25 Apr 1881: Alexander Rose Hendry’s Law Office Destroyed by Arsonist’s Fire

On this day — 139 years ago — my 4x-great-grandfather Alexander Rose Hendry’s law office was destroyed by fire. The article below appeared in the 29 April 1881 issue of the New Orleans Democrat (transcription follows):¹

“Winnsboro, LA. A House and Its Contents Destroyed by Incendiary Fire–The Weather and Crops,” The New Orleans Democrat, 29 Apr 1881, p. 1, col. 2; image copy; Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/?clipping_id=32458955 : accessed 25 Apr 2020).

WINNSBORO, LA.

A HOUSE AND ITS CONTENTS DESTROYED BY IN
CENDIARY FIRE–THE WEATHER AND CROPS.
(Special to the Democrat).

WINNSBORO, La., April 26, via Delhi, April
28.–Last night about 8 o’clock the house
owned by Dr. A. R. Hendry, and occupied by
Osborne Perkins as a dry goods store, and
Hendry & Berry as a law office, was entirely
destroyed by fire, with the entire contents.
Osborne & Perkins lose about $3000, insured
for $2000. Dr. Hendry loses the house, which
was very old, and his entire law library, which
was a valuable one. Berry loses his library,
which was small. The fire was the work of an
incendiary. There was no insurance on the
house or library.
We had a fine rain on the twenty-second and
twenty-fourth, and the gardens and fields are
looking well. Cotton seed is selling at six
cents a pound and scarce at that price. Hogs
are dying with cholera.

Oh, what a loss for Alexander! Although he studied medicine at Williams College in Watertown, Massachusetts,² and practiced as a physician in northeast Louisiana for many years,³ he also worked as an attorney. Alexander was admitted to the Louisiana Bar Association in 1847.⁴ The fire destroyed all the books he’d amassed in his 30+ year career — a needless loss at the hands of an arsonist.

I’m unsure where Alexander’s law office, along with the dry goods store, was located. It seems most reasonable that the law office would be near the parish courthouse in Winnsboro. However, Alexander⁵ and his law partner Charles L. Berry,⁶ as well as the likely merchant, A. F. Osborne,⁷ all lived in Ward 7, on New Zion Road toward Liddieville. (If we weren’t in a pandemic, I would visit the courthouse and search for any Hendry-owned property near the town center, but…well, that will have to be a project for another time.)

Alexander lost much of his wealth in the Civil War. On the 1860 census, he reported the value of his real estate as $8000, and his personal property as $500.⁸ By 1870, that value had decreased to $1770, and $391.⁹ Alexander resorted to selling much of his real estate because he lacked cash to pay taxes.¹⁰ The loss of his entire law library was surely a devastating loss to a man near the end of his career.

Alexander died not long after the fire, supposedly on 17 November 1884, in Franklin Parish.¹¹ An authored family history cites this date from an unidentified newspaper clipping.


¹”Winnsboro, LA. A House and Its Contents Destroyed by Incendiary Fire–The Weather and Crops,” The New Orleans Democrat, 29 Apr 1881, p. 1, col. 2; image copy; Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/?clipping_id=32458955 : accessed 25 Apr 2020).

²Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts, “Catalogus, Collegii Gulielimi, MDCCCXXXVIII”; image, “U.S., College Student Lists, 1763-1924.” Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/2207/32217_622204_0523-00030 : accessed 4 May 2019); citing “College Student Lists,” American Antiquarian Society.

³Alexander R. Hendry, 1839-1844, Medical Daybook. Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, Louisiana State University Libraries, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

⁴”Admissions to the Bar,” New Orleans Weekly Delta, 1 Nov 1847, p. 2, col. 1; image copy, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/?clipping_id=32458831 : accessed 25 Apr 2020).

⁵1880 U.S. census, Franklin Parish, Louisiana, enumeration district (ED) 34, p. 41-A (penned), p. 206 (stamped), A. R. Handry; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/6742/4241369-00624/8848208 : accessed 25 Apr 2020); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 453.

⁶1900 U.S. census, Franklin Parish, Louisiana, Ward 7, enumeration district (ED) 47, p. 5-A (penned), p. 69 (stamped), Charles Berry; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7602/4120180_00045 : accessed 25 Apr 2020); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 565.

⁷1880 U.S. census, Franklin Parish, Louisiana, enumeration district (ED) 34, p. 46-B (penned), p. 209 (stamped), A. F. Osborn; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/6742/4241369-00629 : accessed 25 Apr 2020); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 453.

⁸1860 U.S. census, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, Pine Woods, p. 136 (penned), dwelling 1003, family 979, A. R. Handry household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7667/4231221_00135 : accessed 4 May 2019); citing NARA microfilm publication M643, roll 410.

⁹1870 U.S. census, Franklin Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, p. 4 (penned), dwelling 29, family 29, A R Hendry; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7163/4269414_00068 : accessed 4 May 2019); citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 513.

¹⁰Carolyn Yvonne White, et al., The Descendants of Alexander Rose Hendry and Mary Minerva Manning (self-published, 2000), 5.

¹¹Ibid., 7.

