 1860; Census Place: Allegheny, Blair, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1078; Page: 14; Image: 18; Family History Library Film: 805078.                                                                  5. Find A Grave memorial #128118060 for Mary J. Proctor McMurray-


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Mystery Monday- The McMurrays in America

Henderson McMurray- Family Tree
Henderson McMurray- Family Tree (Click to enlarge)

One hot, muggy, August visit to Newton, Iowa, included the moment I found my passion for genealogy. It was in the late 1960s, and my grandmother drove me and my tag-along younger sister all over the county in her old, immaculate black Dodge to visit family and learn our family history. Distant cousins and elderly aunts pulled out shoeboxes, family bibles, etc., for us to see the obituaries, letters, and other treasures that had been passed down from generation to generation. The family we visited knew so much family history, but as a young teen,  I knew so little of how to record it well. I had read one very old genealogy how-to book found at our local library, but did not know about citing sources or provenance. However, I did see these items with my own young eyes, and my sister and I copied many pieces by hand, using notebook paper and a purple Flair pen- the latest cool writing instrument and one of the first felt-tip pens, I believe. I was enraptured with the stories the family told- I loved the “Little House on the Prairie” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, so this was heaven, to know my own family traveled in wagon trains across the prairie and ploughed the fertile soils of Iowa, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. There were no copies or scanners in Newton, Iowa at that time, so it was laborious to copy all, but I am so glad that I have these items, as some, like the following, might be gone forever, if we had not copied them.

Part of a letter from Aunt Ibe Raugh to Aunt Mary McMurray:

“… I am also enclosing in same package two old silver spoons and a breast pin that Huldah wanted us to have as there are four of us. Now I have seen them, I am sending them to you three girls.

They were brought from England by Mary Proctor when she came to the states with her father, General Proctor, at the close of the war. This was father’s mother. The pin had been a clasp to a neck chain but was fitted with a pin and had been used as such for about one hundred years. When Mary died she gave the pin to her daughter Sarah, Huldah’s mother, who took care of her during her last sickness.

The spoons were also handed down at the same time.

Huldah also states that James McMurray, father of William McMurray, father of Henderson McMurray, came to America in 1779.

Well girls, I have had these things for some time but I thought perhaps some of you would come out and I could give them to you all. Huldah did not know how old they really are but we know they were keepsakes one hundred years before the close of the War of England.”

We met a lot of relatives but at the time I couldn’t place them all into a family tree until I learned more about that. I am not sure which war was “the War of England” nor what the spoons or pin looked like; I believe all I saw was the letter or a copy of it.

I wish I had taken notes as our relatives spoke of their parents and grandparents- what wonderful stories they were! I was busy copying as they spoke, as many were very elderly and would be too tired if we stayed too long.

‘Aunt Ibe’ (sometimes called “Iba”) is Hepzibah Jeanetta McMurray (1865-1954) who married Samuel S. Raugh (b. 1860) and they lived in Orange, California in 1906 and also in Exeter California. ‘Aunt Mary’ is Mary McMurray (1856 – 1956) who never married and lived in Newton, Jasper Co., Iowa in 1906 and probably most of her adult life; she lived to be over 100 years old. They are just two of the thirteen children of Henderson McMurray and Mary Ann Horn.

‘Huldah’ is a cousin to the McMurray girls, as she was the daughter of Sarah McMurray _____, (married name unknown) who was Henderson McMurray’s sister. (Both were children of James McMurray & Mary Proctor.) There was another sister, who became “Mrs. C.C. Meyers of Waverly, Iowa” who is mentioned in Henderson McMurray’s 1906 obit- this is probably Minnie, born about 1820, as there is a “FC” and “Minnie Meyers” listed in the 1905 Iowa State Census in Waverly.

[Edited 15 Jan 2018– Mrs. C.C. Myers is actually Catharine C. (McMurray) Myers, not Minnie McMurray.]

The letter was probably written after 1940 and before 1954, as one of the 5 sisters who lived to adulthood died in 1940, and Ibe died in 1954, so there were just the “four of us” still living during that time span.

What mysteries do I hope to solve about this letter? I would like to know who Sarah McMurray married, and thus what Huldah’s maiden name was, plus who Huldah married. I only have one census- 1850- for William McMurray and his wife Mary Proctor McMurray. I have been unable to find any information about “General Proctor” or James McMurray- there are SO many McMurrays in Pennsylvania during that time period and it is challenging to separate them to know which is our ancestor.


I would also love to know what the pin and spoons look like- I do hope that someone in the family still has them and knows the story that goes along with them. They are a wonderful legacy.


Notes, Sources, and References:

1) Hand copied section of letter owned by author.


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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.