Bertie Mae McMurry Killen: Like a Sister to My Granny

This entry is part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks series.  This week’s prompt is Sister.  (To see other posts in this series, view my 52 Ancestors in 2019 index


If anyone were like a sister to my granny, it was her cousin Bertie Mae McMurry Killen. They were double-first cousins: their fathers, George and Jim McMurry, married sisters, Lula and Mary Frances McKaskle:

According to autosomal DNA statistics published by the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG), double-first cousins share about 25 percent of their DNA.¹ That’s the same amount as one might share with a grandparent or grandchild, an aunt/uncle, a niece/nephew, or a half-sibling.² Genetically, Ethel and Bertie Mae were like half-sisters!


Bertie Mae was born September 23, 1911, in Franklin Parish, Louisiana.³ She was the oldest child of James “Jim” McMurry and Mary Frances McKaskle.⁴ Her mother was the widow of William Wright and brought three children to the marriage: Nettie, Irving, and Annie.⁵ Jim and Mary Frances had two other children after Bertie Mae: Joncie and James Louis.⁶

Bertie Mae grew up on her father’s farm in Liddieville. She completed three years of high school,⁷ probably at Ogden School.⁸ She married James Dennis Killen in 1943,⁹ and they made their home in Liddieville. They had one daughter, Frances.

I grew up visiting “Aunt Bertie Mae” and “Uncle Dennis” many Sunday afternoons. Their house was almost visible from ours in the winter months when the trees were without leaves — just a few fields behind ours near the present-day 1200 block of Loflin Road, Winnsboro. I don’t have many memories of Aunt Bertie Mae, probably because I was young when she died. But I do remember thinking of her like another sweet version of my granny, and I recall yummy pies in her kitchen. I also remember Uncle Dennis’s old, white pickup truck with a step-side I liked climbing on when he parked in our driveway. It’s funny what sticks in our little kid brains. I wish I had more memories of Aunt Bertie Mae, because I see so much resemblance between she and my granny when I look at her photo.

Bertie Mae McMurry Killen, at her home in Liddieville, Louisiana, late 1970s

Photograph of Bertie Mae McMurry Killen, c. late 1970s, digital image, privately held by John Dewey Horne, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Louisiana.

In addition to being double-cousins, Granny and Aunt Bertie Mae had another connection. Granny’s oldest daughter, my Aunt Lillian, married Aunt Bertie Mae’s brother-in-law Morris Killen.

Bertie Mae McMurry Killen died February 21, 1987, at age 75.¹⁰ She is buried beside her husband James Dennis Killen in Ogden Cemetery.¹¹


¹Debbie Kennett, International Society of Genetic Genealogy Wiki ( https://isogg.org/wiki/Autosomal_DNA_statistics : accessed 10 Aug 2019), “Average autosomal DNA shared by pairs of relatives, in percentages and centiMorgans.”

²Ibid.

³Ancestry, Find A Grave, database with images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/13028546/bertie-mae-killen : accessed 10 Aug 2019), memorial 13028546, Bertie Mae McMurry Killen (1911-1987), Ogden Cemetery, Liddieville, Franklin Parish, Louisiana. 

⁴1920 U.S. census, Franklin Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, Police Jury Ward 8, p. 222 (stamped), enumeration district (ED) 41, sheet 9-B, dwelling 166, family 146, James McMurrie household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/6061/4300967_00936/74402698 : accessed 10 Aug 2019), citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 612.

Ibid.

Ibid.

⁷School information from 1940 census:
1940 U.S. census, Franklin Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, Ward 8, p. 371 (stamped), enumeration district (ED) 2125, sheet 8-A, household 135, Bertie McMurry in James McMurry household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/2442/M-T0627-01401-00752/121464624 : accessed 10 Aug 2019), citing NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 1401.

⁸Ogden School was the community school for Liddieville during this period. Bertie’s sister Annie Elizabeth Wright is listed as a 1926 graduate on the Ogden Alumni webpage:(http://liddieville.com/OgdenWeb/OgdenGraduates.htm#1926). Bertie is not listed in any graduating class, but it is reasonable to believe she also attended the school.

⁹“Marriage records, 1843-1917; general index to marriages, 1843-1972,” database with images; FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/357925 : accessed 10 Aug 2019); “Jas. D. Killian and Bertie M McMurry,” Franklin Parish Clerk of Court, Winnsboro. 

¹⁰Ancestry, Find A Grave, database with images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/13028546/bertie-mae-killen : accessed 10 Aug 2019), memorial 13028546, Bertie Mae McMurry Killen (1911-1987), Ogden Cemetery, Liddieville, Franklin Parish, Louisiana. 

¹¹Ibid.

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