Mystery Scott photo album, part 1

Today’s post is about a photo album that’s intrigued me since I first saw it about four years ago. I’ve shared a couple of the photos from the album in previous blog posts, referring to the album in which I found them as an album that probably belonged to my great-great-grandfather Frank Scott. The album itself is quite fascinating and is filled with photos from the 1920s of a well-to-do couple named “Roland and Flo” who apparently liked to travel quite a bit.

The photo album presents a comfortable but curious mix of people from two distinct socioeconomic strata. The first group includes my known Scott relations (my great-grandmother Gertrude Scott Askew, her sister Cassie Scott, her father Frank Scott, and his second wife Lois Lanudge Scott)—poorer folk working multiple jobs to make ends meet and living in rural Wadena county, Minnesota. The second group appears to center around the couple named Roland and Flo—an apparently well-heeled and well-traveled couple.

But who were Roland and Flo? Until last week, despite having records on over 13,000 people in my family history database, not a single one of those people was named Roland, and none of the women named Flo or Florence were possible candidates for Flo in the photo album. Continue reading

Luke McMurry and the University of Illinois

The Elephant, 1870Luke 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 Countyhis 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 DeceasedI’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:

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Why Nampa?

map-idaho-nampaThis is a post that’s been sitting on the back shelf for over a year, as I’ve been hoping to uncover more details before posting the story. I’ve made some headway, but not as much as I’d like, so I’m putting this post out there today in hopes that some McMurry or Chilson relative will be able to fill in some of the missing details.

I recently learned that my grandmother, Dorothy Ruth (McMurry) Black, lived in Nampa, Idaho, when she was very young. She never mentioned this to me while she was alive, and I had never heard about her or her parents living in Idaho before. I knew that her grandfather, Arthur Webster McMurry in Nampa, Idado, on November 17, 1917, after moving there in December, 1916. Arthur’s daughter (and my grandmother’s aunt) Maud “May” Belle (McMurry) Jeglum was living a few miles south in Bowmont at the time of the 1920 census, having moved there with her husband and three children at some point after 1914.

The evidence for my grandmother having lived in Nampa comes from two sources. First is this short mention published on page 6 of the Friday, December 20, 1918, edition of the Olympia Daily Recorder:

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Hiram Scott’s family gets even larger

1862 ?- Horace ScottIn previous posts, I’ve written about Horace Scott’s (my 3rd-great-grandfather) service in the Civil War, and discovering that his father Hiram Scott (my 4th-great-grandfather) enlisted as well, after Horace fell ill from tuberculosis in 1864. Hiram joined his son in Company C of the 95th Regiment of Illinois Infantry Volunteers, where he contracted and died of dysentery. From Hiram’s wife’s claim for her widow’s pension, I learned that Horace had a younger brother (Winfield) who was too young to fight in the war and who stayed home in Illinois with his mother.

While looking for more information on Horace and Hiram’s service in Company C of the 95th Regiment of Illinois Infantry Volunteers, I came across the Illinois Civil War database, hosted by the Illinois State Archives. Using this database, I discovered that there were not just two Scotts in Company C of the 95th Regiments, but four. There was also a 19-year-old Willard J. Scott and an 18-year-old James H. Scott. Were these yet more brothers of Horace? Scott is not an uncommon name, so I compared the details of the four records (below) to see if I could see any patterns.
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The first photo of Horace Scott?

1885 ?- Frank ScottWhile working on a future post about some of the earliest family photos I’ve seen, I had a revelation that I’d like to share with you. One of the most exciting discoveries that I can make when going through old family photos is finding a photo of an ancestor for whom I thought no photos existed. My 3rd-great-grandfather, Horace Scott (the subject of two previous posts: here and here), is one individual whose face I figured I’d never have the chance to see. He was born in 1842, he went off to fight in the Civil War at age 20, he caught tuberculosis two years later in 1864, he was discharged a year later, and he lived only five more years, dying of tuberculosis in 1870 at the age of 28.

I had no photos of Horace Scott that I knew of, and I didn’t expect to ever find any, although I figured I’d keep looking just in case.
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Horace catches his death of cold

F5.largeIn a previous post, I introduced Horace L. Scott, my 3rd-great-grandfather (he was the paternal grandfather of my great-grandmother, Gertrude (Scott) Askew). In that first post, I laid out all I knew about Horace at that time. Horace was born in New York, around 1842, and he served in the Union Army during the Civil War. While serving in that war, he appears to have either been injured or become ill, as he applied for an invalid’s pension in 1870, five years after the war, when he was only about 28 years old.

Sometime between 1870 and 1875, Horace died and was buried in Alden, Illinois. His widow Caroline and their children moved to Deer Creek, MN, to live with her parents. Was Horace wounded in the Civil War? Was that the cause of his status as an invalid after the war? Did it contribute to his premature death?

I applied to the National Archives for copies of Horace’s Civil War service records and any pension applications that he, his widow, or his children might have filed. I recently received two packages from the National Archives with 65 pages of scanned documents about Horace. One of the packages contained a copy of Horace’s Civil War Military Service File, and the other package contained a copy of his Full Civil War Pension File. Among the pages of these scanned documents were answers to my questions about his infirmity and death.

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Elizabeth Miller McMurry’s paintings, part 2

Detail of cabinThis post is a continuation of a post I wrote yesterday on a series of three oil paintings that are said to have been painted by my 3rd-great-grandmother, Elizabeth Miller McMurry (1828–1876). In today’s post, I’ll be taking a closer look at one of the paintings (the pastoral scene with boy and cattle), and looking for hints as to the date(s) and settings of the paintings.

My grandmother’s first cousin, Art McMurry, the owner of the paintings until his death twenty years ago, said that they were painted by Elizabeth while she and her husband were traveling west by wagon. If true, these canvases would have been painted at some point between Elizabeth and Luke’s marriage in 1851 and Elizabeth’s death in 1876. She never made it further west than Arkansas, but her family later reached the area near Olympia, Washington. From what I can tell from the images I currently have available, nothing about the paintings or their mounting and framing is inconsistent with dating from the mid-to-late nineteenth century. Continue reading