Treasure Chest Thursday: Murrell Family Bibles in Adair County, Kentucky

MURRELL Family Bible_Births-2

Searching for records of Murrell families in Adair County, Kentucky? The good folks of KY Kinfolk have posted some transcribed family bible records:

http://www.kykinfolk.com/adair/biblerecords.htm#_MURRELL_-%C2%A0_HUGHES_-_BANKS

This website has records for the following families:

 

[The above image is actually from the Wiley Anderson Murrell-Mary Magdalene Honts Murrell family bible. They lived in Virginia, Illinois, and Iowa. The beginning of that series of bible pages can be found at http://heritageramblings.net/2014/02/09/sentimental-sunday-murrell-family-bible-part-1/]

Society Saturday: W. M. Murrell of Lynchburg, Virginia

W. M. Murrell was listed with an annual membership to the Virginia Historical Society in 1921. See "The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography," Volume 29, January, 1921, page x.
W. M. Murrell was listed with an annual membership to the Virginia Historical Society in 1921. See “The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography,” Volume 29, January, 1921, page x.

Browsing through resources is an interesting thing to do, and one can find all sorts of hidden information. While looking for the Virginia Rent Rolls of 1704 and earlier, I came upon the above entry in “The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography.” It is interesting to find out there was someone in an earlier generation very motivated to share or learn more Murrell family history. Pursuing any papers he may have left with a local historical society, or even the Virginia Historical Society (VHS), may open up new leads on the Murrell family.

There was another interesting name in the list of VHS members:

Mrs. Lida W. Merrill was also listed with an annual membership to the Virginia Historical Society in 1921. See "The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography," Volume 29, January, 1921, page x.
Mrs. Lida W. Merrill was also listed with an annual membership to the Virginia Historical Society in 1921. See “The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography,” Volume 29, January, 1921, page x.

Wonder if her husband was related to any of ‘our’ Murrells?

Those Places Thursday: The Rent Rolls of Virginia

House at Chippokes Plantation, Surry County, Virginia, est. 1617. via Wikipedia, public domain.
House at Chippokes Plantation, Surry County, Virginia, est. 1617. via Wikipedia, public domain.

The three volumes of Early Virginia Families Along the James River: Their Deep Roots and Tangled Branches, compiled by Louise Pledge Heath Foley, have a wealth of information in them. Just doing an online search can allow some treasures to go unread, as pointed out in some previous posts on these books. While browsing through the books, lists of the “Rent Rolls of Virginia” came up, and they offer an interesting mentions of a George Murrell. Of course, we need to research to learn how he is related, if indeed he is a “Murrell.”

Rent Rolls of all the Lands held of her Majtie in Surry County

Anno Domini 1704

MORRIELL, Geo ……….. 250

No Murrells or any name similar were listed in the 1704 James City County Rent Roll.

The Rent Rolls were taken in order to gather names of land owners and all their pieces of property. (The Northern Neck of Virginia was excluded.) Taxes, of course, were then assessed, with a tax rate of 1 shilling per 50 acres. As there was little real money in the colonies, and since it was a preferred trade item, tobacco was to be used for payment. Tobacco was valued at one (British) penny per pound for this tax, and payment was due for all land when it was first acquired. The 1704 Rent Roll is the only one that I have been able to find.

 

NOTES and RESOURCES:

  1. “Virginia Quit Rent Rolls, 1704,” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Volume 29, January, 1921, page 23. Via GoogleBooks.
  2. Early Virginia Families Along the James River: Their Deep Roots and Tangled Branches, compiled by Louise Pledge Heath Foley, Vol. 3, Surry County, pages vi, 156.

 

Travel Tuesday: Thomas Morrell

James City County, Virginia land record from Early "Virginia Families Along the James River: Their Deep Roots and Tangled Branches," Vol. III, page 24, via Ancestry.com.
James City County, Virginia land record from “Early Virginia Families Along the James River: Their Deep Roots and Tangled Branches,” Vol. III, page 24, via Ancestry.com.

Early Virginia Families Along the James River: Their Deep Roots and Tangled Branches is a treasure trove of migration information as well as abstracts of land patents. This particular abstract notes that a “THO. MORELL” was transported along with 21 other persons by John Robbins, who received 1100 acres of patent land from the crown for bringing people to Virginia. (He also got 50 acres each for bringing his first and second wives.)

