Sunday, January 17, 2021

The Apple Cart: The Few Things I know about James Murray.

I just suffered the loss of a very lengthy post that I had been working on for weeks. What happened, I don't know, the hitting of the wrong key combination, a computer malfunction, who knows. I will return to it and start again, but at the moment I don't have the heart for it.

Instead, I will write briefly on James Murray, who plays a part in this research circle that I have recently begun.
James Murray was the oldest brother of my 3rd Great Grandmother, Priscilla Murray Aldridge. In theory, he's also the key on how a certain group of descendants of a particular wandering gentlemen relate to me.

James was a son of Jesse Murray, Stanly County Murray patriarch, who migrated to this area from counties east and first landed in Anson County, before settiling near the end of  Long Creek, just before its mergence into the Rocky River in Stanly County. I had known Jesse Murray to only have two sons, James and Benjamin, as mentioned in a 1845 land division, but Thrulines show that he may have had one or two more. Some may have migrated to other counties, whose descendants have linked themselves to my Jesse, and we are certainly related. 

Jesse also had a large collection of daughters, of whom my own GGGreat Grandmother was one of the youngest. 

Jesse Murray lies peacefully, now, in the Murray Family Cemetery, on top of a ridge overlooking Long Creek in the middle of a cornfield. 
There are about 20 plus graves in this small Family Plot in a little wooded circle atop a hill overlooking Prince Road, and the chances that James Murray is one of them are fairly good. The only legible stone is that of Murray family Patriarch, Jesse Murray, himself, and that is because two of his Great Grandsons erected the monument to him during a more recent era. J. C and A. G Murray (James Clark Murray and Aussie Gold Murray), sons of Annie Jane Murray, were the two, Annie Jane being the daughter of Jesse's daughter, Keziah or "Kizzy" Murray. The two Great Grandsons so honored the official head of the Murray family, they installed a more permanent marker.

From where my research now stands, James was the second eldest child of Jesse Murray, with his sister, Jane, being the oldest. Jane was a common name in the Murray clan, with Jesse's mother, Jane Pearce Murray, bearing the same name. James was born about 1802.
He appears, with his father and his younger brother, Benjamin, on a petition to divide Montgomery County into two, dated 1838. This happened in 1841. He's also on the Division of Property of the Estate of Jesse Murray, dated 1845. Jesse's widow, Elizabeth, is in the 1840 census, as Head of Household, with James on one side of her and Benjamin on the other side of her. Oldest Murray daughter, Jane, was not too far away, living near the Burris family. Elizabeth would live until 1853, and is buried, oddly, not with Jesse, but in the Rehobeth Church cemetery. 

James appears first in the 1830 census of Montgomery County, in 'West Pee Dee' , so he was living in what we now know as Stanly.  The family layout appears to be that of a husband and wife in their 20's, with 3 small children, two girls and a boy.

Name:James Murray
[James Morway] 
Home in 1830 (City, County, State):Montgomery, North Carolina
Free White Persons - Males - Under 5:1 Son born 1825-1830
Free White Persons - Males - 20 thru 29:1 James
Free White Persons - Females - Under 5:1 Daughter born 1825-1830
Free White Persons - Females - 5 thru 9:1 Daughter born 1821-1824
Free White Persons - Females - 20 thru 29:1 James's wife
Free White Persons - Under 20:3
Free White Persons - 20 thru 49:2
Total Free White Persons:5
Total - All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored):5

In 1830, the other two Murray households were his father, Jesse, and his sister Jane, aka "Jincy". Benjamin was not out on his own yet. Neighbors of James at this time were Jacob Efird, William Mays, William Nash, and George Tucker. James, Jane and Jesse seemed to be living in different parts of the County, although still south and west. Jincy is living next to Joshua Burris, by whom she would bear children, but not marry. Jesse was living near John and Nathan Simpson and John Colson. Jesse was probably upon the land near where he is buried, James nearer to the Saint Martin area and Jane near what is now Red Cross. 

