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Mystery Monday- The Murrells of Virginia and Iowa

 

Wiley A Murrell and Mary Honce Marriage Bond.
Wiley A Murrell and Mary Honce Marriage Bond, 09 Apr 1834. [Click for larger image. See footnotes for transcription.]
Sometimes we family historians have to just realize that the information we seek may no longer be available, or maybe was never available. That is tough to accept for most of us, so we beat our heads up against the proverbial brick wall. We rejoice in any minute clue, and try to look at the negative data in a positive way. We keep hoping to learn just one more tidbit about our elusive ancestor…

Wiley Anderson Murrell (Murrill, Merrell, etc.) is one of my most frustrating brick walls. He was born 03 Feb 1806 in Virginia, a time when record keeping and record survival was not optimum for genealogists. We have been unable to determine his parent’s names, where his parents were from, siblings, or exactly where he was born in Virginia.

Some of the only Virginia documentation that has been found concerns the marriage of Wiley. There was a marriage bond with Catharine Honce, promising a marriage between Wiley and her daughter, Mary Magdalen Honce; the bond was signed on 09 Aril 1834. Mary’s mother signed the bond- unusual for the time- because Mary’s father, Henry Hons/Johns (1773-1864) had moved to Tennessee with his (to be) second wife, Elizabeth Firestone, their child, and some of Mary’s siblings. The family had been unstable- Henry demanded that his daughter Mary go with him as well as all the other siblings, but Mary refused and hid from him when he came to get the other children. (Henry Hons/Honce/Johns is another long story for future posts.)

The Murrell Family Bible states that Wiley and Mary were married “March the 10 1834.” This date corresponds with Dodd’s Early Marriages: Virginia to 1850, which also states that Jacob Carper, a Methodist Episcopal minister, presided, and that Mary was the “d of Catharine who also gives surety.”

Wiley A. Murrell is found in the 1840 US Federal Census in Botetourt, Virginia, with ages and gender of others in the household indicating probably Wiley, Mary, and 3 children (2 girls and a boy); Wiley was a farmer. The Murrell Family Bible records that one of these children, Mary Catherine Murrell, born 18 Sep 1839, “departed this life in the yr of our Lord & Savior November the 6  1846 age 7 years 1 month & 12 days.”

In 1850, Wiley A. “Marrell” was again listed in Botetourt Co., Virginia, in the Western District (District 8) as a farmer and living with his wife Mary and their children: Elizabeth, age 15, John H[enry], 13, William [Anderson], 9, James E., 8, and Ann E[lisy], age 5. There was no value listed for real estate owned, so he may have been renting the land, and it was noted that he was over age 20 but “cannot read & write.” In 1850 there were also many Murrills listed in the nearby Bedford Co., VA census, but no clues of how they might be related to Wiley.

The family moved to Greenbush, Illinois per their son William A.’s obituary in 1856, or 1853 to Roseville, Swan Twp., Warren Co., per family oral history and the obituary of daughter Elizabeth Ann (Murrell) Roberts. The family  remained in Warren Co. during the 1860 census- Elizabeth Ann was married by then, but William, James, and Eliza were going to school, and Wiley continued to farm.

Prairie City, Jasper Co., Iowa, August 20, 1907. Street scene during Old Settler's Day.
Prairie City, Jasper Co., Iowa, August 20, 1907. Street scene during Old Settler’s Day. RPPC.

In 1868, per obituaries, the family, including Elizabeth Ann and her husband John Roberts, migrated to Jasper County, Iowa, in covered wagons per their great-granddaughter Edith Roberts who heard the stories often as a child. The family has not been found in an 1870 census- not in Iowa, as expected, nor Illinois; even Virginia censuses have been checked with no success.

The family is next found in the 1880 US Federal Census in Jasper Co., Iowa, indexed as “Murren.” Wiley was still farming that year, at age 74, and living with just his wife. In March, 1885, the two were found together in the Iowa State Census in Mound Prairie Township, Jasper Co., Iowa, listed after their daughter Elizabeth and her husband John Roberts. (No land description is given and they have a separate dwelling, so they may have been living on the Roberts’ farm.)

Headstone of Wiley Anderson Murrell and his wife Mary Magdalene Honce. Mound Prairie Cemetery, Jasper Co., Iowa
Headstone of Wiley Anderson Murrell and his wife Mary Magdalene Honce. Mound Prairie Cemetery, Jasper Co., Iowa

Wiley A. Murrell died that same month as the census, on 27 Mar 1885 in Prairie City, Jasper, Iowa. His wife Mary died two years later, on 13 Jul 1887 in Mound Prairie Twp, Jasper, Iowa. Both are buried in the Greenleif/Mound Prairie Cemetery near the family’s farm.

 

We are very lucky to know so much about the family once Wiley A. Murrell and Mary Magdalen Honce were married. The brick wall part is Wiley’s ancestry- who were his parents, where did they live, and where in Virginia was Wiley born? Some researchers think that John Murrell (1785-?) and Hannah Mitchell were his parents. This is the theory I am leaning toward, especially since Wiley and Mary’s first son had the name of John (after his paternal grandfather possibly?) and the middle name of his maternal grandfather (Henry Honce.) Other researchers suggest William L. Murrell (b. 1769 VA, d. 1850-1860 in Cocke Co., Tennessee) and Elizabeth or Nancy Lax (1760- ) were Wiley’s parents. We would welcome conclusive proof of either, or other leads and sources.

 

 

Notes, Sources, and References:

1) Murrell Family Bible, hand copied circa 1966 at a relative’s home in Iowa, though whose home is unknown. Some researchers and the newer headstone for Wiley state his birth date was 02 Feb 1806; the Bible states it was 03 Feb 1805. Date of Bible is unknown. (Sorry, it was the time before much documentation, and hey, I was just a kid!)

 

2) Marriage bond transcription:

“Know all men by these presents, that we, Wiley A. Murrell [and] Catherine Honce are held and firmly bound unto Littleton W. Tazewell- Governor of Virginia, in the sum of one hundred and fifty dollars, current money, and for the payment of which, well and truly to be made, to the said Governor and his successors in office, we bind ourselves, our heirs, executors and administrators, jointly and severally, firmly by these presents. Sealed with our seals, and dated the 9th day of April 1834.

“The condition of the above obligation is such, that whereas, there is a marriage shortly to be had and solemnized, betweeen the above bound Wiley A. Murrell and mary Magdalen Honce daughter of the above bound Catherine Honce of the county of Botetourt. If therefore, there be no lawful cause or impediment to obstruct said marriage, then the above obligation to be void, else to remain in full force and virtue.”

It was signed by Wiley A. Murrell, his mark, and Catharine Honce, her mark, with F [Woltz?] as the witness.

 

3) Marriage Bond date is listed as marriage date on Ancestry.com and per Early American Marriages: Virginia to 1850.

Source Information: Ancestry.com. Virginia, Marriages, 1740-1850 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 1999.

Original data: Dodd, Jordan R., et al.. Early American Marriages: Virginia to 1850. Bountiful, UT, USA: Precision Indexing Publishers.

 

4) 1840 US Federal census: Source Citation: Year: 1840; Census Place:  , Botetourt, Virginia; Roll: 552; Page: 294; Image: 601; Family History Library Film: 0029684. Accessed last on Ancestry.com 12/08/2013.

 

5) 1850 US Federal census: Source Citation: Year: 1850; Census Place: District 8, Botetourt, Virginia; Roll: M432_936; Page: 156B; Image: 551.

 

6) William A. Murrel- Obituary: “G. A. R. Veteran at Roseville, is Buried Today.” Galesburg [Illinois] Evening Mail, page 10, August 3, 1922. William was just 15 when they moved to Illinois. On 01 Aug 1862 he answered the call to arms and  joined Co. H, 83rd Illinois Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. He participated in active fighting during his 3 years with the company and was mustered out 26 Jun 1865. He married Cordelia Talley of Roseville, IL, on 01 Oct 1867 and they had 2 daughters and 2 sons. William died 01 Aug 1922.

 

7) Obituary of Elizabeth Ann (Murrell) Roberts: “Mrs. Roberts Called Home,” Prairie City News, February 7, 1917. Page number unknown as my copy is a clipping acquired many years ago from family.

 

8) 1880 US Federal Census: Source Citation: Year: 1880; Census Place: Mound Prairie, Jasper, Iowa; Roll: 346; Family History Film: 1254346; Page: 150A; Enumeration District: 096; Image: 0524. Accessed 12/08/2013.

 

 

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Copyright 2013 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

“FANs”- Albert Hunniball and Annie Fletcher

Albert Hunniball and Annie Fletcher, and Their Dog
Albert Hunniball and Annie Fletcher, and Their Dog

 

“FAN” is an acronym for Friends, Associates, and Neighbors– people to look to when doing genealogy to help learn more about your primary subjects.