The phrase in the abstract of “50 acs. due for the per. adv. of…” means that 50 acres were due for the ‘personal adventure’ of… Apparently ‘personal adventure’ was what paying passengers had on board ship. (Probably not so much…) Those who did not pay their own way were “trans.” or ‘transported,’ or in later documents “imp.” or ‘imported.’

 

NOTES and RESOURCES:

  1. Citation as in image.

Mystery Monday: Murrall, Mirells, and Marriel of Surry County, VA- Related?

Surry County, Virginia land record from Early Virginia Families Along the James River: Their Deep Roots and Tangled Branches, Vol. III, page 84, via Ancestry.com.
William Murrall in Surry County, Virginia land record from Early Virginia Families Along the James River: Their Deep Roots and Tangled Branches, Vol. III, page 84, via Ancestry.com.

In Volume 3, Early Virginia Families Along the James River: Their Deep Roots and Tangled Branches, compiled by Louise Pledge Heath Foley, James City County and Surry County have no Murrells found in a search. There are, however, a number of Murrell-like names that come up when checking the index itself in the book, rather than a search engine:

"...along path to Mirells" in land description of capt. William Marriott, in Surry County, Virginia land record from "Early Virginia Families Along the James River: Their Deep Roots and Tangled Branches," Vol. III, page 84.
“…along path to Mirells” in land description of Capt. William Marriott, in Surry County, Virginia land record from “Early Virginia Families Along the James River: Their Deep Roots and Tangled Branches,” Vol. III, page 84.
Jonathan Marriell in Surry County, Virginia land record from "Early Virginia Families Along the James River: Their Deep Roots and Tangled Branches," Vol. III, page 97.
Jonathan Marriell transported per Surry County, Virginia land record from “Early Virginia Families Along the James River: Their Deep Roots and Tangled Branches,” Vol. III, page 97.

So are these folks related to ‘our’ Murrells? Only more research will tell.

 

NOTES and RESOURCES:

  1. See citations for each image.

Those Places Thursday: The Virginia Lands of Thomas Murrell

Westover Church, built in the 1630s, Charles City County, Virginia. Taken circa 1930. Wikipedia, public domain.
Westover Church, built in the 1630s, Charles City County, Virginia. Thomas Murrell had likely known this church. Image taken circa 1930. Wikipedia, public domain.

Land records are a good resource to help place a person in a specific time. Like many other aspects of genealogy, they do not always help us to know which person of that name, if there are multiple people with the same name in the area. We often must use them in conjunction with other sources to verify the correct man (or occasionally woman, though that is usually easier since few women were listed as landowners as compared to men). And just because someone owned land in a place does not mean that they lived there- they could have lived there previously and rented it when they moved on, they could be purchasing for a future home, it could be bounty lands they never intend to move to, an inheritance, or an investment. But it does give some clues and land records may give more information such as family names and relationships, so they can be a good resource if we do not read too much into them.

Today we review the books Early Virginia Families Along the James River: Their Deep Roots and Tangled Branches, compiled by Louise Pledge Heath Foley, Vol. 1-3, searching for information on the Murrells in early Virginia. We know of a Thomas Murrell (b. 1675, d. betw. 1754-1790 per some trees; others state he was b. 1690) who married Elizabeth Oliver (1690-1734 or 1758), and some of our DNA matches indicate this couple as being related. However, this Thomas was born too late to be one and the same as the man listed in the following land records. Could the Thomas of the land records be his father? Uncle? More research will be needed, but these books do give us some information about other Murrell families for our one-name study.

Charles City County

We start with Volume 2 of Early Virginia Families…, Charles City County – Prince George County, Virginia, because that gives us the earliest record of Murrells within this series of books. This is logical since Charles City County is the easternmost of the counties in which we find Murrells in these books,  and the Murrells would have settled near the ocean initially after immigration, then moved farther west as land/economic opportunities (and adventure!) beckoned.

Charles City County highlighted on a map of Virginia, via Wikipedia, public domain.
Charles City County highlighted on a map of Virginia, via Wikipedia, public domain.

Page 72 of these land abstracts list a Thomas Murrell receiving a grant on 16 Feb. 1663 of 850 acres. On 29 Oct. 1696, he had added 688 ac., “being the King’s land, beginning on Seller Run, crossing Collings’ Run, to Mr. Bray, up Naman’s Run & Copley Branch.” The entry goes on to note the importation of 13 persons. These 13 included a family group of 3, presumably a husband, wife, and daughter, 1 woman (“Sus. Daniel”- Daniel is another family name associated with the Murrells and we know they lived in Rockbridge County, Virginia many years later), plus 9 men. Thomas had a total of 1538 acres to utilize by 1696. [See Note. 3. below for more information about importation, headright, and indentured servants AKA ‘white slavery.’]

