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.
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.
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: http://files.usgwarchives.net/pa/blair/obits/m1/mcmurray-william.txt
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