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.

4 Jul 1957: Descendants Dedicate Monument to Elisha Thomas Horn at Centennial Celebration

On this day in 1957, descendants of Elisha Thomas Horn (my 3x great-grandfather) gathered at Zion Hill Baptist Church to dedicate a monument to his memory.  It was the centennial anniversary of his deeding property for Zion Hill Church, near Carthage, Leake County, Mississippi.

Gatherers prayed, sang the national anthem and two hymns, and had a time to visit and review family records.  The governor of Mississippi, James Plemon Coleman, even addressed the crowd.  (And they served dinner on the ground as all good Baptists — even the Primitives, I suppose — must do for an important occasion!)  The monument was unveiled in the adjoining cemetery, and it still stands today.  My father, oldest son, and I visited the monument in May 2013.

Elisha Thomas Horn Monument
Monument to Elisha Thomas Horn, Zion Hill Cemetery, Leake County, Mississippi

My “tree cousin” Susan Pollard Caldwell sent me a wonderful find in 2015 — a scan of the program distributed at the Centennial Celebration.  It was among the papers of her uncle George Joshua McCauley, a keen genealogist, who she presumes attended the event.  All four pages of the program are presented below:

Elisha Thomas Horn Centennial Celebration Committee, Program, 4 Jul 1957; privately held by Susan Pollard Caldwell, Memphis, Tennessee, from the papers of George Joshua McCauley.  Received electronic scan 20 Oct 2015.

Zion Hill Cemetery (Coosa, Leake County, Mississippi), Elisha Thomas Horn monument, personally photographed, 23 May 2013.