Descendants of John McMurtry Sr.

Contributed by Laurie Shaft

John McMurtry Sr was the son of James McMurtry of Ralston, New Jersey and his wife Agnes. James McMurtry was born about 1726 in Ralston, NJ and died before 1788, most likely in Franklin, Co., PA. He was one of four children born to Thomas McMurtry, who emigrated from Northern Ireland and settled in Ralston, Morris Co., NJ with his brothers Joseph and Robert and a sister. The 1778 tax list for Ralston shows Thomas McMurtry with 84 acres of improved lands valued at $400.00, 8 cattle, 27 hogs, 6 horses and no slaves. Thomas was buried in the Old Roxitcus Churchyard. He acted as surveyor of Somerset Co. in 1764. His will was probated on April 21, 1788. Thomas was married to Mary (last name unknown) and together they had the following children:

  1. James McMurtry, born abt 1726 died before 1788, father to John McMurtry Sr.
  2. Robert McMurtry, born Feb. 2, 1728/9 in Bernard's Township, Somerset Co. NJ and died Feb. 9, 1822 in Mendham, Morris Co., NJ. He married Agnes McVicker/McVickery in 1779 in New Jersey and was the father of eleven children who all lived and died in the Somerset/Morris Co area of New Jersey. Robert saw service in the Revolutionary War with NJ Troops and took part in the Pennsylvania Whiskey Rebellion.
  3. Thomas McMurtry, born after 1726 in New Jersey, saw service in the Revolutionary War, and was imprisoned for debt in 1781.
  4. Tephena McMurtry, born after 1726 in New Jersey, and married Zepheniah Martin.

James McMurtry, Father of John McMurtry, Sr

James (1) McMurtry was born abt 1726 in Ralston, NJ, and was married to Agnes (last name unknown) after 1750 and probably in NJ or PA. They had the following children:

  1. John McMurtry Sr born Feb. 15, 1751/2 in Somerset Co., NJ and died Mar. 16, 1841 at Shackle Island, Sumner Co., TN. He is the ancestor of the McMurtry families of Sumner Co., TN, White Co., IL and Gallatin Co., IL.
  2. Joseph McMurtry, born Mar. 8, 1754 in Pluckamin, Somerset Co., NJ and died Oct. 24, 1846 in Harmonsburg, Crawford Co., PA. He married Margaret Kirkpatrick who was born in Mine Brook, NJ and died Mar. 8, 1855 in Harmonsburg, Crawford Co., PA. She was the daughter of Andrew Kirkpatrick and Margaret Gaston and thus connected to Kirkpatrick Family of Sumner Co., TN.
  3. James McMurtry was born abt 1756 and died between 1820 and 1830 in Humphreys Co., TN. He married Jean Brackin on Nov. 24, 1788 in Orange Co., NC.
  4. Jane McMurtry, born in Somerset Co., NJ and died after 1831 (mentioned in John McMurtry Sr's will of 1831). Married Aug. 4, 1806 in Sumner Co., TN to William M Hammond (Hammons) who died in Nov. 1824.

Several families from the Somerset Co., NJ area migrated together to Orange Co., NC. These include the Dorris, Gomer, Forrester, and Kirkpatrick families along with the McMurtrys. Along with the Blackard, Edwards and other families, members emigrated from Sumner Co. to White Co., IL beginning in 1818.

John McMurtry Sr of Sumner County, TN

John McMurtry Sr (son of James McMurtry and Agnes ) was born Feb. 15, 1751/2 in Somerset Co., NJ. Revolutionary War Pension documents indicate that John McMurtry Sr enlisted in June or July of 1775 in Captain James Chambers' Company of the First Pennsylvania Regiment, commanded by Colonel Kemp. During John McMurtry Sr's service, his regiment marched to Boston; after that siege was raised he marched to NY and Long Island, and fought at the Battle of White Plains and York Island. After the Battle of White Plains, he was appointed Sergeant. The army retreated across the Delaware River, and John McMurtry Sr was at both the battles of Princeton and Trenton. He was also at the battle of Germantown. About this time, he was appointed Sergeant-Major and was sent to recruit new soldiers in Pennsylvania. In September 1779, he was appointed Ensign of the First Pennsylvania Regiment. On June 30, 1780, he left the Continental Army and went to Philadelphia, and went to sea on board the privateer brig Fair America, commanded by Captain Stephen Decatur. He was a privateer, that is, a licensed pirate...(see DAR Patriot Index, page 459, for 1966).

Many details of John McMurtry's life can be found in "Chronology of the Life of John McMurtry, Esq, soldier, privateer of the American Revolution: progenitor of the McMurtry clan of Tennessee" by Otis McMurtry. John McMurtry served as Magistrate in 1799 and was a farmer. His pension papers are available and are quite filled with information about Sumner County families besides McMurtry.

John McMurtry Sr married Margaret "Peggy" Gomer, on January 29, 1781 in Somerset Co., NJ. (Sally Telford deposition in Rev. War Pension claim of Margaret McMurtry dated 1841 states that the marriage took place in her father's house in New Jersey). Because John McMurtry Sr and Peggy Gomer were married after his Revolutionary War service, she was at first denied a widow's pension. An Act of Congress accompanying House Bill 262, on Mar. 8, 1842, was required in order to grant her a widow's pension of $80 per year.

Peggy Gomer was born Aug. 1, 1765 in Somerset Co., NJ and died on Apr. 4, 1846, in Sumner Co., TN. Her parents were Henry Gomer and Mary Sarah Dorris. Mary Sarah Dorris was an aunt to William Dorris, the progenitor of the Sumner Co., TN Dorris family.

Record of John and Peggy's marriage can be found in the Archives of the State of NJ, First Series, Vol XXII, p 166.

John McMurtry Sr died at the age of 89. His obituary was in the Nashville Whig, Friday, May 19, 1841:
"McMurtry, John Esq Aged 89. Died at his residence in Sumner County on the 16th inst. A soldier of the Revolution".

In his will, proved April Court 1841 and found on page 278 of the Sumner Co., TN wills: "Wife Peggy, plantation on which I live. My sister Jane Hammons, house and lots where John Carrott (Garrett?) Jr now lives. Children: Henry, John, Asa, Thomas Wilkerson, James Garrett, Polly Forester. Executors: Asa McMurtry, Thomas Wilkerson McMurtry, and Samuel Kirkpatrick."

House Bill for Margaret (Peggy) McMurtry
Tanscription of House Bill 262, of the second session of the 27th Congress.
This bill granted a widow's pension to Margaret "Peggy" McMurtry, widow of John McMurtry, Sr. She was caught up in bureaucracy due to the timing of her marriage to John McMurtry Sr, his service in the Continental Army, his death and the passage of several pension bills in Congress. It took an Act of Congress to obtain a Revolutionary War Widow's pension of $80 per year for her.

Margaret McMurtry (to accompany bill HR No 262)
March 8, 1842
Mr. Mathiot, from the Committee on Revolutionary Pensions, submitted the following:
The Committee on Revolutionary Pensions, to whom was referred the petition of Margaret McMurtry or Sumner county, Tennessee, report: That on the 4th day of September, 1830, John McMurtry, the husband of petitioner, was allowed a pension under the act of March 18th, 1818, at the rate of eight dollars per month, for his services as a private in the revolutionary war. He left the army in 1780, and was married to the petitioner on the 29th day of January, 1781, as appears by the family record, which is proved to be in the handwriting of the said John McMurtry; and the marriage is further established by the testimony of two respectable witnesses, who were present, and saw them married. The said family record further shows, that the said John McMurtry died on the 16th day of March, 1841; and the papers accompanying her petition show, conclusively, that the petitioner is his widow. After the death of her husband, the petitioner applied to the Pension department for the benefit of the law in such case made and provided. Her claim, under the act of July 4th, 1836, was rejected by the Commissioner of Pensions, on the ground that her marriage took place after the termination of her husband's service; and relief was denied her under the act of July 7th, 1838, on the ground that her husband died after the passage of the law. The committee fully concur in opinion with the Commissioner of Pensions, that his case does not come within either the letter or spirit of the act of July, 1836. This act expressly confines the benefit of its provisions to those widows only whose marriage took place before the expirationof the last period of the husband's service, and the committee can well understand the reason of this distinction. The petitioner's case not coming within the provisions of this act, the next question is, is she entitled to the benefit of the act of July 1838? Her marriage is proved to have taken place prior to the 1st of January, 1794, by which her case is brought within the provisions of the last-named act, unless the death of her husband subsequent to its passage shall exclude her. The committee admit that, by a strict rigid interpretation of this act, according to legal rules, it may bear the construction given to it by the Commission of Pensions; but they cannot believe that Congress ever intended to confine its benefits to the widows of those officers and soldiers of the Revolution alone who had died prior to its passage. Such a discrimination is not founded in reason or common sense. The law was intended to provide a support for the widows of those officers and soldiers of the Revolution who had performed a certain amount of service, and who were married prior to the 1st of January, 1794. Why should there by any such distinction as is claimed by the terms of this act? Is not the widow of the revolutionary soldier who died the day after this act was passed as justly entitled to the bounty of the Government, as the widow of the one who died the day before its passage? Surely she is. The committee, therefore, are of the opinion that the case of this petitioner is clearly within the equity, if not the letter, of the act of July 7, 1838; and they accordingly report a bill for her relief.

There is another John McMurtry, contemporary with John McMurtry Sr. He was known as Captain John McMurtry and was born in Augusta Co., Virginia. He was married in 1779 to Nancy Campbell. He was killed by Indians in 1782 while in defense of the settlements of Davidson County, North Carolina in the Sumner County area. It is apparent that these are two separate individuals and that the John McMurtry Sr who was the progenitor of the Sumner Co, TN McMurtry family was Ensign John McMurtry who died in 1841 according to Revolutionary War Pension papers and other contemporary documentation. Captain John McMurtry is the progenitor of the McMurtrys of Green Co., TN.

John McMurtry Sr and Peggy Gomer had the following children:
  1. Henry McMurtry, born Dec. 6, 1781 in Somerset Co., NJ and died on Apr. 28, 1843 (or 1849) in Emma, White Co., Illinois. He is buried in Union Cemetery, Indian Creek Township, White Co. IL. The identity of his first wife is unknown, but with her he had the following children:
    1. Horace McMurtry, born 1800 in Sumner Co. TN, d 1847, married Frances Snyder,
    2. Evalina W McMurtry, born Sept. 2, 1802 in Sumner Co., TN, died Sept. 7, 1841 in Sumner Co, TN. Married Samuel Kirkpatrick on Dec 12, 1821 in Sumner Co., TN (10 children: Samuel born 1822, Mary Jane born 1823, Margaret Ann born 1825, Elizabeth born 1827, Nancy born 1830, Martha Evelina born 1833, Mary Catherine born 1836, Emma Francis born 1838, Josephine born 1840, and William born about 1842 They were all born in or around Shackle Island, Sumner Co., TN.)
    3. Araminta McMurtry, born 1807 in Sumner Co., TN. Married John Mize in 1824 in White Co., IL.

    Henry McMurtry married (2) Polly Harrell in about 1810 in Sumner Co., TN. She was born on Mar. 4, 1793 in Bertie Co., NC and died Mar. 9, 1855 in White Co., IL. She was the daughter of Jacob Harrell and Orpha Rabey and sister to Rabey and Cader Harrell. Henry and Polly had the following children:
    1. James Harrell McMurtry born 1816 in Sumner Co., TN, died 1857 in White Co., IL, married Martha Sharp.
    2. Polly Emily McMurtry, born Feb. 27, 1818 in Sumner Co., TN, married William McGill.
    3. Henry Simpson McMurtry, born 1821 in White Co. IL, married in 1841 Sarah Delap. 4. Cader W McMurtry, born Sept. 1, 1824 White Co., IL, died Oct. 2, 1845 White Co., IL. Married Feb. 18, 1845 to Martha Sharp.
    5. Margaret Jane McMurtry, born Jan. 18, 1827 in Sumner Co., TN, died 1868, married in 1844 to James A Porter.
    6. Andrew J McMurtry, born 1829 died 1860, married Ruth Champion.
    7. Robey Ewing McMurtry, born Dec. 6, 1831 and died Apr. 11, 1887 in White Co., IL, married Mariah Catherine Porter.
    8. John Kirkpatrick McMurtry, born 1834, died 1871, served in Union Army. Married Harriet Thompson Rice in 1865.