Annie Fletcher and Albert Hunniball were close Friends to my grandparents, Associates, as the two women attended the same church, and Neighbors too- they lived just a couple of houses around the corner from Edith and Alfred Luck. The Hunniballs were very British, as was Alfred- all three immigrated to the US between 1903-1912. As a child we would go visit Mrs. Hunniball- she was mostly blind and stayed at home, so enjoyed any bit of company. Mrs. Hunniball- I never knew her first or maiden name until just recently- was tall and slender to me as a child, and wore dresses reminiscent of the cotton shirtwaists of an earlier time. Her white hair was piled high on her head in a bun or a wrapped braid, and she had an air of elegant grace even though she was slightly stooped in her 80s. She taught us how to make tea the English way and would tell stories of working in the Queen of England’s castle when she was a young girl. It all seemed so romantic, as did her love for Albert- he passed away in 1965 so it would not have been very long that she had been widowed. She had a photograph of him on the wall that she looked at, and though she probably could not actually see the image in the photo, it was obvious that she could still see Albert with her heart as the young man she fell in love with 50 years before. As she touched his portrait she would smile a sweet smile of long, deep, true love.

I had never seen a picture of the two of them together, young, until recent years when I found some family of theirs online. I just love this photograph- so quintessentially British with the wicker chair and their dog, his paw on Albert’s knee. They never had children, so I wanted to share a bit of their story so their legacy can live on.

Eliza Ann Fletcher was born in Timworth, Suffolk, England on 18 Dec 1880 to Edward and Maria Fletcher. She was listed in the 1881 census in Culford with her parents, and then in 1891, at age 11, in Ampton, both in Suffolk, this time with her parents, four sisters and a brother. Although her father was an agricultural laborer, she and two siblings were listed as “Scholars” as they did attend school. By 1905, when she was 25, she was working in one of the palaces in England- when the “Royal Household Staff” listings became available, I was excited to search for her name to see how the story I remembered fit reality. I had to learn her maiden name first though!

Annie immigrated to the US in 1911 or 1912. She married Albert John Hunniball on 30 Mar 1912 in Newton, Jasper, Iowa.

Albert had been born 07 Apr 1877 in Thetford District, Norfolk, England to George W. and Anna Simmons Hunniball. Albert was listed as a “Plumber & Painter” in the 1891 England census when he was 23 and still living with his family. Albert decided to emigrate to the United States, and sailed on the ship Campania, from Liverpool, England, to New York City, USA, arriving March 26, 1911, at the age of 33. The ship’s manifest listed him as single, his occupation “Decorator,” and it stated he was going to Colfax, Iowa to settle.

Albert and Annie lived the rest of their lives in Newton, Iowa. He worked as a painter and paperhanger. He had a heart attack and died 15 Mar 1965 at age 87. Annie lived for almost six more years, dying at 90 years of age on 26 Jan 1971, in Newton, Iowa. They are buried together in Newton Union Cemetery, Sec. 01 Lot 106 Block 18.

 

Notes, Sources, and References:

1) 1881 England- census for Eliza Ann Fletcher: Source Citation: Class: RG11; Piece: 1838; Folio: 41; Page: 19; GSU roll: 1341445. Source Information: Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1881 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.

2) Royal Household Staff 1526-1924 at findmypast.co.uk. Fee-based records accessed 2012.

3) Annie Fletcher Hunniball- Find A Grave: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=26821263. Accessed 11/22/13.

4) 1881, 1891, 1901 England census for Albert John Hunniball, ancestry.com.

5) Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Source Citation: Year: 1911; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715; Microfilm Roll: 1646; Line: 28; Page Number: 102.

6) US Federal Censuses for Albert and Annie Hunniball for 1920, 1930, 1940, on ancestry.com.

7) 1925 Iowa State Census for Annie and Albert: Source Information: Ancestry.com. Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: Microfilm of Iowa State Censuses, 1856, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1925 as well various special censuses from 1836-1897 obtained from the State Historical Society of Iowa via Heritage Quest.

8) Albert John Hunniball- Find A Grave: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=26821111

 

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Copyright 2013 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

George Anthony Roberts- A True Iowa Farm Boy

 

This image of George A. Roberts was cropped from a family portrait. It was taken circa 1904.
This image of George A. Roberts was cropped from a family portrait. It was taken circa 1904.

George Anthony Roberts Jr. was the second of four children born to George A. Roberts, Sr. (1861-1939), and Ella Viola Daniel (1866-1922). Their first child, John Robert, was born 14 Mar 1888 in Jasper Co. and died just three months later, in June. George (Jr.) was born the next year on 11 June 1889 in Monroe, Jasper, Iowa, and was always called Georgie. He was a farm boy, and worked hard his whole life on the family farm. He had knee problems and thus was not able to enlist in the military during World War I. When we visited in the 1960s, I remember him having his knee wrapped as he worked throughout the fields and stock areas of the farm. It must have been very painful for him to do such hard physical labor his whole life.