That same page mentions Thomas’ land as a border in the land description of the 975 acres of Richard Cocke. Mr. Cocke imported 20 persons, including one husband and wife, 3 other men, and “15 Negroes.”

Page 73 mentions “…along STOREY’s Br., by Chickahomony Rowling Path, by MURRELL’s path…along THOMAS MURRELL’s land…”

Page 88 has a listing for Thomas Murrell but it cannot be viewed on GoogleBooks.

There is also an Edward Murrell listed on page 100 which also cannot be viewed.

Goochland County, Virginia, highlighted, via Wikipedia, public domain.
Goochland County, Virginia, highlighted, via Wikipedia, public domain.

Goochland County

Goochland County is further west than Charles City County, so it would be logical for these lands to have been acquired by Thomas Murrell at a later date.

The following entries can be found in Vol. 1, Henrico County and Goochland County.

Thomas Murrell, 400 acs. (N.L.), Goochland Co., on the Little Byrd Cr., adj JONAS LAWSON & GEORGE PAYNE; 28 Sept. 1730, p.146. 40 Shill.

This entry is listed under “Abstracts of Land Patents- Goochland County” Virginia, page 82. Looking at other patents on that page, 11 were for 400 acres, one for 500 ac., and 1 for 350 ac. of N.L., or New Land. Only 1 of the  14 listed on that page was for O.L (Old Land) and it was for 600 ac., 200 of which were previously patented. All paid 40 Shillings, except the 500 ac. patent which went for 50 Shillings, and the 350 ac. for 35 shillings.  Interestingly, the 600 ac. parcel went for 40 shillings as well, as 200 ac of it had already been patented, leaving 400 ac.

Goochland County was formed in 1728. As the acting Royal Governor, Sir William Gooch promoted settlement of the Virginia backcountry. This would help to insulate the more eastern Virginia colonial towns from Native American attacks or those from New France in the Ohio Country. The primary crop grown at that time was tobacco, a very labor-intensive crop. Goochland County is now considered a part of the greater Richmond, Virginia area.

◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊

In addition to finding ancestors as Grantors or Grantees in land records, we can also find them named as part of the description of land that others owned. With no latitude or longitude references, land was described using the borders of the land of others.

Thomas Murrell's land boundaries used in description of the land of Richard Cock, Henrico County, Virginia, 1696.
Thomas Murrell’s land boundaries used in description of the land of Richard Cock, Henrico County, Virginia, 1696.

Indexes can be useful to peruse too. Page 101 in Vol. 1 lists the creeks by name, and the pages where they are mentioned. This can help us find neighbors of Thomas Murrell along Byrd Creek. Those mentions are on pages 57, 68, 69, 70, 72, 74, 87, 88, 89.

 

Of course, we have to be mindful of the fact that these lands could have belonged to a number of different Thomas Murrells…

Always more questions with genealogy.

 

 

NOTES and RESOURCES:

  1. Early Virginia Families Along the James River: Their Deep Roots and Tangled Branches, compiled by Louise Pledge Heath Foley. Vol. 1  pages 35, 82. Genealogical Publishing Company, 1974. Volume 1 can be found on Ancestry.com, and also on GoogleBooks Preview; Volumes 2 and 3 are only on GoogleBooks.
  2. “Land Patents, Book 15” on the website “Virginia Genealogy Trails” at http://genealogytrails.com/vir/land_patents_book15.html. The original source was the “Magazine of Virginia Genealogy” published by the Virginia Genealogical Society.
  3. A bit of context: Virginia had a ‘headright system’  which was begun in Jamestown in 1618 and used frequently until about 1732 in a number of colonies. The Virginia Company of London (as did Plymouth Colony) gave land to new colonists. Fifty acres were granted to someone moving to the new colony and paying their own passage, which was about 6 British pounds in the 17th century. One hundred acres were granted by the colony to those who were already living there and who imported an individual (although that math does not seem to work with Thomas’ holdings but he may have sold some of the land received). The person whose passage was paid became an indentured servant- men, women, and children alike- and they were required to work for a specified number of years to pay off the difference between the value of the headright land and the cost of passage. Indentures could be sold like a commodity as well. Indentured servants were basically white slaves- although technically not ‘owned’ like African or Indian slaves, the indenture contract was owned by someone who could make all the decisions for a servant’s life. There were certain things required for the owner of the contract to provide at the end of the contract- generally some clothes, tools, and grain- so it was actually in an owner’s best interest to have a servant serve the majority of their contract, but to die before it expired. (!!) These servants were thus treated terribly by some owners, and many did not survive the ordeal. (In contrast, owners of African slaves had much of their wealth invested in humans, so they wanted them to survive even though they too were treated inhumanely.) There were, however, some indentured servants who were treated fairly, and some who became apprentices and then could open their own business once free. Also, it is estimated that 40% of the landowners in the late 1600s had come to the colony as indentured servants. Some estimate that 40-60% of the white persons who entered the colonies from Great Britain (including Ireland, Scotland) were indentured servants/white slaves.Headrights could also be obtained for importing African slaves in the earliest years of the colony, and this law fueled the rise of slavery in America since plantation owners could receive more land as they imported more Africans to work it.Obviously, the headright system made land a commodity mostly held by the wealthy, and it was the beginnings of the economic class struggles in North America. It also increased tension between Native Americans and the British, as often the headright lands that would be given at the end of an indenture encroached on their traditional lands. The wealthy colonists favored having this good buffer between themselves and the Native Americans too.See White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain’s White Slaves in America by Don Jordan and Michael Walsh, 2008, for more information on a completely ignored portion of our history.

Sunday’s Obituary: Samuel Murrell of Kentucky

Freemason symbol, sometimes used without the G in the center. Via Wikipedia, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Freemason symbol, sometimes used without the G in the center. Via Wikipedia, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

“Death of the Oldest Mason in Kentucky” was the headline of the Plain Dealer of Cleveland, Ohio, on 21 September 1890. The oldest Mason they spoke of was Samuel Murrell.

Samuel was born in Lincoln County, Kentucky, per his obituary, to Colonel George Murrell and Sarah Blain on 24 June 1792. The Find A Grave memorial for Samuel states he was born in Albemarle County, Virginia, but censuses state Kentucky.

While he was a youngster, the family moved to a place near Glasgow, in Barren County, Kentucky, per his obituary.

Map indicating Glasgow, Barren County, Kentucky, via Wikipedia, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Map indicating Glasgow, Barren County, Kentucky, via Wikipedia, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Just 20 years old when the War of 1812 broke out, Samuel became a soldier to protect our new republic from the British invasion.

Samuel joined the Freemasons, a fraternal order, while living in Glasgow. He attained the Master Mason degree in the year 1816 at the Allen Lodge, No. 28, in Glasgow.

In 1850 Samuel and his wife Elizabeth were listed with presumably their children Mary Ann Murrell (age 22), Sallie B. Murrell (20), Maria S. Murrell (17), Ellen Jane Murrell (14), Eliza F. Murrell (12), Chalia Murrell (9), George M. Murrell (24, listed as a laborer but their only son), and Mary Sterritt (74). Mary Sterritt was probably Elizabeth’s aged mother, and was born in Virginia, as was Elizabeth, and Mary owned $2400 in real estate. Samuel was listed with $17,700 in real estate, almost three times as much as others on that same census page, although one farmer on the previous page had land worth $70,000. So apparently there were a few big farmers, and many more with smaller holdings in Warren County, Kentucky, which is just west of Barren County.

There was a “Murrell Hotel” in Glasgow by at least  1899- more research will be needed to see how this relates to Samuel. We do know also that a C.H. Murrell lived in Glasgow in 1866, but currently do not know the relationship, if there is one.

Samuel Murrell was granted a pension for his service in the War of 1812. When he filed, he was one of the few survivors left from that war, and one of the very last to apply for a pension from that war with the British.

Samuel and Mary Logan Briggs House in Stanford, Barren County, Kentucky. Samuel Murrell likely knew this house, as it was built in the 1780s and used as the Presbyterian church, as a house, later as the library, and today as the historical society museum. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Image taken on 26 July 2014, public domain.
Samuel and Mary Logan Briggs House in Stanford, Barren County, Kentucky. Samuel Murrell likely knew this house, as it was built in the 1780s and used as the Presbyterian church, as a house, later as the library, and today as the historical society museum. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Image taken on 26 July 2014, public domain.

Samuel died at the home of his grandson, Samuel Young, in Bowling Green, Kentucky, just a few weeks after he was granted his pension. It was 18 September 1890 when Samuel went to his final rest. He was 98 years old, and the oldest Mason in Kentucky; he was also considered one of the oldest Masons in the world.

[Through DNA connections, we believe this Samuel Murrell is related to our Wiley Anderson Murrell (1806-1885), but have not yet proved the connection with paper documentation.]

Notes:
  1. “Death of the Oldest Mason in Kentucky,” Cleveland Plain Dealer [Cleveland, Ohio], 21 September 1890, page 2. The story line was from Bowling Green, Ky. GenealogyBank.com. The death notice was picked up in other newspapers as well. The date of his death varies in some of the papers.
  2. “G. A. R. Encampment at Glasgow,” Lexington [Kentucky] Morning Herald, 28 April 1899, page 5. GenealogyBank.

Those Places Thursday: The Murrell Family Farm, Jasper County, Iowa, in 1880

Tipton, Cedar Co. Farm- Engraving
Tipton, Cedar Co. Farm- Engraving (relatively near to Jasper Co. and the Murrell Farm.)

It is seldom that we can travel to a time and place long ago, and almost hear the sounds, smell the odors, touch the items in the scene, and have it seem so very real. Unless we have a diary, journal, or detailed written account such as in a county history, it is hard to imagine exactly what life was like for our ancestors.

The Agricultural Schedules of the U. S. Federal Censuses are just the vehicle to take us to a place unknown except to our ancestors. While there are still ag censuses being taken, the ones most interesting to today’s genealogists will be those taken during the 1850-1880 U. S. Federal Censuses, and for any states that also took a census in 1885. These images are still being digitized and indexed, plus there are also Manufacturing Schedules, Social Statistics Schedules, and even a Business schedule completed in 1935. Not all farms or businesses will be found listed, however, as the criteria for inclusion changed throughout the years. As an example, in 1850 small farms producing less than $100 of products annually were excluded; in 1870, to be excluded a farm had to have less than 3 acres or produce less than $500 worth of products.

The following is a simple narrative transcription of the raw data found in the 1880 Agricultural Schedule for Wiley A. Murrell’s farm.

JASPER COUNTY IOWA
1880 AGRICULTURAL CENSUS
MOUND PRAIRIE TOWNSHIP
Page No. 8 (D.), Supervisor’s District: No. 3, Enumeration Dist: No. 96, Line No. 6. Enumerated 08 June 1880.

W.A. MURRELL rented for shares of production 240 acres of improved land (tilled, including fallow and grass in rotation, pasture or meadow) and 0 acres unimproved land.

The value of the farm included land, fences, and buildings worth $6,000; the value of farming implements and machinery was $300; and value of livestock was $2,200. The cost of building and repairing fences in 1879 was $50, and there was no cost for fertilizers purchased in 1879 listed.

Wiley paid $150 in wages for farm labor during 1879, including value of board. The estimated value of all farm productions (sold, consumed, or on hand) for 1879 was $1600. [equivalent to about $37,335 in 2016.]
Of the farm grasslands, in 1879, 30 acres were mown, and 10 acres were not mown. Hay production was 40 tons, with no clover or grass seed harvested in 1879.
There were 7 horses of all ages on hand June 1, 1880 and no mules and asses.
Neat cattle and their products on hand June 1, 1880 were 22 working oxen, 3 milch [milk] cows, and 23 other cattle. 6 calves were dropped. [born] None were purchased, 20 cattle sold living, none listed as slaughtered, and 2 died, strayed, [or] were stolen and not recovered.

No milk was sold or sent to butter and cheese factories in 1879. 300 lbs. of butter were made on the farm in 1879, but no cheese.

No sheep were on the farm but it included 100 swine and 50 poultry (not barnyard) on hand June 1, 1880. 100 dozen eggs were produced on the farm in 1879.

There was no barley or buckwheat grown in 1879. The farm had 85 acres in Indian Corn, producing 4,000 bushels (yield of 47 bu/ac); 6 acres of oats which produced 225 bushels (37.5 bu/ac); 4 acres of rye that produced 100 bushels (25 bu/ac); and 37 acres of wheat which produced 540 bushels of crop (14.6 bu/ac). There were no crops of pulse [legumes- soybeans], flax, or hemp. No sorghum or maple sugar was produced, nor broom corn. No hops, potatoes (Irish or sweet), tobacco, or orchard trees (apple, peach) were grown. There was no acreage in nurseries, vineyards, market gardens, or forest products (wood cut and sold or consumed) in 1879. No honey or wax was produced by bees kept on the farm in 1879.

 

Notes, Sources, and References:

1) To determine the non-population schedules of the US. Federal Census that are available, and where they may be found, see http://www.archives.gov/research/census/nonpopulation/

2) The FamilySearch Wiki has an article on the Agricultural Census: http://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/United_States_Census_Agricultural_Schedules

3) Source citation: Census Year: 1880; Census Place: Mound Prairie, Jasper, Iowa; Archive Collection Number: T1156; Roll: 25; Page: 9; Line: 6; Schedule Type: Agriculture.

Accessed online 22 May 2011: http://search.ancestry.com/iexec?htx=View&r=an&dbid=1276&iid=31643_218858-00386&fn=J ohn+M&ln=Mench&st=r&ssrc=pt_t4049043_p-1651968883_kpidz0q3d-1651968883z0q26pgz0q3d32768z 0q26pgPLz0q3dpid&pid=577872

4) Even soil fertility and differences with modern agricultural practices may be compared with these schedules. In 1880 the farm produced 4,000 bu. of Indian corn on 85 acres, for a yield of 47 bu./ac. Today’s yields, with modern planting equipment, herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizer, provide yields up to 225 bu./ac for various corn varieties.

5) Inflation calculator- http://www.in2013dollars.com/1879-dollars-in-2016?amount=1600

6) This post was previously published in a similar article on http://heritageramblings.net/2013/12/10/time-travel-tuesday-the-murrell-family-farm-in-1880/

7) “Renting for shares of production” means that Wiley did not own the land, but he worked the land. Some such agreements call for one person to provide the land, the other to provide the labor, and all costs- seed, fertilizer, etc- are shared at a certain percentage. Many contracts called for a 50-50 split of costs to put in a crop and raise livestock, and then both owner and operator share the profits 50-50. Other agreements may utilize other percentages. These contracts are still used today, although most farmers/operators just prefer to rent the land outright.

Those Places Thursday: The Murrell Family Farm, Botetourt County, Virginia, in 1850

"Tippecanoe Waltz" sheet music, 1840. Cornell University Collection of Political Americana, with kind permission of Cornell University Library; no restrictions. (Click to enlarge.)
“Tippecanoe Waltz” sheet music, 1840. Cornell University Collection of Political Americana, with kind permission of Cornell University Library; no restrictions. (Click to enlarge.)

 

Farming has been such an important part of the American economy, especially for most of our ancestors. We want to tell a bit about the farms so many of our ancestors called “home.”

Farms varied greatly, and that plot of land wasn’t just “home” either. It was the family’s livelihood and place of business, whether that meant tilling the soil or churning butter and manufacturing cheese to sell to neighbors or in town. It was a place for social activity- barn raisings come to mind, but of course, there was all sorts of visiting between farms on an individual and small group basis, in addition to parties and special events like weddings. Even more special events took place on the farm too- quite a lot of our ancestors were born right in the bed they probably were conceived in, and may have later inherited for the circle to continue with their children.

Many of our ancestors held ‘unimproved land’ that most likely was wooded; the wood from these trees was an energy source for the fireplace for warmth, the cookstove for food, and even a place to hunt to provide meat to be cooked on that wood-fired stove or even earlier, in the fireplace. The woods were also a fun place for farm kids to hang out away from the prying eyes of adults, climb trees, and play tag. There was likely a bit of courting that went on in the woods, too, and maybe even a stolen kiss.

Agricultural schedules were taken along with the population census in the years 1850-1880, plus some states conducted an 1885 census that also enumerated farmers and their acreage, livestock, and products. Not all of these can be found today, as with most records, but we will tell the story of our family’s farms as we can with those schedules that have survived. Tax records and deeds also sometimes tell the story of a farm, so we will share those as well.

1850 Agriculture Schedule for Wiley A. Murrell, part 1. Ancestry.com. (Click to enlarge.)
1850 Agriculture Schedule for Wiley A. Murrell, part 1. Ancestry.com. (Click to enlarge.)
1850 Agriculture Schedule for Wiley A. Murrell, part 2. Ancestry.com. (Click to enlarge.)
1850 Agriculture Schedule for Wiley A. Murrell, part 2. Ancestry.com. (Click to enlarge.)

Today we tell the story of the farm of Wiley Anderson Murrell (1806-1885) and his wife Mary Magdalen Hontz (1806-1887).

If we look at the US Federal Population Schedule, it tells us that Wiley, age 41, and Mary, age 44 (ages were not always correct, whether on purpose or just ‘misremembered’), were living on their farm in District 8, Botetourt County, Virginia. Their daughter Elizabeth Ann Murrell (the maternal grandmother of our Edith (Roberts) [McMurray] Luck) was 15 and the oldest. She was probably often in charge of her brother John Henry Murrell, 13, William Murrell, age 9, James E. Murrell who was 8, and little Ann Elisy Murrell, then just 5. Wiley was listed as a farmer, but it was also noted that he could not read nor write. The whole family was born in Virginia, and none attended school within the year per the 1850 US Federal Census.
Although a small farm, the whole family would have been needed to make their living from it. The farm schedule was completed on 7 October 1850, and indicated that the Murrells had 45 acres of improved land to farm, and 85 acres unimproved. The entire cash value of the farm was $800- it was one of the smallest in the area. The farm implements and machinery were worth about $75- even adjusting for inflation, today’s farmers would scoff. Wiley’s implements and machinery would have be valued at about $2,240 in today’s money, which might not even buy a tire for one of the big tractors or combines used today.

Livestock was a mainstay on our ancestor’s farms- they did not have the ‘luxury’ of factory farming and concentrating on just one species of animal or one type of grain. They had to supply much of what the family needed, plus have a little surplus to sell for the necessities that they could not make on their own, such as cloth or sugar. So Wiley and Mary had 2 horses- likely draft horses for pulling a plow and a buggy or wagon; 1 ‘milch’ cow for making butter (the ladies manufactured at least 50 pounds) plus milk for baking and drinking. They also had 2 other types of cattle, possibly for beef. They did not list any oxen, which is why we think the horses would have been the sturdier work horses.

The Murrells also had 7 sheep, and they produced 17 pounds of wool in the previous 12 months. Mary and Elizabeth may have spent some of their evenings spinning the wool into yarn. They might have had their own loom, or provided the yarn to a neighbor who did have one, and then the neighbor would make the cloth and keep some of the yarn for herself in payment. Instead, they could have just sold the wool outright.

The total value of “home manufactures” was $30 per the 1850 Agricultural Schedule.

Pork has always been a staple in the American diet as pigs reproduce and grow quickly and without much fuss- one can even let them loose in the unimproved parts of the property to graze on acorns, etc., and fatten up. “Slopping the pigs” meant all the leftovers from mealtime, which some of us today would compost, went into a bucket and the contents were thrown out in the pig pen, to be biologically recycled into tasty bacon and ham. The Murrells owned 7 swine in October of 1850. The total value of all their livestock was about $165. They slaughtered animals worth $48 the previous year, and those may have been for home consumption and/or sale in town.

Mary and Elizabeth also probably had chickens and a large home garden with vegetables, herbs, and maybe some fruit trees. Of course, this was a part of “women’s work” so would not have been listed on the Agricultural Schedule. It probably is what helped keep the family alive, however, and women often sold eggs, cakes, etc. in town for a little extra money for the family.

1850 Agriculture Schedule for Wiley A. Murrell, part 3. Ancestry.com. (Click to enlarge.)
1850 Agriculture Schedule for Wiley A. Murrell, part 3. Ancestry.com. (Click to enlarge.)
1850 Agriculture Schedule for Wiley A. Murrell, part 4. Ancestry.com. (Click to enlarge.)
1850 Agriculture Schedule for Wiley A. Murrell, part 4. Ancestry.com. (Click to enlarge.)

Of course, one has to feed the livestock, and provide grain for the family, a little extra to pay the miller, and hopefully have some good seed for the next year. To that end, the Murrells harvested 91 bushels of wheat, 300 bushels of ‘Indian corn,’ and 33 bushels of oats, which would have been used as feed. If thefamily was of Scots-Irish descent (which we do not yet know), they may have also made porridge from some of the oats for many of their meals.

The family also produced 200 pounds of flax, which was a fiber used to make linen, cording, etc. Linen was used as sheets and clothing until cotton became more available and less expensive. Wiley and family also produced 1 bushel of flaxseed, which could have been pressed for use as an oil and lubricant, or saved or sold as seed for the next year’s crop.

Wow, we have time-travelled through a farm year with Wiley and Mary Murrell in Botetourt County, Virginia. Looking at the population census and the agriculture schedule for the same year gives us great insight into what life was like for the family.

I am tired just writing about it. They must have quickly fallen asleep each night after such hard work, day after day. Gives one a new respect for our forebears, and makes one realize that the “good ole days” were maybe not that great after all.

 

Notes, Sources, and References:
1. 1850 Population schedule for Wiley A. Murrell & family. Census Place: District 8, Botetourt, Virginia; Roll: M432_936; Page: 156; Image: 547. 1850 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com, online publication – Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. Original data – United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Seventh Census of the United States, 1850. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1850. M432.
2. 1850 Non-Population schedule for Wiley A. Murrell & family. Census Year: 1850; Census Place: District 8, Botetourt, Virginia, “Selected U.S. Federal Census Non-Population Schedules, 1850-1880,” Ancestry.com online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
3. Inflation calculator- http://www.in2013dollars.com (but it does go to 2016).
4. This post will also be published on HeritageRamblings.net under another name.

The Harlan, Roberts, and Murrell Families

The Broad River, near Blacksburg, Cherokee Co., South Carolina, upriver from Union County, SC. Via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
The Broad River, near Blacksburg, Cherokee Co., South Carolina, upriver from Union County, SC. Via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

In yesterday’s post, “Friday’s Faces from the Past: The Harlan Family,” we shared pictures of some members of the Harlan family from the late nineteenth to early twentieth century, but do not know how they are related. Today we wanted to mention another, older relationship of the Harlan, Roberts, and Murrell families. These three families were large ones, and they intermarried in various generations; they even migrated together.

Autosomal DNA testing has revealed matches for four members of our family to persons who have Roberts and Murrell matches. Some of these people have in their family tree a David R. Murrell who married Elizabeth Harlan.

According to our research, David was born in Union, the colony of South Carolina, on 25 October 1772. (Some researchers think he was born in Goochland, Virginia.) His parents were Drury Murrell (1743-1801) and Dorcas Rountree/Roundtree (1738-1780). There are DNA matches of our family with the Rountrees as well, lending credence to these family relationships.

Union County, South Carolina, via Wikimedia. The original uploader was Seth Ilys at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2394712
Union County, South Carolina, via Wikimedia. The original uploader was Seth Ilys at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2394712

Elizabeth Harlan was also born in Union, SC, to George “The Hatter” Harlan (1756-1813) and Anna Breed (1755-1815), on 10 August 1778.  George Harlan had been born in, and lived in, Chatham Co., North Carolina, but settled in Union County SC by about 1776 at age 20, where he married Anna and their children were born. (And yes, he made hats, and was a farmer too.)

David R. Murrell and Elizabeth Harlan married on 29 December 1801 in Union County, SC. They had their 11 children in Union, and can be found there in the 1820 US Federal Census. That census lists 2 white males under 10, 1 aged 10-15, 1 aged 16-25, and 1 male over 45, who was probably David. There were three girls under age 10, 2 aged 10-15, and one 26-44, probably Elizabeth. These numbers add up to 8 free white persons under the age of 16 in the household. The household also included 2 male slaves aged 26-44, and one female slave, 14-25, whose name was Jane. Four persons of the household were engaged in agriculture- likely David, his son John Jonas Murrell aged 16-25 (born 1802), and the two male slaves. Two persons were “engaged in manufactures”- that may have been Elizabeth and the female slave, as they may have produced butter, cheese, or textiles and then sold them in town.

The children of David and Elizabeth were: John Jonas Murrell (1802-1847), Nancy Murrell (1804-1888), George Washington Harlan Murrell (1806-1880), Lucinda Murrell (1808-?), Harriet E. Murrell (1810-1874), Densey Murrell (1812-?), Martha Murrell (1814-1873), Joseph Murrell (1816-1868), Drury Murrell (1818-?), Elizabeth Murrell (1819-1860), and David R. Murrell (1821-1822).

David died two years after the census, on 25 May 1822 in Union County; he was only 49. What a difficult time that would have been for Elizabeth, who at his death had nine minor children to raise and support.

Their young son David passed away later that year, on 30 December 1822, not yet two years old.  Elizabeth survived her husband by 26 years, and she did not remarry, since her headstone has her listed as a Murrell, and 70 years old at death.

Are you related to this family? We would be very interested in sharing information, as we would really like to find out more about Wiley Anderson Murrell, our known ancestor, and his ancestors.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. “The Harlan Family,” page 96, in North America Family Histories, 1500-2000, Ancestry.com.
  2. Find a Grave- Elizabeth Harlan Murrell- http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=41381573
  3. Find a Grave- David R. Murrell- http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=41381529
  4. This post has also been published on our “Heritage Ramblings” blog at http://heritageramblings.net/2016/04/16/sorting-saturday-the-harlan-roberts-and-murrell-families/

 

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