Georgia Horne Lofton: In Memoriam

My fun, spunky, vivacious Aunt Georgia passed away unexpectedly yesterday. The world has lost a lady who was truly one of a kind. Her obituary, as well as some of my memories, follows:

Georgia Horne Lofton
(1937 – 2020)

Graveside service for Mrs. Georgia Lofton, 83, of Henderson, [Texas] will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 2, 2020, at Rusk County Memorial Gardens with Bro. Bill Kuykendall officiating. Interment will follow under the direction of Crawford-A. Crim Funeral Home.

Mrs. Lofton passed from this life on November 29, 2020, at her residence. She was born in Winnsboro, LA to the late Dewey and Ethel Horne.

Continue reading Georgia Horne Lofton: In Memoriam

Learning More About John McMurry from Federal Land Records

Because my recent research has focused on Mary Smart McMurry, I decided to obtain her husband John McMurry’s federal land records. I needed to expand my “reasonably exhaustive research” — a tenet of the Genealogical Proof Standard — to her closest male relative in the absence of records for Mary. John patented approximately 160 acres in Gaar’s Mill, Winn Parish, Louisiana, in 1898. His land patent application could give more clues about his family structure, including Mary’s origins or her date of death.

Location of John McMurry’s Patented Land in Winn Parish
S 1/2 of NW 1/4 and N 1/2 of SW 1/4 of Section 22, Township 13N, Range 2W

So I hired my first NARA researcher to retrieve the records. Brian Rhinehart from Rhinehart Roots was easy to work with — affordable, professional, and quick. He goes to DC almost monthly, and I placed my order with him while he was on a research trip. Because of this great timing, I received his photographs of John McMurry’s homestead application within 24 hours!

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Colorizing a 1920s McMurry Family Photo with MyHeritage In Color

MyHeritage has an intriguing new feature — MyHeritage In Color. As its name suggests, this feature adds color to black and white photos.

I decided to colorize the only childhood photo I have of my granny Ethel McMurry. It shows her with mother Lula McKaskle McMurry and younger brother John Wright “Unc” McMurry. I’m not sure where the photo was taken. There are telephone wires in the background, so it wasn’t on their farm in Liddieville, Franklin Parish, Louisiana. But John, born in 1918, appears about 3 to 5 years old, which dates this photo to the early 1920s.

Here’s the before and after with MyHeritage In Color:

Original Photo
MyHeritage In Color

Wow! The photo is so vibrant and has so much life. I wonder if that’s a function of our modern-day brains thinking “old” when we see black-and-white photos, but “current” when we see color. The colorizing algorithms had trouble with Granny’s left leg, around Unc’s knees and hands, and with Lula’s left ankle. But, overall, I love the effect. And now I wonder if Granny was a blonde in her early years…

Upload your own photos to MyHeritage In Color and give this new feature a try. I’d love to see your results!

Winter Research Project: Mary Smart McMurry – Writing a Research Report

The final step in the Research Like a Pro process is writing a research report. This report summarizes the question, objective, and all the research performed during the project. Research reports explain your reasoning — a proof argument — and convince others of your conclusions.

Research reports are critical when resolving difficult genealogy problems. Just writing this report forced me to deal with conflicting evidence and explain my positions. The Smart females in my tree have been a huge brick wall in my family tree for years, but undertaking this project means I’ve reached a measure of success with this line.

So, here it is — all 13 pages and 120+ source citations of it. By far the largest, most complex research report I’ve written!


Readers, I’m interested in hearing what you think. Did I prove who Mary Smart’s parents were? Did I prove who her siblings were?