7 or 8 April 1780: Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant Raids Scouting Party in Harpersfield, New York

On April 7 or 8, 1780,¹ Mohawk Chief Joseph (Thayendanegea) Brant raided a scouting party in Harpersfield, New York, during the American Revolution. The group attacked by Brant’s Mohawk and Loyalist forces included three of my Hendry ancestors.

Continue reading 7 or 8 April 1780: Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant Raids Scouting Party in Harpersfield, New York

17 Jan 1845: Alexander Hendry Writes to Cousin Ellen Harper

It’s a cold and wet new year as I write from Liddieville, perhaps similar to the weather my 4x-great-grandfather Alexander Hendry experienced as he wrote his cousin Ellen Harper on January 17, 1845. I’m still excited about finding this letter on eBay, and I spent the last few weeks of 2018 mining it for information and pursuing leads about its recipient. Continue reading 17 Jan 1845: Alexander Hendry Writes to Cousin Ellen Harper

9 Nov 1863: McKaskle Brothers “Left Sick” at Camp in Monroe, Louisiana

Was any American family untouched by the Civil War?  No, most likely.  Among my ancestors, my McKaskle family was especially affected, the oldest four sons of George Washington McKaskle, Sr., and his wife Mary Jane serving on the Confederate, Union — and sometimes both — sides.  On November 9, 1863, two of my McKaskle fourth great-uncles were left sick at camp near Monroe, Louisiana, by their their Confederate unit.  It’s a fascinating story, rediscovered through military records and studies of their unit, the 28th (Gray’s) Regiment, Louisiana Infantry. Continue reading 9 Nov 1863: McKaskle Brothers “Left Sick” at Camp in Monroe, Louisiana

13 Jul 1908: John McMurry Dies in Winn Parish, Louisiana

On this day in 1908, my 2x great-grandfather, John McMurry died in Winn Parish, Louisiana.

I know very little about John McMurry; what I have learned is pieced together only from census, land, and church records.  It seems he lived a very un-recorded life, a simple farmer in a quiet community.  Because I know so little about him, he remains one of my major research interests.

John McMurry was born about 1853 in either Mississippi or Louisiana.  He first appears in the 1860 census with mother Judah, brother Robert, and sister S. A. near Farmersville, Union Parish, Louisiana.  He then appears as a farm laborer / hired hand on the next two censuses — in the household of Morris Evans near Oak Grove, Carroll Parish (present-day West Carroll Parish), Louisiana, in 1870, and in the household of G. B. Higgs in Ward 2, Jackson Parish, Louisiana, in 1880.

Sometime after 1880, he married Mary Smart, daughter of Samuel Smart and Adeline Shaver.  I have not found a marriage record for John and Mary; however, their son Robert lists Mary Smart as his mother’s name on both his Social Security application and on his own marriage license application in Franklin Parish.

John and Mary had three sons:  Robert Franklin McMurry in 1882, James J. “Jim” McMurry in 1884, and my great-grandfather, George Washington McMurry, in 1888.

On December 1, 1898, John purchased and was issued a land patent by the US Government for 159.74 acres in Winn Parish, Louisiana.  The patent describes the property as “the south half of the northwest corner and the north half of the southwest corner” of Section 22, Township 13N, Range 2W — placing the property near the community of Gaar’s Mill.  John and his family likely lived in the Gaar’s Mill area even before purchasing this property, as my great-grandfather George listed Gaar’s Mill as his birthplace on his World War 1 draft registration.

By the 1900 census, John was widowed and living with his three teenaged sons in Gaar’s Mill.  He was working as a farmer with his sons as farm laborers.

The only other information I have found about John McMurry is his appearance in the records of Harmony Grove Baptist Church.  The church was located in the community of Gaar’s Mill.  The transcribed membership list shows a “J. Mack Murry” joining the church by experience in September 1893.  Under his entry are lines for Robert McMurry and James McMurry, most likely referencing his sons.  These church records also include other McMurrys, but I have not yet established a relationship for these McMurrys to John and his family.

The final notation in the church records state John McMurry died on July 13, 1908.  His burial site is unknown; however, it is possible he is buried in the Harmony Grove Baptist Church cemetery.

 


1860 U.S. census, population schedule. NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls.  Judah McMurry and household, Union Parish, Louisiana.  Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.

1870 U.S. census, population schedules. NARA microfilm publication M593, 1,761 rolls.  John McMurry in the household of Morris Evans, Ward 5, Carroll Parish, Louisiana.  Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.

Bureau of Land Management, “Land Patent Search,” digital images, General Land Office Records (http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/PatentSearch : accessed 10 Jul 2018), John McMurry (Winn Parish, Louisiana), accession number LA1420.069.

Harmony Grove Baptist Church, Dodson, Louisiana.  “Record Book 1: 1877-1912,” transcribed by B. Jo Branch. http://files.usgwarchives.net/la/winn/churches/hargrove-records.txt, accessed 1 Aug 2016.

“Robert Franklin McMurray” in U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Ancestry.com.  Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.

Tenth Census of the United States, 1880. (NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls).  John McMurry in the household of G. B. Higgs, Ward 2, Jackson Parish, Louisiana.  Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900.  John McMurry, Police Jury Ward 7, Winn Parish, Louisiana.  Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls.

United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, George McMurray, Franklin Parish, Louisiana.  Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm.