Thank you, Hiram Scott (part 2)

In the first installment of this series, I introduced my fourth-great-grandfather, Hiram Scott, who died in New Orleans while serving in the Union Army during the U.S. Civil War. This Memorial Day, I want to honor his memory by learning as much as I can about him, with a eye towards uncovering his birth family and his early life. If you haven’t yet read that first post, you should read it now before continuing with this post.

In this second post in the series, I’ll lay out, examine, and document everything I know about the life of Hiram Scott, so that I’ll have a broad base of information to use when evaluating potential evidence for Hiram’s early life and birth family. Continue reading

Alonzo Bailey, an American industrialist

Alonzo Bailey's HouseWith the new year, I’d like to get back in the habit of writing more blog entries on family history. I thought that one way I might gather up steam is to profile some new ancestors that haven’t yet been featured on the pages on this blog.

To start things off, I thought I’d write up what I know or could learn about my great-great-great-grandfather Alonzo Bailey (1799-1867). I thought this would be a quick blog post to research and write, as I knew next to nothing about Alonzo when I started writing this post over a week ago, but I’ve since realized that I’ll need at least three blog posts to cover what I’ve learned about this previously mysterious yet now impressive and fascinating man. Because of the growing size of this post and the ongoing discoveries I’m making, I’ll declare this post done for now and will update it with new information as I find it.

Alonzo Bailey was born in Lebanon, Connecticut, on December 14, 1799, to William Bailey (1768-1848) and Lucretia Tracy (1774-1859). He was the eldest of a family that would grow to include six children—three sons and three daughters. Alonzo was the first-born child in William and Lucretia’s young family, and he appears to have been a honeymoon child, having been born nine months and a week after his parents were married on March 6, 1799, in Franklin, Connecticut. Continue reading

Armchair highway archaeology

Tanner 1829 detailIn a recent post I discussed my 4th-great-grandfather James Benton McMurry’s travels from southern Kentucky to central Indiana in 1830. That got me to thinking, what were the roads he traveled along like? What routes did these roads follow? What sights and landmarks would James have encountered on the road? How long would the trip have taken?

Thanks to a pair of travel maps from 1829 and 1831, I know roughly where the roads of 1830 Kentucky and Indiana were located (these maps show the towns that are connected by roads, but the roads as illustrated therein are, to a large degree, schematic). Determination of the precise routes that these roads took will require a bit of what I call “armchair landscape archaeology.”

Landscape archaeology is the study of how humans have modified their physical environment, whether directly (e.g., building a dam or diverting a stream) or indirectly (e.g., through farming). Roads and highways, especially long-used ones, can leave enduring impressions on the landscape. The clues left by an old road, if read correctly, can aid in tracing the road’s long-abandoned route. Unlike prehistoric archaeological pursuits, the study of early 19th century transportation routes concerns structures that are relatively recent. It can therefore be considered a type of historical archaeology, because there may be written records and/or oral histories that can aid in understanding and contextualizing the subject of the investigation.

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James B. McMurry, land baron?

I wanted to see if any other members of the McMurry family made the move from Kentucky to Indiana in 1830–1831, but what I discovered is that James Benton McMurry was quite the land baron. I’m still looking, but so far I’ve found 17 parcels of land that he purchased, for a total of 2,153.67 acres (3.4 square miles). That may not seem like a big number, but he owned more land than two countries (4.3 times as much as Monaco and 19.6 times as much as Vatican City)—crickey! And I don’t think I’ve found all of his land yet—watch out Nauru!

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The McMurrys move to Indiana

In my previous post, I determined that my 3rd-great-grandfather, Luke R. McMurry, moved to Indiana (from his birthplace in southern central Kentucky) with his family in 1831–1834, when he was only 6–9 years old. I discovered that Luke and his siblings moved with their parents to southeastern Montgomery County, Indiana, where Luke’s father, James Benton McMurry, my 4th-great-grandfather, purchased four parcels of land totaling 480 acres (.75 square miles). I further learned that James’ half-brother, Hisner McMurry, also migrated from Kentucky to Indiana at the same time, and that he purchased two parcels of land totaling 240 acres.

What I haven’t yet discovered is why the two McMurry families moved 225 miles north from southern central Kentucky to eastern central Indiana in the early 1830s. In this post, I’ll start looking into how and when and perhaps why the McMurrys made the move from Kentucky to Indiana.

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Luke McMurry didn’t move alone

Until recently, I had assumed that my 3rd-great-grandfather, Luke Robinson McMurry, was the only sibling of his family to migrate to Washington from the family’s home in Kentucky. I also assumed that Luke left Kentucky for Indiana on his own, as a young man. I recently learned that both of these assumptions were wrong. Luke appears to have been less of a maverick and remained closer to his birth family than I had imagined.

I don’t know why I thought that Luke broke with his family and moved north and then west on his his own, but that appears to not be the case. From the record of his siblings’ birthdates and places, it appears that Luke’s entire family migrated about 225 miles north when Luke was only 6–9 years old, moving from southern central Kentucky (Allen County, KY) to eastern central Indiana (Montgomery County, IN) by the time of the birth of his youngest sibling, Sarah Margaret McMurry, on January 22, 1835. I’ll look into evidence for an earlier family migration to Indiana in this post.

As for whether Luke and his immediate family ventured to Washington Territory on their own or with a larger group of family members, I recently visited Washington State’s Southwest Regional Archives facility and went through their old land grant indexes to help work out local land ownership details for our family. In their Grantor Indexes (handwritten indexes to real estate sales, organized by seller), I found an entry that documented a sale of land in January 1892 by Luke’s eldest brother, Isaac McMurry. The deed that was indexed gave the names of Isaac’s wife and daughter, confirming that this Isaac McMurry was indeed Luke’s brother. Later in this post, I’ll see what else I can learn about Luke’s brother joining him in Washington.

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