Name:Jas Murry
[James Murry] 
[Jas Murray] 
Home in 1840 (City, County, State):West Pee Dee River, Montgomery, North Carolina
Free White Persons - Males - 5 thru 9:1 son born 1831-1839
Free White Persons - Males - 30 thru 39:1 James 
Free White Persons - Females - Under 5:1 Daughter born 1835 - 1840
Free White Persons - Females - 30 thru 39:1 Wife
Persons Employed in Agriculture:1
No. White Persons over 20 Who Cannot Read and Write:2
Free White Persons - Under 20:2
Free White Persons - 20 thru 49:2
Total Free White Persons:4
Total All Persons - Free White, Free Colored, Slaves:4

The family setup has now changed. James and his wife are now in their 30's. I believe this is probably the same wife. The oldest daughter may possibly have been married. especially if she was 8 or 9 in the previous census. The younger daugther from the 1830 is MIA and probably not married. Child mortality was very high. The boy could possibly be the same one if he was an infant in the last one, and his age misjudged by a year. A new daughter born between 1835 and 1840 has joined the family. 

This is the census where James, Elizabeth and Benjamin are all living in a cluster, no doubt on the Jesse Murray lands. Benjamin would later acquire land closer to the modern community of Aquadale, as it was his land that was purchased for the building of Rehobeth Church. 
James appears in a list of people who bought Bibles from the Montgomery County, NC Bible Society Auxillary to The American Bible Society. 

James appears to have been battling an illness during the 1840's and loosing his land and his inability to work it. 

In the first tax list for the newly minted Stanly County, in 1841, Elizabeth Murray, the widow of Jesse, is said to have had 70 acres on Long Creek, that was probably her dower after Jesse's death. 

Benjamin, the younger son, was taxed for two tracts, 170 acres on Long Creek and 392 acres on Old Hickory. 

Just as a note, brother-in-law Richard Poplin, who married Rebecca Murray, one of the older sisters, had 59 acres on Long Creek and Stokes McIntyre, who married Elizabeth Murray, the second oldest sister, below Jane, had 202 acres on Coopers Creek. 

In comparison, James Murray was just taxed for one poll, himself, no property. 

Just 4 years later, in 1845, Benjamin has 174 acres on Long Creek, 592 on Old Hickory and 232 on Ugly Creek. James is no longer even taxed as a poll, which meant old age or ill health. Since James was in his mid-forties, I would guess it meant poor health. 

There exists in the NC Archives, a Vestry Claim Book for the years 1849 - 1854 in Stanly County, for Relief for the Poor. 

It listed the elderly and infirm, who were getting paid for their assistance, the term and amount, and occasionally, the reason.

In November 1849, Lee Burleson was taking care of Elizabeth Murray, and indeed, she is listed in his home in the 1850 census. I don't believe there to be any relationship there, as he was taking care of a Rachel Thomas the next year. That year, in 1850, Elizabeth Murray was in the care of Garner Aldridge, her son-in-law, husband of daugther Priscilla. 
In May of 1851, Benjamin Murray was paid $18 for taking care of James Murray, and for his funeral expenses. 

Just a continuation of this record, in 1851, Benjamin was now taking care of his mother, Elizabeth Murray, while his brother-in-law, Stokes McIntyre, was taking care of his own mother, Judith McIntyre.

In 1852, Benjamin was taking care of both Elizabeth and his sister, Keziah "Kizzie" Murray, who was by 1870 declared an "idiot" or insane, although she had been married, (in 1851 to Jesse Mills) and had born a child, Annie Jane. 

In 1853, Benjamin was still taking care of Elizabeth, but now John E. Ross was taking care of Keziah Murray.

The decline in state of James Murray can be glimpsed briefly in the Minutes for the Court of Pleas and Quarters of Stanly County, North Carolina. In May of 1842, James Murray was deemed insolvent and given an allowance of 50 cents. He was given $1.45 for an allowance in August of the same year.

In 1843, he suffered a lawsuit against his property that reads: Executions in favor of Frederick Staton to use of Jame Murray vs Jones Green, Tye L. Turner, vs same, J. F. Stone vs same, two in favor of J. B. Broadway vs same, David C. Lilly vs same, were levied on lands of said defendant, 21 Feby 1843 on which levy vendi exponas issued. Lands of defendant have been sold by Sheriff in favor of Fred Staton and money arising from sale of land in hands of Sheriff be paid prorate to said Staton and others as named above. 

