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.


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)


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–


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52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #2 William McMurray

Brush Mountain looking toward Holidaysburg, Blair County, Pennsylvania. CC License.
Brush Mountain looking toward Holidaysburg, Blair County, Pennsylvania, in recent years. CC License. (Click to enlarge.)

A previous post detailed where I learned the names of the father and mother of Henderson McMurray, William McMurray and Mary Proctor. (See post here.) The letter indicates that James McMurray, William’s father, had immigrated from Ireland to the Americas around 1779. William was born in Ireland per the 1850 and 1860 US Federal Censuses, and with the ages listed in those census records, that would have been around 1790- eleven years after the date stated that his father arrived. So was he born in Ireland, and the date given for the immigration of his father later than 1779? Or did his father go back to visit Ireland after coming to America, and then finally bring over the family? Although we know that was done very commonly in the late 1800s and early 1900s, crossing “The Big Pond” was not so easy in the late 1700s (but some did it), so I suspect the date of immigration may be somewhat off.

One of the big problems in McMurray research is the sheer number of James and William McMurrays in Pennsylvania and other settlements in the US during this time period. How to know which one is our ancestor of interest? The Irish could have been helpful and used more than a handful of the same names, but they didn’t.

Blair County, Pennsylvania in 2012 with TownshipsWilliam McMurray lived in Blair County. (Click to enlarge.)


Looking for census records helps, and I was just this week able to find the 1860 census for William McMurray listed as “Wm” way down on the list of search hits. (Don’t forget to search using abbreviations and nicknames.) I knew it was him because of the age, his birth in Ireland, the location being the same as the previous census, and his daughter Sarah, born in Pennsylvania, living in the household with him in 1860.

Here is a brief timeline of what I know about William McMurray:

William McMurray was born in Ireland about 1790.  (Some Ancestry trees state 20 Jan 1790 but am unsure where the info came from.) He immigrated, possibly as a child, to the US sometime before about 1815-1820.

William probably met Mary Proctor in the US, and they may have married around 1815-1818. (Mary had been born in England and came to the US with her father, ‘General Proctor.’) The first known (to me) child of William McMurray and Mary Proctor, Henderson McMurray, was born on 22 May 1819 in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania.  Their next known child, a girl, may have been named Minnie (per her brother Henderson McMurray’s obit and the 1905 Iowa State Census), born about 1820, possibly in Pennsylvania, or this may not be an additional child, but the nickname of one. Daughter Jane J. McMurray is the next known child, born about 1827 in Pennsylvania- a seven year gap from her older brother, so there may have been more children between that did not survive to adulthood. Son James McMurray was born next- 1830 in Pennsylvania. Thankfully, they had a son, because he also worked as a farmer, probably with his father, when he was older. Daughter Sarah McMurray was born in Pennsylvania, possibly in 1830 per her 1860 census entry with her father. William and Mary (Proctor) McMurray’s last known child was Catherine C. McMurray, born about 1833 in Pennsylvania. She may actually be the “Mrs. C. C. Meyers” referred to in the letter from Aunt Ibe Raugh. If that is so, her husband may have died by that time since  women used their first names again, along with the husband’s last name, once their husband was deceased.

In 1850 William was living in Allegheny Twp. Blair Co., Pennsylvania with his wife Mary (Proctor). He was born in Pennsylvania per this record, but England per family letter. Also in the household were daughter Jane J. McMurray, age 23, son James McMurray, age 20 and working as a farmer, and daughter Catherine C. McMurray, age 17. Daughters Minnie and Sarah were not listed- they may have been staying with a relative, working in another home, or married. William McMurray was working as a farmer and owned real estate worth $2,000, considerably more than what others on that census page owned. Quite a lot of the other adults on the page had also been born in Ireland.

1860 US Federal census for William McMurray and his daughter Sarah McMurray, Allegheny Twp., Blair Co., Pennsylvania
1860 US Federal census for William McMurray and his daughter Sarah McMurray, Allegheny Twp., Blair Co., Pennsylvania. (Click to enlarge.)

The 1860 US Federal Census is shown above. William was 70 years old, and living with his daughter Sarah who was age 30 per the census. He still had $2,000 in real estate, plus $200 in personal property. No occupation is listed.

I have finally found a death date for William- he died on 30 Oct 1861. The Democratic Standard, a paper in Holidaysburg, Pennsylvania, reported his obituary, as posted by transcribers at US GenWeb. It states that on “the 30th ult., Mr. William McMurray” died at age 70 years and 7 months. William died in Allegheny Township, Blair County, Pennsylvania. We have not yet found his final resting place.

Notes, Sources, and References:

1) 2) US Federal Census for William McMurray, head of household, in Allegheny Twp., Blair County, Pennsylvania: Source Citation: Year: 1850; Census Place: Allegheny, Blair, Pennsylvania; Roll: M432_755; Page: 259B; Image: 523.

2) US Federal Census for William McMurray, head of household, in Allegheny Twp., Blair County, Pennsylvania: Source Citation: Year: 1860; Census Place: Allegheny, Blair, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1078; Page: 14; Image: 18; Family History Library Film: 805078.

3) US GenWeb Archives transcribed obituary for William McMurray:

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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.