Georgie Roberts with his great-nieces about 1963,
dressed fashionably to gather eggs in the chicken house.

 

George married Irene Artie deBruyn about 1915 in Knoxville, Marion, Iowa. They had been neighbors as children, and Irene kept a journal that mentioned him numerous times. (More about that in an upcoming series of posts.) They lived in an old Victorian farmhouse on one of the land parcels the Roberts children (George and his two sisters) inherited. Georgie and Irene never had children. They did divorce before the 1960s, and one of George’s sisters tried to take care of him, and always brought him baked goods and other foods when she went to visit. He farmed her land for her and they were very close.

George Anthony Roberts passed away 30 Jun 1965 in Jasper Co., Iowa.

 

Notes, Sources, and References:

1) Family oral history

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Mystery Monday- Jasper Co., Iowa Students, circa 1899?

NewtonKidSoldiers_cropped

Ah, the delightful pictures with no names, no dates, but you just KNOW there is someone in the picture that belongs in your family…

This is another one of those pictures. It was found in with old photographs of the George Anthony Roberts (Sr.) family. After much study of this and other images over the years, I now believe the boy on the left of the picture is George Anthony Roberts, Jr. I do not know the other children, nor why they were in the uniforms they wore, nor why they had the broom handles. I wonder if this had to do with the Spanish-American War? We would love to hear from anyone who can explain this picture.

Georgie and his sisters Ethel Roberts and Edith Roberts attended a one-room schoolhouse just down the road from one of the family farms. Might this be a picture of his whole class?

 

[OK, this Mystery Monday post got published on a Tuesday, but I hadn’t thought of that topic when this was originally published.]

 

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Copyright 2013 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Welcome to “Heritage Ramblings: Musings on Family History”!

Edward A. McMurray, Jr., with his grandfather George A. Roberts, about 1926.
Edward A. McMurray, Jr., with his grandfather George A. Roberts, about 1926.

 What does one write in a first blog post? Seems like it should be epic and scintillating, entertaining and stimulating, enticing and tempting, and make a reader yearn for more from this blog. Don’t know if we can do all that in this post, but we are going to try to do at least some of that on a regular basis with our family stories we so want to share.

“We” are two married-ins to a wonderful family and have become the unofficial family historians and genealogists and are, of course, totally addicted researchers. We both have been researching our own family lines for a very long time as well, so we DO have a lot of names on the list to blog about- hence the “Ramblings” portion of the blog title. We hope this blog is a good way to share our family stories with those far and near, and a way to get all the generations knowing and understanding their rich heritage. It is really through the stories that we connect to our ancestors.

Of course, we also hope this blog will be “cousin bait”! If you are related to any of these families, we would really love to hear from you and share even more information than possible to include on the blog. Just click on “Contact Us” to send us an email.

Please click on “Follow Our Ramblings” to stay updated on the latest posts. We don’t know how frequently we will be posting, as each time one starts to write a story, it seems there is more research required to fill in newly found holes. Hopefully, though, we can stop researching and tell the stories on a regular basis!

For both of us, family heritage has been a part of our lives for most of our years. We both grew up with grandparents and great-grandparents telling the stories of our families. My grandmother would always tell us, especially when it seemed like we were “in a pickle” in our lives,

“You come from strong pioneer stock. You can do anything you set your mind to.”

This knowledge that was instilled from a young age has helped me conquer many a challenge throughout my lifetime, and I have tried to pass that heritage wisdom on to newer generations.

Grandma even wrote about a dozen stories of growing up on a farm, and gave details about the personalities of each of her beloved family members. These stories are priceless- I feel as if I almost know her parents and other family members, and can feel the drive to make life better, even if it meant moving the family across the Midwest in a covered wagon to new fertile lands. THIS is what family history research is really about- not just dates and places as in a traditional genealogy, but learning the stories and context, and then using that knowledge and connection to enrich our own lives. It is one of the best legacies we receive, and one of the best we can leave behind.

So with this blog we also hope to inspire you to search your own piles of papers and pictures; look for forgotten albums and boxes in the back corners of a closet; talk with family members still around who lived the stories and have the answers to our questions; and make connections with other family members (like us!) who may know a part of the puzzle that you did not. Our family research and our lives have been so enriched by the wonderful cousins we have met along our ramblings, and have helped us embrace the rich heritage that has helped to make us who we are today. We hope that we can do the same for you!

 

Notes and references:
1) George A. Roberts Family Homestead and Farm, Jasper County, Iowa, c1900.

2) Family oral history.

 

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Copyright 2013 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.