Fayetteville Weekly Observer
Fayetteville, North Carolina
07 Jan 1851, Tue  •  Page 3

So, in thanks to the Fayetteville Observer, a newspaper out of Cumberland County, NC, we know the exact date of James Murray's death, December 16th, 1850. He was only 48 years old. I feel he must have been fairly esteemed in his youth to garner an obituary, albeit a brief one, in a state newspaper. There is no mention of a wife, and no loose Murray widow in the census records to be a possible widow, save one, but she could also have been a daughter. But what of possible children? It seems he did have some. 

The 1850 and 1860 census records for Tyson Township, there are a large number of  Murray children scattered about the neighborhood. I've spent the last 12 or 13 years trying to connect these children to a parent, as all of them were grandchildren of Jesse Murray. Some of them were in the homes of Aunts and Uncles, like Ben Murray, Phoebe Murray Turner, or Sophia Murray Whitaker. Others were in the homes of neighboring families.

Some of these children were called "mulatto". These were the children of  Mariah Murray, who died young, leaving 7 small children, named in her estate records. Green Wesley Simpson, a local Sunday School teacher and deacon of Rehobeth Church, was the Administrator. Green Wesley Simpson was Priscilla Murray Aldridge's brother-in-law, having married husband Garner's sister, Margaret. The children Albert, Lydia Adeline, Eliza, Mary Ann, William, Wesley and Benjamin, were the children of Mariah Murray and Henry Wilkerson, who was the slave of Jonathan Wilkerson. They had a long term relationship, but were not allowed to marry. 

There was Anna Jane, who was the daughter of Keziah Murray, and says so on her death certificate.

There was Solomon and Judith Wilmertha Murray/Burris who were the children of Jane Murray, who never married,  and Joshua Christian Burris. 

On a note, the Murray sisters were a bit of a wild bunch, often getting into fights and such and the three, Jane, Kesiah and Mariah, had children outside of wedlock. 

But there were these three unattributed children in the census records: William Russell Murray, born in 1842, after the 1840 census, Edmond C. Murray, born in 1838, and Mary Jane Murray, born in 1844. Mary Jane was bound out to Charles Cagle and appears in records as his 'apprentice'.  It was said in the Cagle family file and records that he was very fond of her. These 3 orphaned Murrays were white, and I believe were most likely the children of James, mother unknown. I will look more carefully at these children in future posts. One of them, I've made contact with  descendants of before, and we do share small amounts of DNA. 

There are two more: A Martha "Patsy" Murray marries Andrew Boone on May 14, 1851. Ironically, this is the same day that Keziah Murray marries Jesse Mills. Andrew Boone was a widower with children who is shown in the 1850 census with his first wife, Jane. Jane Boone is listed in the mortality schedules of that year. Andrew and Martha move to Alleghany County, NC and have several children together. Now, Martha was born about 1830. It's possible she was a daughter of Kizzy Murray, who was born around 1815. A fifteen year old mother is possible. But she also could have been a daughter of James Murray, which I believe is the most likely scenario. 

Then there is Winna Julina "Winny" Murray, who married Adam Pless and had one daughter, Elizabeth. She died in 1843 at age 21. Born in 1822, Winny could have been that older daughter of James in the 1830 census. She was also close in age to my Priscilla, so she could have also been James sister, which I believe is the most likely. She died 2 years before the 1845 land division, so would not have been mentioned. The reason I believe she was a sister is that my second Great Grandmother, Priscilla's daughter, Frances Julina Aldridge, was reportedly named for her. Julina was not a common name and Julina Aldridge Davis was my Grandfathers Grandmother. She lived to see the birth of his oldest three children. She may have even hinted for a namesake. What I do know is that she was named after an Aunt, to wit, Winna Julina Murray Pless. 

 To add to that, Winny was reportedly raised by Daniel Reap and while on her deathbed requested her daughter Elizabeth to be raised by the same. In the 1820's and 1830's, when Winny was growing up, James would have been raising his own children. Jesse died during this time, leaving his youngest children in limbo, as mothers were not usually seen as guardians. 

The short life of James Murray leaves many questions. I will explore these more soon. 

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