  2. Jean "Jenny" McMurtry was born Oct. 18, 1784 in Somerset Co., NJ, and died before 1846. She was probably deceased by 1831 as she was not on her father's will. She was married on Aug. 4, 1803, in Sumner Co., TN to John Garrett and had a son, John Garrett Jr. born about 1811. John Garrett Jr. was born in Tennessee and appears on the 1850 Sumner Co., TN census. He married Nancy Marty on November 26, 1830 in Sumner Co., TN. Together they had children: Palina, Sarah, Samuel, Anderson, Daniel, Larina, and Tennessee. All of them were on the 1850 Sumner Co., TN census.
  3. John McMurtry Jr was born on Mar. 10, 1787 in Orange Co., NC and died Sept. 18, 1848 in Lebanon, St. Clair Co., IL. Found on 1818 and 1820 White Co., IL census as John McMurty. His first marriage, to name unknown, occurred about 1800 and produced the following children:
    1. Asa McMurtry, born 1809 in Sumner Co., TN and died in 1847 in Missouri. He was a Methodist Minister and the first Minister of the Port Byron Methodist Church, in Rock Island, IL. He had a son John W, born in 1844 and a daughter Mary M born 1839. These children later lived with relatives in Illinois and Louisiana.
    2. James B McMurtry, born about 1812 in Sumner Co., TN, married a Frances (?), and had a daughter Mary Jane McMurtry who married Christian Zinn in 1856 in Gallatin Co., IL.
    3. John W McMurtry, born about 1815 in Sumner Co., TN and died after 1866 in St. Clair Co., IL. Married Elizabeth Moore in 1847 and had children Andrew and James H.
    4. Moses Henry McMurtry, born Feb. 20, 1818 in White Co., IL and died Nov. 27, 1878, in McCrory, Woodruff Co., AR. He is buried in Odd Fellows Cemetery in McCrory, AK, and for occupation on 1860 Census was: preacher, farmer, and physician. He married Parthenia H Benson Davis (b 1813 d 1878) and had children Albert, Martha and Mary. He lived in Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois and Louisiana.
    5. Orpha L McMurtry, born about 1820 and died before 1887, married in 1840 to Joseph B Edwards.

    John McMurtry Jr married (2) Sarah Blackard on Sept 30, 1820 or 1824 in Sumner Co., TN. Thomas Blackard posted the marriage bond. Blackard was spelled Blackhard on one record. Sarah Blackard was the daughter of William B and Eliza Blackard and was born on Feb. 4, 1790 in Person Co., TN and died April 27, 1867 in Bastrop, Morehouse Parish, LA (not confirmed). She was the sister of Thomas J, Moses, Job, Polly, Elizabeth "Betsey", William L, Joshua, Spivey and James A Blackard of Person Co., NC, Sumner Co., TN and White Co., IL. At the time of her death, she was perhaps living in Bastrop, Morehouse Parish, LA. John McMurtry Jr and Sarah Blackard had the following children:
    1. William L McMurtry born Oct. 11, 1826 in White Co., IL died Aug. 19, 1865 in Bastrop, Morehouse Parish, LA; was in Bastrop by 1860. Served in CSA 3rd LA Confederate Infantry, Morehouse Guards. Born in Illinois, 5 feet 6 inches, dark complextion, grey eyes and dark hair per Army records. Discharged Apr. 24, 1862 to return to Morehouse Parish as Sheriff. License for marriage in St Clair Co., IL reads William L. McMutry. Married Apr. 11, 1850 to Hellen A J Davis, daughter of James P Davis and Parthenia H Benson Davis (McMurtry). Hellen A J Davis was born Nov. 7, 1835 in Mississippi and died Nov. 23, 1883 in Woodruff Co, AK. They had 7 children. Hellen was the step-daughter of William L's brother Moses Henry McMurtry.
    2. Mary McMurtry, born about 1829, died Dec. 15, 1858 in Illinois. Married William D Norman on June 7, 1846 in Illinois. Had son, William W Norman.
    3. Elizabeth Jane McMurtry, born Feb. 22, 1834 in Middle Point, White Co., IL and died Jan. 11, 1887 in Omaha, Gallatin Co., IL. Married Mar. 8, 1851 in Edwardsville, Madison Co., IL to James McArthur Geers, son of Jesse M Geers and Lurana Hall of Virginia and Kentucky. They had 8 children.

