- Write more blog posts here on Blackenedroots. Having an energetic toddler has been more of a challenge to my genealogical pursuits over the past three and a half years than I had imagined it would be. With Arwen’s third birthday now behind us, I feel (or at least I hope) that we’ve turned a new page and that I may be able to get more research and writing time in. This last month has been a test of that feeling/hope, and I found I was able to write more posts in the last month of 2017 than I did in all of 2016 or 2015. So here’s to a continued renaissance at Blackenedroots in 2018!
- Join a hereditary society or two—most likely the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) and the General Society of Mayflower Descendants (Mayflower Society). My cousin Linda asked for help with an SAR application she was filling out this past fall, and I realized I didn’t really have a good grasp of what was needed. I thought tracing one’s line back to an ancestor who was a member would be sufficient—not so, it turns out. If your ancestors joined SAR or DAR more than about 35 years ago, you pretty much have to redo all the work done by your ancestor, as the societies usually returned all supporting documentation to the applicant, without making a file copy for themselves. With the 400th anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower coming up in 2020, and the 250th anniversary of the nation coming a few years later in 2026, this seems like a great time to get this done. To benefit both sides of my family, I’ll probably be going with Benjamin Woodruff on my mother’s side for SAR, and John Alden on my father’s side for the Mayflower Society.
Today’s post will be my first look into the life story of George Faulkner McMurry, one of the two brothers adopted by James Miller McMurry and his wife Grace Aitken. My cousin Crystal turned me on to this story, and if you haven’t read her post on George, you should go read it now!
Crystal learned that George and his brother Douglas survived a shipwreck that killed their parents. The brothers were then adopted by James and Grace McMurry in Port Townsend, Washington. She also learned that George was married briefly, and that he was murdered in San Francisco in June, 1945. All tantalizing stuff!
In addition to this story having a lot to recommend it on its own, I suspect that the story of George and his brother may shed light on Grace Aitken’s family in New York, and that it may help explain why widower James McMurry moved in his later years to Sutter County, California, where he apparently had no family. Continue reading
For this Veteran’s Day post, I’ll be looking at an artifact that illuminates the early relationship between two veterans in my family—one who served during WWII, and one who was still two decades away from serving and was too young to understand the sacrifices his father and his family were making.
This post is about a wallet of loose photos that my grandfather, Vernon C. Black, carried with him during World War II to remind him of his family back home. My grandmother, Dorothy R. (McMurry) Black, took the photos, captioned them, and mailed them in letters she sent almost daily (most of which still survive and will undoubtedly be the topic of a series of blog posts in the future). She also cared for the wallet and photos for decades and thoughtfully left a note giving a brief history of the wallet.
This photo wallet was carried by Vernon Curtis Black with these pictures in it during WWII (carried in his right hip pocket.) —Dorothy R. Black
Today’s post is about a letter that James Miller McMurry wrote to his “Grands”—presumably his grandnephew Arthur (Art) and Art’s wife Ezelpha. I received a photocopy of this letter from my grandmother, Dorothy Ruth McMurry Black—Arthur’s first cousin. I saw the original letter in 1990 when visiting Art, and I’m hoping someone in the family still has this letter.
I hadn’t read this letter in over 25 years, and upon re-reading it I discovered a bounty of new information: I learned of another two relatives who fought in the Civil War, including one who possibly died at Shiloh. I realized that the recipient was my cousin Arthur Edgar McMurry, not my great-great-grandfather Arthur Webster McMurry. I learned a bit about James McMurry’s wife Grace Aitken and her life before she and James met. I learned a bit more about the timing of the McMurry’s move to Arkansas, and the location of their land there. I got a bit of description of the area around James’ last home, in Sutter County, California. I also learned a bit more about James’ adopted son and his latest sailing voyage. Continue reading
This series of posts will provide a chronological overview of the life of my father, Keith Black (1942–2016), who passed away on March 8, 2016. My aim in this first installment is to give an overview of his first seven years, from his birth and early childhood in Washington state to his entering elementary school after his family moved to Santa Barbara, California.
If you have any stories to share about my father, whether privately or stories I could share publicly, I would be grateful. Please do so by leaving a comment below (comments stay private until I publish them).
Details on my father’s memorial service will be posted here in the coming weeks.
I’m writing a series of posts on the chapters of my father’s life. Links to these are below. One thing I’m realizing as I write these is that I know little or nothing about large chunks of my father’s life. If you’d like to share any memories or stories to help fill holes in my father’s story, whether privately or for inclusion in a biographical post, please do so by leaving a comment below.
Luke Robinson McMurry was a well-travelled and multifaceted person who had his fingers in a great many pies, as I continue to learn. I’ve noted elsewhere his childhood journey overland from Kentucky to Indiana, his migration to Illinois after marrying Elizabeth Miller, his appointment to the Executive Committee of the Agricultural Society of Effingham County, his wholesale millinery and straw goods business in Chicago, his founding of a narrow-gauge railroad in Effingham, Illinois, in 1867, his mysterious departure to Arkansas with his family, and his journey to the Washington territory with his sons several years after his wife died.
Thanks to an unexpected find—an entry for Luke in the University of Illinois’ 1916 publication, University of Illinois Directory: Listing the 35,000 Persons who have ever been Connected with the Urbana-Champaign Departments including Officers of Instruction and Administration and 1397 Deceased—I’ve recently learned of another enterprise he was involved in—the founding of the University of Illinois. In this volume, I found Luke’s name enumerated as a Trustee of the University of Illinois from 1867 to 1873: