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.
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!
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:
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!
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!
This entry is part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks series. This week’s prompt is Brother. (To see other posts in this series, view my 52 Ancestors in 2019 index.
I only knew one of my granny’s brothers, my great-uncle John Wright McMurry. Everyone else in my family called him “Uncle Wright,” but I affectionately shortened it to “Unk.”
Unk lived with my grandmother in her house trailer on our property. Every afternoon when my dad came home from work, he, my mom, and I walked next door and had coffee with Granny and Unk. The only distinct memory I have of Unk is burying my face in his rust-colored recliner anytime he got up to refill his coffee cup. I thought if I couldn’t see him, he couldn’t see me — and that was a fun game of hide and seek for a toddler.
Unk died when I was three years old. I don’t remember any details, just lots of food brought to Granny’s house and my wondering where Unk was. Now that I’m older, I realize how amazing it is that I have any memories — even faint ones — of him.
This entry is part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks series. This week’s prompt is At the Cemetery. To see other posts in this series, view my 52 Ancestors in 2019 index.
I grew up visiting Ogden Cemetery — the burial place of many of my family members — often. It was just down the hill from my grandparents’ home, and I sometimes went with my dad to place flags on veterans’ graves for Memorial Day. I even did a special school project on gravestone rubbings in sixth grade.
From a young age, I was always enamored by my great-grandfather’s grave — probably because the marker was so distinctive and easy to identify. It was located under a cedar tree near the curve in the gravel road, and it was shaped like a tree trunk!
Now that I’m a genealogist, I know much more about these “tree trunk” grave markers issued by the Woodmen of the World. I also know more about my great-grandfather George Washington McMurry, father of my grandmother Ethel. And even though the cedar tree was removed several years ago, I can still find this grave marker easily, a memory ingrained from childhood.