  4. James McMurtry was born Dec. 22, 1789 in Orange NC and died Feb. 10, 1795 in Sumner Co., TN.
  5. Mary "Polly" McMurtry born June 15, 1796 in Sumner Co., TN and died July 27, 1870 in Roland, White Co., IL. Married July 17, 1817 in Sumner Co., TN to Jacob Forrester, son of Henry Gomer Forrester and brother Mary Elizabeth Forrester. They emigrated to White Co. IL. They had 8 children, all born in Sumner Co., TN: Margaret, William Franklin, Henry Gomer, Charles S, John W, Alfred S, Jacob H., Rebecca J.
  6. Asa McMurtry, born May 1, 1799 in Sumner Co., TN and died July 2, 1852 in White Co., IL of food poisoning while on a visit. He had lived for a time in White Co., then returned to Sumner Co. He was married on Jan 9, 1820 in White Co., IL to Mary Elizabeth Forrester, sister to Jacob Forrester and daughter of Henry Gomer Forrester. She was born in about 1803, probably in Orange Co., NC and died Sept. 10, 1874 in Sumner Co., TN. Their children settled in Sumner County.
    1. Marion A McMurtry, born 182,1 died about 1890, served CSA, married Margaret Ann Kirkpatrick born Jan. 10, 1825 Shackle Island, Sumner Co., TN and died about 1888. They were married on May 23, 1843 in Sumner Co., TN and had 4 children: Mary Margaret, Elizabeth, Samuel Kirkpatrick, and Asa W. Margaret Ann Kirkpatrick was the daughter of Samuel Kirkpatrick and Evalina W McMurtry.
    2. Benjamin Rollin McMurtry, born about 1823 and died in May 1852 of food poisoning in Carmi, White Co., IL. He married Nancy James on Dec. 9, 1845 in Sumner Co., TN. They had children Mary, William and Susan.
    3. Thomas Wilkerson McMurtry, born about 1829 in Tennessee and died in 1885 in Sumner Co.
    4. William Laten McMurtry, born June 9, 1824 in Sumner Co., TN
    5. Mary McMurtry, born about 1832 and died about 1868 in Sumner Co., TN
    6. Catherine Elizabeth McMurtry, born about 1836 in Tennessee. Appears on the 1850 Sumner Co., TN Census.
    7. Daniel Jefferson McMurtry, born Mar. 15, 1841 in White Co., IL. On 1850 Sumner Co., TN census. Died in 1926 in Nashville, TN. Married Sarah Jane Hunnicutt on Nov. 13, 1865 in Sumner Co., TN. They had a daughter, Margaret Ellen McMurtry born Apr. 20 1876 in Sumner Co, who later married James D Lanier.
    8. Jacob Henry McMurtry born Mar. 22, 1843 in Sumner Co., TN, died July 18, 1920 in Sumner Co., TN. Married in 1891 to Maddie Odel Utley (1860-1930) and had the following children: Cora Belle, Vera May, Henry Lee, Jessee Cree, and Ova May.
    9. John Luther McMurtry, born Mar. 1, 1846 in TN and died Oct. 5, 1925.
    10. Sarah Eviline McMurtry, born Jan 8, 1839 and died Sept. 9, 1928.

  7. Thomas Wilkerson McMurtry was born Sept. 5, 1802 in Sumner Co., TN and died June 25, 1879 in Sumner Co., TN. He filed for land in Illinois in 1831. He is buried in the Old Beech Cemetery, Shackle Island, Sumner Co., TN. He was married on Dec. 10, 1829 in White Co., IL to Elizabeth "Betsey" Blackard who was born Jan 12, 1803 in NC and died Apr 27, 1868 in Sumner Co., TN. She was the sister of Sarah Blackard who married John McMurtry Jr. Her first marriage was to Samuel Haw (Hall) on Oct. 23, 1821. They had the following children:
    1. William H McMurtry born 1832 in Sumner Co., TN, died about 1890 in Sumner Co. Married on Nov. 9, 1856 in Sumner Co., TN to Mary Ralph.
    2. Sarah McMurtry, born Oct. 14, 1836 in Sumner Co., TN, died July 15, 1921 in Sumner Co, married on Nov. 27, 1856 to Tyree Ralph (1831 to 1878).
    3. John W McMurtry born 1835 in Sumner Co., TN, died probably in White Co., IL. Served as a Confederate solider, captured in the battle of Ft Donelson, TN. He married Elizabeth J Price on Feb. 4, 1890 in White Co., IL.
    4. Nancy McMurtry, born 1840 in Sumner Co., TN died in 1825. Married on Jan. 8, 1868 in Sumner Co., TN to Reese W Cole.
    5. Elizabeth McMurtry, born 1843 in Sumner Co., TN died in Nashville(?), married Hugh A Kirkpatrick.
    6. Lucy E McMurtry, born 1847 in Sumner Co., TN, died 1899 in Sumner Co., TN. Married to Nathaniel Reynolds, a Confederate Civil War veteran, on Sept. 15, 1866 in Sumner Co.

  8. Margaret "Peggy" McMurtry, born Oct. 18, 1806 in Sumner Co., TN. Died before 1831 as she was not on John McMurtry's 1831 will or listed as an heir to mother in 1846.

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